The 80s were incredibly rich in bands.

In a time where independent labels were gaining a foothold into the tightened world of the big labels, uncountable bands were making inroads to some kind of popularity.  Many became big hits, but many more achieved only a kind of cult importance.  IF some were lucky, they had a hit however minor it was.  But even a minor hit was enough to catch the ear of a decided group of fans that would follow and collect everything those bands created.

The ’80s were era to not only the various – but RICH, styles of new wave, rock, and pop, but it also was an incubator for the so-called hair metal bands, of which there are many.

Throwing some names out there like The Church, Half-Church, Lene Lovich, BoDeans, Bauhaus, and Contraband (just to name a few, very few examples).

And, quite frankly, this weak and short piece does absolutely ZERO justice to the subject that I’m trying to lay out here.  However, it’s not a piece on the history of the ’80s that I’m trying to compile here.  No, I’m merely trying to bring some interesting remembrances to the community at large here, and to be brought to mind again – or surprised by – band that I have merely heard of or never heard of before.

So, let’s give this one over to you folks.  In short, give us lists of the ’80s bands that I’ve – or many of us – may never have heard of.

Your turn.

(I’m quite sorry for the brevity of this post.  Actually, I could have written something quite fun to read.  Maybe in the near future.)

By MARowe

19 thoughts on “80s Bands I’ve Never Heard Of”
  1. I listened to all sorts of music in the ’80s from all over the genre map. There were a few bands none of my friends ever got into and I seemed to be the only one in school that listened to them. From the mid ’80s I loved British band Prefab Sprout. During that time I also listened to The Cocteau twins. The Style Council were always a favorite. Finally there was a Scottish band from the late 80s called Love and Money that were in heavy rotation for one album only called Strange Kind of Love. Maybe they are well known somewhere but at my school they were mine only.

    Oh yah, I haven’t heard the name BoDeans in years. They opened for New Order when they played in the gym during my second year at university in ’86.

    1. The BoDeans opened for New Order??

      Wow… Given that the BoDeans were heralded as part of the roots rock/Americana revival of the decade, that’s as odd a pairing as Hendrix opening for The Monkees.

      Anyhow, the BoDeans were a huge deal where I live (Milwaukee) since they’re from around here. They never quite lived up to the initial hype, although they did have some national success (opening for U2 on the Joshua Tree tour, the hit single “Closer to Free”) for awhile.

      They’re still around, although infighting splintered the original band and it’s not entirely the same lineup anymore. Outside of the Milwaukee/Chicago area I don’t know that many people care anymore.

      There were other good “roots rock” type bands that were an antidote to the synths and slick production from the 80s: The Blasters (GREAT band), Jason amp; The Scorchers, Del Fuegos, Smithereens, and (a band that had one big hit songs) Georgia Satellites.

      Also, Stray Cats and Los Lobos, but most people have probably heard of those two.

    2. Mentioning the BoDeans up above… I should also give props to other “big” Milwaukee band from the 80s — Violent Femmes. They had several good albums, and were always a great live show, but they never topped that classic, first album.

      Y’know the joke about how, in the 70s, people in the suburbs were sent a copy of Frampton Comes Alive? Well, in the 80s (and even the 90s) I’m pretty sure a lot of college students got a copy of that first Femmes album in the mail too.

      1. You’re right, I heard their 2nd and 3rd albums and they were good but only the second came kinda close to that classic debut album. A great band in any case.

  2. This was an interesting thing for me. I went through my music library and realized that I have very little music from NEW bands from that period, other than the popular ones. There were Lots of releases and great music throughout the 80s by established artists like Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Rush, R.E.M., Asia, King Crimson – you can go on by the dozens. Here is my short list of bands that really got going in the 80s that I think are worth exploring:

    Collage – this Polish band blended Yes and Genesis as part of the later Neo-Progressive movement
    Comsat Angels – in more of “The Cure” camp, their powerful and heavy delivery is captured beautifully in excellent remasters.
    Dead Can Dance – true originals – ancient music mixed with New Wave, early electronica, and Pink Floyd!
    IQ – leaders in the Neo-Progressive movement.
    Marillion – ditto
    Midnight Oil – though starting as a Surf Punk band in the late 70s, their major works were mainly in the 80s.
    Sad Lovers and Giants – dark and brooding but very melodic, their first two albums should be heard.
    Bernard Szajner – driving electronics mixed with hard rock – listen to the remastered Some Deaths Take Forever.
    Talk Talk – a major influence on the future Porcupine Tree
    This Mortal Coil – see Dead Can Dance
    U2 – okay, they might have gotten a bit bigger than this list

    1. A thorough fan of Marillion in any era, Fish’s epic years and also the Hogarth-led band that brought on some great albums like Afraid of the sunlight, Brave, Seasons End, Anoraknophobia (more electronic) and the sumptuous double LP Marbles, a real keeper.

  3. The 80’s were my High School and College years so this is where I started really paying attention. I distinctly remember my co-workers at my after school job laughing at me when I predicted that both REM and U2 were going to be huge. They were all fans of L.A. Hair Metal and I think we see who had the staying power!

    I had a 70’s foundation of Bowie, T.Rex and Roxy Music but I became a voracious buyer of almost anything on the rosters at the early indie labels I.R.S., S.S.T., Island, 4AD, Beggars Banquet and Rough Trade but there was alot of good stuff on the major labels too.

    Bauhaus, Tones on Tail, Love and Rockets, Peter Murphy, Daniel Ash and David J. With the exception of Lamp;R’s “So Alive” I don’t think any of them charted in the US but all of their work is solid. I still buy any thing any of these related acts release.

    The Fixx, Echo and the Bunnymen, the Jam, Sad Lovers and Giants, the Bolshoi, Danielle Dax, Siouxsie, the The, the Church and even the 80’s disco of Jimmy Somerville’s various projects is worth mentioning.

    Americans are well represented on my list as well. The Minutemen, the Long Ryders, Jason and the Scorchers and X are still played regularly around my home and car.

    Special mention should also be made of these albums: Sinead O’Connor’s “The Lion and the Cobra”, the The’s “Infected”, the Church’s “Starfish” and Shriekback’s “Oil and Gold” Each of these in on my Top 10 list of the best all time albums.

    Also the entire output of Kate Bush’s career needs to be mentioned. While I’m sure most of the ‘Tap’s readers know who she is she never really broke huge in the US and I’d bet only about 3 out 10 Americans today have a clue who she is.

    I could go on for days…

  4. I got one: Expose’. At the time, the most successful female vocal group since the Supremes. They broke a record set by the Beatles, by launching four consecutive Top Ten hits from their debut album, which culminated in seven consecutive total.

  5. “Holly amp; the Italians”
    “Red Rockers”
    “Cruzados”
    “Modern English”
    “Ten Ten”
    “The Dads”
    “X-Raves”
    “The Plimsouls”
    “World Party”
    “Icehouse”
    “Level 42”
    “Fear”
    “Billy Thorpe”
    “Saga”
    “Bananarama”
    “Madness”
    “The Bus Boys”
    “The Diehards”

  6. Fire Town- Check out “In The Heart of Heart Country”

    Del Lords- Eric “Roscoe” Ambel- former Blackheart (as in Joan Jett and the…)and Scott Kempner- former Dictator ath their best. Plus- how can you not love a band named after the director of the 3 Stooges films?

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