Sunday, March 29, 2015

Hits, Cult Classics & Obscurities: 1980

Part two of our new, monthly series of posts where we pick a year from the '80s or '90s and present three favorite songs that fall into one of these three categories: Hit, Cult Classic or Obscurity.

Of course, it's not always easy to decide to which category a song fits in - surely, a hit cannot also be categorized as an obscurity, but it is possible that a song that had huge commercial success in one part of the world remained, at best, a cult classic in other territories.

This is exactly the case for the single I've chosen as my favorite hit of 1980: on March 10 of that year, The Jam released the double A-side 7'' single "Going Underground / Dreams of Children" which went straight to the top of the UK chart and remained there for three consecutive weeks. It was The Jam's first number one in their country (three more would follow before Paul Weller's shock decision to break up the band at the top of its popularity in 1982), but success for them never came on the other side of the pond, so, as far as North America is concerned, this one rather belongs to the Cult Classic category. No matter how you choose to categorize it, though, there is no doubt that "Going Underground" is one of the finest rock tracks of the '80s:

Choosing just one Cult Classic from 1980 is certainly a tough task. Just about any entry in our Top 50 Singles list of that year (apart from the few other obvious hits, of course) can be classified as a cult classic, so I could really just pick a random number and go with that one. Instead I'll break the tie with an obvious choice from one of the countless classics that The Fall have recorded throughout the '80s (and '70s, and '90s, and '00s, and so on) - here's "Totally Wired" from September 1980, released on Rough Trade as a 7'' single with "Putta Block" on the B-side:

Our final selection from 1980 was chosen as "Single of the Week" in all major British music newspapers in the spring of that year but failed to break into the charts. "Seven Minutes to Midnight" by Pete Wylie's Wah! Heat (one of his many Wah!-related incarnations) is undoubtedly a classic, but given that it is perhaps the least well-known track in my 1980's Top 10, I will pick it as the year's obscurity. On a positive note, its critical approval led to a contract with a major label where Wylie released the following year "Nah = Poo -The Art of Bluff", his debut album as Wah! (no more Heat, but not yet Mighty, if you know what I mean) which included this excellent song about the cold war and the era's nuclear paranoia:

On another positive note, Pete Wylie is preparing his first album in this century, titled "Pete Sounds" and you can help by pledging your support here.

Check out here the first part of Hits, Cult Classics & Obscurities with our selections from 1985.

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