Saturday, January 18, 2014

Counting down the Top 82 of '82 - Albums #46 - 38

A breakdown of my favorite albums from my favorite year in pop music

Convertible Music
Josie Cotton
Peak on Billboard 200: 147
Peak in Cashbox: 130
Top 40 pop singles: None
Top track: "He Could Be The One"

If you've seen the movie Valley Girl, you're familiar with Cotton.  Bouncy '60s girl group-influenced fun, every bit as good as early Go-Go's, just more popish.

Night Shift Soundtrack
Various Artists
Peak on Billboard 200: Bubbled under at 204
Peak in Cashbox: Did not chart
Top 40 pop singles: None
Top track: "Girls Know How"

Side two is one of the better '80s compilations released (Marshall Crenshaw, Talk Talk, Heaven 17, etc), but the true gem here is Al Jarreau singing "Girls Know How," written by Burt Bacharach and produced by West Coast masters Jay Graydon and David Foster.

CD Project

Lionel Richie
Lionel Richie
Peak on Billboard 200: 3
Peak in Cashbox: 1
Top 40 pop singles: "My Love," "You Are," "Truly"
Top track: "You Are"

Soft rock goodness with lots of radio-ready piano ballads.  Motown gets bonus points for not including "Endless Love" on this LP.

CD Project

Billy Idol
Billy Idol
Peak on Billboard 200: 45
Peak in Cashbox: 66
Top 40 pop singles: "White Wedding," "Hot in the City"
Top track: "Hot in the City"

I'm a big fan of Idol's singles; "Hot in the City" is my favorite Idol song.  In the early '80s, I saw him in concert at Astroworld and guitarist Steve Stevens brought the park down.  I still have my vinyl copy with the original album cover photo (pictured).

CD Project

Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful?
The Waitresses
Peak on Billboard 200: 41
Peak in Cashbox: 52
Top 40 pop singles: None
Top track: "I Know What Boys Like"

Patty Donahue's voice had something appealing about it; I just can't put my finger on what it is (indifference? raspiness? teasing? all of the above?).  Pair that up with Chris Butler's quirky New Wave tunes and there's some good stuff here that was mostly overlooked at the time.

CD Project

Nick the Knife
Nick Lowe
Peak on Billboard 200: 50
Peak in Cashbox: 48
Top 40 pop singles: None
Top track: "Heart"

One of Lowe's best, most consistent albums and now it's out of print?!?  Go figure.  (Don't tell anybody, but I think the whole album can be heard over on YouTube. shhhhhh)

CD Project

If That's What It Takes
Michael McDonald
Peak on Billboard 200: 6
Peak in Cashbox: 3
Top 40 pop singles: "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)"
Top track: I Gotta Try

Top-notch R&B influenced "yacht rock" - McDonald had help from other smooth musicians Kenny Loggins, members of Toto, and producer Ted Templeman.  But with that voice, it's not like he needs help.

CD Project

Love and Dancing
The League Unlimited Orchestra
Peak on Billboard 200: 135
Peak in Cashbox: 117
Top 40 pop singles: 
Top track: "Hard Times"

From the album cover: "This album contains instrumental versions of previously released songs by the Human League specially remixed and produced by Martin Rushent."  That's not exactly true, but by playing around in the studio, Rushent came up with a lot of fun remixes.  A great summertime album.

Green Light
Bonnie Raitt
Peak on Billboard 200: 38
Peak in Cashbox: 34
Top 40 pop singles: None
Top track: "Green Lights"

That Raitt didn't hit it big until '89 still puzzles me.  This is an album of solid, bluesy rock music that shoulda been bigger than it was.

These are my personal top 82 albums released in 1982.  The following criteria was used on a very slippery sliding scale:
  • How often I enjoyed the album at the time of release
  • How often I've enjoyed the album over the past 30+ years
  • Overall quality of the album
Chart information is from the US Billboard charts for the top albums and "Hot 100" pop singles.  The top track for each album is solely my opinion.


  1. Mark, I continue to enjoy your list. Again, I see some common ground that we share as well as some records that give us just a bit of diversity too. Looking forward to see who comes in at the top.

  2. Thanks, Martin. It's all a labor of love for guys like us, isn't it? It will be fun to compare lists when it's all done.

  3. Mark, what I think is interesting is that the three of us each used our own type of scale for ranking the albums of 1982 - and that is exactly the right way to go. What will be interesting is commonality, positions of those, and what did each of us see as worthy of our list that others might not have.

  4. Rest your pretty little heads gentlemen, I've got full coverage of list analysis in progress. Hoping to do pie charts, bar graphs and infographics. Let me know if you have any specific data mining requests.

    As for this portion of the list of 82, the only one I have anything to say about is The League Unlimited Orchestra. It was one of three vinyl records I had that summer at my Texas Grandma's house and I played it constantly. The other two were A Flock Of Seagulls and Gap Band IV. Those three albums always bring back good memories of my last Summer spent away from home.