Throwback Thursday: 1980

Nineteen eighty wasn’t a game changing year on the US pop chart. It wasn’t 1964. It wasn’t 1991. For the most part it was music business as usual. The death of disco was greatly exaggerated. Just ask any member of Lipps, Inc., should you have any idea what any member of Lipps, Inc. looks like. Seventies hit makers stayed on the charts. Paul McCartney. Diana Ross. Stevie Wonder. Barbra Streisand. The Captain & Tennille did it to us one more time, it meaning having a hit single. A few outsiders snuck into the top 40 with sounds unlike the rest – Devo hit with “Whip It,” Gary Numan with “Cars,” and The Vapors with “Turning Japanese.” In the coming years more such weirdos would make their presence known.

While many of 1980’s hits were great singles, many classics were born outside of the mainstream. Releases such as Bob Marley & the Wailers’ “Redemption Song,” Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” Peter Gabriel’s “Biko,” Prince’s “When You Were Mine,” David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes,” and Funky 4 + 1’s “That’s the Joint” are often referred to as classics these days. In 1980, not a single one of them troubled the US Hot 100. Change was on its way. In 1980, rap wasn’t a fixture on the top 40, though its influence was heard in Queen’s #1 smash “Another One Bites the Dust.” The next few years saw #1 hits from Peter Gabriel, Prince, David Bowie and a rap song, plus a top ten reggae song.

Today’s Throwback Thursday playlist shines a spotlight on 1980.

Follow Tunes du Jour on Facebook.

Follow Tunes du Jour on Twitter.

Follow me on Instagram.

A Bob Marley Playlist

If you have only one reggae album in your music collection, there’s a very good chance it’s Legend by Bob Marley & the Wailers. It’s the best-selling reggae title of all-time. In the US it’s only the second album to spend more than 500 weeks on Billboard’s weekly Top 200 album chart. (The first to pass that milestone was Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.) These accomplishments are all the more astounding when one considers that Legend is a greatest hits album consisting of 14 songs, none of which ever cracked the Billboard Hot 100 singles survey.

When deciding what songs should go on Legend, compiler Dave Robinson was determined to expand Bob Marley’s renown. Stateside Marley (b. February 6, 1945) wasn’t a very big seller. Robinson figured that many people were turned off by the subject matter of some of Marley’s compositions, so he nixed the songs about herb. He nixed the songs about slavery. He toned down the presence of violence and the odes to Jah and Rastafarianism. He carefully selected a non-threatening photo for the album cover. He remade Bob Marley’s persona into one of an upbeat spiritual man spreading love and positive vibes, which was but one aspect of his artistry. On top of that, the word “reggae” was not used in advertisements created for the collection. It was genre-less music designed to be listened to by everyone.

I don’t point out the whitewashing of Marley as a put down. Quite the contrary, actually. There are useful marketing lessons here. Legend, released in 1984, three years after Marley’s death from cancer at age 36, brought millions of consumers to reggae music. And the songs on the album are great.

The songs on Legend make up a large part of today’s Bob Marley playlist. There are a lot more songs for further exploration.

Follow Tunes du Jour on Facebook.

Follow Tunes du Jour on Twitter.

Follow me on Instagram.

A Martin Luther King Day Playlist

“You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. 1963

“He had a dream now it’s up to you to see it through, to make it come true” – “King Holiday”

Follow Tunes du Jour on Facebook.

Follow Tunes du Jour on Twitter.

Follow me on Instagram.

Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (10-7-20)

Inspired by the passing of Johnny Nash and the October 7 birthdays of Radiohead‘s Thom Yorke, John Cougar Mellencamp, Kevin Godley, Toni Braxton, Alfred Drake, Climax Blues Band’s Colin Cooper and The Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner; and the October 6 birthdays of Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo, Matthew Sweet, REO Speedwagon’s Kevin Cronin, Will Butler and Millie Small.

Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (9-19-20)

Inspired by the September 19 birthdays of Chic’s Nile Rodgers, Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker, Tegan and Sara, Mama Cass Elliot, The Righteous Brothers’ Bill Medley, Teddybears’ Patrik Arve, Skepta, Rex Smith, The Springfields’ Mike Hurst, Brook Benton, Lol Crème, Austin Roberts, Eamon, Marshall Jefferson, Adam West and Frances Farmer.