Spinning Platters Picks Six: Bands I Forgot From The 80’s

by Tony Butterworth on August 6, 2009

Pull out those analog synths it's 1983 again.

Pull out those analog synths it's 1983 again.

Lets be clear up front – this is a personal list.  I came across the Associates the other day and it got me thinking about bands that I was REALLY into in the 80’s that I had forgotten about.  I dug into some old records and websites and came up with this six.  Some bands from the 80’s that you may have forgotten and loved will not make the list because I have not forgotten them.  This is not a best bands from the 80’s.  Purely a personal list of bands that touched me in some way that I had forgotten about.

1. Go West

Go West were the duo of Peter Cox and Richard Drummie.  Their first song “We Close Our Eyes” was an immediate hit and the associated album – Go West contained more memorable hits such as “Call Me” and “Don’t Look Down”.  Their second album Dancing On The Couch was less successful but in early 1990 they struck it big when “King of Wishful Thinking” was included on the Pretty Woman Soundtrack.  In 1992 Indian Summer was released to more success but nothing new appeared for the band (their was some solo work) until 2008’s unsuccessful Future Now album.  My personal favorite is a lesser known song of theirs called “Goodbye Girl”

Watch the video for King Of Wishful Thinking 

2. The Associates

Primarily based around vocalist Billy Mackenzie and guitarist Alan Rankine, The Associates brought an brooding and darkness to the early 80’s synth pop sound.  As a teenager in 1982 the album Sulk had all the mystery and angst that I could handle.  Unfortunately they were unable to repeat the success after Rankine’s departure prior to the tour to support Sulk and they ended up as the proverbial one-album-wonder. They did release various other records during the 80’s but by 1990 The Associates name had died out.  Mackenzie continued to make music in the early 90’s but sadly committed suicide in 1997.

Watch the video for Club Country

3. The Thompson Twins

The Thompson Twins were originally formed in 1977 but went through the usual set of band changes before settling on their most successful lineup as a trio featuring Tom Bailey, Alanah Currie and Joe Leeway.  Their first UK chart success was in 1983 with the songs “Lies” and “Love On Your Side”. Major success continued through 1984/85 with a string of UK hits including “Lay Your Hands On Me”, “Doctor Doctor”, and “Hold Me Now”.  However in 1985 Bailey suffered a nervous breakdown which led to a significant loss of momentum.   By this point Bailey and Currie were a couple (they were married in 1991) and in 1992 they moved to New Zealand.  That same year the band officially broke up.

Watch the video for  Lay Your Hands On Me 

4. Prefab Sprout

Prefab Sprout debuted in 1982,  primarily as an outlet for singer/songwriter Paddy McAloon. They finally achieved UK chart success with “When Love Breaks Down” (the song had been released 4 times before hitting the charts.  In 1988 they had their biggest single success with “The Kind of Rock and Roll” from the album From Langley Park To Memphis (which featured appearances from Pete Townsend and Stevie Wonder).   In 1990 they released Jordan, The Comeback which is their most memorable album for me.  After this the band disappeared and most people assumed they had broken up, but they did return with a string of less successful albums through the 90’s and into this century including the planned Sept 7th 2009 release of Lets Change The World With Music.

Watch the video for Prefab Sprouts   Appetite

5. Talk Talk

Probably the most internationally successful of the bands listed here are Talk Talk. Talk Talk formed in 1981 and were originally classified as a Duran Duran clone though as time progressed their music took a new and darker direction.  1984 saw the release of the album It’s My Life, featuring songs such as “Such a Shame”, “Renee” and the title track itself.  Surprisingly this album only reached on #35 in the UK but made it all the way to #2 in the US.  Three more albums followed, The Color Of Spring (1986), Spirit of Eden (1988) and The Laughing Stock (1991). Each featured a less cohesive band that never matched it’s earlier success.  Talk Talk disbanded in 1991, main singer songwriter Mark Hollis released a solo album in 1998 but has now retired from music

Watch the video for It’s My Life from Talk Talk

6. Heaven 17

For me, Heaven 17 has the largest gap between most loved and most forgotten.  I was REALLY into this band, and yet I seem to now have completely forgotten them until I stumbled across Jarvis Cocker and Beth Ditto doing a cover of “Temptation”.  Heaven 17 formed in 1981 after Ian Craig Marsh and Martyn Ware split from their earlier group The Human League due to dissatisfaction with the new pop sound.  They recruited Glenn Gregory on vocals  Penthouse and Pavement immediately introduced fans to their harsh dance sound but it was 1983’s The Luxury Gap that was the big one for me, featuring their biggest hit – “Temptation” , even today I can sing everyone of those 9 songs.   Heaven 17 continued to release albums through the 80’s, right up until 2008’s Naked as Advertised, but have never again achieved significant chart success.

A little known fact, in 1984 under their company guise of BEF helped launch the solo career of Tina Turner producing and singing on “Let’s Stay Together”

Watch the video for Come Live With Me 

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