Album Chart of 1981

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Album Chart of 1981

info.png 67 tracks, runtime 5h 14m 27s. The playlist features the highest-rated track from each album (subject to what's available on YouTube) in chart order, with a minimum individual track-rating of 6.5 required for inclusion. To view the full tracklist, access shuffle-play or avoid in-play interruption due to territorially blocked videos, it might be best playing directly via YouTube external-link.png
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WHA’PPEN BIRMINGHAM?

In comparison to recent years, it's not the strongest year for Jamaican Reggae, and the death of Bob Marley in May, aged 36, is a monumental loss to the world in general. Birmingham, England, is a hotbed of vitality in the genre however; a number of groups exist underground, but The Beat and UB40 rise as the standard bearers, each delivering career-best classics as working class discontent and race riots scar Britain in 1981. 2-Tone is on the wane already, but Madness continue to evolve and are looking good to outlast the fashion.

An April mini-album from The Fall maintains their bright start, keeping the skinny rats happy, whilst New Order's opening album statement takes a brilliant first step in overcoming the great loss of Ian Curtis, even if the critics don't agree. Echo and The Bunnymen's potential for awesome drama is there for all to hear, and their ever-growing cult is on the march. Down in that there London, Siouxsie and The Banshees phase II emerge with a new air of authority, whilst Public Image Ltd. release one of the most startling records of the year.

Just as it did with the VU 14 years earlier, New York spawns a cutting edge debut like no other via Glenn Branca's symphonic ensemble of guitarists, tearing up the rule book. It's influence will ripple down slowly over the decades. Other terrific debuts appear Stateside from The Gun Club, X and Black Flag, all of whom hail from the Los Angeles area. Brilliantly, each of the three offer greatly differing signposts for the world beyond 70s Punk.

A thriving soukous scene is emerging in Paris and Brussels, and fine albums from Kanda Bongo Man and Zaïko Langa-Langa lay testament to this. 6 African LPs make my Top 30 all told, from artists originating in the D.R. Congo (3), Congo-Brazzaville (1), Nigeria (1) and Ghana (1).

Commercially, 1981 was a big year for synthesizer-based pop groups, and there's rebel affection for the work of Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Kraftwerk, The Human League, Soft Cell and Heaven 17, all of whom find a place in my favourite 40 albums of the year. Beyond the pop, the Brian Eno / David Byrne collaboration blazes a trail for sample-heavy sonically-varied electronica; dubby, trippy, danceable and worldly.

The Jukebox Rebel
10-Sep-2019

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WHA’PPEN
The Beat
Go-Feet Records BEAT-3
England
9.43 “A masterpiece” Reggae; Caribbean

Jukebox picks: “Drowning” (10) • “All Out To Get You” (10) • “Walk Away” (10)
TJR saysWha'ppen? The album of the year's happening, that's what! Possibly the album which I’ve sung with the most gusto ever; e...more →

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SLATES
The Fall
Rough Trade RT-071
England
9.07 “A masterpiece” Post-Punk

Jukebox picks: “Prole Art Threat” (10) • “An Older Lover Etc.” (9.2) • “Slates, Slags, Etc.” (9.1)
TJR says5 months on from “Grotesque”, the Fall delivered a new mini-album in April, 1981, bearing the front-cover taunt of “co...more →

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THE ASCENSION
Glenn Branca
99 Records 99-001LP
the USA
9.06 “A masterpiece” Avant-Garde

Jukebox picks: “Light Field (In Consonance)” (10) • “The Ascension” (9.4) • “The Spectacular Commodity” (9.2)
TJR saysJust as it did with the Velvet Underground 14 years earlier, New York spawns a cutting edge debut like no other, the inc...more →

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IYOLE ● MAZINA
Kanda Bongo Man
Afro-Rythmes AR-001-81
the D.R. Congo
9.03 “A masterpiece” Africana

Jukebox picks: “Amina” (9.6) • “Iyole” (9.3) • “Mazina” (9.0)
TJR saysBack at home in the D.R. Congo, Kanda Bongo Man had made a bit of a name for himself with Orchestre Bella Mambo, but mad...more →

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BABULALA UMUZI KA BABA
Moses Mchunu
Ezom Dabu BL-320
South Africa
8.97 “A classic” Africana

Jukebox picks: “Gijima Mfana” (9.9) • “Sibanqoba Ngamunye” (9.8) • “Siyavuma” (9.6)
TJR saysThere he is again with that trademark diamond smile, he's got you onside from the start really. I though his “Inkunzi Em...more →

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PRESENT ARMS
UB40
DEP International LP-DEP-1
England
8.90 “A classic” Reggae

Jukebox picks: “One In Ten” (10) • “Don’t Let It Pass You By” (9.8) • “Present Arms” (9.7)
TJR saysNow that they were off the dole, the awesome Brummie octet wasted little time in getting their second record out, “Prese...more →

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PRINCE CHARMING
Adam and The Ants
CBS CBS-85268
England
8.71 “A classic” New Wave

Jukebox picks: “Scorpios” (9.8) • “Prince Charming” (9.8) • “Stand And Deliver” (9.5)
TJR saysCiting personal conflict and creative differences, bassist Kevin Mooney left the Ants early in 1981 and was replaced by ...more →

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7
Madness
Stiff Records SEEZ-39
England
8.56 “A classic” Pop; Reggae

Jukebox picks: “Grey Day” (10) • “Cardiac Arrest” (9.7) • “Promises Promises” (9.5)
TJR saysIn October, 1981, the nutty seven got another long-player in the shops for the third consecutive Autumn. It was preceded...more →

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JUJU
Siouxsie and The Banshees
Polydor POLS-1034
England
8.16 “Excellent” Post-Punk

Jukebox picks: “Spellbound” (9.8) • “Monitor” (9.2) • “Arabian Knights” (8.5)
TJR saysThe group's fourth album in four consecutive years arrived in June, 1981, and the new “phase two” Banshees make this the...more →

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY
Altered Images
Epic EPC-84893
Scotland
7.98 “Brilliant” New Wave; Indie

Jukebox picks: “Insects” (9.8) • “Midnight” (9.8) • “Love And Kisses” (9.5)
TJR saysThese Glaswegian teenagers made the path to pop stardom seem easy. Send demo tape to favourite band, Siouxsie and the Ba...more →

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FIRE OF LOVE
The Gun Club
Ruby Records JRR-102
the USA
7.98 “Brilliant” Rock n Roll / Rockabilly

Jukebox picks: “Preaching The Blues” (9.2) • “Promise Me” (8.6) • “For The Love Of Ivy” (8.4)
TJR saysHaving found sympathy for their then-unusual approach of fusing Punk with the Blues via the Slash imprint Ruby Records, ...more →

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ARCHITECTURE AND MORALITY
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
Dindisc DID-12
England
7.70 “Brilliant” New Wave

Jukebox picks: “Joan Of Arc (Maid Of Orleans)” (10) • “Joan Of Arc” (10) • “Souvenir” (9.7)
TJR saysTheir third album in a little under two years arrived in November, 1981, and was preceded by all-time classic singles in...more →

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MOVEMENT
New Order
Factory FACT-50
England
7.54 “Brilliant” New Wave

Jukebox picks: “The Him” (9.2) • “Dreams Never End” (8.9) • “Doubts Even Here” (8.5)
TJR saysWithin days after the death of Ian Curtis in May, 1980, the three remaining members of Joy Division made a firm resolve ...more →

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PRETENDERS II
Pretenders
Real Records SRK-3572
England
7.48 “Really good” New Wave

Jukebox picks: “Talk Of The Town” (9.8) • “Day After Day” (9.5) • “Message Of Love” (8.4)
TJR saysFor “Pretenders II” the sussed four remain: Chrissie Hynde (vocals, rhythm guitar); James Honeyman-Scott (lead guitar, k...more →

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HEAVEN UP HERE
Echo and The Bunnymen
Korova KODE-3
England
7.43 “Really good” Post-Punk; New Wave

Jukebox picks: “All My Colours” (10) • “A Promise” (8.8) • “Show Of Strength” (8.7)
TJR saysThe second Bunnymen was delivered in May, 1981, and gave the group their first Top 10 album in the UK, despite adopting ...more →

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WILD GIFT
X
Slash SR-107
the USA
7.37 “Really good” Punk

Jukebox picks: “In This House That I Call Home” (9.0) • “We’re Desperate” (8.4) • “I’m Coming Over” (8.3)
TJR saysFor their second long-player in May, 1981, the Angelenos Punks remain: John Doe (28, bass, vocals), Exene Cervenka (25, ...more →

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DÉCÈPTION MOTEMA
Bopol Mansiamina
Star Musique SMP-6011
the D.R. Congo
7.33 “Really good” Africana

Jukebox picks: “Décèption Motema” (8.8) • “Cardiaque Ya L’amour” (7.3) • “Issa Touré” (6.7)
TJR saysThroughout the late 60s and 1970s, the bass player had been involved with a great number of Zairean and West African gro...more →

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WARRIOR
Johnny Osbourne
Black Joy DHLP-2001
Jamaica
7.33 “Really good” Reggae

Jukebox picks: “Mr. Politician” (8.4) • “Warrior [1981 version]” (8.4) • “Inflation” (7.8)
TJR saysAfter having spent most of the 70s in Canada, Johnny was making up for lost time upon his return to his home island with...more →

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COMPUTERWELT
Kraftwerk
Kling Klang 1C 064-46 311
Germany
7.26 “Really good” Electronica

Jukebox picks: “Taschenrechner” (8.9) • “Computerwelt” (7.8) • “Nummern” (7.4)
TJR saysThree whole years on from “Die Mensch-Maschine” Kraftwerk finally delivered the much-anticipated follow-up in May, 1981....more →

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MY LIFE IN THE BUSH OF GHOSTS
Brian Eno and David Byrne
Sire SRK-6093
England
7.24 “Really good” Dubbeat; Electronica

Jukebox picks: “Regiment” (8.5) • “Qu’ran” (8.1) • “Moonlight In Glory” (7.7)
TJR saysFollowing the Talking Heads albums “More Songs About Buildings And Food” (1978) and “Fear Of Music” (1979) the group's c...more →

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FLOWERS OF ROMANCE
Public Image Ltd.
Virgin V-2189
England
7.20 “Really good” Avant-Garde

Jukebox picks: “Flowers Of Romance” (8.9) • “Francis Massacre” (8.0) • “Banging The Door” (7.9)
TJR saysAlmost serving as a clue to the turmoil within the ranks, the group's manager, Jeanette Lee, was the front-cover star on...more →

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GITTA PRODUCTIONS PRÉSENTE
Zaïko Langa-Langa
Gitta GIP-001
the D.R. Congo
7.20 “Really good” Africana

Jukebox picks: “Confiance” (8.2) • “Makanzi” (7.3) • “Mobembo” (6.9)
TJR saysRecorded at Daniel Léon's Studio Caramel in Brussels and produced by Bula Sepa for Gitta Productions, also of Brussels. ...more →

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DAMAGED
Black Flag
SST Records 9502
the USA
7.01 “Really good” Punk

Jukebox picks: “Damaged I” (8.5) • “T.V. Party” (8.3) • “What I See” (8.1)
TJR saysOn their December '81 debut the Californian punks line-up: Henry Rollins (20, lead vocals), Greg Ginn (27, lead guitar, ...more →

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DARE
The Human League
Virgin V-2192
England
7.00 “Really good” New Wave

Jukebox picks: “The Sound Of The Crowd” (9.7) • “Open Your Heart” (8.4) • “Love Action (I Believe In Love)” (8.0)
TJR saysMusical and personal differences between founding band members Martyn Ware and Philip Oakey saw the two-year-old fourpie...more →

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TALK TALK TALK
The Psychedelic Furs
CBS CBS-84892
England
6.89 “Good” New Wave

Jukebox picks: “Pretty In Pink” (9.2) • “Mr. Jones” (8.1) • “Dumb Waiters” (7.7)
TJR saysFollowing the success of last years self-titled debut (Top 20 in the UK) they stuck with producer Steve Lillywhite at Co...more →

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PETER PAN HITS THE SUBURBS
The Astronauts
Genius Genius-001
England
6.87 “Good” New Wave

Jukebox picks: “Baby Sings Folk Songs” (8.8) • “Still Talking” (8.5) • “Everything Stops For Baby” (7.3)
TJR saysCo-produced by the group and Grant Showbiz, who'd been making a name himself lately as producer with The Fall, Mark Perr...more →

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PRAYERS ON FIRE
The Birthday Party
Missing Link LINK-14
Australia
6.78 “Good” Post-Punk

Jukebox picks: “Cry” (7.5) • “A Dead Song” (7.3) • “Zoo Music Girl” (7.2)
TJR saysHark! Some intelligent company for The Fall and Public Image Ltd., as the new “post-punk adventurers” movement gathers p...more →

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NON-STOP EROTIC CABARET
Soft Cell
Some Bizzare BZLP-2
England
6.76 “Good” New Wave

Jukebox picks: “Say Hello, Wave Goodbye” (10) • “Bedsitter” (8.4) • “Tainted Love” (7.9)
TJR saysComing on the back of the summer's biggest hit single, the debut full-length from the duo arrived in November, 1981. Sta...more →

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KOUKA C. CELIO ET L’ORCHESTRE LE PEUPLE
Kouka C. Celio et L’orchestre Le Peuple
Beau-Saccot Sound 81-BSS-3301
Congo-Brazzaville
6.75 “Good” Africana

Jukebox picks: “Pépé” (7.4) • “Debora” (7.0) • “Sala M’bongo” (6.5)
TJR saysHaving split from his vocal group, Trio Ce.Pa.Kos, the experienced 46-year-old Brazzavillian singer was free to assume t...more →

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YEBRE AMA OWOU
Okukuseku International Band Of Ghana
RAS RASLPS-007
Ghana
6.73 “Good” Africana

Jukebox picks: “Yebre Ama Owou” (7.6) • “Empa Aba” (7.3) • “Awurade Kasa” (7.0)
TJR saysRecorded in 1980 at Rogers All Stars Recording Studio, Umuokpu, Akwa in Nigeria. At the heart of the record is group fou...more →

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PUNKS NOT DEAD
The Exploited
Secret Records SEC-1
Scotland
6.72 “Good” Punk

Jukebox picks: “Exploited Barmy Army” (9.4) • “Sex And Violence” (7.9) • “Ripper” (7.5)
TJR says14 originals on the Exploited’s April '81 debut plus a cover of Puncture’s “Mucky Pup”. Fuck army life, fuck the Roy...more →

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TRUST
Elvis Costello and The Attractions
F-Beat XXLP-11
England
6.71 “Good” New Wave

Jukebox picks: “New Lace Sleeves” (9.1) • “Shot With His Own Gun” (8.9) • “Clubland” (7.7)
TJR saysThe optimism of 1980’s “Get Happy” gives way to cynicism just 1 year later on “Trust”, the songs on the album dealing wi...more →

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OCTOBER
U2
Island Records ILPS-9680
Ireland
6.65 “Good” New Wave; Indie

Jukebox picks: “Scarlet” (7.9) • “Fire” (7.7) • “Gloria” (7.4)
TJR saysI never realised it at the time, but the second U2 long player was a bit of a spiritual affair, rejoicing in the name of...more →

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PENTHOUSE AND PAVEMENT
Heaven 17
Virgin V-2208
England
6.63 “Good” New Wave

Jukebox picks: “Let’s All Make A Bomb” (8.3) • “(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang” (8.0) • “The Height Of The Fighting” (7.9)
TJR saysCreative and personal differences led to Human League founder members Ware and Marsh leaving Oakey et al with it, and th...more →

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NIGHTCLUBBING
Grace Jones
Island Records ILPS-9624
Jamaica
6.58 “Good” New Wave; Dubbeat

Jukebox picks: “Pull Up To The Bumper” (8.2) • “Feel Up” (7.9) • “Nightclubbing” (7.2)
TJR saysWow. Who’d have thought it - from those ridiculous LPs in the 70s, Grace Jones has catapulted into my affections with al...more →

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LUBRICATE YOUR LIVING ROOM
The Fire Engines
Pop Aural ACC-001
Scotland
6.58 “Good” Post-Punk

Jukebox picks: “Hungry Beat” (7.5) • “Lubricate Your Living Room part 1” (7.4) • “Discord” (7.3)
TJR saysTotally wired “background music for now people” transmitted to you by young Edinburgh mentalists the Fire Engines who li...more →

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SEE JUNGLE! SEE JUNGLE! GO JOIN YOUR GANG, YEAH. CITY ALL OVER! GO APE CRAZY.
Bow Wow Wow
RCA RCALP-3000
England
6.57 “Good” New Wave

Jukebox picks: “Go Wild In The Country” (10) • “Jungle Boy” (8.7) • “Orang-Outang” (7.9)
TJR saysYou’ve just got to feel sorry for those Africans, they’ve been ripped off since forever ago. And McLaren’s crew were jus...more →

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LA FOLIE
The Stranglers
Liberty LBG-30342
England
6.50 “Good” New Wave

Jukebox picks: “La Folie” (10) • “Golden Brown” (9.6) • “The Man They Love To Hate” (7.4)
TJR saysMore electro than ever without getting all new romantic about it, the sixth Stranglers long-player arrived in November, ...more →

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CELEBRATE THE BULLET
The Selecter
Chrysalis CHR-1306
England
6.50 “Good” Ska / Rocksteady

Jukebox picks: “Celebrate The Bullet” (8.6) • “(Who Likes) Facing Situations” (7.1) • “Tell Me What’s Wrong” (6.9)
TJR saysToo Much Pressure? We didn't know the half of it I think. A very disruptive 1980 saw The Selecter depart 2-Tone, losing ...more →

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IN GOD WE TRUST INC
Dead Kennedys
Alternative Tentacles VIRUS-5
the USA
6.46 “Decent enough” Punk

Jukebox picks: “We’ve Got A Bigger Problem Now” (9.2) • “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” (7.6) • “Moral Majority” (6.9)
TJR saysFollowing in a new American hardcore punk trend for little high-tempo records packing in 7 to 10 songs, Dead Kenndys rel...more →

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MASK
Bauhaus
Beggars Banquet BEGA-29
England
6.45 “Decent enough” Post-Punk

Jukebox picks: “Of Lillies And Remains” (7.9) • “Mask” (7.3) • “Hair Of The Dog” (7.1)
TJR saysFor their second album in October, 1981, the Northampton post-punk quartet were: Peter Murphy (24, vocals, additional gu...more →

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2,000,000 VOICES
Angelic Upstarts
Zonophone ZONO-104
England
6.44 “Decent enough” Punk

Jukebox picks: “Last Night Another Soldier” (7.8) • “2,000,000 Voices” (7.0) • “Heath’s Lament” (7.0)
TJR saysSeems every second record back in the early 1980s of Thatcher’s Britain was making protest. What a strange co-incidence....more →

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WHAT’S THIS FOR…!
Killing Joke
EG EGMD-5.50
England
6.43 “Decent enough” Post-Punk

Jukebox picks: “The Fall Of Because” (7.9) • “Unspeakable” (7.3) • “Exit” (6.9)
TJR says8 months on from their self-titled debut, the second Killing Joke arrived in June, 1981. They remain: Jaz Coleman (vocal...more →

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LIVITY
Prince Far I
PRE Records PRE-X-7
Jamaica
6.39 “Decent enough” Reggae

Jukebox picks: “Ghetto Living” (7.8) • “Marble Stone” (7.5) • “Badda Card” (6.8)
TJR saysAs he has done all throughout his career, Far I gives thanks and praise to the most high, Jah, who, they believe, partia...more →

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AUTHOR! AUTHOR!
Scars
PRE Records PREX-5
Scotland
6.37 “Decent enough” New Wave

Jukebox picks: “Your Attention Please” (9.4) • “Obsessions” (7.0) • “Leave Me In Autumn” (6.5)
TJR saysJohn Peel loved them from the start, playing both sides of their debut single (“Adult/Ery” / “Horrorshow”) to death in 1...more →

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IN NAH DISCO STYLE
Johnny Osbourne
Cha Cha Music CHADLP-010
Jamaica
6.33 “Decent enough” Reggae

Jukebox picks: “Rude Boys” (7.7) • “Girl Of My Complexion” (7.1) • “Jah Jah Say So” (6.5)
TJR saysThat's a skanking dancehall on the cover - thankfully there are no flirtations with disco fashions on the second of thre...more →

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WANTED DREAD AND ALIVE
Peter Tosh
Intel Diplo SO-17055
Jamaica
6.31 “Decent enough” Reggae

Jukebox picks: “Wanted Dread And Alive” (7.6) • “Coming In Hot” (7.5) • “Reggaemylitis” (7.1)
TJR saysComing In Hot” hot-hot is a musical shot-shot-shot to start things off in fine style, but my good mood is soon spoi...more →

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VOICE OF THUNDER
Prince Far I
Trojan Records TRLS-204
Jamaica
6.26 “Decent enough” Reggae

Jukebox picks: “Coming In From The Rock” (6.6) • “Tribute To Bob Marley” (6.5) • “Skinhead” (6.5)
TJR saysI don't know it to be intentional, but the sparsity and solemnity of Far I's second long-player of 1981 seems to reflect...more →

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ALMOST BLUE
Elvis Costello and The Attractions
F-Beat XXLP-13
England
6.23 “Decent enough” Country

Jukebox picks: “A Good Year For The Roses” (10) • “Sweet Dreams” (9.3) • “Success” (7.8)
TJR saysStamped with a great big MADE IN NASHVILLE, “Almost Blue” was the first Costello record to categorically displace the ar...more →

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TWO BAD DJ
Clint Eastwood and General Saint
Greensleeves Records GREL-24
Jamaica
6.22 “Decent enough” Reggae

Jukebox picks: “Tribute To General Echo” (8.1) • “Can’t Take Another World War” (6.8) • “Another One Bites The Dust” (6.5)
TJR saysProducer Henry 'Junjo' Lawes was one of the figures who realised that the market was tiring of the biblical chanters and...more →

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DANCE
Gary Numan
Beggars Banquet BEGA-28
England
6.20 “Decent enough” New Wave; Electronica

Jukebox picks: “Slowcar To China” (8.7) • “Cry, The Clock Said” (7.0) • “Boys Like Me” (6.4)
TJR saysWell, you can't stay #1 forever, but “Dance” (#3) did at least maintain his succesful run in the higher echelons of the ...more →

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GHOST IN THE MACHINE
The Police
A&M Records AMLK-63730
England
6.11 “Decent enough” New Wave

Jukebox picks: “Spirits In The Material World” (9.1) • “Invisible Sun” (8.6) • “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” (6.6)
TJR saysThe fourth album for the fourth consecutive Autumn from the consistently decent London trio, now with greater emphasis o...more →

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TOM TOM CLUB
Tom Tom Club
Sire SRK-3628
the USA
6.10 “Decent enough” Dubbeat

Jukebox picks: “Wordy Rappinghood” (8.8) • “Genius Of Love” (7.1) • “L’éléphant” (6.9)
TJR saysEncouraged by their fellow Talking Heads to do so, the husband-and-wife duo of bassist/vocalist Tina Weymouth and drumme...more →

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ODYSHAPE
The Raincoats
Rough Trade ROUGH-13
England
6.03 “Decent enough” Dubbeat; Avant-Garde

Jukebox picks: “Shouting Out Loud” (7.3) • “Only Loved At Night” (6.8) • “Red Shoes” (6.5)
TJR saysSince the '79 debut, drummer Palmolive had left for a journey of spiritual self-discovery and by now the other three had...more →

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TRANSLUCENCE
Poly Styrene
United Artists Records UAG-30320
England
6.01 “Decent enough” Songwriter; Alternative Folk; Cerebral Pop

Jukebox picks: “Dreaming” (8.4) • “Sky Diver” (6.8) • “Toytown” (6.6)
TJR saysAlmost as if the 23-year-old Poly is on a mission to calm down, this pretty, vaguely hippy-ish, affair was a million mil...more →

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LABOUR OF LOVE
Mass
4AD CAD-107
England
6.01 “Decent enough” Post-Punk

Jukebox picks: “Mass” (7.9) • “Ill” (6.9) • “F.A.H.T.C.F.” (6.5)
TJR saysA thoroughly unsettling affair fronted by a tortured vocalist and an evil group who seem want to push him on his way wit...more →

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GOSH IT’S… BAD MANNERS
Bad Manners
Magnet MAGL-5043
England
5.98 “Average” Ska / Rocksteady

Jukebox picks: “Only Funkin’” (8.0) • “Walking In The Sunshine” (7.8) • “Runaway” (7.0)
TJR saysTheir third LP arrived in September, 1981, buoyed by the success of their summertime #3 smash hit “Can Can”, which f...more →

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CHARIOTS OF FIRE
Vangelis
Polydor 2383 602
Greece
5.93 “Average” Film Score / Incidental

Jukebox picks: “Titles” (9.0) • “Chariots Of Fire” (6.1) • “Eric’s Theme” (5.9)
TJR saysThe soundtrack to the historical drama film was released in April, 1981, just weeks ahead of the film's public release. ...more →

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WILDER
The Teardrop Explodes
Mercury 6359-056
England
5.90 “Average” New Wave

Jukebox picks: “Passionate Friend” (7.7) • “Pure Joy” (7.5) • “The Great Dominions” (6.9)
TJR saysThe quartet remain: Julian Cope (vocals, guitars, bass guitar, piano, organ), Troy Tate (guitars), David Balfe (keyboard...more →

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BEAUTY AND THE BEAT
The Go-Go’s
I.R.S. Records SP-70021
the USA
5.88 “Average” Indie; New Wave

Jukebox picks: “Can’t Stop The World” (7.3) • “Our Lips Are Sealed” (7.2) • “Automatic” (7.0)
TJR saysFor their July, 1981, long-play debut the 3-year-old punk-turned-power-pop quintet from Los Angeles lined up: Belinda Ca...more →

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30,000 FEET OVER CHINA
The Passions
Polydor POLS-1041
England
5.84 “Average” New Wave

Jukebox picks: “I’m In Love With A German Film Star” (9.6) • “Small Stones” (6.2) • “Alice’s Song” (6.0)
TJR saysAlmost 18 months on from their debut, the second LP from the London quartet arrived in September, 1981. In the interim p...more →

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REFLECTIONS
Gil Scott-Heron
Arista AL-9566
the USA
5.79 “Average” Disco / Funk

Jukebox picks: “B Movie” (8.2) • “Inner City Blues” (7.3) • “Gun” (5.3)
TJR saysAt long, long, last Scott-Heron broadens his genre range and consequently rises in my affections. I'm so pleased, I don'...more →

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SPEAK AND SPELL
Depeche Mode
Mute STUMM-5
England
5.75 “Average” Electronica; Pop

Jukebox picks: “Just Can’t Get Enough” (7.5) • “New Life” (7.2) • “I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead” (7.0)
TJR saysThree keyboard players and a singer, eh? The times they were-a-changin’ in 1981. There’s much to like about the Depeche ...more →

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SHOT OF LOVE
Bob Dylan
Columbia TC-37496
the USA
5.72 “Average” Blues Rock / Soul Rock

Jukebox picks: “Property Of Jesus” (7.7) • “In The Summertime” (7.2) • “Heart Of Mine” (6.7)
TJR saysThe 40 year old continues with the third in the trilogy of Christian LPs, although the album does include secular as wel...more →

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KOLLAPS
Einstürzende Neubauten
Zickzack ZZ-65
Germany
5.51 “Average” Avant-Garde

Jukebox picks: “Kollaps” (8.0) • “Jet’M” (6.4) • “Negativ Nein” (6.3)
TJR saysExperimental trio from Berlin unleash radical post-music vision upon unsuspecting public. At this stage Einstürzende Neu...more →

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COVER PLUS
Hazel O’Connor
Albion Records ALB-108
England
5.32 “Below average” New Wave; Songwriter

Jukebox picks: “(Cover Plus) We’re All Grown Up” (8.8) • “Hanging Around” (6.9) • “Do What You Gotta Do” (6.2)
TJR saysThe third album in thirteen months from the hard-working 26-year-old arrived in September, 1981, with Hazel delighted th...more →

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RAGE IN EDEN
Ultravox
Chrysalis CDL-1338
England
5.14 “Below average” Electronica; New Wave

Jukebox picks: “The Voice” (6.2) • “The Thin Wall” (6.1) • “Rage In Eden” (6.0)
TJR saysFor the third consecutive time, the fifth Ultravox, released in September, 1981, was co-produced by Conny Plank at his C...more →

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CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT
Nash The Slash
Cut-Throat Records CUT-4
Canada
5.08 “Below average” New Wave

Jukebox picks: “Wolf” (8.3) • “Danger Zone” (5.5) • “Metropolis” (5.4)
TJR saysThe second Nash The Slash album was produced by Steve Hillage, the old Canterbury scene guitarist now turning his hand t...more →

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WAIATA
Split Enz
Polydor ENZ-2
New Zealand
5.04 “Below average” New Wave; Pop

Jukebox picks: “Wail” (6.8) • “Clumsy” (6.4) • “Hard Act To Follow” (6.1)
TJR says“Waiata” is the Māori term for song and singing and the fifth album from the 9-year-old Auckland group followed “True Co...more →

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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THE MENINBLACK
The Stranglers
Liberty LBG-30313
England
4.97 “Poor” New Wave

Jukebox picks: “Manna Machine” (5.8) • “Waiting For The Meninblack” (5.7) • “Thrown Away” (5.6)
TJR saysWith last years “The Raven” they took a bit of a backwards step in my affections and the follow-up, delivered in Februar...more →

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THE VISITORS
ABBA
Polar POLS-342
Sweden
4.77 “Poor” Pop

Jukebox picks: “I Let The Music Speak” (5.9) • “Head Over Heels” (5.8) • “The Visitors” (5.5)
TJR saysBjörn and Benny married non-Abba girls in 1981, and “The Visitors”, released in November, 1981, understandably, reflects...more →

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MAGIC, MURDER AND THE WEATHER
Magazine
Virgin V-2200
England
4.49 “Lame” New Wave

Jukebox picks: “The Great Man’s Secrets” (5.4) • “About The Weather” (5.0) • “So Lucky” (5.0)
TJR saysThe fourth Magazine album arrived in June, 1981, and followed all of the others into the UK Top 40, no mean achievement,...more →

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THE FIRST AND THE LAST
New Race
WEA 600-120
Australia
4.12 “Lame” Proto-Punk; Punk

Jukebox picks: “November 22, 1963 [live ’81]” (5.5) • “Columbia [live ’81]” (4.6) • “Break My Heart [live ’81]” (4.4)
TJR saysThis one-off-album 'supergroup', conceived to introduce Australians and Americans to each others bands, consisted of Rob...more →

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MISSION OF DEAD SOULS
Throbbing Gristle
Fetish Records FR-2007
England
3.75 “Terrible” Avant-Garde

Jukebox picks: “Guts On The Floor [live 29 may ’81]” (5.5) • “Persuasion [live 29 may ’81]” (4.6) • “Discipline (Reprise) [live 29 may ’81]” (4.3)
TJR saysRecorded 29th May 1981 in San Fransisco - would prove to be their last live performance until the reformation 23 years l...more →

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MOVING PICTURES
Rush
Anthem Records ANR-1-1030
Canada
3.67 “Terrible” Rock; Prog

Jukebox picks: “Vital Signs” (5.0) • “Witch Hunt (Part III of "Fear")” (4.1) • “YYZ” (3.7)
TJR saysFor their 8th long-player in February, 1981, the Toronto trio remain: Geddy Lee (vocals, bass, synthesizers), Alex Lifes...more →

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I’M NOT SELLING OUT, I’M BUYING IN
Swamp Dogg
Takoma TAK 7099
the USA
3.33 “Terrible” Pop; Disco / Funk

Jukebox picks: “A Hundred And …” (4.5) • “California Is Drowning And I Live Down By The River” (4.0) • “It’s Just A Little Time Left” (3.7)
TJR saysLOL! Check that cover! Swamp Dogg, black man standing tall on a boardroom table, bedecked in resplendent white suit, com...more →

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KINGS OF THE BOOGIE
Canned Heat
Destiny Records DLA-10007
the USA
3.30 “Terrible” Blues Rock / Soul Rock

Jukebox picks: “You Can’t Get Close To Me” (4.6) • “Hell’s Just Down The Line” (4.4) • “Dog House Blues” (3.7)
TJR saysThis Status Quo cheezefest is the worst yet. With the limited success of 1978’s “Human Condition” Bob Hite attempted to ...more →

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UNDERNEATH THE COLOURS
INXS
Deluxe Records VPL1-6601
Australia
3.23 “Terrible” Pop; New Wave

Jukebox picks: “Underneath The Colours” (5.6) • “Barbarian” (4.9) • “Follow” (3.8)
TJR saysProviding that all-important conduit between Elton John and Japan, the second album from the Sydney group arrived in Oct...more →

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COMPASS POINT
Desmond Dekker
Stiff Records SEEZ-36
Jamaica
2.83 “Dire” Reggae; Pop

Jukebox picks: “I’ll Get By” (5.0) • “We Can And We Shall” (4.8) • “Moving On” (4.1)
TJR saysDesmond’s second LP for Stiff Records, following last years remakes set “Black and Dekker”. Unhappy at the lack of comme...more →

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ABACAB
Genesis
Charisma CBR-102
England
2.63 “Dire” Cerebral Pop

Jukebox picks: “Who Dunnit?” (4.2) • “Abacab” (4.0) • “Dodo/Lurker” (3.0)
TJR saysPhil Collins had been doing a roaring trade with his solo debut “Face Value” earlier in the year, and this informs “Abac...more →

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THE POET
Bobby Womack
Beverly Glen Music BG-10000
the USA
2.29 “Dire” R n B

Jukebox picks: “So Many Sides Of You” (4.0) • “Stand Up” (2.7) • “Lay Your Lovin’ On Me” (2.4)
TJR saysThis November '81 release represented a big turnaround in fortunes for the 37-year-old, whose golden period of the early...more →

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STARTRAX CLUB DISCO REGGAE HITS
Startrax
Picksy Records KSY-A-1005
Germany
2.10 “Dire” Disco / Funk

Jukebox picks: “Startrax Club Disco, Reggae [album version, side a]” (2.2) • “Startrax Club Disco, Reggae [album version, side b]” (2.0)
TJR saysThe second Startrax album recorded in the UK by Picksy Records, released on Picksy KSYA-1005 LP. 65 non-stop segued regg...more →

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NEVER TOO MUCH
Luther Vandross
Epic FE-37451
the USA
1.36 “An embarrassment” R n B; Disco / Funk

Jukebox picks: “Never Too Much” (3.4) • “Don’t You Know That?” (1.5) • “A House Is Not A Home” (1.5)
TJR saysIt's all strongly detestable to my ears, but this August '81 release was the big breakthrough for the 30-year-old R n B ...more →

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ESCAPE
Journey
Columbia TC-37408
the USA
1.14 “An embarrassment” Soft Rock / A.O.R.; Rock

Jukebox picks: “Don’t Stop Believin’” (2.8) • “Keep On Runnin’” (1.4) • “Dead Or Alive” (1.3)
TJR saysWhilst it stands as my definition of musical hell, this chart-topping July '81 release is almost universally revered as ...more →

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STARS ON 45 - THE ALBUM
Starsound
CBS ‎S-CBS-86132
the Netherlands
1.00 “An embarrassment” Disco / Funk; Pop

Jukebox picks: “Stars On 45, Beatles Medley” (2.4) • “Nutrocker Medley” (0.7) • “Stars On 45, Boogie Nights Medley” (0.6)
TJR saysIn the late 70s and early 80s, DJs on both sides of the Atlantic were producing and playing their own bootleg mixes inco...more →

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BACK TO THE 60S
Tight Fit
Jive HIP-1
England
0.80 “Pathetically abysmal” Pop

Jukebox picks: “Back To The 60’s [album version, side a]” (1.0) • “Back To The 60’s [album version, side b]” (0.6)
TJR saysLondon producer Ken Gold copies Dutch producer Japp Eggermont's Stars on 45 project, employing studio musicians to mimic...more →

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STARTRAX CLUB DISCO
Startrax
Picksy Records KSY-A-1001
Germany
0.65 “Pathetically abysmal” Disco / Funk

Jukebox picks: “Startrax Club Disco [album version, side a]” (0.9) • “Startrax Club Disco [album version, side b]” (0.4)
TJR saysThe first Startrax album - produced by Bruce Baxter (famous for producing the vast majority of Hallmark’s Top of The Pop...more →

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AINT NO STOPPIN
Enigma
Creole Records CRX-1
England
0.30 “Pathetically abysmal” Disco / Funk

Jukebox picks: “Ain’t No Stoppin’ (Medley)” (0.5) • “I Love Music (Medley)” (0.4) • “Good Times (Medley)” (0.2)
TJR saysAnother from the medley craze era of '81, featuring banal re-recordings of 72 mobile disco hits over 4 mixes. Dear oh de...more →

see also: (B-list) Album Chart of 1981



Album Charts by year

“A-list”

1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

“B-list”

1943 1945 1946 1950 1951 1952 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

Album Charts by decade

“A-list”

1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s

“B-list”

1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s




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