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80s Week: John’s Lists

Looks like were going to have a busy couple of weeks. In addition to “80s Week”, I imagine we’ll have some movie reviews next week, maybe a review of the latest installment of Ken Burn’s Baseball and I will of course begin my “Shocktober” feature, where I’ll review 31 movies in 31 days. Though until than let’s hop in our Deloreans and take a blast to the past.

Top 10 Albums of the 1980s

10. The Traveling Wilbury’s – The Traveling Wilbury’s Vol. 1 (1988)
Some of rock’s finest gathered together to jam? It’s just as much fun as it sounds as; Harrison, Orbison, Petty, Dylan and Lynne let loose on this late 80s hoedown. I think you’ll find a lot of these choices have already been discussed here in some form, so let’s keep movin’ down to the end of the line.

9. John Fogerty – Centerfield (1984)
Talented CCR frontman John Fogerty’s comeback album is a savory return to the Bayou. “The Old Man Down the Road” could’ve easily been a CCR hit and the same could be said for most of this album’s bluesy tracks. The title track could arguably be the greatest baseball rock song ever and that enough is worth standing up to cheer.

8. U2 – Joshua Tree (1987)
The trailer for The Kingdom got me into this album, isn’t that weird? “Bullet in a Blue Sky” I remember, from that moment on I was immersed.

7. Tom Petty – Full Moon Fever (1989)
It’s only got like a million hits.

6. Michael Jackson – Thriller (1982)
Can’t resist… Dancing, ugh, so catchy!

5. Bruce Springsteen – Born in the U.S.A. (1984)
I could’ve of been cool and picked The River but when it comes down to it this album “just is America.” The official soundtrack to the working man, Born in the U.S.A. is an important work worth saluting.

4. Kraftwerk – Computer World (1981)
Clean cut German guys making bleeps and bloops? Count me in! I’ve never considered myself a big electronic fan but this album is infectious. It’s so basic in melody, rhythm and lyrics and yet it I find myself fully absorbed. Sigh, I wish I had a better relationship with my calculator.

3. Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes (1982)
The pinnacle of underground, acoustic, folk, punk and so on. Often I find some of the most memorable albums to be the the hardest to define, so who knows what genre this is. All I know is I love the simplicity of this album and these songs are pitch perfect anthems for your your regular angsty outcast

2. George Harrison – Cloud Nine (1987)
Sometimes album just resonate with you for reasons that are hard to explain. I’m aware there may be hundreds of albums more important than what, like George Harrison’s 11th album? But I bought this not long after he died and with it’s optimistic pop melodies it’s quickly become one of, if not my favorite post-Beatles solo album.

1. Pixies – Doolittle (1989)
“Quiet, loud, quiet, loud” such a simple approach and yet the Pixies are arguably one of most influential artists of alternative music. Raw, clever, catchy, funny, they’re always entertaining whether they’re pounding out a feisty rocker or just dicking around the studio. Frank Black is one of those guys that never gives you anything less than 100%. Doolittle is an alternative masterpiece.

Top 10 Music Videos of the 1980s

10. “She Was Hot” – The Rolling Stones
It’s hardly cutting edge or even remotely notable but it’s pure 80s cheese at it’s best. I like this one part where this buff dude’s bicep explodes.

9. “Coming Up” – Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney basically miming the single off of his 1980 album McCartney II but who is his backing band? Why it’s who else but Paul McCartney. Actually the illusion is fairly convincing in the wide shots. My favorite McCartney clone is probably “Heavy Metal McCartney” but “Weird, Mustachioed, Keyboard Playing” McCartney is a close second.

8. “When We Was Fab” – George Harrison
“The Quiet Beatle” reminisces about the days of Beatlemania while odd sight gags happen around him. There’s this one part where he has four arms, oh yeah and Ringo is there too!

7. “Down Under” – Men at Work
Don’t you hate videos that take themselves far too seriously? Where you’re not even sure what the video has to do with the song? Whatever the matter, I love watching these wacky boys from down under in this verbatim collection of silly set pieces.

6. “Once in a Lifetime” – Talking Heads
I as well have a fondness for David Byrne’s spastic movements.

5. “Take On Me” – A-ha
The pictures… Gasp, they’re coming alive!

4. “It’s Tricky” – Run DMC
Who you do call when Penn & Teller steal your money a la three card monte? That’s right, Run DMC and this video really gets me moving. The editing flows perfectly with song’s rhythm and it’s a real treat seeing Run DMC teaching Penn & Teller to be cool

3. “Fat” – Weird Al Yankovic
I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t include at least one Weird Al video. This one is just one of my all-time favorites, ha, ha fat people. “Yo, ding dong, ding dong yo.” pure brilliance.

2. “Call Me Al” – Paul Simon
I first saw this video at a very young age in the 90s and loved it even before I knew who Paul Simon or Chevy Chase was. It’s so simple, so silly, and yet so perfect.

1. “Thriller” – Michael Jackson
To quote my friend Colin “Well duh”

Top 10 Video Games of the 1980s

10. Altered Beast (1988)
If it wasn’t for this we may have never had “Welcome to your Doom!” as Death’s catch phrase in our videos. It can be a tricky game but if you can “bend the rules” if you know what I mean, you’ll have a lot of fun. Some of the monster transformations in this game are just awesome and I always enjoy watching the hero get ridiculously buff. The graphics are great for the time and it’s overflowing with 80s charm.

9. Pac-Man (1980)
What an uninspired choice right? What can I say? I’m a sucker for the classics. Though I never truly got to experience “Pac Man Fever” I like many have enjoyed playing it in various pizzerias over the years.

8. Frogger (1981)
The best game ever made about roadkill.

7. Joust (1982)
Such fond memories of Sean and I playing this back in the day. Of course that was on an “Atari Best of…” type cartridge but it was special nonetheless.

6. Contra (1987)
It’s hard as hell but damn, talk about action packed! As frustrated as you might get you wont be able to put it down.

5. Donkey Kong (1981)
I used to practice the Game Boy port for hours with dreams of doing at least okay in the arcade. Sadly I always cracked under the pressure but I still love the game.

4. Q*Bert (1982)
What’s going on here? Some weird creature, hopping around an isometric platform from a third-person perspective? Actually, I think the fact that this game is is different is why I like it so much, plus he swears, he’s badass.

3. Golden Axe (1989)
Definitely one of the best side-scrollers of it’s time. Brimming with skeletons, dragons, and bosses that are always about a hundred feet taller than you, Golden Axe is as much fun as ever. Nothing beats playing as an angry dwarf fighting the evil “Death Adder”!

2. Super Mario Bros. 3 (1988)
It’s like the first one but better, awesome?

1. Tetris (1984)
So addictive… I could play for about twenty years straight.

Top 10 Movies of the 1980s

10. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
One of, if not the greatest sequel of all time. It’s darker, edgier and is quoted way too often by the DaMorgue crew in our productions and what not. What? “That’s impossible!” You say? Oh no, it’s made it’s impact and it’s here to stay.

9. Die Hard (1988)
The pinnacle of 80s action movies, Die Hard has it all and more. John McClane has to be one of the funniest action heroes in cinema history and Alan Rickman is equally entertaining as his German nemesis. I love the explosions, the kills and it never fails to fill me with holiday cheer.

8. Field of Dreams (1989)
My favorite baseball movie despite the few scenes of anyone actually playing baseball. Field of Dreams is more about the myth of baseball and it’a larger than life players and did somebody say heartwarming? It’s an enchanting fantasy film with some great performances from Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones and Ray Liotta, always brings a little tear to the eye too.

7. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
So, so many jokes! If it isn’t some zany exchange of dialogue it’s a bizarre set piece in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure an immensely detailed movie that’s completely ridiculous. The characters are all priceless but it’s the giddy Pee-Wee himself that steals the show. If only TIm Burton could get back to making goofy films like this.

6. Big (1986)
I adore Gary Ross’ scripts that make such preposterous ideas seem believable. Something about Big almost makes it seem as if it could of been made in the golden age of Hollywood. Or maybe that’s because of it’s likable star in Tom Hanks: the Jimmy Stewart of our time. It’s heartwarming and endlessly clever and how can you not like that giant keyboard scene?

5. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Few filmmakers have been as successful as John Landis with the blending of horror and comedy but here Landis does it seamlessly. It goes from laughs, to scares, laughs, to scares, without ever missing a beat. Rick Baker’s transformation sequence is one of the most memorable in horror movie history and it’s got three different versions of the song “Blue Moon”, I love that song?

4. This is Spinal Tap (1984)
One of the most quotable films of all time and definitely the best movie ever made about rock and roll. It’s a subtle film as I’ve discovered when watched in a group, but I never tire of it’s oddball docudrama approach and eccentric characters. The fact that the music is good only makes this film more awesome. It came out 26 years and yet it still lives on in the rock community. Turn it up all the way to eleven!

3. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
I can’t think of any other film that could better sum up “Adventure”. From the exotic set pieces to the traditional stunt work Raiders is timeless. Harrison Ford propels himself to true leading man status with arguably his most entertaining performance and leads us on an adventure all around the world and back again.

2. E.T. (1982)
Moving, magical, a true classic in every right. from 1975… Maybe even to the late 90s, Steven Spielberg has created some of the most memorable films of all time. This one is a whimsical family film that excels in every department. The score, the effects, and all the little moments make this the perfect film. It’s almost too much of a tearjerker in my eyes, which gave just enough room for number one pick to squeak by.

1. The Thing (1982)
Originally a failure due mostly to the success of my number two pick (Both released in June 1982). The Thing has since become a cult classic and is now regarded as one of the best horror/sci-fi movies of the 80s. It’s always resonated with me the atmosphere that it creates. Such a feeling of isolation, complimented my Ennio Morricone’s robotic score and a strong ensemble cast. Rob Bottin’s bile producing makeup effects still hold up and the film is yet to feel dated. I watch it every year near wintertime, one of my favorites.

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