Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Graphic: Nicole Antonnucio

Weird Al emerged, post-punk exploded, and DJing matured in 1981

Off The ChartsTo commemorate 60 years of the Billboard Hot 100, Off The Charts revisits each year since it was established to spotlight songs and artists that didn’t make the cut, yet still made a significant impact.

The Year: 1981

Billboard Hot 100’s Top 20 Songs Of 1981

1. Kim Carnes, “Bette Davis Eyes”
2. Diana Ross & Lionel Richie, “Endless Love”
3. Kenny Roger, “Lady”
4. John Lennon, “(Just Like) Starting Over”
5. Rick Springfield, “Jessie’s Girl”
6. Kool & The Gang, “Celebration”
7. Hall & Oates, “Kiss On My List”
8. Eddie Rabbitt, “I Love A Rainy Night”
9. Dolly Parton, “9 To 5”
10. REO Speedwagon, “Keep On Loving You”
11. Joey Scarbury, “Theme From The Greatest American Hero (Believe It Or Not)”
12. Sheena Easton, “Morning Train (Nine To Five)”
13. Smokey Robinson, “Being With You”
14. Juice Newton, “Queen Of Hearts”
15. Blondie, “Rapture”
16. Raydio, “A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do)”
17. Blondie, “The Tide Is High”
18. Grover Washington, Jr. & Bill Withers, “Just The Two Of Us”
19. The Pointer Sisters, “Slow Hand”
20. Climax Blues Band, “I Love You”

It was August 1, 1981, and Music Television was nine videos into its inaugural broadcast day. Todd Rundgren had just finished shimmying through a bunch of surrealist masterworks when Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon flashed onto the screen, all big shoulder pads and bigger hair. Preceded by a wave of applause, Cronin launched into “Take It On The Run”: “Heard it from a friend, who / Heard it from a friend, who / Heard it from another, you’ve been messing”—and then the screen went blank. The scene then changed to VJ Mark Goodman (hair also big), sitting cross-legged in front of the channel’s soon-to-be familiar logo and encouraging viewers to send in for their very own MTV dial sticker. Order had been restored following the brief signal interruption, but for a few seconds, MTV’s great pop-music rebellion had seemingly rebelled on itself.

Otherwise, there was no stopping REO Speedwagon in 1981: The album that contained “Take It On The Run,” Hi Infidelity, was the year’s best-selling LP; its first single, the drippy power ballad “Keep On Loving You,” rounded out the Hot 100’s top 10. It’s important to remember that “Video Killed The Radio Star” was a forecast, not a report. Not that the radio stars of old were doing themselves many favors that year: Eric Clapton couldn’t stay out of the hospital, Steven Tyler crashed his motorcycle, and Ozzy Osbourne greeted the suits from Epic Records by biting the heads off two doves.

The grieving period for John Lennon spilled over from December of 1980, boosting sales of his final album, Double Fantasy, and giving Lennon a posthumous hit whose promise of a new start was halted by four bullets. Billboard’s year-end tallies resemble the preferences of a public trying to ease its way through a post-wake hangover; that desire to just stay in bed is underlined by the strong performance of two separate songs with the parameters of the average workday in their title. A certain softness pervades the Hot 100’s upper reaches, where Rick Springfield and Hall & Oates represent your best bets for new-wave spike spikiness (no offense meant to the otherwise excellent “Jessie’s Girl” and “Kiss On My List”). Kim Carnes’ voice represents the only bit of grit amid all the polish of the year’s No. 1 song; people were scooping up The Greatest American Hero’s willowy motivational poster of a theme song in bulk.

Just don’t be fooled by the extremely quiet storm being stirred up by “Endless Love,” and “Just The Two Of Us”—while the soul giants of the previous decade were going smoother and lusher, Prince and Rick James stripped things down literally and figuratively, with “Controversy” and “Give It To Me Baby” representing a thumping, humping funk vanguard. Meanwhile, overlooked instrumental breaks and half-remembered grooves were being cut up into some of hip-hop’s earliest classics, though it usually took the endorsement of dabbling Downtowners—like Tom Tom Club and their “Genius Of Love”—to actually get any rapping on the radio.

But what do you expect from a year when boot-scootin’, mechanical-bull pop-country represented insurgent musical crossover? The righteous fury of punk was busy splintering in dozens of different directions, as early underground heroes like The Clash and Blondie played stylistic hopscotch (and found wider audiences doing so) while upstarts on the American coasts pushed toward more blistering tempos. Joy Division was reborn as New Order just as The Human League and Soft Cell ushered in the age of synthpop in the U.K. The latter broke through in the clubs with a 12-inch single that interpolated an old Motown hit; in a coincidence of cultural exchange, kids in Detroit were filtering European electronic influences through post-industrial dystopia, planting the seeds for techno and electro.

The next steps in musical evolution were made visible on MTV, but to get the full picture of everything music had to offer in 1981, you’d need to turn off the TV and open your ears to the tracks and artists that follow.

Television Personalities, “The Glittering Prizes” (January)

Despite being inspired, like so many other groups of its era, by the Sex Pistols, and garnering its earliest (and only) success with the sneering single “Part Time Punks,” Television Personalities couldn’t have been more out of step with the British punk scene. Leader Dan Treacy wrote abstract, diaristic lyrics that were at turns wry and whimsical, delivering them over warbles of brittle guitar. The band’s 1981 debut, …And Don’t The Kids Just Love It, bore a photo of Twiggy and The Avengers star Patrick Macnee, speaking to its obsession with Swinging ’60s culture, and even contained a playfully twee song about Syd Barrett. But as Creation Records’ Alan McGee explained in an article about how Television Personalities had inspired him to start a label populated by so many of its descendants, Treacy became “a kind of pied piper for London music fans” specifically because of those uncool quirks—an idiosyncratic genius who understood that “punk” was more of a general ethos than the already codified, increasingly rigid aesthetic of post-Pistols rock. A song like “The Glittering Prizes” may not have thrashing rhythms or furiously down-stroked distortion, but in its lo-fi, ramshackle atmospheres and Treacy’s words, both sweetly and sardonically longing to rise above his office-boy station and join the moneyed elite, it expresses those same existential tensions with a similarly purifying release. [Sean O’Neal]

Bad Religion, “Bad Religion” (February)

A song called “Bad Religion” leading off the Bad Religion EP by a band called Bad Religion: If nothing else, the long-running California punk band established its identity right out of the gate, complete with its trademark struck-out cross on the cover. The EP bears the rough beginnings of the sound that would become distinctly Bad Religion’s in the coming years/decades, particularly Greg Graffin’s voice and lyrics and Brett Gurewitz’s guitar. “Bad Religion” sounds loose and sloppily recorded—or “crude and urgent,” as Epitaph Records would describe the EP, its first release—but the spirit of the band emerged practically fully formed in a song that’s not even two minutes long. [Kyle Ryan]

Josef K, “Sorry For Laughing” (February)

Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about the original recording of “Sorry For Laughing,” one of the best songs by the brief-lived but deeply influential Scottish post-punk band Josef K, was how much the group hated it. Holding fast to their promise to only release one album, the band recorded a record of the same name as the song early in the year, but ended up shelving the entire thing, feeling the polished production values were “insipid” and antithetical to the impassioned, “anti-rock” vibe Josef K embraced. As a result, the group recorded a much more lo-fi version of the record a couple months later, and released The Only Fun In Town to general dismissal and disappointment from fans. It has since been hailed as a classic of the genre with its fusion of jagged guitars and disco-funk rhythms, but there’s still a spirited disagreement to be had over which album is superior, the polished or the pissed-off. [Alex McLevy]

“Weird Al” Yankovic, “Another One Rides The Bus” (February)

There were plenty of punk bands who set out to deflate the theatrical pomposity of ’70s rock groups like Queen, but few of that era accomplished it as directly—or as cheaply—as “Weird Al” Yankovic. The then-college student had already enjoyed some cult success (and a relatively tiny Capitol Records paycheck) with his wacky Knack parody “My Bologna” when Dr. Demento invited him to perform a new one live on his popular oddball radio show. There, aided by a drummer he met only shortly before going on air—John “Bermuda” Schwartz, who kept time by thumping his accordion case—Yankovic debuted his skewed version of “Another One Bites The Dust,” a funny, frantic yelp from a man slowly suffocating inside the urban hell of public transportation, as surreal as it is relatable. “Another One Rides The Bus” finally got an official, short-lived release in 1981 that might have edged its way onto the charts had its label not immediately gone bankrupt (it was picked as a “Bubbling Under” single thanks to its popularity on radio). But it still managed to land Yankovic more TV appearances, some column inches, and even a club tour, kicking off a still-flourishing career of mock-rocking. [Sean O’Neal]

Au Pairs, “We’re So Cool” (May)

Female-led bands from the first wave of British punk reveled in making crashing, joyful noise, but post-punk group Au Pairs, which emerged in Birmingham in 1978, favored a leaner, cooler sound akin to fellow Northerners Gang Of Four. Also like that particular band, the Au Pairs’ lyrics tended toward the sarcastic and pointedly political, although frontwoman Lesley Woods’ favored topics were radical feminism and the hypocrisy of the hippies’ sexual revolution. The Au Pairs’ 1981 debut Playing With A Different Sex features not only “Come Again,” a duet between a woman faking an orgasm and the man who’s failing to please her, but also “We’re So Cool,” a song whose withering assessment of the macho possessiveness that pervades many open relationships still feels ahead of its time. The song opens with a sinewy, quickly strummed earworm of a riff over a manic, but tightly controlled, world-music influenced beat; rushing through the lyrics like a woman who’s run out of patience with the idiot she’s trying to explain this to, Woods deadpans, “I don’t mind your casual affairs, your one-night stands / Because I know that I’m, I’m the main man.” The band chimes in with a staccato, “in your l-l-l-l-l-l-l-life,” and the rhythm is sharp enough to cut—deep. [Katie Rife]

Wipers, “Youth Of America” (May)

Greg Sage conceived Wipers as a purely anonymous recording project, hoping that avoiding publicity, photographs, and even live shows would cultivate an air of mystery that would encourage an even deeper devotion to the music itself. He had to compromise his vision a bit, but he got what he wanted: Most people outside of Portland never heard of Wipers during its original 12-year run, and it wasn’t until alt-rock icons like Thurston Moore and Kurt Cobain began citing it as an influence (and covering Sage’s songs) that everyone finally caught up. Sage even deliberately spurned the punk scene that should have embraced him with Wipers’ second album, Youth Of America, a collection of complex, unfashionably long songs that rumbled and brooded right when fast, angry, and loud was the order of the day. The title track even sprawls well past the 10-minute mark—yet it never loses an iota of intensity, that guttural bass churn girding those circular crescendos of guitar squall, and Sage veering between fatalism and fury in his grimly timeless assessment of all the ways we’re fucked. It’s an emotive, expressive form of noisy aggression that would become the blueprint for grunge and “alternative rock” a decade later. [Sean O’Neal]

Mission Of Burma, “That’s When I Reach For My Revolver” (July)

Post-punk had firmly ensconced itself by the time Mission Of Burma formed in Boston in 1979, and the quartet thrived in the genre’s more expansive boundaries. It had one member, Martin Swope, whose job was to manipulate tape offstage, adding a layer of noise to Mission Of Burma’s high-volume attack. But the band had a predilection for the anthemic as well as the avant garde, best embodied by “That’s When I Reach For My Revolver,” the classic opening track from 1981’s Signals, Calls, And Marches. It’s the catchiest song to ever take its title from a Nazi quip. (Gestapo creator Hermann Göring once said, “When I hear the word culture, that’s when I reach for my revolver,” but songwriter Clint Conley originally saw it in a Henry Miller essay.) With Conley’s bass (and vocals) driving the song, complemented by Roger Miller’s bright guitar and Peter Prescott’s punchy drums, “Revolver” is one of Burma’s most straightforward songs—but also its best. [Kyle Ryan]

Vivien Goldman, “Launderette” (August)

Punk doyenne Vivien Goldman may be better known for her non-musical contributions to the genre as a journalist, documentarian, archivist, professor, and all-around indispensable resource. But in addition to her work with The Flying Lizards, Chantage, and New Age Steppers, she also created one crucial piece of the canon with her 1981 EP, Dirty Washing. Produced by Public Image Ltd’s John Lydon and Keith Levene (and recorded during their studio downtime on The Flowers Of Romance), “Launderette” bridges the divide between reggae and punk that Goldman spent decades explicating, here in just under four minutes. Over a lithe and hypnotic dub bass line overlaid with violin scratches and drones, Goldman sings in a lilting, narcotized yé-yé deadpan about meeting a guy by the dryer, then getting saddled with his deadbeat ass in a go-nowhere romance. Compared to some of her more outwardly political songs, like that same year’s “Private Armies,” “Launderette” is mostly just a fun little goof, yet it truly captures the anything’s-possible genre-smashing experimentation of the era. It’s also catchy as hell. [Sean O’Neal]

The Gun Club, “Sex Beat” (August)

Presaging the legions of goth kids who would soon drape themselves over the sun-soaked gallerias of Southern California, L.A. cowpunks The Gun Club always had a hint of Bauhaus about them. Arising from the same late-’70s scene as X and The Blasters, The Gun Club played thrashing West Coast punk with a Southern roots-music accent, adding a theatrical monster-kid flare that stares out from their songs like the dark sockets of a grinning skull. During his time in the band, frontman Jeffrey Lee Pierce wrote for legendary L.A. punk fanzine Slash Magazine about roots and reggae music, but the group’s first single, “Sex Beat,” is pure rockabilly, shattered into spidery shreds by the frenetic raggedness of the DIY punk aesthetic. The Gun Club was never particularly successful in its hometown—or its home country, for that matter—which explains why the band never even crept onto the edges of the American charts as their contemporaries did occasionally. Original Gun Club guitarist Kid Congo Powers also ran off in 1980 to join The Cramps, but Pierce seems to hardly miss him when he spits out, “We can fuck forever but you will never get my soul” to an unnamed fuck buddy, with the kind of hip-swinging curled-lip swagger that would later make Powers’ other band famous. [Katie Rife]

The Replacements, “I’m In Trouble” (August)

The Replacements were at their straight-up brattiest on their 1981 debut, Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash. The Twin/Tone album featured typical ’Mats odes to joyrides (“Takin’ A Ride”), other bands (“Somethin’ To Dü,”), and teenage boredom (“Hangin’ Downtown”). Bob Stinson’s angsty rage guitar threatens to completely dominate the four-piece, and a thorny Paul Westerberg was a far cry from the lovestruck bard he eventually became. He made his heart-hardened feelings clear enough in tracks like “Love You Till Friday” and especially “I’m In Trouble,” one of the few Ma tracks in which Westerberg’s pop sensibilities manage to harness Stinson’s rebellious cacophony. The chorus—“You won’t ever let me go, you’re in love and I’m in trouble”—doesn’t really rhyme, and the ’Mats could not have cared less, swept along by the song’s infectious and gleeful romantic escape. [Gwen Ihnat]

Altered Images, “Happy Birthday” (September)

The success of Scottish new-wave band Altered Images lay primarily in the breathy, Minnie Mouse vocals of lead singer Clare Grogan. When the band’s debut, Happy Birthday, came out in 1981, Grogan was riding relatively high, having made a big splash in her film debut, Gregory’s Girl, the year before. Her five-piece pop outfit favored guitars and a sunny outlook, setting them a bit apart from their edgier, synth-sodden contemporaries. The title track starts out with a percussive, vaguely tropical melody, before launching into a cheerful tale of getting out of a hot bath to find a surprise party. It’s a perfect glimpse of Grogan’s video-perfect alterna-cute persona, which made the band an easy hit in the dawning MTV era. [Gwen Ihnat]

This Heat, “S.P.Q.R.” (September)

Post-punk rarely felt as fractious and dangerous as it did coming from This Heat, whose two slim records set a template still followed decades later on how to turn the raw materials of rock ’n’ roll into a shattered, dissonant sound collage. On their swan song, Deceit, the three-piece tapped reggae engineer Martin Frederick to bring everything into sharp focus, a process which yielded the still-rousing fight song “S.P.Q.R.” Clattering one-note guitar riffs and car-crash drum fills set a stage for incantations about the magnificence of the Roman empire—the implication, of course, being that civilizational triumph is fleeting. As if to illustrate this principle, the track, which starts with the sort of arena-pleasing guitar tones that landed the band a spot opening for U2, eventually collapses into utter dissonance and disarray, with a full 30 seconds of harsh metallic drones. [Clayton Purdom]

Chris & Cosey, “Put Yourself In Los Angeles” (November)

Heartbeat, the debut album from Chris & Cosey—the synthpop offshoot formed by Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti in the wake of industrial pioneers Throbbing Gristle—isn’t as refined as the band’s mid-to-late-’80s output. But that’s what makes it such a vital document: In bridging the divide between Throbbing Gristle’s scabrous deconstructions and the dance-club sounds that Tutti immersed herself in nightly as a striptease artist, Heartbeat created a sinister synth-driven sound that proved to be a basic rubric for myriad dark-wave and techno artists to follow. Opening track “Put Yourself In Los Angeles” melds Kraftwerkian sci-fi burble with serrated, distorted guitar tones sawing underneath the looped rants of TV preacher Dr. Gene Scott, and in addition to coming off like a snarling answer to Brian Eno and David Byrne’s minor ’81 success My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, it now sounds like an early test run for the next wave of industrial acts soon to arrive (particularly Ministry, which was making its first tentative forays into Bauhaus-derived new wave that year). [Sean O’Neal]

The Fall, “Lie Dream of A Casino Soul” (November)

Mark E. Smith’s untamable workhorse The Fall barreled over several peaks (and tumbled into a few valleys) throughout its decades-long run, but 1981 surely ranks among the several zeniths of its powers. This was a period of all-cylinders-firing productivity for the indefatigably prolific band—a year immediately preceded by the release of Grotesque (After The Gramme) and the band’s first left-field hit in “Totally Wired,” and one that saw it releasing both the first of many live albums and embarking on a maiden tour of the U.S. In between, The Fall spurned its Rough Trade label heads while releasing arguably its most perfect record, the six-song Slates EP, then capped it all off with November’s “Lie Dream Of A Casino Soul” single on the tiny Kamera—the first recording to feature the dual-drummer attack that would become the driving force of the band. “Lie” is a typically arcane Smith track, a wry fever dream loosely revolving around Britain’s retro-scavenging Northern Soul scene, and one that also includes some paranoid asides about mind-controlling machines and Orwellian department stores. But it’s also among The Fall’s most instantly accessible, Smith’s mad-brilliant ravings and all those blaring klezmer keyboards turning unexpectedly infectious through The Fall’s unique force of demented will. [Sean O’Neal]

Black Flag, “Rise Above” (December)

L.A. hardcore pioneers Black Flag went through three lead singers in the two years between its debut EP, Nervous Breakdown, and the release of its first proper full-length, Damaged, in 1981. By that point, Henry Rollins had begun his tenure as the band’s longest-lasting vocalist, his polyester gym shorts and intense battles with depression shaping the band’s signature blend of testosterone-fueled aggression and inner torment in a way no other singer would. Anthemic album opener “Rise Above” is deranged from its opening moments, hurtling forward unsteadily as the guitar, bass, and drums fumble toward something resembling cohesion while Rollins bursts hoarsely through the studio wall, one fist in the air and the rest of his limbs flailing as he riles up his fellow outcasts with the freight-train chorus: “We are tired of your abuse / Try to stop us, it’s no use!” Asking if Damaged hit the Billboard charts upon its release in December of 1981 is like asking if a Black Panther could have beat Nixon in the 1972 presidential election; they were so far outside the musical mainstream that even now, more than 30 years later, it’s easy to tell when someone’s wearing one of their shirts simply as a fashion statement. [Katie Rife]

Liquid Liquid, “Push” (December)

Liquid Liquid is the consummate Off The Charts artist: a band whose influence wouldn’t truly be felt until decades after recording its less than 60 minutes of total music; a band whose biggest shot at success evaporated when Sugar Hill released “White Lines (Don’t Do It),” a song that stole the iconic two-note bass line (and much more) from Liquid Liquid’s “Cavern” and knocked that breakout single off the radiowaves. (Making matters worse, the resulting court battle killed both Sugar Hill and Liquid Liquid’s label, the monumental 99 Records, which also produced acts like Glenn Branca and ESG.) “Cavern” hailed from 1983’s Optimo, the group’s third and final EP, and the one where it fully realized the hypnotic, guitarless art-funk it began pursuing in 1981. Those earlier recordings are even less graspable, funk stripped of its swagger and soul and instead rendered as something jittery and industrial. “Push,” arriving on the group’s second EP, is the bridge between those experimental early days and the band’s 1983 masterpiece. It’s as cogent as Liquid Liquid would ever sound, seemingly named for the way Sal Principato’s primal, indistinct yelping and the unified crash of all that pounding percussion hit you like a furious shove toward the dance floor. [Matt Gerardi]

Cybotron, “Alleys Of Your Mind”

When music nerds debate the origins of techno, they can (mostly) agree on its epicenter: Detroit. But efforts to trace the genre back to a single release are more contentious. 1981 was the year Detroit clubs got a whiff of the two most commonly cited originators. First there was the Kraftwerk-sampling “Sharevari,” produced by a collection of Detroit kids who came to be known as A Number Of Names. The way it was composed, sounding like a live DJ mixing all these bits together and adding their own flourishes, was a revelation, but with its goofy lyrics and pulsing Moroder-esque electronics, it still carried much of the kitsch and sound of disco. Not too long after its release, however, a duo calling themselves Cybotron put out the other oft-credited point of origin, “Alleys Of Your Mind.” Behind that silly, sci-fi pseudonym were Rik “3070” Davis and Juan Atkins, the latter of whom was destined to become known as the godfather of techno. Compared to “Sharevari,” “Alleys” is like looking into the future, a true fusion of Kraftwerk’s robotica with funk’s deep grooves. The lyrics mark an important transition as well, employing the kind of abstract sci-fi imagery that complemented all the electronic sounds and would come to define Detroit techno. [Matt Gerardi]

Grandmaster Flash, “The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel”

If you want to trace the art of DJing as we currently know it back to its origin—past endless post-millennial crate digging; past the freewheeling, sampledelic ’90s; past the canonical funk and soul cuts of hip-hop’s heyday—you may well just end up here, at the aptly named “Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel.” Sure, there are technically predecessors, in dub and early electronic music, and sure, heard today, you’re just listening to clips of Blondie, Chic, Queen, and “Apache” blended together. But by sinuously blending beats together from different tracks without a seam showing, Grandmaster Flash provided a dazzling focal point for the possibilities of DJing. That the entire track was recorded live from Flash’s decks only adds to the real-time thrill. Those scratches that introduce “Apache,” around 30 seconds in, were among the first intentionally used that way, repurposing what had previously seemed like a technical malfunction into a new rhythmic language. [Clayton Purdom]

Night Moves, “Transdance (GC1 version)”

In 1980, a Londoner named Michael Guihen met Denis Haines, a one-time keyboardist for Gary Numan, and shared with him some demos from his defunct band, Oblong Mauve (which is, for the record, the most perfectly cheesy name for an early electronic band ever conceived). One of those demos was an early version of the song that would become Guihen’s legacy, “Transdance.” Haines landed Guihen some studio time, and in the spring of 1981 he developed “Transdance” into its first publicly released form. Known to collectors as the “GC1” version, it’s a rare, early example of synthpop on an entirely different wavelength, combining machine-like electronics with the gloom of post-punk’s most gothic practitioners. It met with some minor success in—where else—Europe, but Guihen was determined to make “Transdance” a club hit around the world. He iterated on the song over the next few years, amping up the tempo and surrounding his vocals with more and more adornments that pushed the track further toward electro and new wave. One of these alternate versions, known as the “New York Mix,” even cracked the Billboard dance charts, but none of them are as captivating as the lurch of that ominous original. [Matt Gerardi]

Treacherous Three, “Feel The Heartbeat”

There’s an exuberance that bounces off early Treacherous Three tracks, on which emcees Kool Moe Dee, L.A. Sunshine, and Special K toss the mic over DJ Easy Lee’s slick, disco-influenced beats. In 1981, the group also released one of the earliest blends of rap and rock in “Body Rock,” but it’s hard to argue with the infectiousness of “Feel The Heartbeat,” which turns a forward-thinking loop of a giddy, summertime crowd into an exhortation to have fun. If you’re looking for examples of hip-hop’s pre-“Message” party days, it doesn’t get much better than “Feel The Heartbeat”—and all those tiny, subliminal drum rolls have only gotten more sublime over the years. [Clayton Purdom]


Heaven 17, “(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang”
New Order, “Ceremony”
Minor Threat, “Straight Edge”
The Birthday Party, “Nick The Stripper”
Siouxsie And The Banshees, “Spellbound”
Bauhaus, “Kick In The Eye”
Simple Minds, “Love Song”
Public Image Ltd, “Flowers Of Romance”
Killing Joke, “Follow The Leaders”
The Church, “The Unguarded Moment”