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A Life In Vinyl: 1982

September 16th, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

Life in Vinyl 1982

As I was writing this post, I received an e-mail from a company asking whether I’d write about their product. I get many of these; almost all of them I ignore because this isn’t that kind of site. This one, however, grabbed my attention: a gift crate comprising toys and sweets which Americans of a certain age would have known as they grew up in the 1970s and ’80s.

The company had good timing: I’ve had opportunity to immerse myself in the years 1976-82 through a treasure trove of old magazines. There’s nothing like childhood/teenage nostalgia. The e-mail got me thinking what I’d like included in a crate like that, since most of the articles in the gift crate are specifically American. I won’t bore you with my ideas, but the idea is great. So, without wanting anything from mancrates.com and taking a What The Hell attitude towards dishing out a free plug, I refer you to www.mancrates.com/crates/old-school

Which brings me to 1982, the year I turned 16 and during which my family left Germany to move to South Africa (an idea which I opposed due to apartheid, but I was in no position to negotiate a different destination).

82 gallery_1The Neue Deutsche Welle, or German New Wave, had begun to hit in 1981, with bands like Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft, Extrabreit and Ideal making an impact in a country where the tired, hackneyed Schlager had nothing new to offer. It peaked quickly in 1982. There was a lot of great stuff: Falco, Joachim Witt, Fehlfarben and Spliff were particularly good; the godfathers of Neue Deutsche Welle, Kraftwerk, had a fine hit with Das Model. The lyrics ranged from the abstract to the cheeky to the anarchic. Falco and Spliff sang about drugs, Extrabreit about burning schools, the Spider Murphy Gang about a prostitute. And all that hit high in the charts.

But then the silly novelty acts crept in with their novelty hits, and what had been exciting quickly became annoying. Still, NWD changed Germany’s stodgy music mainstream. Two tracks are included in the mix; two more (by Spliff and a dance classic by Joachim Witt are there as “bonus tracks”).

I clearly had eclectic tastes in 1982. On this mix we have new wave, heavy metal, MOR, pop, soul, disco etc. Not represented is the jazz fusion stuff I got into that year: Eric Gale, Spyro Gyra, Dave Grusin, Lee Ritenour and so on. The closest to jazz this mix comes is track 2 from Donald Fagen‘s The Nightfly album. I remember how I had to look up four record shops to find it; Fagen’s solo debut had been sold out in the other stores.

But my favourite LP of 1982 was Dexys Midnight Runners“Too-Rye-Ay” (and I demonstrate my devotion to it by the correct application of quotation marks, which are part of the title). Of course I loved Come On Eileen, a song which I insist is ridiculed so widely not for what it is but for what people have made it. Anyhow, I feature a better track here. Also an album track in this collection is the one by Yazoo (or “Yaz”, as they are known in the US); Didn’t I Bring Your Love Down should have been a hit.

82 gallery_2Two tracks here are South African. Crocodile Harris‘ anti-war ballad Give Me The Good News was only a #14 hit in South Africa, where airplay trumped sales in the compilation of the charts, but in France it apparently topped the charts and sold 650,000 copies. Another South African who was huge in France is Johnny Clegg, English-born honorary Zulu with his bands Juluka and Savuka. He recorded Scatterlings Of Africa with both. I prefer the version by latter, from 1987, but the Juluka version is the classic. It would always bring down the house at Juluka/Savuka concerts.

I mentioned above how I think Come On Eileen is a misunderstood song. The same applies to Marvin Gaye‘s Sexual Healing, not helped by the absurd video. Here Marvin is not doing a sleazy seduction routine through the medium of medicine. The lyrics are, in fact, quite disturbing. According to David Ritz’s excellent biography of the man, Gaye was into some joyless sexual stuff at the time, including what seems to have been an extreme porn addiction, which would also explain the masturbation reference. Within that context, Sexual Healing is not a seduction number, but a rather desperate plea for actual healing.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-cooked covers. PW here. You are invited to leave a message about your Life in Vinyl in 1982 there. One reason it took so long for me to do 1982 in this series was that the scarcity of comments discouraged me from carrying on with it.

1. Human League – Don”t You Want Me
2. Falco – Der Kommissar
3. Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Maid Of Orleans
4. Fehlfarben – (Ein Jahr) Es geht voran
5. J. Geils Band – Centerfold
6. Iron Maiden – Run To The Hills
7. Toto – Rosanna
8. Johnny Cougar – Jack And Diane
9. ABC – The Look Of Love
10. Imagination – Just An Illusion
11. Fat Larry’s Band – Zoom
12. Crocodile Harris – Give Me The Good News
13. Billy Joel – Allentown
14. Donald Fagen – Green Flower Street
15. Dexys Midnight Runners – Let’s Make This Precious
16. Yazoo – Bring Your Love Down (Didn’t I)
17. Juluka – Scatterlings Of Africa
18. Marvin Gaye – Sexual Healing
19. Joe Jackson – Breaking Us In Two
Bonus tracks:
Spliff – Déja  vu
Joachim Witt – Tri tra trullala (Herbergsvater)


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  1. September 16th, 2015 at 17:18 | #1

    I read everything you write but I should comment more.

    The 80’s was my era and this was one of my golden years. I left school in 1982 so this and ’83, 84 are special to me.

    It is very interesting to see and hear music from your perspective.
    My typically English one is dull in comparison.

  2. GarthJeff
    September 16th, 2015 at 17:46 | #2

    Many Thanks for these AMD!! Webbie – Football and Music – SNAP. I finished in 1981. I was drafted and spent the next two years in a uniform. But, the music never stopped. I remember most of the music above, except the German ones. The version of Der Kommissar by ‘After The Fire’ was a much bigger hit here.


    Then a year later Laura Branigan had a minor hit with ‘Deep In The Dark’.


  3. oldDJ
    September 17th, 2015 at 00:21 | #3

    Great selections! Love the international elements you throw in as well (and stories you tell regarding where you were, and why/how this music hit you).

    This period is when 80s music really got going….a fantastic outburst of creativity, where so many bands had their own unique sound, look, and songs.

    I hope you continue the series…79-89 is a fantastic run for pop music.

  4. September 18th, 2015 at 02:17 | #4

    Oh, wow. 1982 was a wasteland for me, musically and – from looking back – otherwise. I bought no new music, listened to smooth jazz and some adult contemporary. I bought seven LPs, the most recent being Dan Fogelberg’s “The Innocent Age” from the year before. Maybe I was dead. Wow.

  5. September 18th, 2015 at 02:23 | #5

    I should add that I’ve long since caught up, but still don’t see 1982 as a great year. I like the Fagen album, I like Fleetwood Mac’s “Mirage” at least a little, and I do like the Dexys Midnight Runners album, as well as a few others. But I came to all of that later. Best of the year looking back? Gordon Lightfoot’s “Shadows.” Here’s the title tune: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBGH9XIm_5I

  6. Anja K.
    September 18th, 2015 at 04:07 | #6

    I’m not much of an internet commenter, but I really hope you continue this series! I love all of your mixes, mainly because I hear so many things I hadn’t heard before (I never had much exposure to soul music, and I’m really digging all of the music you cover from that genre, for example). I’m 47, and these late 70s/early 80s posts have been more familiar musical ground, but still include many songs that are new to me. These mixes bring back so many memories from my younger days. Even the songs that weren’t favorites back in the day (John Cougar never did anything for me, for example) remind me of that time of my life. I especially love hearing the tracks that weren’t very common in the US at the time – it takes me back to the days when I would have to really work to be able to discover interesting music. So please accept my very belated thank you for these mixes, and long may they last!

  7. halfhearteddude
    September 18th, 2015 at 10:41 | #7

    Thanks Anja. Please feel free to comment on blogs; it’s what keeps people like me going.

  8. September 18th, 2015 at 22:06 | #8

    You’ve obviously hit my era too, although I was only 10 in ’82 and didn’t actually start buying records for a few more years… but I’ve made up for it since. And although I’m not familiar with the German stuff, I do have a soft spot for Falco.

  9. Anders Franzén
    September 19th, 2015 at 12:04 | #9

    I wasn’t born yet in ’82, but I recently discovered that many of my favourite tunes are from ’83 (the year before I was born), so I look forward to that post :-)

  10. Russ
    September 19th, 2015 at 14:08 | #10

    Loved all the Life in Vinyl posts. This one probably hits my heart more than the others, partly because I have 80% of the music in this one already (which I rarely listen to anymore) and mostly because of when it was in my life. I have most of these records because in 1982 I started junior college and that meant driving to school and only having to go 3 days a week. With all that free time during the day (always worked part time in the evenings) I could finally go to record stores in other neighborhoods. My neighborhood record store was great – big selection and low prices but only carried new LP’s; no singles and no used records. So 1982 was the year I discovered a cornucopia of singles and used records at other stores.

    With all that free time I needed mix tapes for all that driving, and “Run To The Hills” and “Bring You’re Love Down” were on most of my tapes. Plus, with all that music in my collection, word on my suburban street got out and my basement bedroom would usually be occupied by 3 or 4 teens – even if I was working! I’d come home at 10:30 pm and my sister and her very cute friends would be jamming (the room took half the basement) and it was a party nearly every Friday and Saturday night for three years running.

    To quote Paul Weller, life is a drink and you get drunk when you’re young, and I got drunk on vinyl in 1982.

  11. halfhearteddude
    September 20th, 2015 at 20:58 | #11

    Oh, to have had a sister with cute friends…..

  12. dogbreath
    September 22nd, 2015 at 11:16 | #12

    Thanks to a fading memory I wouldn’t have guessed that all of these were from 1982 and I had then /still have now more than 75% of this collection. Excellent stuff from the rock & metal to the soul & funk, and including my favourite paean to onanism by Mr Gaye. Cheers for another fine job!

  13. Birgit
    September 23rd, 2015 at 15:44 | #13

    Old enough to remember Neue Deutsche Welle, I was 18 in 1982 when songs like Sternenhimmel or Bruttosozialprodukt were inevitably burned into my brain. Any remarkable German mainstream music afterwards? I don’t think so. Musically it may have been a good move by your parents to leave this country in 1982.

  14. halfhearteddude
    September 24th, 2015 at 10:04 | #14

    But I missed the rise of Modern Talking, Birgit!!!

  15. Birgit
    September 24th, 2015 at 15:58 | #15

    Lucky you!

  16. James McKeon
    March 15th, 2016 at 20:07 | #16

    Paul Weller may have said life is a drink and you get drunk when you’re young, but he’s full of shit. You can get drunk when you’re old, too, In fact, you might need to get drunk more often as you get older!

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