Thirty years ago, the 80s began (we thought we’d got John Lennon back but he was all too quickly taken away from us. Damn). I had just been conscripted and had begun to take pop and rock music appreciation seriously. Through the next ten years, I would discover amazing music and bands which to this day continue to thrill and touch me. During the 80s, I got out of army, did four years at Law School, got my degree, got a job, got married and became a father. Music was the soundtrack to it all. People often ask me about the best music of the 80s, so in the spirit of answering that question, here is part one of my top 25 essential LPs of the 80s (in alphabetical order, not by merit).

Architecture & Morality – OMD (1981)

At once experimental and mellifluous, synth-pop pioneers OMD combined its Kraftwerk obsessions with its love for pop melody with devastating effect. Still resonates to this day in the form of numerous synth-pop imitators. Contains the hits Souvenir, Joan Of Arc and Maid of Orleans (see video below).

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Avalon – Roxy Music (1982)

After a short hiatus, Roxy Music returned with the core nucleus of Bryan Ferry, Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay and a new sound. Eschewing the art-rock of its former incarnation, this lineup focused on slick, cool funk/R&B/dance music and launched the new romantic movement. Avalon was the crowning achievement. Contains the hits Avalon, More Than This and Take A Chance on Me.

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Doolittle – Pixies (1989)

At the tail end of the 80s, Pixies sounded like they came from another dimension altogether. Arguable, Doolittle was their finest moment and its influence would be heard all over the world two years later when Nirvana broke. No hits to report, but from this legendary album came incendiary majesties like Monkey Gone To Heaven, Wave of Mutilation, Here Comes Your Man and one of my favourite songs of all time, Debaser.

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Freedom – Neil Young (1989)

Neil spent the 80s screwing around with diverse genres (synth-pop, country, rockabilly) so much that his label, Geffen, sued him for “unrepresentative music”. Of course, the moment he re-signed with former label, Reprise, he delivered an album that turned out to be the comeback of 1989 – Freedom – a superb return to form! Contains his anthem Keep On Rocking in the Free World (see below) and other instant classics like Eldorado, Wrecking Ball and Don’t Cry.

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Full Moon Fever – Tom Petty (1989)

Petty’s first album sans the Heartbreakers (although most guested and Mike Campbell was heavily involved) turned out to be one of his biggest albums ever. Funny to think that the label could not hear any hits (!) and in fact hated megahit Free Fallin’. Which goes to show that the suits know sweet FA about music! Full Moon Fever was co-produced with ELO’s Jeff Lynne and is one of those albums you can listen to from start to finish. Includes Runnin’ Down A Dream, I Won’t Back Down, Love is a Long Road and of course, Free Fallin’. All together now “Now ah’m free…”

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…still there’s more…

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