For some, the allure of the decade that gave us Adam Ant, Prince, Madonna and Wham! is just as fresh as the Jordache jeans they once wore while bouncing down the street to Loverboy’s ‘Working For The Weekend!’ But those well-known pop staples weren’t the only anthems that dominated the Walkmans of the world. The 80s was a decade defined by excess: from the frothiest pop to hair metal’s testosterone and the darker depths of post-punk. Dig deeper into the cassette racks of yesteryear and dust off some of the under-the-radar 80s bands who possessed equal, if not greater talent than the icons we all know and love today.
Here are eight ’80s bands you need to listen to once more.
Johnny Hates Jazz
If you don’t instantly start bopping your head the second you hear the drum and keyboard intro to ‘Shattered Dreams’ and its lament of lost love, then you better check your pulse. In many ways, this song epitomises the 80s. While Johnny Hates Jazz didn’t last long as a band, they did manage to hang on for the latter half of the decade.
In fact, Johnny Hates Jazz not only spawned the classic songs ‘My Foolish Heart’, ‘I Don’t Want To Be A Hero’ and ‘Turn Back the Clock’, they also helped to springboard the career of then burgeoning filmmaker David Fincher. When ‘Shattered Dreams’ needed a video to make a splash on the all-powerful MTV, the future director of Se7en and Zodiac stepped up to the plate. The video was seen multiple times a day by a public who just couldn’t get enough of frontman/songwriter Clark Datchler and guitarist Mike Nocito’s heart and soul.
Hear: ‘Shattered Dreams’
Fun Boy Three
Formed by Terry Hall, Lynval Golding and Neville Staple, after they quit the immensely successful 2Tone ska band The Specials, the trio would take things in a poppier direction with their new group, Fun Boy Three. Their debut single, ‘The Lunatics (Have Taken Over The Asylum)’, may have sprung from The Specials’ sound, but their successive singles – ‘The Telephone Always Rings’ and their biggest UK hit, ‘It Ain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It)’ (with backing from Bananarama) offered jangly pop hits that were slightly left of centre. Perhaps due to their uncategorical nature, the group lacked staying power, but their influence lives on through the members subsequent side projects, from Hall’s work with Gorillaz to Neville’s collaborative work with The (English) Beat’s Ranking Roger, Special Beat.
Hear: ‘It Ain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It)’
Before Canada had Céline, they had Glass Tiger. Though some may remember them by their former moniker, Tokyo, by the time the Canadian rock outfit recorded their debut album, The Thin Red Line, they were using their new name. While Glass Tiger don’t enjoy the same enduring popularity as a Duran Duran, their 1986 debut album went quadruple-platinum in Canada, gold in the US, and produced two of the decade’s top hits, ‘Someday’ and ‘Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)’, the latter featuring backing vocals by Bryan Adams. Glass Tiger never became part of MTV’s regular rotation and, as a result, got lost in the shuffle of great 80s bands, but they were a true force of pop nature, putting Canada on the cultural map and paving the way for artists to come. (more…)