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*Nothing new added in edit, just amending an error!*
For me the 80s covered the ages of 6 through to 16 and as I stated in my Top 10 singles of he 80s op, I seem to have attached music of the day to most of my childhood memories. This time I shall run you through my 10 favourite 80s bands, giving some information on the achievements of each during the decade.
One again trimming the list was difficult, so I came up with a few rules. The group had to have the longevity factor, so groups such as The Vapors (no. 3 in 1980 with ‘Turning Japanese’ and two hits peaking at 44), while being a favourite of mine, do not make the final cut. Similarly, if the group spanned 2 decades, with most of my personal favourites of theirs falling into the wrong decade, they do not feature. This culled great bands such as Blondie and The Undertones, two of my all-time favourites. I had to give Feargal Sharkey and the Undertone boys an honourable mention in the title, ‘Teenage Kicks’ being their first and most well-known hit, and John Peel’s favourite record of all time.
I know will have missed off loads of top bands (Squeeze in my opinion being the greatest crime), but as I say, trimming the list is hard, and there are several greats on the cutting room floor.
1. The Jam. Number of 80s UK hits = 9 Top 10 hits = 8 Number 1 hits = 4
Number 1s: Going Underground / Dreams of Children (double A). 1980 – straight in at no.1. Start. 1980. Town Called Malice / Precious (double A). 1982 – straight in at no.1. Beat Surrender (The Jam’s final hit). 1982 – straight in at no.1.
The Jam began their very successful and influential as a 1977 punk-based mod trio hailing from Surrey. The time came with the unintentional inclusion of ‘Going Underground’ as an A-side rather the intended B-side. The single became the first of three of their hits to enter the chart at number 1 – no other group had ever done that in chart history. In 1983, following the bands 1982 split, a back catalogue of hits was re-released, creating yet another record of having 13 simultaneous top 75 hits! The band only lasted into 1983, with the differences between Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler becoming too great. Paul Weller didn’t do too badly for himself though!
2. Madness. Number of 80s UK hits = 22 Top 10 hits = 14 Number 1 hits = 1
Number 1: House Of Fun. 1982.
The 7 ‘nutty boys’ spent more weeks on the chart in the 1980s than any other group with their own unique ska sound. My collection of Madness singles is a treasured possession, not just because of the music, but also the fantastic sleeves! ‘Baggy Trousers’, peaking at number 3 and spending 20 weeks on the chart makes my Top10 singles of all time.
3. The Police. Number of 80s UK hits = 12 Top 10 hits = 7 Number 1 hits = 3
Number 1s: Don’t Stand So Close To Me. 1980 – straight in at no.1. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic. 1981. Every Breath You Take. 1983. Also a US no.1.
Sting (Gordon Sumner), Andy Summers (guitar) and Stewart Copeland (drums, American and composer of The Equalizer theme tune!) achieved international acclaim in the early 1980s. They had 5 successive albums enter the UK chart at number 1… in the days when having one was a claim to fame. Their sound was simple (twangy guitar…that’s a technical term, you know, throbbing base and simple drumming, drawn together by the never to be repeated voice of Sting.
4. Fine Young Cannibals. Number of 80s UK hits = 9 Top 10 hits = 5 Number 1 hits = 0
Despite never rising higher than number 5 in the UK, Roland Gift and his two fine young cannibals had 2 chart-toppers Stateside, with ‘She Drives Me Crazy’ and ‘Good Thing’, both in 1989. A friend of mine, while at university in Hull, once went to a party and spent the whole evening talking to ‘this bloke called Roland Gift who acts and used to be in the charts’! This was a week after sharing a few pints in his local with none other than Hull’s finest, Paul Heaton (see Housemartins). Obviously Hull is the place to be. Maybe not, eh!
5. Adam and the Ants. Number of 80s UK hits = 19 Top 10 hits = 10 Number 1 hits = 3
Number 1s: Stand and Deliver. 1981 – straight in at no.1. Prince Charming. 1981. Goody Two Shoes. 1982 (as Adam Ant).
OK. So Adam (Stuart Goddard) looked like and dressed up in a big girl’s blouse and wore a nose strip Robbie Fowler would be proud of… but he made fantastic records. I prefer the Ants’ very early material – songs like ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’ and ‘Dog Eat Dog’. However, I still find myself singing classics like Prince Charming over 20 years after their release… surely a sign of a good song (or else a sign of a very sad nearly 30 year old… I stress the ‘nearly’). Adam and the Ants was the top chart act of 1981… a year in which they had 9 hits and racked up a grand total of 91 chart weeks… a total not bettered until Oasis managed 134 in 1996! However, Oasis relied on the re-entry of their entire back catalogue to achieve that total… Adam and the Ants did it with fresh material.
6. Housemartins. Number of 80s UK hits = 8 Top 10 hits = 2 Number 1 hits = 1
Number 1: Caravan of Love. 1986.
Paul Heaton is my favourite lyricist of all time. The sharp, self-deprecating wit his weaves into his songs is amazing. I have every album he has ever written, from the first Housemartins release, right through the Beautiful South collection, to his latest incarnation as Biscuit Boy, and I can honestly say there is not a single song I dislike. Paul Heaton originates from the Wirral, if I remember rightly, moving to Sheffield as a boy and later to Hull, for which he is somehow famous! The title of the most well-known Housemartins album is London 0, Hull 4. The Housemartins also spawned Norman Cook, better known these days as Fatboy Slim.
7. UB40. Number of 80s UK hits = 27 Top 10 hits = 12 Number 1 hits = 2
Number 1s: Red, Red Wine. 1983 – also a US no.1. I Got You Babe (with Chrissie Hynde). 1985.
UB40 (featuring brothers Ali and Robin Campbell – Ali being the recognisable front man) are reggae’s most successful transatlantic act, with only 3 groups of any ilk having more chart hits (Status Quo, Queen and The Rolling Stones). They took their name from the number of the UK unemployment benefit form, and a number of their early hits had political themes.
8. Human League. Number of 80s UK hits = 16 Top 10 hits = 7 Number 1 hits = 1
Number 1: Don’t You Want Me. 1981 – also a US no.1.
Another Yorkshire band… this time from Sheffield. Jarvis Cocker claims to nearly have run down front-man Phil Oakey once in his car! I was once in a car travelling through the countryside between Harrogate and Leeds when we nearly knocked Jimmy Saville over, but that’s another story! ‘Don’t You Want Me’ was a huge million-seller in the UK as well as reaching number 1 in the US, The single ‘Human’, which reached number 8 in the UK in 1986 was a second US number 1 for the band.
9. Specials / Fun Boy 3. Number of 80s UK hits = 9/8 Top 10 hits = 6/4 Number 1 hits = 2/0
Number 1s (both Specials): The Special AKA Live EP (included ‘Too Much Too Young’). 1980. Ghost Town. 1981.
Another band involved in the late 70s/early 80s ska revival. This Coventry based band founded the famous 2-Tone label, recognisable by the black and white checkerboard design and black and white suited man in pork-pie hat! I have included Fun Boy Three since Terry Hall, Neville Staples and Lynval Golding broke from the Specials to form the new group, famous for duets with Bananarama!
10. The Beat. Number of 80s UK hits = 12 Top 10 hits = 4 Number 1 hits = 0
A little bit of a liberty here… another ska band that didn’t set the world alight, but did mine, with hits such as ‘Too Nice To Talk To’, ‘Mirror In The Bathroom’ and ‘Hands Off – She’s Mine’.
So there you have it… hope you found something of interest… I’d love to know who your favourite 80s band was… please mention them if you leave a message. And AnitaM… I have already guessed… Wham!
So much good music around at this time. Chrissie Hynde must get a mention.......:o)
elkiedee 28.01.2004 02:32
I really liked most of these - particularly the Jam and The Specials/Fun Boy Three - though my favourites from the Fun Boy Three probably didn't include that single with Bananarama - I was particularly fond of The Lunatics have taken over the Asylum. I wasn't so keen on Adam and the Ants though I still feel sad now to see what's become of Adam Ant, aka Stuart Goddard - he's a sad guy in Belsize Park with mental health problems, judging by newspaper stories. Luci