Thursday, April 3, 2008

Best 80's Albums No One Ever Listened To: Chapter 1

The Tigers are 0-3, Lost is a repeat, my beer isn't cold, and I need something to cheer me up.

I said when I started that this wouldn't always be about the Tigers or baseball cards. Well, I'm not lying.

This is the first in what will surely be a long list of great 80's albums that for whatever reason just didn't make it big. I've never written about music, except to say things like "The Joshua Tree rocks!" or "Slippery When Wet sucks!" I don't have a thesaurus full of music terms in my head. I won't offer up any reasons as to why so and so's album didn't make it big. I'm just giving the straight dope on some great tunes that were somehow overlooked.

Let me give a little bit of backstory about me. I was recently released from a 20 year sentence of living and working in Memphis, TN and now reside in the Windy City. The difference between the two is night and day, and the subject for somewhere other than here. 

A few years ago, my car was broken into, and my radio was destroyed. Not stolen mind you, just utterly fucking destroyed. As that was the umpteenth time that I'd been robbed while living in Memphis, I finally said fuck it, and just left goddamned destroyed radio there in the car as a deterrent to any more sorry Memphis motherfuckers who decided they needed my shit more than I did.

Well now that I've got that out of my system, this brings me to yesterday, when I went to Big Box and purchased a new car stereo. Imagine my surprise to find that they make stereos that you can plug an iPod into! Oh boy!

On my commute home from work today, I queued up this fantastic, forgotten album by The BoDeans, Outside Looking In

Imagine if Bob Dylan and Jackson Browne added lead vocals to the E Street Band and the Heartbreakers for a fresh and exciting mix of rock and roll in the time of hair bands and Yo! MTV Raps. Would you listen to such an album? Hell yes you would! And you'd be one of about three people....

From the anthemic rockers Dreams, Only Love, Forever Young (The Wild Ones) and What It Feels Like, to the melodic pop of Don't Be Lonely and Runaway Love, the gospel soul of Fool, and the wispy alt-country ballad I'm In Trouble Again, this is that rarest of albums that spans so many genres and does them all very well.

Released the same year that The Rolling Stone magazine named them Best New Band of 1987, the album enjoyed critical but little commercial success and that is a crying shame. Given that they are pretty much known only for that really mediocre song from Party Of Five, it is an even bigger shame.

If you find that you are one of the many who missed this great album, you owe it to yourself to find a copy and listen to it really loud. (You can usually find several copies at any given time on ebay for less than a buck)


Christian said...

You should also check out Black & White. It is like a soundtrack to a John Hughes movie that never existed.

If you really want to hear a great late 80s song, dig up DEATH DEFYING by HOODOOS GURUS from their MARS NEEDS GUITARS cd. Love that song.

JT Dobbs said...

Easily the high water mark for the BoDeans. It's a shame they started trying to sound like U2 in subsequent years. Though they eventually abandoned that sound too in an attempt to re-write the theme song from Friends.

I guess they had some decent songs after this record, but nothing ever came close to Only Love or What It Feels Like.