The conventional view of the eighties is that it was a very poor decade for music. In some ways I'm tempted to agree but it was, after all, the decade which defined my musical taste. At the beginning of the eighties I was at school listening to punk music and by the end I was working and living 200 miles from where I started the decade. My music tastes had similarly been turned on their head.

So here is the eighties as I remember it. Click onto the picture to the left. 




I talk about REM and their album 'Murmur' elsewhere. This song 'Laughing' is one of my favourites on the album.


As a dedicated gig goer I occasionally ponder what was the best gig I've ever been to? I'm not really one of these Nick Hornby types who has top ten favourite songs, albums etc. But I guess one gig has to be the best ever. In my mind it was a show by an Australian band called the Triffids. It took place at the Dominion Theatre some time in 1988 or 1989. I was already a fan of this band. Dan Allamand kept lending me records by them. Thankfully each was better than the previous one. On the earliest stuff they sounded like they'd heard too many Doors records. But the album 'Born Sandy Devotional' was the business. I've never been in a desert in my life but this album makes me think of deserts and wide open spaces. The product of a band from the back of beyond (that's Western Australia to me and you). This song 'The Seabirds' wasn't in their live show but I think its one of the best opening songs to an album ever.





Another touchstone artist of the eighties for me was Billy Bragg. I  remember Pete Rust leant me his first album on a tape. I listened to it in my bedroom. Went back downstairs not sure what to make of it. Half an hour later I was back upstairs listening again. I continued to repeat this behaviour until eventually I realised that I had fallen in love with this simple unpolished music. 


A lot of my favourite gigs of the eighties also featured Mr Bragg. 


Despite his reputation for political activism all true Billy Bragg fans really love his soppy songs about unrequited love. 'The Saturday Boy' is one of his best and it also made me realise what a great instrument the trumpet is in the right hands. 






I guess most people know that I'm a Waterboys obsessive. I've already spoken about my favourite gig. This song 'The Whole of the Moon' is my favourite song of all times. 







When I first met Dan Allamand he was your typical eighties teenage lad into his heavy metal. However within a couple of years he'd diverged into so many musical genres that it was impossible to keep up with him. I think we both simultaneously came to the Bhundu Boys via Andy Kershaw's championing of them. So it was great to be able to go to see them down at the Riverside in Newcastle. Unfortunately the album didn't really capture the live zest of this band. Still its a pretty good souvenir.




That Petrol Emotion were formed from the ashes of the Undertones. The music itself wasn't a continuation of the Undertones tried and tested melodic pop-punk. Instead the O'Neill brothers and their new cohorts took Captain Beefheart and Pere Ubu as their influences. This song 'Its a Good Thing' shows off both their knack for a good tune and their more noisy side.




Although I diverged from my punk roots over the years I've always had time for the genre when it is done well. Punk stagnated in UK in the eighties and turned into a sad caricature. Over in the US though hardcore was taking off and the first generation of this movement was full of diverse, creative and intelligent bands. From the nihilism of Black Flag, the quirky funk of the Minutemen, the country leanings of the Meat Puppets through to the masterful Husker Du. The band that initially caught me and my mates imagination though was Bad Brains. Four Rastafarians playing mind blowingly quick melodic punk. 'Sailing On' is pretty mellow by their standards. 





By the late eighties a lot of the bands I'd grown up with were starting to split or change in style. I needed to find new bands. I don't know what made me buy 'Come on Pilgrim' by the Pixies. I knew next to nothing about them. I was on the dole and money was pretty tight. Still I've never regretted my decision. What a racket! I still think its my favourite record by them and basically its a bunch of demos! This song 'Caribou' isn't exactly typical but its another great record opener.