71 SCRITTI POLITTI
Songs To Remember (1982)
Songs To Remember saw Scritti transform from scratchy post-punk to pop without compromising on quality or intelligence. “The ‘Sweetest Girl’ ” demonstrated that pop sweetness could coat a cerebral lyrical pill, a trick ABC and Frankie would later emulate.
Best track: “Faithless”
70 JUDEE SILL
Judee Sill (1971)
Incandescent fusion of Laurel Canyon songwriting and Bach-style intricacy – “country-cult-baroque” Sill termed it. Her lyrics, drawing on junkiedom and a peculiarly sexualised Christianity, were more complex still.
Best track: “Jesus Was A Crossmaker”
69 ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN
Part-produced by Ian Broudie and Bill Drummond, the Bunnymen’s post-psychedelic dreamscapes marked them out as Liverpool’s answer to Joy Division. Frontman Ian McCulloch pouted like a cryptic Jim Morrison, while Will Sergeant’s choppy, restless guitar made instant classics of “Villiers Terrace” and “Happy Death Men”.
Best track: “Villiers Terrace”
Another Music In A Different Kitchen (1978)
When Howard Devoto left after the “Spiral Scratch” EP, odds were long on Buzzcocks reinventing themselves as the first modern pop group. With Pete Shelley now on vocals and Steve Diggle switching from bass to guitar, they achieved it with a furiously paced debut of unrequited love songs brimming with melodic and lyrical wit.
Best track: “Autonomy”
The godfathers of DIY electro-punk, Martin Rev’s propulsive melodies and Alan Vega’s stuttering rockabilly vocals dragged the ghosts of Elvis and Jim Morrison into the electronic age.
Best track: “Ghost Rider”
66 BEASTIE BOYS
Licensed To Ill (1986)
Producer Rick Rubin assembled the greatest party music of the period on this shotgun marriage of streetwise and cartoonish rock. The first hip hop LP to top the US chart, it was also parent label Columbia’s fastest-selling debut of all time.
Best track: “Paul Revere”
65 DEXYS MIDNIGHT RUNNERS
Searching For The Young Soul Rebels (1980)
Fusing the revolutionary spirit of punk with the brassy emotiveness of Stax, Dexys’ new soul vision was released to ecstatic acclaim by critics and public alike.
Best track: “I’m Just Looking”
“Autobahn” is seen as Krautrock’s premier contribution to road music. But it was ex-Kraftwerkians Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger, aka Neu!, who created a new chassis and engine of rhythm and sound on their debut, which had a sublime velocity and hood-down joy for which the word ‘motorik’ was coined.
Best track: “Hallogallo”
63 PERE UBU
The Modern Dance (1978)
While New York was overrun with studiously cool skinny punks, in post-industrial Cleveland, Ohio, a more bulbous and daringly uncool strain of avant-rock was emerging. This had all the headlong rush of Ramones, although vocalist David Thomas was flailingly existential, guitarist Tom Herman’s solos had the eviscerating force of a nervous breakdown, and Allen Ravenstine’s analogue synth interventions ran like brainwaves throughout.
Best track: “The Modern Dance”
62 THE ASSOCIATES
The Affectionate Punch (1980)
Mackenzie and Rankine’s intro to their kosmische kabarett, equal parts Bowie’s Berliner croon, Shirley Bassey sass and Kraftwerkian cool and John Barry Cinemascope. Pop music of unsurpassed strangeness and glamour.
Best track: “Amused As Always”