I’ve already been thinking I should take a post off between years, so I’ve just gone and decided to make my self-indulgent playlist the end punctuation of the year. Joke’s on me, because this actually wasn’t much less time-consuming! I might in the future use this space to maybe reflect on the year’s games I covered as a whole, but 1982 doesn’t have any kind of throughline — every game in the bunch pulled in a different direction. So without further adieu:
- George Clinton – Computer Games
You’d think I could have found an appropriate place to use this.
- Don Blackman – Yabba Dabba Doo
Good album, specifically seems to be worshiping Gloryhallastoopid era P-Funk. I was gonna talk about a synth-funk drought in the 80s but really, it was very successful. It’s just that I don’t much care for the strain of lite synth-funk in jazz and pop, from Japan to Jimmy Jam. I want synth-funk that fulfills the ballsy promise of Backstrokin’ and Holy Ghost.
- The Gap Band – You Dropped The Bomb On Me
The Gap Band also worshiped late P-Funk, but I’m always disappointed by their albums because their songs feel half-finished: both underwritten and with an oddly thin sound. Best in small doses, like this, their signature song, which consists of little more than a bassline, a disco-steady beat, and one hook milked for all it’s worth.
- Trouble Funk – Drop The Bomb
Go-Go on wax! Go-Go was a DC/Maryland scene of party-oriented live-instrumentation funk, with its distinguishing features being… uh, nothing, it’s just great funk like was made all through the 70s. IIRC, it endured in that area because of local live music laws? I’m thankful, in any case. This is a hook-laden anthem.
- Grand Wizard Theodore & The Fantastic Romantic Five – Can I Get A Soul Clapp (Fresh Out The Pack)
1982 is the last year I can really do this, so I’m gonna mix the disco rap in with the rest of the funk and disco this go-around. This is the least disco of the disco raps I have, it’s way low-tempo and raw in that charming way of early hip-hop.
- Osiris – War On The Bullshit
Back to the Go-Go! This is a titanic slab of blister funk.
- Experience Unlimited – E.U. Groove
This is a smooth groove.
- Super 3 – When You’re Standing On The Top
This is all laid-back chill smiles.
- South Bronx – The Bottom Line
This New York City disco band, little surprise, makes a disco song that almost feels like it’s missing a rap.
- Robson Jorge & Lincoln Olivetti – Jorgea Corisco
Hyperactive horn-driven Brazilian discofied jazz-funk.
- Gary Davis – Gee Dee
Melodic disco… the piano work is extremely jazz. Goosebumps!
- Stargaze – You Can’t Have It
You know, you’d think disco would be on the ropes years after Disco Demolition Night, but no! In terms of both quantity and quality, disco in the early 80s was arguably healthier than in the years when you could score a #1 hit just by attaching the word “disco” to your novelty single. And you still see a lot of disco influence in non-disco.
- Patrice Rushen – Forget Me Nots
This is the best bassline of 1982, I even checked with my bassist friend. And this track milks it for all the heaven it’s worth, with all the airy high parts.
- The Celestial Choir – Stand On The Word
After that, the only way to keep ascending is to literally turn to gospel disco.
- Tim Maia – Ar Puro
The Soul Of Brazil is here to take us back down, with another airy groove, but earthy vocals.
- The Sunburst Band – The Easton Assassin
A rap tribute to boxer Larry Holmes with a really, really great beat, that at once stutters and glides.
- Pieces Of A Dream – Mt. Airy Groove (Rap Version)
Another great smooth beat — frankly, suspiciously great for disco rap! It’s so intricate in its own right that it’s actually a little hard to find the vocal version, the instrumental version seems much more popular. They brought some heavy musician ammunition to this track: Pieces Of A Dream was a pretty good smooth soul group, and the song was produced by jazz-funk legend Grover Washington Jr!
- Eroc – Der Prophet
This is actually a more menacing beat than the rest in this group… because this is a German rock group in the German rock tradition. It’s even MORE insistent and steady than most disco, despite the resemblance and the slap bass. Almost none of that funk syncopation!
- Indeep – Last Night A DJ Saved My Life
Here’s that funk-rooted syncopation right back in the rhythm guitar. Also, at the last minute, a brief and quotable rap! It gets most of its power from its stentorian and even-keeled delivery.
- Kid Creole & The Coconuts – Stool Pigeon
For those of you who wish Cab Calloway did disco with quasi-rap storytelling.
- Columbus Circle – If You Read My Mind
The star of the show here is the high synthline, not that the rest of the composition is any slouch. In fact, a lot is done is to make sure the song is full of drama and keeps moving to different sections.
- Sweet Pea Atkinson – Dance Or Die
Some of Was (Not Was) got together to record this synth-bass drum-machine disco with a couple of dub touches.
- Captain Rock – Cosmic Glide
A space rap. Shouts out to ET , Space Invaders , and Pac-Man .
- Expansives – Life With You…
This is a weird one! It announces itself with a flanged drum machine and a synth bass hocketing off with a memorable but uneasy descending fretless bass line, and that’s essentially the hook!
- Felix & Jarvis – Flamethrower Rap
Fast rap that’s nevertheless extremely inane. Note during the verses how the beat is just a drum machine and bassline, and the bass drops out for half of every measure. Then, the rappers go away for a while so the producers can do some stuff. Repeat, until by the third verse, it’s JUST drums and rap.
- Peech Boys – Don’t Make Me Wait
This is often cited as the first House track. It’s one of those disco drum machine tracks that wander through a lot of ideas (like an electric guitar) bolstered by the strength of its hook.
- Sharon Redd – Never Give You Up
Great year for Sharon Redd! Irresistible beat.
- Chemise – She Can’t Love You
A more subtle, low-key take on synth-disco that’s no less magnetic.
- Sylvester & Patrick Cowley – Do You Wanna Funk?
An extremely amped-up take on synth-disco. Hi-NRG, baby!
- ‘Lectric Workers – Robot Is Systematic
Keeps the pace up, and then 1 and three-quarters minutes in, it hits you with some seriously bizarre and off-putting voice-effects work. Gotta love that.
- Bobby O. – She Has A Way
This track shoots its load in the first minute, but what a tremendous load. Wise DJs should just loop that part.
- Capricorn – I Need Love
This pulls the same trick of She Has A Way, of adding more percussive elements on a compelling synth-bass line, but it keeps it going and evolving for the whole track.
- Charanjit Singh – Raga Megh Malhar
Acid House a few years early. Except with more going on, the keyboard lines really show off whether slow or fast.
- Gay Cat Park – I’m A Vocoder
This is only here because the artist is called “Gay Cat Park.”
- Chiemi Manabi – Targeted Girl
“City pop,” a vital stage in the evolution of J-Pop, really gets going around now. I don’t care for most of it, but I can get down with this strangely ominous dance track!
- Blancmange – Feel Me
Icy, anguished dance-punk gets on board with synth bass.
- Devo – Explosions
Really wanted to put this with the other “bomb” tracks up top for the pun, but their herky-jerk synth-driven not-funk fits better down here. Oh No is their last classic record, and this song is pretty much the acerbic heart of it.
- Yazoo – Situation
Always think this is a theme song, like to SWAT Kats or something. The premise here is basically: What if Kraftwerk sung, and jammed their songs impossibly full of hooks?
- Freez – IOU
A lot of people in 1982 were thinking that. This song is outright bubblegum, it might as well be for kids. Arthur Baker was mostly responsible for this song, and he was also heavily involved in…
- Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force – Looking For The Perfect Beat
“Planet Rock”, which invented electro, is probably the most important and influential record of the early 80s, but I think this, its follow-up, is better.
- Tyrone Brunson – The Smurf
This is showing off. This is an intricate 6-minute symphony of cacophony. It must have been hell to put together.
- The Fearless Four – Rockin’ It
More Kraftwerk as modified to be crowd-pleasing! The original song is palpably empty after you hear this.
- Grandmaster Melle Mel & Duke Bootee – The Message
While Planet Rock is enormously consequential for electronic music, pop, and hip-hop all at once, The Message is the more consequential song for hip-hop, because it’s a leap straight out of party rhymes to socially-conscious storytelling. Still phenomenal. I’m not crediting it to Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, because that credit is straight-up wrong. (Content warning: a couple homophobic slurs.)
- Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five – Flash 2 The Beat (live)
Now this was actually recorded by the whole group, even Flash on the beatbox… several years before 1982. They rerecorded and officially released this live bootleg in 1982, but this is the better version so I’m using it. At once in its party choir AND minimal drum machine beat, it’s got one foot in rap’s past and its immediate future.
- Double Trouble – Stoop Rap
The logical final frontier in minimal accompaniment for a rap.
- Mathilde Santing – You Go To My Head
Big swerve from there into minimal accompaniment for a pop torch song. It starts with a synth bass plucking out “Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay”, but wisely does nothing else to invite comparison with that masterpiece. If that song is heavy-hearted and water-logged, this is light-headed in its thin oxygen, and a vocal showcase not for gritty soul but perfect pitch.
- Lo Borges – Nuvem Cigana
Another pop ascension, but much lusher.
- Guernica – Cafe De Psycho
Distinguished by its lo-fi clatter of synthesis, but at heart, Guernica are pre-war pop classicists.
- Bill Nelson – Flaming Desire
We’ve somehow already left the era where such quirky synthpop can seriously chart. But this bangs.
- Eddy Grant – Electric Avenue
This sparse polemic can chart, though! Every part of this beat is a stab.
- Talk Talk – Talk Talk
This band earned their notoriety for an entirely different genre of music… but honestly, their romantic synthpop debut is nothing to be ashamed of. Rather, it’s one of the best of its kind!
- Rational Youth – I Want To See The Light
I came really close to using their “Coboloid Race” as the Robotron 2084  music because its lyrics are extremely on-the-nose. But this is their actual best song, an ice glide of gentler John Foxx synthpop.
- Trees – Delta Sleep
Talk about “bedroom pop!”
- The Honeymoon Killers – A Deep Space Romance
Really fun, quotable audio play with a bouncy beat.
- The English Beat – Rotating Head
A great Remainalike warped into pop form.
- Siouxsie & The Banshees – Green Fingers
Their punk edge gone, they found fertile land in psychedelic pop.
- Sezen Aksu – Firuze
Wait, what’s this melodramatic Turkish pop doing smack-dab in the middle of the goth section?
- Minimal Compact – Invocation (For Things To Come)
A surf-rock rhythm section backing a haunting string section.
- Sad Lovers & Giants – Colourless Dream
I know someone who’s really into this band. They seem like one of those bands that’s an unmoving stone in the river, that just keep doing their thing no matter the changing times. I like this strumfest.
- A Flock Of Seagulls – Telecommunication
Anything that’s not “I Ran” counts as a deep cut with this band. You’ve probably heard it before, but that first album is good!
- Indochine – L’aventurier
Some squirrely pop-rock, feat. Synths! The bridge makes it.
- Sandra De Sa – Olhos Coloridos
It was really hard to find a place to put this midtempo, down-to-earth soul number, so I put it here.
- The Pool – Sing
Some hard-stepping, slick funk rock. Feels fundamentally 70s.
- Jagatara – でも・デモ・Demo
THIS is what funk rock is meant to sound like in the early 80s! Absolutely unhinged!
- Romeo Void – Never Say Never
More into using its slicing rhythm guitar to seethe. The logical opposite of “I Know What Boys Like.”
- Blam Blam Blam – Don’t Fight It Marsha, It’s Bigger Than Both Of Us
All about that Teutonic groove and arch lyricism, especially the end where it’s just vamping and cycling phrases. Pop nevertheless.
- The Neats – Same
A scruffy take on the endless, circular strumfest.
- Altered Images – How About That Then? (I Missed My Train)
A sunshiney take on the endless, circular strumfest.
- The Neccesaries – Driving And Talking At The Same Time
A clinically clean take on the endless, circular strumfest.
- Rhys Chatham – Guitar Ring
Totalism is just the logical conclusion of the endless, circular strumfest. This is great to take Ambien to.
- Na Hawa Doumbia – Koro Dia
Another over 10 minute guitar voyage into a world of shifting sands, but this one has no amplification. Probably the better one!
- Joao Bosco – Comissao De Frente
Strange atmosphere from a flanger and a descending melodic line. Like “Life With You” come to think.
- King Crimson – Neal And Jack And Me
No surprise this is my favorite period of King Crimson. They finally put their music up on YouTube!
- The Who – Eminence Front
Speaking of dinosaurs from the 60s (that includes George Clinton) making surprisingly with-it records… The Who comes out of NOWHERE with their best track since “I Can See For Miles.”
- Split Enz – Make Sense Of It
Otherworldly above-it-all intensity.
- Ric Ocasek – Out Of Control
Extremely cool gliding song from the lead singer of The Cars branching out.
- New Order – Temptation
This was the first song I put on the playlist. I like New Order more than Joy Division.
- GB Beckers – Walkman
Just some reverb, acoustic guitar, and a drum machine. Welcome to “ambient pop.”
- Antena – Camino Del Sol
Some synth bossa nova. Very Stereolab.
- Woo – Razorblades
Floating down the river on your back. There’s a bee that makes you worried for a little bit but it goes away.
- Sudetan Creche – Dance
This is what it’s all about. This is an electric blanket. I like to play this so slow it takes 10 minutes to finish.
- In Embrace – Breathless With Passion
Horror movie chord! Great choir work, builds to a good rhythm.
- Dark Day – Nudes In The Forest
Timbaland please sample this.
- Attrition – Fear
- Kas Product – So Young But So Cold
Hi-NRG goes industrial.
- Snowy Red – Nowhere
A different song off this album, Euroshima (Wardance), is important in German dance music history. I think it could have been this one, too.
- Kamiel – Me Wuf Is Weg
Hamming it up over a massive synth line.
- Marie Moor – Pretty Day
Uses a drum pattern of the same Casio stripe as the above, but uses it for something more ominous.
- Jimmy Murakawa – Down? Down, Down!
Just a tone piece, with a slow lumbering beat and then odd, creepy sounds.
- Cabaret Voltaire – Breathe Deep
The most song-like thing I think Cabaret Voltaire had accomplished up to this point!
- Warning – Warning
I wanted to put “A Message” here, but it wasn’t uploaded. These guys made synth-driven metal with an ahead-of-their-time growl in the vocals.
- Codek – Tim Toum
Brings it all back once more to the basics: Drums. Oh, and some childlike singing and stinging guitar.
- Liliput – Tschik-mo
- Moebius & Beerbohm – Fortschritt
From just drums to that fat dub bass. With lots of noise, just how you like it.
- P-Model – Zombi
A+ use of gated drums! P-Model gets quirky, but here, they’re just extremely paranoid.
- Ornette Coleman – What Is The Name Of That Song?
“Of Human Feelings” got criticized for foregrounding its bassy funk beats, but actually, it rules.
- Holger Czukay, Jaki Leibezeit, Jah Wobble – How Much Are They?
You should expect a release with the rhythm section of Can plus Jah Wobble hot off of his star turn on Public Image’s Metal Box to rule… and for one track, they did!
- Masumi Hara – Eye Drops Administered From The Surface Of The Moon
Gotta love that track title.
- Shriekback – My Spine Is The Bassline
Utterly infectious track. Full of great turns of phrase, but all of those phrases are about how the the song itself, and how everything but its bassline is superfluous. (Epilepsy warning for the fanmade video.)
- Hunters & Collectors – Talking To A Stranger
But this is the proud owner of the #2 bassline of 1982. Titanic song, the final word on post-punk’s fascination with warping funk into its own paranoid image.
- Translator – Favorite Drug
Moving Into The Pulsebeat
- 1984 – Soldier/Solo/Kicks
These are all 1984’s contributions to the Burst City soundtrack. I couldn’t find them separate, but that’s okay because in this form they aren’t a long EP.
- Gruppenbild – Tranquility
Some good ole doom and gloom.
- 39 Clocks – Heat Of Violence
Love the way they bend their notes on this one. Good sound they achieved.
- In Camera – The Fatal Day
This group apparently improvised everything. At first, when it’s just an ascending 4 chord loop, that’s not terribly impressive, but they keep building on it, and once the bass and drums both decide to leap into a new, more complicated groove, then someone starts singing, and part of me wants to call fraud, while the other wants to just be impressed.
- Nocturnal Projections – Out Of My Hands
Sunshine peaking through the air vents into the basement.
- Dead Kennedys – Moon Over Marin
My favorite Dead Kennedys song (unsurprisingly, frankly.) Extremely evocative, the lead guitar line cutting in feels like part of the story Jello Biafra tells, which isn’t quite post-apocalypse, but is instead a future where everything gets so much worse, but the rich pricks that ruined it all keep delighting in the comfort of selfishness. That hits close!
- Mission Of Burma – That’s How I Escaped My Certain Fate
The famous story about this one is that the scream at the end of the song is the drummer realizing that even though they played the song so fast they were gonna run out of tape before finishing. Of course, it ended up being the best possible finish.
- Charged G.B.H – I Am The Hunted
Next time you go out for a run, try this.
- Flipper – Ever
Finally, a clap-along anthem for the misanthropes!
- Hose – Mobo
This was the first release on Def Jam. Now, it isn’t a shock to find out Rick Rubin was in a rock band before he became a hip-hop producer, because he so hard tried to merge those worlds, but what is a shock is frankly, that his band didn’t completely suck. I expected lame-o Aerosmith worship, but no, Hose is a hip Flipper kind of band. What’s not a shock, though, is how their discography is about half genre-transfusion covers of tracks like “Super Freak” and “You Sexy Thing.” That includes “Mobo” here, which is a cover of a mediocre 1982 disco track, but which they very much claim as their own.
- Sonic Youth – The Burning Spear
Meanwhile, elsewhere in New York City, there was another noisy rock group, hard at work on their first and best album. This band would prove a bit more committed to their genre, though they’d not be without their own 80s hip-hop dalliances. Small world in the Big Apple.
- Men – V-2 Heidegger
I don’t think that’s real German. I like the way it just keeps going between two gears, one of tension and one of descent.
- Cassiber – Not Me
Wild, pummeling avant-prog, with funny lyrics!
- Quick Culture – Huhnchens
Points for incorporating marimbas into their legally-distinct Secret Agent Man workout.
- Subjects – High Life
Always good to know that someone’s out there making music like Devo was in the 70s, after Devo gave up.
- Pere Ubu – Petrified
Devo contemporaries Pere Ubu, coincidentally, would also release the last album of their classic era in 1982. Though, in Pere Ubu’s case, it’s because they wouldn’t release another album for 6 years. “Song Of The Bailing Man” represents the completion of Pere Ubu’s transformation from doomy punk to jazzy prog, having just emerged from the chrysalis of 1980’s “The Art Of Walking” where they veered into noise outright. Kinda a band to keep an eye on!
- Allan Holdsworth – Checking Out
Despite all its time changes and other sudden swerves, I can’t help but feel this slice of jazz-rock is a vision of what pop could be if it was unleashed.
- Takeo Moriyama Quartet – No More Apples
Oh, just post-bop. Bandleader is a drummer, so you know they’re good. Yet another excellent prominent bassline, full of intrigue and drive.
- Grupo Um – Ze Eduardo Nazario Com
This might lose something extracted from its context, because it really got its power to me from being preceded by three tracks of… let’s say “near-music,” free improv noise. Nothing wrong with that! In fact I’ll say quite the opposite, it’s a special magic when you have no reason to expect music and then you’re surprised by something tuneful.
- Jone Takamaki Trio – Bhupala I
Some extremely chill “dew on the grass” jazz with microtonal elements and some bassy horn droning on.
- Herneto Pascoal & Grupo – De Bandeja E Tudo
Follows on from the previous, but grows a jerky groove to flute over.
- String Connection – Bokra
And we leave off with a tremendous string-led jazz ensemble… adopting a smooth disco beat to bring us back. This song rules.