You may not know it yet, but you owe more than you think to the year 1982. In ’82, Japan released the CD player, E.T. phoned home, the world’s first permanent artificial heart is successfully transplanted, and a computer scientist at Carnegie Melon invented the emoticon :). But this blog isn’t for random trivia knowledge, it’s about music!!! So kick back and relax as we bring you the most essential albums of 1982.

 Thriller – Michael Jackson

1982 just isn’t complete without Michael Jackson’s sixth studio album, Thriller. It is the first album ever to reach 30 x Platinum certification, and has racked up over 100 million copies sold world-wide. Of the 9 tracks on the album, 7 of them were released as singles, and all 7 of them reached the Top 10. Rolling Stone has it ranked at 20 on their list of the Top 500 Greatest Albums. Part of the reason Thriller became so successful, was the emergence of MTV. Never before had music videos been so successful at marketing an album as with Jackson’s Thriller. “Beat It“, “Billie Jean“, and “Thriller“, invaded homes all over the US, not only propelling Jackson’s sales, but also legitimizing MTV’s place in the world of television. Jackson’s combination of rock, funk, disco, and pop create a music intersection “Where a song as gentle and lovely as ‘Human Nature‘ coexists comfortably with the tough, scared ‘Beat It,’ the sweet schmaltz of the Paul McCartney duet ‘The Girl Is Mine,‘ and the frizzy funk of ‘P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing).‘” (AllMusic)

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Screaming for Vengeance – Judas Priest 

Screaming for Vengeance is the eighth studio album from Judas Priest. In just a little over six months, the album went platinum, making it the band’s highest performing album, and the commercial breakthrough they had been looking for. “From the sleek double-time chug of opener “Electric Eye” to the even more frantic “Riding on the Wind” and the somehow yearning “Bloodstone,” all the way to the steadily unfolding and unbearably sing-able album-closer “Devil’s Child” (“I beleeeeeeeeeeeeeve you’re the Devil…”), there’s never a second to be bored.” (Ultimate Classic Rock) Vengeance not only acted as the band’s commercial breakthrough, it also served at the breakthrough album for the whole Metal genre. Judas Priest “hauled metal into the spotlight,  legitimizing metal’s ascent from a roughneck, undervalued genre, whose passionate live shows were essential in bolstering its reputation for unbridled avidity and visceral catharsis, and helped to boost metal’s overall attractiveness.” (Pop Matters)

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Combat Rock – The Clash 

Combat Rock is the fifth studio album from The ClashCombat Rock is the band’s best selling album, going double platinum in the US, and spending 61 weeks on the billboards. Supported by hits like “Should I Stay or Should I Go” and “Rock the Casbah“, it’s no surprise it peaked at the 2 spot on the UK billboards, and 7 in the US. But those same songs cause some critics to feel like The Clash had sold out. As Thomas Erlewine points out, “things aren’t quite that simple. Combat Rock contains heavy flirtations with rap, funk, and reggae, and it even has a cameo by poet Allen Ginsberg — if this album is, as it has often been claimed, the Clash‘s sellout effort, it’s a very strange way to sell out. Even with the infectious, dance-inflected new wave pop of “Rock the Casbah” leading the way, there aren’t many overt attempts at crossover success.” Despite the great success of Combat Rock, turmoil within the band made it the last to feature the full original lineup of musicians. Nevertheless, Combat Rock continues to receive heavy radio play, proving its timelessness and influence within the music community.

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1999 – Prince 

1999 is the fifth studio album from Prince. 1999 quickly went multi-platinum in the US and became Prince‘s first album to breakthrough the Billboard Top 10. Prince at this time, had begun experimenting with electronic synthesizers, working with various underground and famous producers, in order to perfect his techniques. The results are nothing short of spectacular. As AllMusic details, “‘1999‘ parties to the apocalypse with a P-Funk groove much tighter than anything George Clinton ever did, ‘Little Red Corvette‘ is pure pop, and ‘Delirious‘ takes rockabilly riffs into the computer age. After that opening salvo, all the rules go out the window — ‘Let’s Pretend We’re Married‘ is a salacious extended lust letter, ‘Free is an elegiac anthem, ‘All the Critics Love U in New York‘ is a vicious attack at hipsters, and ‘Lady Cab Driver,‘ with its notorious bridge, is the culmination of all of his sexual fantasies.” 1999 would soon take a backseat to Prince‘s next release, Purple Rain, which has become his best selling album, but 1999 made everything else Prince did feasible. It acted as the stepping stone between being a breakout artist and a full-on legend. As Pitchfork concludes, “Prince’s singular vision and willingness to indulge his curiosities just enough created an apocalypse-anticipating album that, perhaps paradoxically, was built to last for decades and even centuries to come.”

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Nebraska – Bruce Springsteen 

Nebraska is Bruce Springsteen’s sixth and first acoustic album. The album had started as demo songs on cassette-tape intended to be recorded with Springsteen’s E-Street Band. However, Springsteen became fond of the acoustic recordings, and felt that the songs were meant to stay the way they are. The bulk of the album seems bleak, focusing on stories of small town criminals and the people who loved them. Despite the overall darkness of the album, it was well received. Nebraska reached #3 on the US Billboards and was in the top 3 in 5 other countries. “Within the difficult times, however, there was hope, especially as the album went on. ‘Open All Night‘ was a Chuck Berry-style rocker, and the album closed with ‘Reason to Believe,‘ a song whose hard-luck verses were belied by the chorus — even if the singer couldn’t understand what it was, ‘people find some reason to believe.'” (AllMusic) Michael Galucci, writer for Ultimate Classic Rock concludes, “Nebraska remains one of the best folk albums of the past 30 years. It’s rooted in tradition, but it’s also a crucial leap forward for Springsteen, who sharpened his narrative skills here and found an America that wasn’t an open-armed invitation to a land of hope and dreams.”

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Pornography – The Cure 

Pornography is the fourth studio album from The Cure. At the time, the band was close nearing collapse, due drug problems and fights between members. Pornography would be the last album to feature bass-guitarist Simon Gallup, and soon after, the band changed their sound to be brighter in order to gain more radio play. Guided by Robert Smith’s developing depression, the album is dark. In NME’s review, Dave Hill notes “The Cure have collected the very purest feelings endemic to their age, and [hold] them right on the spot in their most unpleasantly real form. This record portrays and parades its currency of exposed futility and naked fear with so few distractions or adornments, and so little sense of sham.” Despite the darkness and poor reviews from critics, the album was a commercial success. Pornography hit the #8 spot in the UK, and in retrospect is now considered a key album in the development of Gothic Rock.

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 The Number Of the Beast – Iron Maiden

“Routinely ranked among the greatest heavy metal albums of all time, The Number of the Beast is the birth of Iron Maiden as we know it, a relentless metal machine lifted to soaring new heights by the arrival of Samson frontman Bruce Dickinson.” (AllMusicIron Maiden’s third album was their first album to go Platinum in the US and hit the #1 spot in the UK. The album and its subsequent tour were highly protested in the US. Religious groups organized large gatherings where they would burn or smash the albums, believing the group worshiped the devil. Steve Harris, the band’s bassist and songwriter remembers the protests, “It was mad. They completely got the wrong end of the stick. They obviously hadn’t read the lyrics. They just wanted to believe all that rubbish about us being Satanists.” The two most notable hits from the album are “Run to the Hills” and title-track “Number of the Beast“, both cracking the top 20 in the UK. AllMusic’s retrospective review concludes, “Though some moments on The Number of the Beast are clearly stronger than others, the album as a whole represented a high-water mark for heavy metal, striking a balance between accessible melodicism and challenging technique and intensity.”

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Avalon – Roxy Music 

Avalon is the eighth and final album from Roxy Music. Avalon is the band’s most successful album, spending over a year on the UK billboards including a 3 week stay at the #1 spot, and is also the only Roxy Music album to go platinum in the US. “Avalon was a far cry from the stark abrasiveness of the band’s Seventies albums.” writes Rolling Stone. It was smoother and softer, a result of some studio experimentation. Guitarist Phil Manzanera recalls, “In the studio, you can head off into very strange territories by artificial means. By accident, you can plug something into the wrong place on the desk and something amazing happens that you could never have dreamed of. The combination of writing in the studio while using the studio as an instrument had evolved halfway through Flesh and Blood and on into Avalon. It was this soundscape to which Bryan would then write his sort of dreamy lyrics.” Thomas Erlewine similarly notes “Avalon shimmers with elegance in both its music and its lyrics. “More Than This,” “Take a Chance with Me,” “While My Heart Is Still Beating,” and the title track are immaculately crafted and subtle songs, where the shifting synthesizers and murmured vocals gradually reveal the melodies. It’s a rich, textured album and a graceful way to end the band’s career”

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 Rio – Duran Duran

Duran Duran’s second album Rio was a worldwide success. It topped the charts in the UK, Australia, and the US, going platinum in just 6 months and eventually receiving double platinum certification. As Ned Raggett boldly states, “Rio is as representative of the ’80s at its best as it gets. The original Duran Duran‘s high point, and just as likely the band’s as a whole, its fusion of style and substance ensures that even two decades after its release it remains as listenable and danceable as ever.” Backed by their two hits “Hungry like a Wolf” and title-track “Rio“, Duran Duran was able to stay on the charts for a whopping 126 weeks (yes, over two years). While those two singles are two of the most well known Duran Duran, Raggett goes on to point out that, “Lesser known cuts like “Lonely in Your Nightmare” and “Last Chance on the Stairway” still have pop thrills a-plenty, while Hold Back the Rain is the sleeper hit on Rio, an invigorating blast of feedback, keyboards and beat that doesn’t let up. From start to finish, a great album that has outlasted its era.”

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Picture Eleven – Robert Plant 

Pictures at Eleven is the debut solo album from former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant. “With a less-potent vocal style, Plant manages to carry out most of the songs in smooth, stylish fashion while rocking out rather convincingly on a couple of others.” (AllMusic). Plant recruited help from Genesis drummer Phil Collins, guitarist Robbie Blunt, and Rainbow’s drummer Cozy Powell. With a pretty stacked lineup of musicians, Pictures at Eleven  broke the Top 5 in both the US and the UK, while the singles “Burning Down One Side,” “Worse Than Detroit,” “Pledge Pin,” and “Slow Dance” all cracked the Top 20 on the billboards. Pictures at Eleven successfully launched Plant’s solo career without depending on the legacy and sound of his former band Led Zeppelin. With the blessing of former band-mate Jimm Paige, Plant solidified his solo with his 1983 release Principle of Moments. As Plant remembers, “Jimmy was proud of me and pleased for me. It was very emotional between the two of us—always will be.”

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