fran tall ear

Reviews 3
Approval 82%

Soundoffs 138
Album Ratings 293
Objectivity 83%

Last Active 12-08-21 12:00 am
Joined 12-31-12

Forum Posts 1
Review Comments 1,882

01.22.22 a soundtrak i wrote01.06.22 fave early mtg card artists
10.16.21 smexy goth gunslinger zone10.18.18 Melvins rambling
01.16.17 deftones ranked01.12.17 here's an MX-80 Sound compilation
04.22.16 great songs from 198104.08.16 King Crim: top 25
08.03.15 Top 5 biggest assholes in rock

great songs from 1981

the year of Reagan, acid rain and nuclear paranoia. also the year of post-punk bass guitar
Memory Serves

"Silent Lands" (3:51) - a bassist practicing snake-style kung-fu against a colliery brass adversary. This album is pretty much sabotaged by the drummer, but this tune has the least overt percussion so the brilliance of everyone else shines through
74The Korgis
Sticky George

"That Was My Big Mistake" (4:37) - shameless pop balladeering submerged in synth syrup. chordally interesting and the hook is so pure
73Soft Cell
Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret

"Frustration" (4:10) - red-light zone goth pop here to mock the working man. a song about STEM forum guy. this song is famous-ish anyway, you probably already know how it sounds
72Family Fodder
Schizophrenia Party!

"Dinosaur Sex" (9:04) - first two or three minutes sound like Eric Idle wrote it as filler but it actually unfolds into a great punk-dub jam so try to avoid reflexively pressing the stop button and shouting UGH
71Was (Not Was)
Was (Not Was)

"Oh, Mr Friction!" (3:32) - almost everything on this album is straight funk-pop with a few lyrical quirks, but here the nonsense takes centre stage. this would really suit some sort of messed-up animation about a city driving someone mad (I saw that Hi dad, I'm in jail! animation off of Liquid TV and will always associate this band with that now)
70Clock DVA

"Uncertain" (7:07) - a psyche industrial sax freak-out with a huge amount of personality
69Iron Maiden

"Purgatory" (3:21) - yeah
68Martha and the Muffins
This is the Ice Age

"Casualties of Glass" (5:18) - just an essential new-wave indie pop song, better before the refrain comes in
67Grace Jones

"I've Seen That Face Before" (4:29) - stylish reggae'd-up bit of sophisticated pop music really. Grace Jones is basically the queen as far as I am concerned

"Can Can't" (2:31) - excellent. song sounds like ska-influenced grunge stuff but it's from 1981 and is better than those genre identifiers would suggest so you definitely need to hear these people being ahead of their time. whole EP isn't that great but this song is 5/5 hard
65De Press
Block to Block

"Forced" (2:24) - gloriously troll-like punk-dub with a simple but ever so catchy piano bass line. if you don't sing along with the low wails before the second verse on your first listen of this song i dunno what's wrong with you :
64Geza X
You Goddam Kids!

"Rio Grande Hotel" (3:11) - dunno why we are not hearing rave reviews of this guy's band every single day. on a punk chassis they send up bubble-gum pop and rock'n'roll and basically spend the whole time sounding like an alternate Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack, frontman Geza X is hilarious and super-expressive
63Art Fleury
The Last Album

"Black-out 1" (3:26) - just a strange psychedelic jam thing that really spoke to me. I think these guys started out as a full-on prog rock band and then the idea of post-punk made them all go mental. probably half of this entire list of songs is just bass-heavy psyche or dub jams to be honest
62Dead Kennedys
In God We Trust, Inc.

"Nazi Punks Fuck Off" (1:03) - not much really needs to be said about this iconic tune except that I totally agree

"Hobbyland" (3:27) - the Dutch Beatles at their creepiest. brilliant with lyrics really, so terse yet evocative... like the Beatles you could say
60Fred Frith

"Ahead in the Sand" (3:18) - good song but a weird year for Fred Frith since complicated avant-progressive pieces aren't exactly in vogue and he goes stylistically spare, leaning on a lot of studio muso whateverness. I like to think he used up his reservoirs of good material on Art Bears, who put out three brilliant albums and a bunch of singles in just five years and then spent the early 80s just making connections with new artists

"Big Spender" (2:19) - a great send-up of the famous tune with a very powerful singer. The Residents would be proud
58Second Layer
World Of Rubber

"Black Flowers" (5:27) - these guys basically wanted their own Bauhaus moment but it works pretty well so who can blame 'em. a strange 5 bar measure loop

"Aqualife" (2:51) - first twenty seconds are really powerful with some vicious bounce riffs and disconcertingly druggy reverbs overhead but they can't help tipping over into that zolo style. not the best album from a really really good band
56Robert Fripp
The League of Gentlemen

"Cognitive Dissonance" (3:33) - another musician who's all over this list for more reasons than just the obvious. this is the best cut from the League of Gentlemen project thing, a slack new-wave guitar class which precedes the new version of King Crimson, themselves a slightly less slack new-wave guitar class
55African Head Charge
My Life in a Hole in the Ground

"Family Doctoring" (4:21) - experimental dub reggae, you know the stuff. this tune has a really annoying melodica line which is why I'm recommending it. ***every album from this point onwards is a 7/10 or more
54Gang of Four
Solid Gold

"He'd Send In the Army" (4:28) - that smart kinda post-punk mutant-funk with a good dollop of socialism stirred in. deservedly so. socialism is the best.

"Eerie Lights" (4:10) - one of those defining if short-lived industrial outfits. first tune is where they make the most musical effort so that's why I picked it, sounds kinda gothy and spare, but everything on the disc has totally fascinating texture
52A Certain Ratio
To Each...

"Back to the Start" (7:53) - can't remember why I picked this one in particular because the whole album sounds the same. lol. I mean it really sounds the same! good thing I love brilliant rattly bass playing, vocal mantras and exuberant brass stabs because you get eight minutes' worth
51Stern Meissen
Reise zum Mittelpunkt des Menschen

"Romanze" (8:37) - electronic prog for the composer in you - very inventive, I was surprised by this because it doesn't really rely on soundbank drones like so many 70s synth acts, naming no names. veers from film-scoreness to contemporary classical to neo-classical to sounding a bit like Yes at times.
50Robert Fripp
Let The Power Fall

"1989" (11:16) - yeah this guy again. probably the Frippertronic tune I get the most out of even though it's just the man himself looping guitar pentatones as usual
49Rip Rig + Panic

"Those Eskimo Women Speak Frankly" (3:13) - get your elbow out of the soup oh you're sitting on a chicken
48Commando M. Pigg
Commando M. Pigg

"Tom Puss" (7:02) - it's punk-dub with a great female singer. it's in German I think, or Swedish, and I'd love to know what they're saying, it's probably very leftist
47Midnight Oil
Place Without A Postcard

"If Ned Kelly Was King" (3:39) - at times this threatens to just be a standard rocky new-wave tune but the verses are too bizarre :) their guitarist just loves to play whatever the hell chord and let the punky singer work out how to traverse them all. that gives them an original sound and it's fun to try and work out what the songwriter was thinking. also really catchy and kick ass and probably critical of Australian society at that particular time. this tune actually caps off a three-parter, was tempted to pick the whole thing. Just listen to it on yer own time!
Penis Envy

"Poison in a Pretty Pill" (3:41) - who the heck are you if you don't already love this slice of goddess punk ear-bashing
45Experiments With Ice
Experiments With Ice

"Lambs and Bats" (5:55) - singer is on that Peter Hammill - David Bowie continuum so I often lie around trying to remember which band this is actually by. good bass groove with "BA!" moments and spacey noises. practically all you need to satiate my musical taste at this point
44Daisuck & Prostitute
Shinu Made Odori Tsuzukete

"M.U.R.A." (8:15) - really good julian cope-core. as for the chances of this album cover appearing I say good luck
43Brian Eno and David Byrne
My Life in the Bush of Ghosts

"The Jezebel Spirit" (4:57) - famous album combining those new-wave grooves with world percussion tattoos and snake charmer samples. I think it comes together best on this tune but everyone has a fave
42Medium Medium
The Glitterhouse

"Hungry So Angry" (3:52) - great catchy poppin bass-driven rant thing, they sound energetic and desperate. gets twice as good when the dub echoes start growing on the snare
41The Raincoats

"Only Loved at Night" (3:34) - bewitching bit of indie-folk with all manner of scrapey, lo-fi, sonorous instruments adding an utterly unique sound to the whole record
40Art Objects
Bagpipe Music

"Who Switches Off the Light" (5:17) - poetry rock, more composed than Velvets or Fall-type stuff which is a good thing when it comes to suiting the frontman's particular prose. clever tale of misplaced trust (to gamble on dust)
39Liaisons Dangereuses
Liaisons Dangereuses

"Dupont" (3:54) - great tape experiment by future kings of industrial and industrial rock. no disrespect meant in saying that it sounds like the Earthbound soundtrack with extra synth bass stabs
38The Au Pairs
Playing With A Different Sex

"Headache for Michelle" (6:39) - more great punk-dub stuff, lyrics are sharp and accusatory about where drugs come from and why, band admirably keeps a very sparse tune fresh for seven minutes
4 Visions

"Attente" (10:09) - zeuhl-flavoured funky prog-rock voyage of starhugging. this is really damn good and nothing like stale old sympho Genesis stuff
36Mother Gong
Robot Woman

"Red Alert" (5:05) - hippy funk by one of the million wings of the Gong family. part of a concept album so it's weird to pick one tune but well I like the "THERE IS NO WAY TO WIN THIS WAR" line and its outraged delivery a whole lot
Tin Drum

"Ghosts" (4:35) - one of the most chilling singles ever. the swimmy way he sings immediately appeals to me, like he's tasting the words. chorus is ever so memorable. album is really great too apart from one bit of "playing fifth melodies means we're in China" regretability
34UK Decay
For Madmen Only

"Uninvited Guest" (5:00) - post-punk goth tune that earns its pretenses and blasts you with all its guitar pedals. vamp of teh year

"Kids of the Black Hole" (5:27) - essential punk-rock epic. really ambitious compared to most of the year's hardcore, ie, Minor Threat and Bad Religion and Discharge and Agent Orange and others of that ilk
32Yellow Magic Orchestra

"Seoul Music" (4:46) - YMO open teh floodgates and let grooves into their music, totally exploding with rhythmical ingenuity. whole album is great and I think this tune has the most imaginative instrumentation
31MX-80 Sound
Crowd Control

"Face of the Earth" (3:47) - strangely underrated band who seemed to have done a lot for indie rock and also weirder, Tuxedomoon-ish neurotic avant-rock music. this tune fits the latter template, really disconcerting even with the fast insistent drums. i personally would not get traumatized by having to share a stage with a group of monkeys unless they beat me up
30Art Zoyd
Symphonie pour le jour ou bruleront les cites

"Brigades Speciales" (13:21) - it's like contemporary incidental music which is angry enough at you that it hoots and shrieks and spits. one for the "how can you possibly like THIS?" files but it has moments of absolute beauty between (or including!) all the chromatic clusters. the second best "Art" band on the list lol
29Wall of Voodoo
Dark Continent

"Back in Flesh" (3:45) - you can think of this as a sort of theatrical, new-wavoid novelty pop but the band really has depth both in terms of arrangement and their lyrics. love how this one escalates. albums from this point are 8/10
28Dun (FRA1)

"Arrakis" (9:41) - mrs xylophone fights a flute on a jazzy desert morning. prog-heads already know this album and no-one else is gonna check it frankly
27Fad Gadget

"Saturday Night Special" (6:41) - really sophisticated and laid-back pop, got that western feel with the dulcimer and easy feeling. Frank Tovey's a guy worth reading about
26Glenn Branca
The Ascension

"The Spectacular Commodity" (12:39) - great guitar composition that starts meek and Fracture-ish but builds into a galloping, celebratory crescendo at its peak
25Lindsay Cooper

"General Strike" (1:53) - strange one, this, a piece from a documentary soundtrack. Lindsay Cooper played a vital role in Henry Cow, writing some of their best tunes. this piece straddles folk, Brecht and a great Frippy guitar lead. super pro-union too
The Punch Line

"Straitjacket" (1:00) - I'm already on somebody's list as a casualty
23The Flying Lizards
Fourth Wall

"Glide/Spin" (3:31) - really haunting but simultaneously really silly tune, hard to describe except as Drug Music. I keep typing Fripp but he actually is on this song, doing his distorted guitar roars and other feats of accompaniment. one thing I admire about the Flying Lizards is that they don't give a damn about instrument equalization, or have such different feelings on the matter to typical pop production dogma that their music always sounds unique

"Vienna" (4:50) - the album is from 1980 but the single did such good business in 1981 that I'm compelled to include it. I was also slightly persuaded by its status as one of the most emotional and different pieces of pop music that I've ever heard
Youth of America

"Youth of America" (10:23) - great shouty punk rock anthem. you have to be some sort of genius to write this song, the structure is a peculiar mess and (along with the iconic opening melody) that's why it sticks with you, even the five minute freak out in the middle
Claro Que Si

"She's Got a Gun" (3:44) - the band were never this bizarre again - this is Yello at their Noir-est and most sensual. the whistling isn't even in key, it's really quite precious. have to confess I only checked them out because they were on a Ralph Records sampler along with bands I adore but it was totally worthwhile
19Kate Bush
The Dreaming

"Sat In Your Lap" (3:30) - single was released in 1981, ahead of the 1982 album so I'm snapping it up again. this is a really madcap choice for a single too, you get a billion singing styles all out of the same incredible woman and its not as if the song hangs together as something intrinsically catch or pop-like but it leaves me stunned every time
18King Crimson

"The Sheltering Sky" (8:21) - the tough, rockier guitar-lattices on the album don't really compare to this piece of made-up culture music... the tune actually gets enough time to have personality beyond Belew, the guitar lead sounds like having your ear drum bowed directly, and frankly, Bruford's extra percussion is superior to his kit drumming during this Crimso era. hmm drat, King Crimson were my favourite band so long that I can't help but nitpick and compare, I need a break
17Lizzy Mercier Descloux
Mambo Nassau

"Sports Spootnicks" (4:21) - a song dedicated to this website
16Akiko Yano

"Rose Garden" (3:31) - really creative arrangements support Yano's cute as heck singing. they totally avoid the overly luxury City Pop style popular at this time and do something more in line with progressive pop music. good. it ain't cool to be like Steely Dan so please don't
15The Specials
Ghost Town / Why? / Friday Night, Saturday Morning

"Ghost Town" (6:00) - it's uh one of the greatest songs of all time, even if it's overplayed to all heck. the b-sides are slightly naff though
14Wha Ha Ha
Shinutokiwa Betsu

"Kohmori" (6:26) - these guys and girls, both together and separately are a large part of teh weird Japanese music backbone. on this disc they do absurdly creative toy fusion, hopping from intentionally goofy party rock to marches to computer game soundtracks to sheer weird abandon. I picked the most beautiful song but it's far from the only highlight
13Cabaret Voltaire
Red Mecca

"A Thousand Ways" (10:35) - THAT hypnotic post-punk-industrial highlight with THAT melody. teh cabs are this cruelly undervalued band by new listeners and it must change
12Social Climbers
Social Climbers

"Western World" (5:05) - could this be the post-punk album which most totally slipped through the cracks? the singing is frail and talkative, their songwriting very idiosyncratic and easily recognizable, visiting some weird passages and then never repeating them, like chapters of a book, stuff you'd never hear from other bands of the era or really any era since. the first four songs are totally indispensable, the rest are the victory lap
11Black Flag

"Damaged I" (3:51) - four minutes of ranting over some seriously slow, diminished punk where every guitar stroke is followed by an equal length of creaking feedback. good. every album from here on is 9/10 or higher
10The Birthday Party
Prayers on Fire

"Nick the Stripper" (3:52) - self-deprecation horror in 5/4. it often feels like the whole year was driven by bass and horns and here's one more exhibit. obviously this is Nick Cave pre-Seeds, better as a punk than as a crooner
9Einsturzende Neubauten

"Abstieg & Zerfall" (4:29) - a heart-stopping album. at times I really think EN were (and are!) the best band in the style. on the other hand, you might listen for the first time and hear that they're largely just hitting bits of scrap metal with sections of pipe while howling, but the cleverness of their arrangements eventually presents itself

"Desire" (7:06) - an album about decadence robbing you of a place in life? I reviewed this one if you wanna have a proper read
723 Skidoo
Seven Songs

"The Gospel Comes to New Guinea" (10:09) - not the album but the preceding single. an extended paranoid jam where the bassist plays the simplest thing possible and it is totally transfixing. really creative and energetic drums hook you at the start before you become aware that a chanting tribal crowd has gathered near
R├ętrospective Vol. 1 & 2

"Theusz Hamtaahk" (36:10) - what? it's one song, don't look at me like that. everything from this point on is 10/10
5Talking Heads
Remain in Light

"Once in a Lifetime" (4:23) - similar situation to Vienna; the album was released in 1980 but the song conquered the 1981 pop charts and I want to include it because it's defining of the year. a song it's impossible to get sick of
4Public Image Ltd
Flowers Of Romance

"Banging the Door" (4:49) - a curio of weirdness between band eras, Jah Wobble is already gone by the time Flowers is delivered but his absence allows for one of the strongest and scariest drum albums ever. Lydon is not yet a buffoon here, lol
3Art Bears
The World As It Is Today

"Civilisation" (4:53) - gentle mellotron strings, ambient roars and clanging guitar escape noises, that's all, just that and Dagmar Krause utterly tearing down the basis of modern life
2This Heat

"Cenotaph" (4:39) - nuclear worries tipping your image of society over into total incoherence. post-punk, but no-one really uses chords like this, a song I can cry to
1Laurie Anderson
Big Science

"O Superman" (8:27)
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