Forgotten Rock Gems of the 1980s

Today we look at a Top 9 List of some forgotten gems from the 1980s. These are pop/rock songs which may have briefly entered the national charts or rotation on MTV, but have regrettably been lost in the inexactitude of music history. We countdown this subjective list from #9 to #1.

9. “A Fine, Fine Day” by Tony Carey, 1984

Tony Carey is the former keyboardist for the hard rock group Rainbow, who released a single solo record called Some Tough City in 1984. “A Fine, Fine Day” is a narrative track where the protagonist speaks of his uncle in organized crime to a fine musical arrangement lead by a blend of piano, organ, guitars, and a moderate rhythm.

8. “Got a Hold On Me” by Christine McVie, 1984

Often the one overlooked in Fleetwood Mac, Christine McVie is an extraordinarily talented composer and performer. She released her self-titled album in 1984, with “Got a Hold On Me” on me as the lead single. A love song with the deeper theme of awakening to a fresher romance, the song really excels during the exquisite, multi-keyboard bridge section.

7. “Jokerman” by Bob Dylan, 1983

Bob Dylan was in a bit of a rough spot in the late seventies and early eighties when he emerged with 1983’s Infidels, which saw his songwriting return to classic form. The rich and complex lyrics are delivered with ever-growing intensity and complemented by the cool, driving bass of Robbie Shakespeare and the signature guitars of Dire Straits leader Mark Knopfler, who also produced the album.

6. “Don’t Answer Me” by Alan Parsons Project

“Don’t Answer Me” is a cool and mellow breakup song by the Alan Parsons Project, which employs sixites-style rhythms under the ethereal vocals of Eric Woolfson. Accompanying the track, which comes from the 1984 album Ammonia Avenue, is the music video rendered in comic book style, which was recently highlighted in this article by our affiliate Comics, Movies and Games, which examines the pulp novel-style artwork in the video.

5. “So. Central Rain” by REM, 1984

“So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)” was the lead single from R.E.M.‘s second album, Reckoning. The song has a distinct Southern folk rhythm accented by the twangy guitars of Peter Buck and lyrics inspired by news of excessive downpours in therr home region of Georgia while the young group was on their first national tour.

4. “Athena” by The Who, 1982

“Athena” is, ironically, a song that The Who really didn’t want to record due to its embarrassing real-life origin. However, lead composer Pete Townshend eventually won the band over and the song was a moderate Top 40 hit on both sides of the Atlantic. The upbeat and funky song features some classic Who arrangement, including horns by John Entwistle, and was released on the 1982 album It’s Hard, the final studio album by the group for nearly a quarter century.

3. “Do It Again” by The Kinks, 1984

Near the very end of The Kinks’ incredible run of productive decades came one final, top-level gem aptly titled “Do It Again”. Released on the 1984 album, Word of Mouth. this infectiously catchy tune displays the core elements which made the group so popular and relevant for so long, primarily a garage rock rawness blended with sweet vocal melodies, profound lyrics, and just a touch of classical English folk.

2. “Damn Good” by David Lee Roth, 1988

This song, which was released on Roth’s 1988 album Skyscraper, is dominated musically by guitarist Steve Vai, who provides layers of finger-picked acoustic and pedal-sustained electric for this moody rock ballad. While lyrically, just a few years after his very messy and public “divorce” from Van Halen, David Lee Roth waxed nostalgic about his former band on the song “Damn Good”;

“Man, we was happy in our restless hearts it was heaven right here on Earth, Yeah, we were laughin’ as we reached for the stars and we had some for what it was worth, Those were good times, damn good times…”

1. “Kayleigh” by Marillion, 1985

OK, we cheated a little bit on this one because “Kayleigh” by Marillion was a massive hit in England. In fact, due the song’s popularity in the summer of 1985, there is an inordinate number of British women named “Kayleigh” who are now approaching their 30th birthday. Still, the song was largely ignored in America and it rarely makes any top retrospective lists. Released on the album Misplaced Childhood, this moderately paced track contains several neo-progressive elements packed into a succinct, three and a half minute, melancholy ode to regret and past love. A true classic which represents everything that was good in eighties music.

Honorable Mentions

“Train in a Distance” by Paul Simon, 1983
“Time” by Zebra, 1986 Read Review
“Johnny Hit and Run Pauline” by X, 1980
“Under the Rose” by Lizzy Borden, 1989 Read Review
“Feel It Again” by Honeymoon Suite, 1986


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