Songwriting in the 1980s


I’ve been thinking about this for a while, ever since we’ve been doing the Picks of the Years thing. What got me really started on this was the way that the 1980s divides people. For some, it is the Decade That Taste Forgot and for others it is Pop Heaven. Personally, I reckon that the 80s were like all the other decades, there was good and bad.

One thing that is very 1980s is a kind of glossy slickness, perfect production and a big, wide-screen sound, but never fear, you won’t be hearing anything from the artists in the picture above.

Of course, there are other sides to ’80s music but it is the songwriting, production and general “bigness” of the whole thing that I have been thinking about. Even the intimate and emotionally-charged songs seem to have a sense of epic scale about them. OK, so sometimes it ends up being a musical equivalent of Top Gun, but that just screams out “1980s” anyway.

So, here is a playlist that showcases the glossy sound, the production, the soulful flourishes (without being soul music) and the all-round epic qualities. All of the artists are British, some are bigger names than others, one or two are probably not as well-known as they should be but all of the tracks I’ve picked show up at least one facet of what I’ve been rambling on about.


Dead Daft

Ice Cream KidWhen they announced three Fare Thee Well shows in Chicago to celebrate the Grateful Dead’s 50th birthday, I wasn’t that interested. Why spend a fortune to see an ‘almost’ version of a band I love yet which faded long ago? The shenanigans around ticketing, reported on, confirmed my view.

But then they posted a sweet message announcing two more shows on Bay Area home turf and a lottery-style, fair-ish way of getting seats. Suddenly, I felt I was being invited to a party with 65,000 friends, so I committed to spending hundreds of dollars on tickets and a grand or so on flights and accommodation…..

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Winter Popfest 2014

It’s not them, it’s me. If DsD is falling for sappy ballads in his dotage, i seem to be going for feelgood pop in mine. I really wanted to be hooked on droney stuff, like the Swans and Temple and Parquet Courts. Or grab my pipe and slippers and hang out with Beck, or stare out the window at the dismal weather with the War On Drugs, or brood with Bonnie Prince Billy. But seems that most of what i found this year that hit the spot is a spectrum of pop.

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Kew, Queues, Qawwali-for-Youth, Poppies, In-Laws & Grub

(10 ‘Spill points & a drink of your choosing to the first person to ‘get’ the lyrical reference in that title.)


I pretty much missed Shane’s first proper RR Guru stint, much to my own annoyance. Did you notice? No? Oh well, as you were ….

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No More Dealing, ‘Arry, awwigh’?


What a transfer window that was! The Premier League continues to obscenely devour itself out of pure greed, and I get no more comfortable coping with that. But nonetheless, let’s talk about it.

– Time to vent that spleen, Toon fans!
– End of an era at LFC, with Dagger and Pepe leaving permanently?
– The Mancs now challenging the Arse as the team with least connection to its roots?
– Southampton fans: sleeping any better now?

And let’s try adding a poll; I’ve never done that in a DsD post – Who was August’s “best” acquisition, IYHO?

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