My purpose with this list is to potentially turn the average hard rockin’ decibel geek on to some quality albums from 1984 that perhaps they may have not considered investigating previously, so this is not a list of my favorite albums from 1984 but rather a list of some albums from that year that I like quite a bit and feel perhaps you might like as well if (in some instances) you give them a chance. Enjoy.
12. Zebra – No Tellin’ Lies
Hard rockers from New Orleans Zebra would really hit their stride on their third album 3V in 1986 but the band’s second album No Tellin’ Lies, produced by Jack Douglas, is quite good, definitely maintaining the quality of the band’s debut.
11. Minor Threat – Minor Threat
Minor Threat were an early Washington D.C. hardcore band and the precursor to one of the coolest bands of the nineties, Fugazi. Led by the inimitable Ian MacKaye they were an aggressively independent band with their own record label and a clear agenda.
10. Trouble – Psalm 9
Trouble were a very cool heavy metal band out of Chicago. They would reinvent themselves later in their career making some very cool “doom metal” albums for Def American but on this, their first release, they were playing a more traditional brand of heavy metal, and doing it quite well.
9. Savatage – The Dungeons Are Calling
Savatage were an innovative metal band out of Florida. Their first two albums Sirens and The Dungeons Are Calling feature a highly original take on heavy metal. They streamlined the sound when they signed with a major label but their Atlantic debut Power of the Night is still a killer album. After that they made a couple of weak attempts at finding mainstream acceptance before wisely reverting back to their classic sound on Hall of the Mountain King.
8. Husker Du – Zen Arcade
Husker Du were a Minneapolis hardcore band that morphed into a pop punk band. I’ve always had mixed feelings about the guitar tone and overall production on the records, not to mention Bob Mould’s voice, but the quality of the songwriting is undeniable. Their best albums were yet to come but Zen Arcade set the table for their personal renaissance.
7. R.E.M. – Reckoning
R.E.M.’s debut album Murmur is very highly regarded and rightfully so but I would argue that their sophomore release Reckoning is just as good, probably better, and the album’s opening track “Harborcoat” is probably my favorite R.E.M. song. I know a lot of metal and hard rock fans regard R.E.M. as lightweight but they were a different band on these first two albums, cutting edge and very cool with a strong post-punk ethos.
6. The Alarm – Declaration
The Alarm were a killer new wave band from North Wales with hair as high as their aspirations. Declaration is their debut full length record and it features a highly energetic and original take on rootsy rock and roll for the eighties. Great stuff.
5. Big Country – Steeltown
Previous band The Alarm were doing something very similar to Big Country whose second album Steeltown, while not nearly as good as their brilliant debut The Crossing from the previous year, is still very, very good.
4. Queen – The Works
While it may be hard to top the Queen of the seventies Queen wrote some great songs in the eighties as well. They might have taken some misguided detours along the way but all of their albums (except maybe Hot Space) are worth checking out, and 1984’s The Works might be one of the most overlooked. The singles “Radio Ga Ga” “I Want to Break Free” are great and “Hammer To Fall” is an absolutely fantastic hard rocker.
3. The Go-Go’s – Talk Show
I love the Go-Go’s and you should too. They started out as a punk band you know. They were very talented songwriters and musicians. Not a gimmick, they were great. Talk Show is their third and last album (of the eighties at least) and it’s a good record but the real gem here is the opening track and first single, an amazing driving rock song called “Head Over Heels.” I freakin’ love that song, it’s probably their best.
2. Slade – Keep Your Hands Off My Power Supply
This was the American version of Slade’s 1983 UK release called The Amazing Kamikaze Syndrome and this album included Slade’s biggest hit in America (not counting those Quiet Riot covers), a bouncy new wave song called “Run Runaway.” I love that song but it’s important to note that a lot of this record is hooky hard rock, not to be missed. It’s a great album by a GREAT band.
1. The Replacements – Let It Be
I am not sure how many Decibel Geek listeners are Replacements fans but I am guessing not enough. The Replacements were a quintessential rock and roll band. This is my favorite album by the band, it’s a classic album deserving of a spot in the rock and roll pantheon. And they cover “Black Diamond.”