80s Thursday - Best songs of 1980 (part 5)

A lot of great music came out of England in the early 80s. In the next few weeks for 80s Thursday, I will look at 1980 albums by UK artists. I've attempted to group them together in a cohesive way.

Album: Closer by Joy Division
I already reviewed the album here. One of the darkest LPs ever made. It's well known that the shadow of Ian Curtis' suicide looms over the album and even the sleeve. There's emotional turmoil embedded in the lyrics and vocal, and the instrumentation elevates the sense of doom. It's difficult not to be affected by the brooding atmosphere. For me, especially Side B offers the most haunting moments. Of course, arguably the best songs were not even on the record, but released as stand-alone singles.
Listen to: 
Twenty Four Hours
Atrocity Exhibition
The Eternal
Non-album singles:
Love Will Tear Us Apart
B-sides to the singles:
These Days
Dead Souls

Album: Seventeen Seconds by The Cure
While it isn't my favorite Cure album, it is a minor classic and established the group's gothic rock direction. Beautiful guitar work, and a production that sounds far more expensive than it actually was.
Listen to:
A Forest
In Your House
Play For Today

Album: Visage by Visage
Features Visage's most recognizable song, Fade To Grey, in which the synthesizer and vocal work is iconic. You may remember the tune was played in the ball room scene in the film Laurence Anyways (2012). The way Visage dressed and used make up was inspired by Bowie and paved the way for other artists in the early 80s in what was known as New Romanticism.
Visage are also known for their inventive videos which helped promote their music to a wider audience. In fact, David Bowie recruited Visage lead singer Steve Strange and designer Judith Frankland for his 1980 video for Ashes to Ashes. Frankland had designed clothes for Strange's Visage videos, so they were inspired both ways.
Listen to:
Fade To Grey
Mind of A Toy

Albums: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark by OMD & Organisation by OMD
The band were very productive early on. Releasing not just their debut album, also their second album in 1980! So I'll share my favorites from both. Great synth work.
Listen to:
Enola Gay

Gentlemen Take Polaroids by Japan
There's a definite Bryan Ferry/Duran Duran vibe about the vocal. The songs work on their own terms, so the comparisons to other artists don't really matter. Very atmospheric, very underrated.
Listen to:
Taking Islands In Africa
Gentlemen Take Polaroids

Best songs of 1980 (part 1) (part 2) (part 3) (part 4) (part 5) (part 6) (part 7) (part 8) (part 9) (part 10) (part 11) (part 12) (part 13)

What do you think of this music, any favorites? Did I miss any songs from these albums which you think deserve praise? As always, comments are welcome.
Next Thursday, I'll tackle five albums by female singers from the UK, stay tuned!


  1. With the exception of Japan as I still haven't heard any of their stuff, the rest I totally recommend.

    1. @thevoidd99: Glad you are a fan of the music! For this 80s project, I’m including lesser known artists like Japan or John Cougar(last week), so even readers who are familiar with the 80s might discover hidden gems.

  2. Interesting blog, Chris. I don't listen to much 80s stuff now, but I was in my late teens/twenties during that rather schizophrenic decade, and spent some of those years working in a record shop, so a lot here is very resonant. I was very much into Japan, Joy Division and Cure for a while - it all seemed to be a natural progression from punk.

    1. @C: Thanks for reading. Must have been quite educational for you to work in a record shop during that time. It’s interesting how these underground punk and then post punk bands crossed over into the mainstream, and we are better off for it. Although I know some fans felt certain bands sold out over time

  3. Decades was my favourite new-to-me 80s tune of the past year, you're right, that side B of closer is especially haunting.
    Nice idea for a series!

    1. @1001albumsin10years: Yes, Closer is an album which still holds up today. Side B is stunning. Thanks for checking out the series and hope to see you around!

  4. I LOVE Closer, and I like what little I've heard from OMD, so I need to check out their earlier work.

    1. @Josh: Closer is timeless. OMD are definitely a band you should dig into, since you said you are into synthpop. Their 1981 album is even better.


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