The best of 1983 mix tape
I’ve been in bed sick since Sunday night, so I really haven’t done much since then other than occasionally roll over and moan, watch TV (saw a few episodes of The Blacklist – man, Spader is so great in that but everything else about that show is awful), and of course put together another mix tape.
Since I had so much idle time on my hands, I figured that I’d be able to knock out 3 or 4 years, no sweat. I had forgotten, however, that 1983 may well be the greatest year in music history. It was nearly impossible to whittle this list down under the 60-minute run time required, and I’ve been making changes to the final list repeatedly over the last couple of days. Even as I’m writing this I’m tempted to drop something to make room for one of the dozen or songs tracks I had to leave off the final list. Seriously, how great of a year is it when there’s no room for Mad World by Tears for Fears, Rebel Yell by Billy Idol, Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by The Eurythmics, and Always Something There to Remind Me by Naked Eyes? And I could go on for another few paragraphs about stuff that got cut out (Come on Eileen!), but let’s just skip to what did make the cut before I change my mind again.
(The criteria for selection is covered here.)
Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
Let’s just admit one thing right from the get go. I could have just included all of the singles from Thriller and fleshed the list out with a couple of tracks from New Order and you probably wouldn’t be able to argue with the results. Thriller is a beast the likes of which we will never see again. Basically every song on this album was released as a single and became a massive hit. I had to implement the “one artist per year” rule specifically for Thriller. Since I had to pick one, I went with the American Bandstand rule and picked the one with the one that was most danceable and had the best groove, so Billie Jean it is. Plus, it gave the world this, the greatest lip sync in music history.
Hand in Glove – The Smiths
The Smiths did not release an album in 1983, but they put out two of the great singles of that year, This Charming Man and Hand in Glove. It was a coin flip to choose between them, and I’m still not convinced that I made the right choice.
Shaking Through – R.E.M.
Murmur still stands as one of the great debut albums in history, and although I could have chosen Radio Free Europe or Sitting Still or even Talk About the Passion and been fine with it, Shaking Through was my favorite track when I heard it, and nothing has changed some 31 years later.
Modern Love – David Bowie
Let’s Dance and China Girl were the better known tracks from Let’s Dance, but I always thought this one was the standout tune. Fun fact: Stevie Ray Vaughn was part of the band that played on the album.
King of Pain – The Police
Another album that produced a ridiculous number of great singles that year. Every Breath You Take ended up topping the Billboard Top 100 that year, but I always preferred Synchronicity II and this one, which won out by a hair.
Kiss Off – Violent Femmes
Another impossible choice. How to decide between Add it Up, Blister in the Sun, and Kiss Off? This may change by the time I hit publish.
Burning Down the House – Talking Heads
I’m not as big of a fan of Speaking in Tongues as I am other Talking Heads albums, but this was a pretty easy choice for once.
Age of Consent – New Order
Power, Corruption & Lies has two massive, best of the 80s candidate singles on it, this track and Blue Monday. Age of Consent wins out solely for the killer guitar riff.
In a Big Country – Big Country
Forgive me, but I do love this song. I almost dropped it in favor of many of the tracks listed above, but I just couldn’t do it. Too much goodness here. Stay alive!
Color Me Impressed – The Replacements
Just a little teaser of what was to come from The ‘Mats, but a thumping good one.
Little Red Corvette – Prince
In 50 years when historians look back at the 80s, I think they end up calling it the “Prince Era” of music. Dude had so many hits that decade. If you were to pick somebody to play a greatest hits show, he’s got to be in the top 2 or 3, right? Just ridiculous.
Two Hearts Beat As One – U2
Could have gone with Sunday Bloody Sunday or New Years Day, but I always thought the funky bass line elevated this song a bit from the rest of the album.
She’s a Beauty – The Tubes
I make no apologies for this one. Just a great, great song.
Crazy – Pylon
Pylon was a great band. Maybe my favorite song of the entire bunch.
Okay, there it is. 14 songs on a mix that could have easily supported three times that number. Here’s the Spotify playlist for your listening/subscribing pleasure.
So let me have it. Which of your favorites did I leave off the mix?