I love Pitchforkmedia.com. I really do. It's my favorite webzine. A few months ago they produced a feature piece on what they called the best records of the 1980s. It was one of those lists that gets passed around on the internet and everyone gets to have at it, whining about how they think they blew this ranking or that. Most of the fun of such lists are trying to find holes where you can exert your own superior musical knowledge over the writers. It's all in fun, though (unless the lists are from the pages of Rolling Stone or Spin, and then it's WAR).

I also love KCPR. KCPR was the college radio station that I joined as a student at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA (right above the line of where California really starts to go bad.) I was there from 1987-1990. It was the first time in my life that I met a bunch of misfits just like me (irony intended). I call it the Golden Age of College Radio . . . mainly because that's when I was in college radio, and college radio DJs always declare their years as the best. But I'm right, of course.

A few years ago I started a yahoo newsgroup for KCPR DJ alums. A bunch of us oldies are now on there and we talk about the Glory Days. In late November of last year one of the alums, Mara, threw up the link to the Pitchfork list and 5 1/2 minutes later we had our first reponse, from Spence D, complaining about how the folks at Pitchfork flubbed their review of a Talk Talk album at #83. ("Well their review of the Talk Talk album (#83) shows that they don't know their music history worth shit.")

We didn't talk about Talk Talk for long, though, because we noticed that they placed Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation at #1? Number one? Daydream-freakin' Nation? Hello? Ever heard the Sister LP? All of us muttered "the kids these days" under our breath at the same time and then decided that we, college DJs that were actually DJing in the 80s, were going to make our own list. The past few months then have been about us mulling over choices, developing a voting system and writing reviews of the albums. I think we did pretty good for rookies (even if some of my choices, like the Descendents Milo Goes to College somehow got pushed out of the Top 100). At the very least we fixed the Sonic Youth problem. Oh, and This Heat didn't get a single vote. Nyah.

Below you will find the rankings as they actually were spit out of our voting system along with a bunch of comments that probably owe more to our personal experiences than some encyclopedic regurgitation of musical history (not that Pitchfork did this. In fact, their comments were quite interesting to read.) So, as is usual for a Fresh Dirt piece, if you hate articles written in the first person that are self-absorbed and speak about many people and places you aren't familiar with, you've come to the wrong place. If you want to know how we, admittedly a bunch of strangers to you, feel about 100 of our most favorite albums of the 1980s, then you've come to the right place.

Have at it. At the very least we've given you a lot to pick at. In fact, I've already started drafting my own rant.

Steve Gardner
Fresh Dirt Editor
KCPR 1987-1990


#1. The Replacements - Let It Be
#2. REM - Murmur
#3. Violent Femmes - Violent Femmes
#4. Los Lobos - How Will The Wolf Survive
#5. Tom Waits - Rain Dogs
#6. Elvis Costello - Get Happy!
#7. Jane's Addiction - Nothing's Shocking
#8. Billy Bragg - Taking with the Taxman about Poetry
#9. Pixies - Surfer Rosa
#10. The Jesus and Mary Chain - Psychocandy
#11. The Replacements - Tim
#12. The Pretenders - The Pretenders
#13. Talking Heads - Remain in Light
#14. The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead
#15. Pixies - Doolittle
#16. Camper van Beethoven - Telephone Free Landslide Victory
#17. The Minutemen - Double Nickels on the Dime
#18. The Soft Boys - Underwater Moonlight

#19. XTC
Skylarking (1986)

XTC's previous release, The Big Express, failed to make the numbers for Geffen. Under pressure and desperation to appeal and sell to the American market, XTC hired American Todd Rundgren as their producer. The collaboration was not without conflict. Andy Partridge was not accustomed to taking backseat to a producer, but despite a festering relationship between Andy and Todd, the result was a rich, full-bodied concept album filled with hidden treasures that tease and tickle your ears. "Summer's Cauldron" shows the brilliance in Andy's poetic writings. Todd quickly latched on and decided to make it the opening track. He succeeded in keeping the warm summer theme alive throughout the remainder of the album. "Earn Enough for Us" came from the same consciousness as the adored "Love on a Farmboy's Wages" from the Mummer album.

The big change for XTC's popularity stateside came as a fluke. Geffen released the playfully innocent "Grass" as a single, and slapped the non-album track, "Dear God" on the B-side. It was "Dear God" that established XTC in America as DJ's around the country discovered it and opted to play it over the intended hit. Albums were recalled and reissued with "Dear God" added. The song, which questions the motives and even the existence of God, brought much controversy. Many radio stations received death threats from zealous religious groups while XTC quickly gained new legions of converts.

Skylarking is one of my most coveted albums. The band continues to mature tastefully with brilliance, earnestness, and sophistication with each subsequent release. Unfortunately, the band retired from live performances long before I ever had the chance to see them. Luckily, I did see them at an ever-so-rare CD signing in Hollywood to promote Apple Venus, and I found them to be as charming in person as they are on record.

-Dawn Roznowski

#20. The Pogues - If I Should Fall from Grace with God
#21. Billy Bragg - Back to Basics
#22. Joy Division - Closer
#23. Talking Heads - Stop Making Sense
#24. The Clash - Sandinista
#25. X - Los Angeles
#26. The Cure - Head on the Door
#27. Husker Du - New Day Rising
#28. U2 - War
#29. Marshal Crenshaw - Marshal Crenshaw
#30. The Pretenders - The Pretenders II
#31. U2 - Boy
#32. Sonic Youth - Sister
#33. The Blasters - The Blasters
#34. REM - Reckoning
#35. The Sugarcubes - Life's too Good
#36. Bob Mould - Workbook
#37. The Pogues - Rum, Sodomy and Lash
#38. REM - Life's Rich Pageant
#39. De La Soul - 3 Feet High and Rising
#40. English Beat - I Just Can't Stop It
#41. The Smiths - The Smiths
#42. Lloyd Cole and the Commotions - Rattlesnakes
#43. Public Enemy - It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
#44. Brian Eno and David Byrne - My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
#45. Big Audio Dynamite - This Is Big Audio Dynamite
#46. Waterboys - This Is the Sea
#47. Lou Reed - New York
#48. Rockpile - Seconds of Pleasure
#49. Sinead O'Connor - Lion and the Cobra
#50. Prince - Sign of the Times
#51. Beastie Boys - Licenced to Ill
#52. Prince - 1999
#53. U2 - The Joshua Tree

#54. XTC
English Settlement (1982)

Boys to Men to God: After two albums of keyboard driven New Wave followed by two of guitar driven power-pop albums; English Settlement had the band beginning to mature into master songsmiths. The days of "Radios in Motion" and "Respectable Street" gave way to the more sophisticated sounds of "Its Nearly Africa," "Senses Working Overtime" and "English Roundabout". Their writing had become complex and political. Their instrumentation had become layered and lengthy. I used to listen to the double import LP on headphones and marvel at the quality of the music. It was so Beatlesque.
-Mike Roznowski

#54. XTC - English Settlement
#55. David Bowie - Scary Monsters and Super Creeps
#56. The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses
#57. Nine Inch Nails - Pretty Hate Machine
#58. AC/DC - Back in Black
#59. Go-Go's - Beauty and the Beat
#60. The Police - Ghost in the Machine
#61. Love and the Rockets - Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven
#62. Husker Du - Warehouse, Songs and Stories
#63. Camper van Beethoven - Our Beloved Revolutionary
#64. Bruce Springsteen - Nebraska
#65. Cocteau Twins - Treasure
#66. Beat Farmers - Van Go
#67. They Might Be Giants - The Might Be Giants
#68. Kate Bush - Hounds of Love
#69. U2 - The Unforgettable Fire
#70. Prefab Sprout - Steve McQueen aka Two Wheels Good
#71. Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians - Queen Elvis
#72. Chameleons UK - Strange Times
#73. Dead Kennedys - Fresh Fruit for Rotten Vegetables
#74. John Lennon and Yoko Ono - Double Fantasy
#75. Robyn Hitchcock - I Often Dream of Trains
#76. Lucinda Williams - Lucinda Williams
#77. Public Image Limited - Album/Compact Disc/Cassette
#78. The Replacements - Hootenanny
#79. Dinosaur Jr. - You're Living All Over Me
#80. The Fall - The Frenz Experiment
#81. Elvis Costello - Imperial Bedroom
#82. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Tender Prey
#83. Toy Dolls - Dig that Groove Baby
#84. The Replacements - Pleased to Meet Me
#85. Hoodoo Gurus - Stoneage Romes
#86. Rave-ups - Town and Country
#87. The Specials - The Specials
#88. Squeeze - Argybargy
#89. fIREHOSE - Ragin', Full On
#90. The Minutemen - Three-way Tie for Last
#91. New Order - Power, Corruption and Lies
#92. Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique
#93. The Cure - Boys Don't Cry
#94. Husker Du - Zen Arcade
#95. The Velvet Underground - VU
#96. Galaxie 500 - This Fire
#97. V/A - Repo Man (soundtrack)
#98. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - From Her to Eternity
#99. Everything but the Girl - Eden
#100. Devo - Freedom of Choice