Premier music magazine Rolling Stone has reissued their 100 best albums of the eighties online. The original publication was November 16, 1989. Of course we won’t post all 100 albums but here’s their top 10 and a link so you can check out the rest! Rolling Stone’s best albums of the eighties list is sure to spark up as much conversation as it did when it was first released.
10. Tracy Chapman, “Tracy Chapman”
Tracy Chapman was discovered in 1987 by fellow Tufts University student Brian Koppelman. “I was helping organize a boycott protest against apartheid at school, and someone told me there was this great protest singer I should get to play at the rally,” says Koppelman, who now works in A&R at Elektra. He went to see Chapman perform at a coffeehouse called Cappuccino. “Tracy walked onstage, and it was like an epiphany,” he says. “Her presence, her voice, her songs, her sincerity — it all came across.”
9. Richard and Linda Thompson, “Shoot Out the Lights”
“Even in the best days of our marriage, Richard and I didn’t communicate with each other fabulously well,” says Linda Thompson. “I think that the reason the music was good was that we tended to save it for work.” Perhaps that explains why “Shoot Out the Lights” is both the best and last album Richard and Linda Thompson made together.
8. R.E.M., “Murmur”
The members of R.E.M. incorporated elements of folk and country music into pop that was, by turns, bright and murky. Theirs was a quasi-traditional yet boundary-breaking sound that served as a blueprint for alternative bands throughout America for the rest of the decade.
7. Michael Jackson, “Thriller”
“Thriller,” reportedly recorded for $750,000, has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide — and it still sells. It earned Jackson over 150 gold and platinum awards worldwide and a record seven Grammys.
6. Bruce Springsteen, “Born in the U.S.A.”
“Born in the U.S.A.” — the album, the song and the sixteen-month tour — turned out to be the breakthrough that Springsteen fans had been expecting for a decade. The influential Jersey musician became the world’s biggest rock star — and a bona fide American icon, to boot.
5. Paul Simon, “Graceland”
The journey to “Graceland” began with an unlabeled cassette tape that guitarist Heidi Berg gave to Simon, who listened to it incessantly, without knowing what it was, throughout the summer of 1984.
4. Talking Heads, “Remain in Light”
“Remain in Light” may have been a commercial disappointment, but musically, the band’s 1980 album — which combines funk, disco and African rhythms — was years ahead of its time. “It got great critical acclaim, and we felt that it kind of took popular music to the next phase,” says Frantz, “which is what we always wanted to do.”
3. U2, “The Joshua Tree”
“The Joshua Tree” is the rather esoterically titled album he’s referring to — a title that even the typically solemn Bono could joke about.
2. Prince and the Revolution, “Purple Rain”
Released in tandem with the film of the same name, “Purple Rain” was more than simply a soundtrack, and it stands as Prince’s most cohesive and accessible album. “He envisioned the film as he made the album,” says Alan Leeds, vice-president of Paisley Park Records, Prince’s label. “He had a vision in his mind of the film a year before he got in front of the cameras, and he wrote the music to that vision.”
1. The Clash, “London Calling”
This album could not have come at a more perfect time or from a more appropriate band than the Clash. Released stateside in January 1980, with the decade but a pup and the new year in gear, “London Calling” was an emergency broadcast from rock’s Last Angry Band, serving notice that Armageddon was nigh, Western society was rotten at the core, and rock & roll needed a good boot in the rear.
Check out the rest of Rolling Stone’s Top 100 Best Albums of the Eighties!