The Best Albums of 1981

The arrival of MTV in 1981 would usher in the new wave’s most successful era. British artists, unlike many of their American counterparts, had learned how to use the music video early on. Several British acts signed to independent labels were able to out market and outsell American artists that were signed with major labels. Journalists labeled this phenomenon as a “Second British Invasion”. In 1981, Motörhead became the first of this new breed of metal bands to top the UK charts with No Sleep ’til Hammersmith. The Australian rock band Men at Work achieved success in 1981 with the single “Down Under” topping Australian charts for two consecutive weeks. Here are all of the 1981 albums ranked.

Relive the music of one of the most notable years of rock and roll. Click below and listen to the songs of the year 1981!

10. Fire Of Love (The Gun Club)

“This album was my introduction to The Gun Club and remains my favorite GC album ahead of Miami. Dripping with classic track after classic track the real hero here is Jeffery Lee Pierce’s vocals. This album sits completely safe within my all-time list of”

9. Dare (The Human League)

“Enjoyable early 80’s synth album, lead vocals I always find a little limited. When I consider Replicas was released two years prior to this album it’s not as exciting. I’m an 80’s synth lover but this isn’t one of my favorites, there are certainly more melodic albums, but this still gets listened to. Don’t You Want Me was a bit of a phenomenon though, and deservedly so.”

8. Faith (The Cure)

“This is my favorite of the earlier darker records. It’s consistent all the way through with stunning moments such as, the holy hour, all cats are grey, and the title track. I always found, seventeen seconds, a little uneven, but this is right on it from start to finish. A great band record, when The Cure was still a band and not a Robert Smith solo project.”

See more: The Cure Albums Ranked

7. Damaged (Black Flag)

“Angst-ridden and fast. Considered one of the greatest punk albums of all time, Damaged provided an expression to youth who were angry at the world and needed an outlet for it. This album provides the lyrics and the music for that angst and it does well.”

6. Juju (Siouxsie And The Banshees)

“It changed my life and I didn’t realize because of its pop qualities, its beautiful aggression which wasn’t just a pose, it all was so overwhelming that I let the darkness just come in. Well maybe I needn’t it was in the air at that time. From all the bands of the punk period, the Banshees had the best songs to offer and maybe the most profound ability to change and re-define themselves. Here they defined a lot of what would become Gothic after its burlesque beginnings.”

5. Time (Electric Light Orchestra)

“Interesting concept album with Lynne piling on synthase, 21st-century man is lovely but the vocal effects diminish it for me. Twilight and hold on tight are the highlights, another heartbreak is instrumental dross.”

4. My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts (Brian Eno & David Byrne)

“Exactly what I expected from a collaboration between Brian Eno and David Byrne, which is to say that this is nothing short of great. My Life in the Bush of Ghosts has Byrne’s fondness for weird funk rhythms and Eno’s clear artistic vision. I also don’t think sampling was used like this, if at all, in 1981. I’ve not heard too much buzz about this album, which is sad because I think it’s fantastic and fun to listen to.”

See more: Brian Eno Albums Ranked

3. Discipline (King Crimson)

“It’s a very busy album which leaves me feeling almost breathless after side 2 concludes. Not an album to put on if you want to relax. I get the references to Talking Heads and it works. What I like about King Crimson is that every album sounds like a different band and this is no exception. When I am in the right mood I really enjoy this, however, personally, I prefer the jazzier offerings like Lizard.”

2. Computerwelt [Computer World] (Kraftwerk)

“Not as groundbreaking as Man Machine or Trans Europe Express, but nevertheless one of the greatest electronic albums ever made, and an album which everyone else working in trance, techno and dance is still stealing ideas from on a daily basis. And, as a bonus, Computer World also contains the most melodic Kraftwerk song of all, which is “Computer Love”. For me, my favourite Kraftwerk song ever. After this album, Kraftwerk lost their way a bit, but at this stage they were as good as it got. Witty, ironic, tuneful, soulful, and above all, exciting. Daggy cover though.”

1. Moving Pictures (Rush)

“Best album from Rush. The last great prog-rock album, very good from the first to the last song, hard to pick a favorite. Although it is musically complex, it is easy to hear and enjoy. Very underrated, one of the best albums of the decade.”