10. Berlin - Pleasure Victim
Those who take independently recorded and released music for granted these days may need a refresher course in how much of an uphill battle such endeavors were in 1982. That an unknown L.A. band could not only succeed in cutting an album for less than $3,000, but also sell over 25,000 copies quickly got the attention of the same record labels that had already passed on the band.
Pleasure Victim remains the band's best-selling album, certified platinum in 1993 and spawning "80's lunch" staples "The Metro" and "Sex (I'm A)". Not bad for an album that was almost universally panned upon release for its overt sexual references and "cheesy-sounding synths". This writer is hopeful that the album currently being recorded by the reunited original line-up will recapture the campy rawness of Pleasure Victim as opposed to the overly glossy mainstream act they turned into on Love Life.
9. Duran Duran - Seven & The Ragged Tiger
While Rio had been the proverbial sneak attack, unexpected by the American audience that quickly embraced it, Seven & The Ragged Tiger was an album that everybody saw coming and for which there were huge expectations to not only match the success of Rio, but to build on it.
To do so, Duran did the unthinkable and ditched producer Colin Thurston, who had produced their first two albums, in favor of Alex Sadkin (Bob Marley, Grace Jones, Thompson Twins) and Ian Little (OMD, Sparks, Roxy Music). The album outsold Rio, but peaked at #8, whereas Rio had managed to hit #6. That Duran Duran were able to create an album under such scrutiny that matches Rio step for step earns it a place in this list's Top 10.
8. Wall of Voodoo - Call of The West
On an L.A. scene loaded to the rim with breakout new wave acts, Wall of Voodoo stood alone even then for their genius mix of spaghetti western soundtrack aesthetics given further lo-fi production treatment and Stan Ridgway's trademark sing-speak vocal style.
|Photo: Paul Natkin|
7. Devo - Freedom of Choice
There are many albums for which the sole hit single was by far the best song on the album, but for how many albums can it be argued that "the hit" was actually one of the weaker songs on the album?
In the case of "Whip it", remove it from the track listing of Devo's third studio album and what you are left with is a uniformly hooky and intelligent collection of tracks that never fall into campy self-parody, yet sure-fire gems like "Girl U Want", "Gates of Steel" and the album's title cut all failed to chart.
With what three songs did the band hit the Top 100? The aforementioned "Whip It", the equally hokey "Working In A Coalmine" and, yes, even the "Theme From Dr. Detroit". Sigh.
6. A Flock of Seagulls - s/t
Released in April 1982, before new wave had truly gone mainstream, the self-titled debut by A Flock Of Seagulls is a sonic delight from start to finish thanks to the production efforts of the legendary Mike Howlett The Alarm, OMD, Gang of Four) and criminally underrated multi-instrumentalist Bill Nelson (Be Bop Deluxe).
Had MTV not come along at the precise moment that they did, it's safe to say that the band's visual elements would not have overshadowed their musical prowess and ability to create unforgettable ear worm hooks so effortlessly, but they'd have more than likely not achieved the same levek of success that they attained via the success of "I Ran" and "Space Age Love Song".