Playlist: Best of 1983

Yay. 27 whole years on this planet. Can’t.. contain.. my excitement….zzzz..

But hey, at least the year I was born brought some good music with it. To celebrate, I’ve put together a playlist of what I think is the best of 1983. I looked up all the major album releases from January to December and pulled the single best song from each album (lyrically and musically combined) and put them together in a playlist. And since autoplay annoys just about everyone, just clicky the little play button on each player as you go. Let’s count ‘em down, shall we?

January kicks off 1983 with Journey’s ‘Frontiers’ album. Of course it does. Because 1983 was a great year for music. And I mean, Journey.. well, you know how I am about Journey. (If you don’t, you will soon.) Picking the single best song on this album was pretty difficult. So many good ones to choose from. But “Faithfully” won out because of its status on my list of “The Most Epic Love Songs Ever Written” (playlist to come). Best. Bridge. Ever.¬†Pretty sure my iTunes playcount for this song is ridiculous.

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February gets a little punky with The Ramones’ ‘Subterranean Jungle’. I have to admit that I’ve never listened to The Ramones much, but picking through this album has piqued my curiosity. The song I chose was “My-My Kind of Girl”. I like the combination of the retro jukebox-in-a-diner kind of sound with his deeper, rock-and-roll vocal styling. Feels like something isn’t quite right in a way I really like. Almost like an itch you can’t find to scratch.

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March was completely uneventful, so I skipped it altogether. Nothing personal.

April brought David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ album. While I like the song the album was named for, I chose a different song for the playlist. “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)” was much more interesting lyrically. I mean, putting out fire with gasoline? Seriously.

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May brought what I think is one of Bob Marley’s best albums, ‘Confrontation’. Lots of musicians play to politics in their music, but Marley’s approach is unique even now. I pulled “Stiff Necked Fools” as my song of choice for the album. It sounds so chill, like you should listen to it on the way to the beach, but the message in his words is so pointed and sharp. Interesting juxtaposition.

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I chose two songs for June. Initially I was going to side-step Stevie Nicks’ ‘Wild Heart’ album completely, but when I listened to “I Will Run To You” with Tom Petty, I couldn’t sacrifice it.

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But I couldn’t have a ‘Best of 1983′ playlist without “Wrapped Around Your Finger” from The Police’s album ‘Synchronicity’, either. First of all, cool album name. Album names are important. And I love his usage of Greek mythology in his metaphors. Lyrically brilliant. So June gets two.

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Again we skip a month. July had no album releases worth noting.

But I made up for it in August. Four albums I couldn’t pass up. First up is Elvis Costello & The Attractions with ‘Punch The Clock’. The song I chose is “The Greatest Thing”. Costello is great with a punchline mid-story, and I love the second and third verse where he runs his words together without slurring. I like a fast-talker, and as one of my favorite artists, there was no leaving him off the list. (Which reminds me I should post my videos from last year’s concert with Utah Symphony… Life. Altering.)

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Next up in August is Black Sabbath’s ‘Born Again’. I’ve never claimed to be a big fan of Black Sabbath, but as I picked through the album, I realized that’s because I’ve never given Ozzy much of a shot. He’s so wacky nowadays. Serious damage, and not just from the drugs. But I guess that comes from somewhere, and it’s interesting. Plus, I gotta give him credit for that voice. I chose the title song, “Born Again”. Something about the crawling guitar riffs and haunting lyrics reminded me of my brother who was sort of MIA a lot of the time growing up. He influenced my musical taste a fair bit during my teenage years, and the lyrics from this song painted a familiar picture.

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From there we go straight into some Billy Joel. I know, best transition ever, right? Good ol’ Bill. Just the other day I sat down at my dad’s piano and played some classic “Piano Man” as my sister rocked the lyrics. Good times. His 1983 album was ‘Innocent Man’, and while there are a few good classic Billy Joel hits on that album, “Uptown Girl” has been on so many of my mix CDs (who does that anymore?) that it was the clear winner. Makes me want to go to the Malt Shoppe for ice cream shakes.

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The last song for August comes from an unexpected place. The Moody Blues put out their album ‘The Present’ in 1983. I had a hard time finding it, so I hopped on Grooveshark to pick my favorite from the album – which strangely ended up being “It’s Cold Outside of Your Heart” -¬†then used Audio Hijack to “record” a copy of it. I know. I cheated. Sue me.

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September brings us Johnny Cash with his ‘Johnny 99′ album. I had to cheat again because I could find a copy of the album to download. “Girl From The Canyon” is the song of choice from this album. Shows sort of a softer side of him, I think. The lyrics lend more insight than the words alone. Very interesting.

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October is another month where I ended up with two songs I couldn’t choose between. “That’s All” from Genesis’ self-titled album, and “Sweetheart Like You” from Bob Dyland’s ‘Infidels’. I’ll just post the songs and let them tell their own stories. But I will say that I just love that Phil Collins. And Genesis was better before he left, I don’t care what you say.

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In November, The Rolling Stones released their album ‘Undercover’. This whole album is really interesting when you take apart the pieces. But I liked “Too Tough” most. It’s one part aggression, two parts cynicism. It’s crunchy, and I love it.

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The Cure brings the year to a close with their album ‘Japanese Whispers’. The album title alone was so interesting considering the time frame that I had to investigate. Several of the songs were candidates for the playlist, but ultimately “The Lovecats” won out. It’s just so weird. Cat calls? Hissing? Awesome.

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Good year.

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