I remember 1984 for three things musically: 1) his Purpleness became larger than life 2) ex-Buggle Trevor Horn (‘The Man Who Invented The 80s’) charted with Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Art of Noise and Yes), and 3) The Replacements broke through with Let It Be. Wish I coulda said The Smiths instead of Trevor Horn, but they had barely troubled North American shores.
1984 was the pinnacle of pop, shaking off the pretentious over-indulgence of the 70’s; the airwaves carried the most diverse array of genres and cross-genres in pop’s history or future. Look at the charts from five years earlier or later or today and you see three or four styles at best, most of it derivative of itself.
Here’s my salute to 1984:
Replacements – Answering Machine. Never a commercial success, Paul Westerberg and enemies (alcohol-fueled tension drove the band) nonetheless had a fervent cult following that continues to grow (or balloon might be a better word given the middle-aged midriffs at their reunion shows).
Yes – Owner Of A Lonely Heart. Trevor Horn said everything he had been trying to do with his other projects came to perfect pop fruition in this one song.
Prince – Purple Rain. Like Robbie Robertson’s Last Waltz suite and Genesis’ Suppers Ready, I go “aha. Now I get what you’ve been trying to do here.”
* No accident two of these are from Minnesota. Often called Canada’s other province because its terrain, climate and social mores mirrors that of Saskatchewan and Manitoba to the north, like Canada the state has always punched above its weight musically. Prince-Replacements-Dylan vs Young-Cohen-Mitchell? Tough to call. (Also, to complete the comparison, Canada has afflicted the world with Bryan Adams, Nickleback, Celine and Shania). Yanni’s formative years were in Minnesota. Call it a draw.)
BONUS: Ryan Adams – Change Your Mind. The alt-country rebel paid homage to The Replacements last year with his album 1984. Dated? Passe? Ha!