While I enjoy all eras of music here at TAP, it does seem to center around the ’60s and ’70s more often than not. However, I’d be lying if I said that I had a preference to that period. Great music from the ’60s/’70s? Hell, yeah! But there is much, much more to Rock and Roll than that. And I KNOW that you all know it. Having said all of that, let me move on to the point of this article.
When the ’80s moved in with its completely varied sounds, some said that Rock and Roll had seen its better years. I have often disagreed with that assessment. As far as I’m concerned, music took on a new coat and left behind another enduring era that is beloved by the youth of that period (I was already headed toward 30 by 1985). I, like the younger crowd, was deeply moved by the stuff that emerged and loved it just as much.
I’ll throw something out here for us to pore over. The Jam, which really got going strong in the late ’70s until their demise around 1982, rode the coattails of the punk scene. But like many bands proclaiming to be punk, the real musical intent crept out soon enough in their later albums. Still, in time, Paul Weller shifted his attention to The Style Council. The Style Council crafted a diversity of music in their years together, little of which bore any resemblance to anything The Jam produced.
Another. I ran across a reference to Klaus Nomi, a unique singer from the late ’70s working into the ’80s, who produced music that most would be surprised to hear. In fact, most might be repelled by the stuff the pop operatic created. I was fascinated by the music, and not just by Klaus Nomi, who created covers of “Lightning Strikes”, and “Ding Dong (The Witch Is Dead)”, as well as resilient tunes like “Total Eclipse”, “Simple Man”, and “You Don’t Own Me”. Released on RCA Records, his albums were fun and delightful. My daughter, at three years of age, adored the Nomi-covered “Ding Dong (The Witch Is Dead)” and had me playing it to her heart’s content. But I digress.
There was a very large collection of bands birthed in the ’80s. The list can grow quite long. We haven’t even brought up the wealth of hard rock bands like Cinderella, Ratt, …Twisted Sister. There was Springsteen, R.E.M., Simple Minds, and U2 really came into their own during this time-frame. Then, of course, the Pop singers. Rod Stewart, Michael Jackson, There was a lot of music from the ’80sOf course, many of the bands from the ’70s were still around. But by then, they were being overshadowed on the hits parade by the newer bands. New groups adopted five times as many musical styles within the framework of their music to create relevancy then.
A day ago, I was listening to several tracks from Klaus Nomi (because of the reference that I ran across), and I began to think about the influence of the ’80s. With its vast musical soundscape, the bands of the ’80s may have been the most experimental within the ranks of Rock and Roll. And having been so, the ’80s might even be construed as Rock’s shining period.
Today, Rock and Roll is even more varied than ever before, more so than the ’80s. But something has happened to dilute that, a topic that we’ll approach later in another article. For today, let’s keep it in the realm of Rock before the New Millennium.
What is the common thread of thought here concerning the legacy of Rock and Roll through the ’80s? Did the ’80s produced the greatest splash of Rock and Roll since its birth? Or was it perfected in the ’70s? In the ’60s? ’50s?
If you choose to comment – and you’re encouraged – use all of the examples that you desire, praise or otherwise.
For your entertainment, “Ding Dong (The Witch Is Dead)” by Klaus Nomi on YouTube:
8 thoughts on “Which Era Had The Greatest Impact?”
Even though I grew up in the 80s, the greatest splash was the 60s. The Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Led Zeppelin, the Who, Janis, the Dead, Santana, the beginnings of Black Sabbath, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart, Sly and the Family Stone, and Motown! So many different styles and diversity for everyone. Nowadays, it seems music is more polarized and marketed to specific demographics.
John, you’re right, polarized and directed!
Dude, Zeppelin was a 70’s band anyway you cut it.
I was 19 at the beginning of the 80’s. While I still think the 70’s was the best decade, the 80’s may have been the last decade where rock was still a social force. You can’t understate the effect that MTV had on music, both good and bad. For me personally the 80’s were about discovering those bands considedered the British New Wave of Heavy Metal (Priest, Maiden, Leppard, Saxon, etc). I kind of despised the pop oriented, one-hit wonder bands that got so much airplay on MTV (Men At Work, Human League, Flock of Seaguls, etc.). (For the record those songs are OK with me now due to the nastalgia factor).
The 80’s were when rock turned the corner from being art to becoming “big business”. It started becoming more about business in the 70’s but during the 80’s the scales tipped toward the dollars side and away from the art side.
Looking back, it was still a great time in my life and the music and movies of the time played a large part in those good memories.
The 1980s were the pinnacle of human existence.
Was 18 in 1980. In college 1980-84. I think 80s were great and still wait for new releases by my “heroes”. I’ll just throw out some names: The Smiths, The Replacements, Husker Du, REM, Game Theory, the Bangles, English Beat, Pixies, The Smithereens, Rain Parade, The Cure, Psychedelic Furs, Peter Case, Elvis, Joe Jackson, The Church, Midnight Oil, Dire Straits, Long Ryder’s, U2,
Tears For Fears, Lloyd Cole, Richard Thompson, XTC, Talking Heads, Adrian Belew, 10,000 Maniacs, Bad Religion, Dream Syndicate, Robyn Hitchcock, Scruffy The Cat, Hoodoo Gurus, Guadalcanal Diary, Split Enz, King Crimson, The Feelies, Dreams So Real, Throwing Muses, Mission of Burma, etc,etc
The 80s had some really bad music (as all decades in Rock do) but it also had some of the most influential music as well. Much of the music of today owes a major thank you to artists that began created something special. Here is a short list of artists and albums from a single year – 1982:
Kate Bush – The Dreaming – a ground breaking use of synths, electronics and songwriting that pushed the envelope not only for new music but for women artists in general.
The Comsat Angels – Fiction – Porcupine Tree more than a decade before.
Peter Gabriel – 4/Security – blended World music, Prog and funk into an original package for a template of the future.
Asia – Asia – just because it was everywhere and the singles were irresistible and began a new Progressive/melodic era.
King Crimson – Beat – Proved that New Wave could be blended with Progressive and great musicianship to form something wholly new and different.
Midnight Oil – 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 – A completely new take on Punk/Rock/Folk – and the reestablishment of real political and environmental issues in your face Oy!
Roxy Music – Avalon – Cool never went away.
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