Thu. May 30th, 2024

I saw in a newsagents today a copy of Uncut‘s 500 Greatest Albums of The 1980s magazine. Kate Bush was featured on the cover, which (spoiler alert) clued me in to what was probably album number one. Upon flicking through it, sure enough, her Hounds of Love was at number one. A damn good choice, I must say. Magazines thrive on these GOAT lists, and they’re interesting and sometimes enlightening, but ultimately they’re not to be taken too seriously. This one was already flawed in my eyes due to the lack of Australian albums (they start to show up later with AC/DC‘s Back In Black at 58). But it did get me thinking of what I’d put on my greatest 80s albums list. Here’s what might go in my top 10, in no particular order:

  • Kate Bush – Hounds of Love
  • Prefab Sprout – Steve McQueen
  • The Go Betweens – 16 Lover’s Lane
  • The Triffids – Born Sandy Devotional
  • The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead
  • REM – Life’s Rich Pageant
  • Lloyd Cole & the Commotions – Rattlesnakes
  • XTC – Skylarking
  • The Pixies – Doolittle

I didn’t buy the mag…

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I continued doing that Reader’s Development worksheet today while at work. One recommendation was to check out a site called Book Riot, which ‘describes itself as a pop culture haven for reading. On the site you’ll find book recommendations, reading life tips, book news, and general literary chatter.’ Upon checking it out the first thing I encountered was a very loud ad for ‘how to avoid ads’, plus some pop-ups. Not a great welcome. But the site does look interesting, including some interesting articles. One I couldn’t help but read was 1980s Sci-Fi Books That Aged Badly (And 4 Still Worth Reading) by Katie Moench. Nominees were L Ron Hubbard‘s Battlefield Earth, Walter Koenig‘s Buck Alice and the Actor Robot (yes, Chekhov from Star Trek), Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle‘s Footfall, and Robert Heinlein‘s The Number of the Beast. The main charge seems to be sexism and Scientology, but it’s also probably just bad writing. Of the four, I have only read the Heinlein novel, and boy is that a stinker! It was so bad that I was inspired to rewrite it for him, in hopes of making it better (a very relative term here). This is a thing I do sometimes, ‘rebuild’ pop culture artifacts. Don’t know if that one could ever be saved, but I tried. The 4 worth reading in the article were Ursula Le Guin‘s Always Coming Home, William Gibson‘s Neuromancer, Octavia Butler’s Dawn, and Samuel Delany‘s Stars In My Pockets Like Grains of Sand. I’ve read the first two and they are good, especially the first one. Moench’s opening essay about 80s scifi is worth reading. I must browse Book Riot some more.

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Moving over, briefly, to the Nineties, I listened to the album Penny Century by Australian group The Clouds to and from work today. This is in preparation for their upcoming Retroactive concert at the Corner Hotel in Richmond, which I’m attending. I was a big Clouds fan back in the Nineties. If you haven’t heard of them, think of the Pixies with two female lead singers (or maybe Kim and Kelly Deal). Maybe the Breeders are more to the point. Noisy powerpop, with lyrics about serial killers, mythology, witchcraft, alchemy, vampires, surrealism, and sex, lots of sex. I think they’ll be flogging some vinyl copies of their albums, but I already have PC on vinyl. That was their first full length album, and what a good album it was. I saw them at the Corner on a similar retro tour about 12 years ago. Whenever they tour, I will be there. Please check them out on Spotify and listen to their very first song, Cloudfactory. It will convert you!

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