All Cats Are Grey

Posted on 3rd April 2021

This week's poll year was 1981. Quite a influencial year for me, as it was the year I first started going to gigs. It was also the year I discovered we would be moving from Cheshire down to Leicestershire. I was going to miss the record shops in Crewe, and that amazing second-hand shop near school, where I spent a substantial amount of time and money on vinyl from around 1978 onwards, thanks to recommendations from various Radio One DJs, and friends.

My picks from this year, all had made an impression on me from previous years, so it wasn't too surprising they featured highly in my list. However, there was so much I was buying and listening to, I feel I need to put in a top 100 for 1981 (and I will likely have similar for the other years 1978-1984, when we finally get to them!).

My top choice, The Cure I was lucky enough to hear their first single played on late night Radio One (I think John Peel played it) in 1978, so I already knew and had records by the band. However, Faith was the first album that felt like a complete experience from beginning to end. From the opening of The Holy Hour, you knew this wasn't going to be a light-hearted listening session. Other Voices, back then and still now, is the stand out track on the album for me. I can't explain why, it can just stop me in my tracks when I listen to it. There really isn't a dud track on this album though, and I frequently still play it now.

My second choice, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, I first heard (as I recall, although I may have heard the previous singles on a Peel/Jensen show) via the single Messages. This their third album was a mix of their pop leanings and the experimental sounds that has frequented many of their albums. I was fortunate enough to see them on this tour at The Apollo in Manchester, and still remains one of the best shows I've seen them perform. She's Leaving and Georgia are still my favourites songs from the album.

New Order, although this being their debut, obviously were well known and anticipated in the months after Ian Curtis' death the previous year. Although they didn't exactly sound like Joy Division, you could still hear that musical progression from the previous few years. With the band members all trying out the vocals, before they finally settled on Bernard being the vocalist, each song has it's own subtle sound differences, even though musically it's all the same band. I remember playing it the first time with eager anticipation on my Dansette record player, and having the feeling that whatever came next, this band were not going to disapppoint. As we now know, they didn't ;) My favourite track changes, but for the moment Dreams Never End is the one I'm drawn to.

My next choice, Rainbow, had been a personal favourite for many years after becoming a Deep Purple fan, when I was recommended to buy a copy of Made In Japan from that second-hand record shop in Crewe. When Ritchie Blackmore left Deep Purple and formed Rainbow, for me it felt like a natural progression. Although Down To Earth was a striking change in direction, Difficult To Cure with new singer Joe-Lynn Turner gave the band a fresh lease of life. I got to see them on this tour (my second gig!) at Bingley Hall in Stafford, where upon arrival discovered the venue was not much more than a massive barn, where they auctioned farm live stock! As it turned out, it appears to have been one of Ritchie favourite venues, as the two shows I saw them play there (I saw them again in 1984 on the Bent Out Of Shape Tour) they were the longest sets on the tour, clocking over 2 hours for both shows, whereas tapes from other shows I have, usually just hit the 90 minute mark. Favourite song from the album was Can't Happen Here

My final top 5 choice is Stiff Little Fingers. My school friend Alan played me Alternative Ulster back in late 78, and I was hooked. A new form of punk was emerging, and SLF were the front runners. By 1981's third album, they had honed their craft, and were turning out cracking songs with ease. Gate 49 is easily my favourite from the album, and is the Gate at Heathrow when flying to Belfast, which explains the lyrics. Although, I didn't get to see them on the tour for the album, I did see them on the short tour in January 1982, when new boy Dolphin Taylor was introduced to the fans. It had been snowing heavily, so even though the show was sold out, several people never made it. As such, seating wasn't really being checked, so as a couple of my mates were slightly smaller than me, we opted to head up to the balcony. We had an hilarious time pogo-ing on the walkway between the front and back tiers of seats. Years later, I got to do a lighting gig for SLF at the Institute in Birmingham. I felt like that teenager again :)

And so to my top 100...

1 The Cure Faith
2 Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark Architecture & Morality
3 New Order Movement
4 Rainbow Difficult To Cure
5 Stiff Little Fingers Go For It
6 Duran Duran Duran Duran
7 Toyah Anthem
8 Ultravox Rage In Eden
9 The Go-Go's Beauty And The Beat
10 Rush Moving Pictures
11 Rush Exit...Stage Left
12 Black Sabbath Mob Rules
13 The Beat Wha'ppen?
14 Classix Nouveaux Night People
15 Budgie Nightflight
16 ABBA The Visitors
17 Debbie Harry KooKoo
18 UB40 Present Arms
19 Gary Numan Living Ornaments '80
20 Motörhead No Sleep Til Hammersmith
21 Pat Benatar Precious Time
22 Iron Maiden Killers
23 U2 October
24 Kraftwerk Computer World
25 AC/DC For Those About to Rock We Salute You
26 Gary Numan Living Ornaments '79
27 The Police Ghost in the Machine
28 Depeche Mode Speak & Spell
29 Spandau Ballet Journeys To Glory
30 Stevie Nicks Bella Donna
31 Blue Oyster Cult Fire Of Unknown Origin
32 Foreigner 4
33 Journey Escape
34 Ozzy Osbourne Diary of a Madman
35 Simple Minds Sons And Fascination / Sister Feelings Call
36 Bauhaus Mask
37 Gary Numan Dance
38 Madness 7
39 Killing Joke What's THIS For....?
40 Jean Michel Jarre Les Chants Magnétiques
41 INXS Underneath the Colours
42 John Foxx The Garden
43 Prince Controversy
44 The Moody Blues Long Distance Voyager
45 Twelfth Night Live at the Target
46 Echo & The Bunnymen Heaven Up Here
47 Nazereth It's Naz
48 Thin Lizzy Renegade
49 Whitesnake Come an' Get It

I should mention that most of the albums 1-50 I own. However, for those in the list 51-100, I mostly have listened to initially from friends albums, but have discovered others in more recent times. Having said that, there are more than a few that I hope to add to my collection at some point.

50 Saxon Denim and Leather
51 Styx Paradise Theatre
52 Genesis Abacab
53 Gillan Future Shock
54 Journey Captured
55 Eurythmics In the Garden
56 Tangerine Dream Thief
57 Sheena Easton Take My Time
58 New Musik Anywhere
59 Bow Wow Wow See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang Yeah, City All Over! Go Ape Crazy!
60 Nazereth The Fool Circle
61 ZZ Top El Loco
62 Blackfoot Marauder
63 Judas Priest Point of Entry
64 Van Halen Fair Warning
65 Secret Affair Business as Usual
66 Siouxsie & The Banshees Juju
67 The Pretenders Pretenders II
68 The Buggles Adventures in Modern Recording
69 Landscape From The Tea-rooms of Mars...
70 Au-Pairs Playing With A Different Sex
71 The Stranglers The Gospel According to the Meninblack
72 Brian Eno & David Byrne My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
73 Split Enz Waiata
74 Heaven 17 Penthouse and Pavement
75 Billy Joel Songs in the Attic
76 Midnight Oil Place Without A Postcard
77 Neil Young Re-ac-tor
78 Kiss Music From 'The Elder'
79 UFO The Wild, the Willing and the Innocent
80 Def Leppard High 'n' Dry
81 Tangerine Dream Exit
82 The Stranglers La folie
83 Men At Work Business as Usual
84 The Human League Dare
85 Vice Squad No Cause for Concern
86 Stray Cats Stray Cats
87 The Psychedelic Furs Talk Talk Talk
88 Girlschool Hit and Run
89 The Undertones Positive Touch
90 Altered Images Happy Birthday
91 Wall Of Voodoo Dark Continent
92 The Sound From The Lion's Mouth
93 Tom Tom Club Tom Tom Club
94 Phil Collins Face Value
95 Afraid Of Mice Afraid Of Mice
96 Bob Dylan Shot of Love
97 Wah! Nah=Poo – The Art of Bluff
98 Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft Gold und Liebe
99 Nick Mason Nick Mason's Fictitious Sports
100 King Crimson Discipline

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