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Laurence Station's Top 10 Albums of the 1980s

1. Hüsker Dü: Zen Arcade (SST, 1984)
Direct and raw, overcoming production limitations with an immediacy and breakneck energy that ensure it will never seem dated.
 
2. R.E.M.: Murmur (IRS, 1983)
Chronic Town merely hinted at the potential realized on this remarkable, full-length debut release.
3. Public Enemy: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (Def Jam, 1988)
Forget the controversy and outrage; what made this album so groundbreaking were the dense beats and revolutionary tape loops.
 
4. Dinosaur Jr.: You're Living All Over Me (SST, 1987)
The sound of the Alternative '90s surfaces three years early. Time has not dimmed the volcanic impact of this landmark effort.
5. The Stone Roses: The Stone Roses (Silvertone, 1989)
One of the great guitar-driven pop records. Janus-like in looking back to the 1960s, while anticipating the sound of British rock in the 1990s.
 
6. X: Wild Gift (Slash, 1981)
Better crafted and more melodic than Los Angeles, a rock solid benchmark for later pop-punk efforts.
7. Prince: Sign O' The Times (Paisley Park, 1987)
Partially culled from the abandoned Crystal Ball sessions, the messiest, most diverse and unwieldy album the Purple One ever released. Also his very best.
 
8. Minutemen: Double Nickels on the Dime (SST, 1984)
Anything goes, from blues-based cuts to the stray Van Halen cover. Ferociously daring and original, this is a brilliant patchwork.
9. Sonic Youth: Daydream Nation (Enigma, 1988)
Art rock mixed with an uncompromising punk ethos. All the pieces fit on this, the band's high water mark.
 
10. Pixies: Doolittle (4AD/Elektra, 1989)
Less abrasive than Surfer Rosa, with catchier melodies and a greater attention to songcraft. An infectious, alternative pop masterstroke.
 
How big were the Big '80s? Check out the sizable list of high quality efforts that didn't make the elite ten:
 
  • Aztec Camera: High Land, Hard Rain (Sire, 1983)
  • Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique (Capitol, 1989)
  • Camper Van Beethoven: Telephone Free Landslide Victory (IRS, 1985)
  • De La Soul: 3 Feet High and Rising (Tommy Boy, 1989)
  • Echo & the Bunnymen: Ocean Rain (Sire, 1984)
  • Eric B. & Rakim: Paid in Full (4th & Broadway, 1987)
  • Eric B. & Rakim: Follow the Leader (UNI, 1988)
  • The Feelies: The Good Earth (Twin/Tone, 1986)
  • Fugazi: 13 Songs (Dischord, 1989)
  • Guadalcanal Diary: 2X4 (Elektra, 1987)
  • Hüsker Dü: New Day Rising (SST, 1985)
  • Hüsker Dü: Flip Your Wig (SST, 1985)
  • Hüsker Dü: Warehouse: Songs & Stories (Warner Bros., 1987)
  • The Jesus & Mary Chain: Psychocandy (Blanco y Negro, 1985)
  • Mission Of Burma: Vs. (Rykodisc, 1982)
  • Nine Inch Nails: Pretty Hate Machine (TVT, 1989)
  • The Pogues: If I Should Fall From Grace With God (Island, 1987)
  • The Police: Zenyatta Mondatta (A&M, 1980)
  • R.E.M.: Document (IRS, 1987)
  • The Replacements: Let It Be (Twin/Tone, 1984)
  • Paul Simon: Graceland (Warner Bros., 1986)
  • The Smiths: The Queen Is Dead (Sire, 1986)
  • The Soft Boys: Underwater Moonlight (Rykodisc, 1980)
  • Sonic Youth: Sister (SST, 1987)
  • Talking Heads: Remain In Light (Sire, 1980)
  • U2: The Joshua Tree (Island, 1987)
  • Tom Waits: Swordfishtrombones (Island, 1983)
  • X: Los Angeles (Slash, 1980)
  • X: Under the Big Black Sun (Elektra, 1982)

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