Category Archives: Hidden 80′s Gems

Fictitious Jazz

For various reasons it been a long time since I felt like writing about what I listen too. Today relisting to Nick Mason’s “Fictitious Sports” the urge came back, mainly because it a historical and very odd album overseen by many.


What is interesting here is that Nick Mason, at the time (1981) a prosperous member of million albums selling Pink Floyd was contacted by American Jazz composer and bandleader Carla Bley and although the album is in his name the music is entirely her creation. Although she used to be a hardcore Free Jazz composer the albums land in territory that is progressive rock, but in many ways as far as you can get from Pink Floyd as imaginable. With a lot of sax, clarinet, trombone, trumpet and even tuba the sound is more in direction of so called “Canterbury Scene” not unlike early albums from Soft Machine or Gong.



This impression is off course helped by the fact that the main vocalist on the album is founding member of Soft Machine Robert Wyatt, who does an impressive job of filled in the difficult role on an album that is quite weird and which brilliance comes after more than a few hours of listening.

Erik Satie gets my rocks off, Cage is a dream

Phillip Glass is Mineralist to the extreme

I like tickling ivories and fingering stones

When my mercury goes up I play with my bone

People take for granite my perversion is wrong

I’m not harming anyone by beating my gong

I’m a Mineralist, I’m a Mineralist


Have fun and stay healthy



Gabriel’s Passion

Hidden 80’s Gems – Part 9 1989
There is quite a lot of 1989 albums, that I like a lot, ABWH (Yes without Chris Squire) album, that I saw live with Tony Levin on bass that year, Whitesnakes “Slip of the Tongue” with extreme guitarist Steve Vai, The The’s : Mind Bomb, Simple Minds: Street Fighting Years, Lisa Standsfild, DAD, Cure, Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic, Adrian Belew, all excellent recording released in 1989. But above all this great music, is Peter Gabriel’s “Passion” made for Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ”, but further developed into a double album.

The music perfectly captures the middle eastern setting of the movie, and supports the dramatic events unfolded in the controversial Jesus themed film. Gabriel builds his record, around field recordings made in the Middle East and North Africa, mixed with modern studio recordings. The music is somewhat ambient in nature, so it not radio friendly at all, but it is a very important testament to Gabriels ongoing interest in world music, and if you have the time to listen a bit deeper, this ranks with me as one of his best albums.

The album features a string of musicians, to name a few :
David Rhodes (guitar) : known for work with, Paul McCartney, Joan Armatrading and Roy Orbison, besides being Gabriels household guitarist.
L. Shankar (violin): known for work with Lou Reed, Talking Heads, Frank Zappa, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Steve Vai, Ginger Baker, Toto, etc.
Youssou N’Dour (vocal) : known for work with Sting, Neneh Cherry, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Tracy Chapman, Ryuichi Sakamoto, etc.
David Sancious (keys, vocal): known for work with Stanley Clarke, Narada Michael Walden, Zucchero Fornaciari, and Sting etc.
Bill Cobham: known for work with Miles Davis, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Stanley Clarke, etc.
David Bottrill : A well establish producer, knows for albums like: David Sylvian & Robert Fripp – The First Day,Tool – Ænima, Dream Theater – Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory, King Crimson – Thrak, Muse – Origin of Symmetry, Coheed and Cambria – Good Apollo, The Smashing Pumpkins – Oceania and many others.

Bold, Bald, Beauty – Sinéad O’Connor – The Lion and the Cobra

Hidden 80′s Gems – Part 8 1988

Again one of those vinyl albums I bought, simply because I could not resist the cover.

With a look completely unseen at the time, with a voice intense, and full of honest emotion, Sinéad O’Connor evolved what a female singer could do, when she released her debut “The Lion and the Cobra” back in 1988. After disagreements with producer Mick Glossop, O’Connor was allowed to produce the album and writing most of the material herself, it became very much her creation, unusual for a debut at the time.

Rolling Stone wrote: “With The Lion and the Cobra, Sinéad O’Connor joins the ranks of Kate Bush, Laurie Anderson and Jane Siberry — all women who are shattering the boundaries of pop music.”

The album range from very low melancholic songs, to fast speed radio friendly songs, mixed in a straight uncomplicated and rather raw way, especially compared to the hugely commercial successor, “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got” with the major international hit “Nothing Compares 2 U” , one of the bestselling albums in 1990. While “I do not want…” sold a massiv amount of albums, in retrospective, I think The Lion and the Tiger, is a lot more interesting today, due to its cleaner more unpolished sound.

In 1989 O’Connor was guest vocalist on The The’s “Mind Bomb”, singing the duet “Kingdom of Rain”, again showing just how brilliant a vocalist she is.

Sinéad O’Connor was and is a hugely talented vocalist, and she have got some very clear opinions, but she is also a very controversial person, admittedly fighting with manic depression, something that could explain why she often have been making comments to the press, that she would later have to take back.



Hidden 80′s Gems – Part 7 1987

Robbie Robertson
Who dosent like dipping into those studio album with an dream casting of artists, and that is what we got with Robbie Robertson’s self titled solo album, from 1987. I had no problems chosing this album as my 1987 gem, it’s a perfect example of late 1980’s new wave sound, its not that well know, but a true masterpiece, co-produced with Robertson by Daniel Lanois, who was also involved with U2 and Gabriel at the time.

Fresh from recording Peter Gabriels “So”, and three King Crimson albums in the early 80’s, Tony Levin drips his master bass sounds on this album, before he takes part in the Yes reunion formed as “Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe” the following year. Levin deliver a solid rhythm section with Manu Katché, who he was also playing with on “So”, not to mention that Peter Gabriel himself, also appears as backup vocalist, and keyboard player on a few tracks. Also Jazz legend Gil Evans, Bassist Larry Klein, and members from The Band, contributed to the album.

All four members of U2, forms the backing band on two tracks, “Sweet Fire of Love” co-written by U2 and Robertson. The tracks have a nice U2 feel about them, but are still very much Robertson’s, and melt perfectly with the other tracks on the album.

At this point I guess some are thinking, that’s all fine but who is this mister Robertson able to get those big names to play on his album ?, Robertson was one of the founding members, the main songwriter, and lead guitarist of Canadian “The Band”, known for their work as Bob Dylan’s backing band, when he turned electric in the late 60’s. The Band had a track on the legendary Easy Rider soundtrack.

The Band is also knows for their legendary farewell concert The Last Waltz, featuring a list of names, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Ringo Starr, Paul Butterfield and more. The Concert was the basis of Martin Scorsese documentary The Last Waltz released in 1978, still ranked as one of the best Rock films ever made.

The Band and Neil Young from The Last Waltz

Hidden 80′s Gems – Part 6 1986

The The : Infected
My friend got “Infected”, I think shortly after it was released back in 1986. At this point The The, was a Matt Johnson solo project, supported by friends and session musicians.

This boy was angry, not that fake Sex Pistols kind of angry, we are talking totally pissed off by the world, no matter if he was talking about love or politics, he was not sweet about it, something that made him perfect for my 80’s, where everyone else seemed a bit, well nice and boring. He did not seem to aim only for MTV fame, he seemed to have a message. Something as rare as a 80’s protest songs.

Infected strength lays in its contrast, at first glance it’s a powerful but relatively radio friendly 80’s Rock, with a good solid beat and some great melodies, but when the frontman starts screaming: “I can’t see for the tear gas, & the dollar signs in my eyes.” Into your ears, it creates a different energy. Energy in line with the one you would get from the much harder 90’s bands, same aggression, very different music.

By 1988 The The frontman had recruited The Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, and created a great live band.
Despite the fact that the attitude was tough, the music was accessible and their mid to late 80’s albums did do well in UK and New Zealand, and fairly well in other countries. The The haven’t played live since 2002, but Matt Johnson have made some film soundtrack. In 2011 “This Is The Day” was covered by Manic Street Preachers.

The The was and is one of my favourite 80’s bands, managed to see them live in 2000 while they was still active, they were fantastic, a concert to never forget

Hidden 80′s Gems – Part 5 1985

1985 hmm….quite a few good albums, but not much I feel like writing about today, may get back to some of them later. Like Kate’s Hounds of Love, The Sun City Project or Jimmy Page and Paul Rodgers “The Firm”. Might have picked Art Zoyd’s “Le Mariage Du Ciel Et De L’Enfer”, but I did not, because I want to make a series about the RIO/Avant movement later.
What I will do instead, is point the light in a completely new direction, look at one of the notable modern composers in classical music, the minimalistic mastermind, Steve Reich.

“New York Counterpoint” for amplified clarinet and tape, or 11 live clarinets and bass clarinet, was written in 1985, intended to capture the rapid beat of life on Manhattan. The Piece consists of 3 movements.

Reich cites J.S. Bach, Debussy, Bartók, and Stravinsky as composers to have influenced him. Two of the earliest influences on his work from Jazz, were vocalists Ella Fitzgerald and Alfred Deller.
He is noted to have influenced, American composer John Coolidge Adams. Progressive rock musicians Brian Eno, and Robert Fripp, Avant-garde band Residents, Post rockers “Godspeed You! Black Emperor” and many other experimental and electronic musicians.

Hidden 80′s Gems – Part 4 1984

1984 is an absurd year in music, a year so full of good stuff coming out that it should be impossible. But I did decide to pick just one, because that is what I set out to do in the first place. The two albums I found it hardest not to choose was Hüsker Dü’s brilliant “Zen Arcade” and “Dead can Dance” unique self-titled debut. I have chosen Laurie because she was the one I bought just when it came out, the one important to me back then.

Sharkey’s Day

Laurie Anderson – Mister Heartbreak – 1984
My mother had read an article in her newspaper about this American poet, having made an album with an impressive cast of supporting musicians, she knew I was crazy about Peter Gabriel, so she showed it to me. When I also read that King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew was playing on the album. I had to go get it.

Gravity’s Angel

Only one album, I have ever heard before this one, is based on Poetry and still work as an album, and that is Jim Morrison’s posthumous An American Prayer, it is very hard to combine spoken words and music into something listenable, but Laurie and her cast, makes it melt together, one supporting the other.
Mister Heartbreak is a journey, sunny and beautiful, dreamy and surrealistic, surprising and changing all the time, that is just the music, when you get deeper into the lyrics, things become really strange.



Hidden 80′s Gems – Part 3 1983

In 1983, me and my girlfriend walked into my favourite record store, not looking for anything special, just in the mood for looking through the boxes, as we so often did back then. Right there was this strange face in this wonderful painting, looking at something we could not see.

I bought the record without listening first, had to get that album, just because I instantly loved the cover.
Turns out it was Japan – Oil on Canvas – 1983, a live album with a few unreleased tracks, by a new wave band, I had never heard of before. Later I came to love David Sylvian’s solo works, not to mention what Richard Barbieri would do with Porcupine Tree. At this point I was just stunned by having picked up this masterpiece.

Turns out at the point I discovered Japan, they had just split up, the album was mainly live tracks from their last tour, and a few studio tracks recorded by the members separately. They would reunite for the “Rain Tree Crow” one album project (1991) but this was the last Japan album.

Today I know all Japan albums, but this one still is my “Japan” album, seems to me, all the studio albums misses something spiritual, something extra, that I get from Oli on Canvas, a sense that I’m in this Asian temple, and the music is only playing in my mind to get me in the right mood, and I can’t get it out, can concentrate, for my Zen Buddhist meditation session, that I’m having with this beautiful Asian girl, dressed in orange. (wake up, wake up,finish the post !!)

Hidden 80′s Gems – Part 2 1982

Still depressed by the fact that Mike Oldfield was now making horrible pop songs, I was still crawling around in the backrooms of the record store, trying to avoid any pictures of Michael Jackson and Duran Duran… just joking, had been a stream of good album in the early 80’s allready at this point, The Cure, Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Simple Minds, Bowie, Talking Heads, the reformed King Crimson, made some of my all time favorite albums in this period.

1982 – Robert Plant – Pictures of Eleven
Robert Plants 1982 debut, was not as good or ”tough” as Led Zeppelin was, but I will pick that albums because that is a standart no one, NO ONE, will ever be able to hold against, anything would flop if Zeppelin was the standart to hold. Plant did in my opinion one of the best Rock albums of the early 80’s with his debut, his vocals are as good as ever, the songwriting is not bad, and sometimes you even get that Zeppelin vibe.

If I was in the mood for some, simple, straight forward, rock music of high standarts, there was not much to those from in the early 80’s, this is the one I would put on.

The Album did fairly well at the time, but if you look for it on all the ”top albums of the 80’s lists” its never there. Anyway i think is better music than Yazoo, Duran Duran or Adam Ant, unless I am dansing, and I am not dansing that many hours a day.

Hidden 80’s Gems – Part 1 1980-1981

Those of us growing up with the supreme albums of the 70’s, time of the allmighty supergroups of Progressive Rock and Jazz/Rock Fussion, those devastated by the loss of Lenon and Zeppelin, tends to think of the 80’s as bullshit, remember the nightmare of watching Phil and Jon selling out on MTV. But that is just an ilusion, because there was a lot of crap in the 70’s, and there was a lot of good stuf in the 80’s, hidden in the boxes in the backest back of the record store. What I intend to do now, is pick one of those albums for every sorry year, from the dark age of music. (all characters appearing in the above post are fictitious)

1980 – Pere Ubu – The Art Of Walking
Pere Ubu’s version of new wave is truely unique, avantgarde experimental garage rock (or punk?)
Having made improvised noice for years, I was amused to find, that it was an artform in its own, and that some people was able to sell it. I had found hope, and faith !!

On The art of walking Ubu takes their music to the extreme abstraction, It is caos, but caos with a lot of beauty, drama, dreamy moods and a hole lot of humour. The album was my first Ubu so to this day its my favorite.

1981 – Brian Eno and David Byrne – My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
Another 80’s album, twisting my views on what music is, what in can do, and how its should be done.

As opose to the idear of (rock) music, as albums made by bands of 3-6 people, in studio sessions. This was something very diffrent, it was a collage of sounds, mixed together, to create a piece of art. It sounded like a trillion of samples played at the same time, and yet, it worked perfectly. Another game changing fact was, it was a totaly multi cultural mix, a milestone in the development of music in years to come.