The Eighties marked the end of punk rock, and the beginning of synth pop, hip-hop, and the domination of arena rock by glam metal bands. It may lack the defining and pivotal events from decades before – Beatlemania in the Sixties, and punk rock in the Seventies – but nonetheless, the Eighties remodelled music as we know it. With its constantly developing sub-genres, rock music became alien to many and natural to others.
10. The Rolling Stones – Tattoo You
After having to dig deep for new material (due to an impromptu tour), The Stones saw a return to their blues roots – which consequently laid the foundations for one of the least Eighties sounding albums.
9. James Brown – In The Jungle Groove
Amongst the most sampled albums of all time (‘Funky Drummer’ in particular is used time and time again by hip-hop artists), this 1986 release consists of some of the finest funk ever produced.
8. The Go Go’s – Beauty And The Beat
Tales of gossip, bitching, and teen love come together in this landmark album. With the opening lines of ‘Can you hear them? They talk about us’, who can help but side with Belinda Carlisle?
7. R.E.M. – Murmur
For many, the beginning of alternative rock started with this album. Drawing inspiration from Big Star and The Byrds, R.E.M. created the jingle-jangle masterpiece that is ‘Murmur’. Michael Stipe earns the attention of the listener through his near mumbling vocal style and enigmatic lyrics.
6. The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
An utterly flawless production that propelled The Stone Roses’ sound years ahead of its time, boasting the eight minute epic ‘I am the Resurrection’ – even today, the 1989 debut album has a mass cult following.
5. Bruce Springsteen – Born in The U.S.A.
Despite its bold title, ‘Born in The U.S.A.’ is more of an anti-Reagan statement than a glorifying patriotic one. While that part of the album was intentionally ironic, ‘Dancing in the Dark’ – a song written at a time when a depressed Springsteen felt he had reached his trough – became his biggest hit single.
4. The Smiths – The Smiths
This stunningly original album showcases youthful disaffection, operatic sighing, and an Oscar Wilde obsession. With topics ranging from alienation from the gay community to the Moors murders, this album contains many an ode to British teens and is as relevant then as now.
3. Prince & The Revolution – Purple Rain
What Prince’s film debut (of the same name) might lack, the soundtrack makes up for in this idiosyncratic marvel. Unlike previous albums, Prince demonstrated his incredible guitar work, adding to his fundamental blueprint for creating a great pop song (the album gave rise to five hit singles, including his first No. 1).
2. Talking Heads – Remain In Light
Perfected by the masterful Brian Eno, this eight track delight represents Talking Heads at their apex. The existential ‘Once in a Lifetime’ and Fela-inspired ‘Born Under Punches’ prove even the whitest of East Coast white boys can indulge in a little funk.
1. De La Soul – 3 Feet High and Rising
Humorous and totally unpretentious, ‘3 Feet High and Rising’ takes a step back from the confrontational hip-hop of Public Enemy and Beastie Boys and instead bears a positive and playful attitude. Even rap skeptics alike can’t help but sing along to tracks like ‘The Magic Number’ and ‘Me Myself and I’ – getting down with the kids has never been so effortless.