1984: A Probing Musical Retrospective

Categories: Fiesta!


3. Alternative Music Was Blossoming.
While Duran Duran, Wham!, and Frankie Goes to Hollywood courted the pop crowd, alternative music flourished in 1984. The Smiths released their self-titled debut, and the world was introduced to Morrissey's emotive, literate, sardonic yodel backed by Johnny Marr's lushly textured guitars. From the first line of the opening track "Reel Around The Fountain," "I dreamt about you last night and I fell out of bed twice," it was clear we were getting a sober, yet wonderful antidote to MTV emptiness.

R.E.M.'s sophomore effort Reckoning contains the spark and energy of a band just realizing how brilliant they could be. Echo and the Bunneymen's Ocean Rain wasn't the best album ever made, as lead singer Ian McCulloch declared at the time, but it is very good indeed. Depeche Mode were wallowing in their dark, industrial bleakness with absolute aplomb with 1984's Some Great Reward. Public Image Ltd, the Replacements, Husker Du, the Cure, even Simple Minds, all released great records that year. Moreover, America was finally cottoning on to how great Australian music was with INXS, Nick Cave, and Midnight Oil all getting their first footholds in the American market.


2. Chicago House Music Was Building.
By '84, Chicago House was the most exciting thing happening in the clubs of America, and Jesse Saunders' 1984 classic On and On is probably the first proper house record. On and On laid a blueprint for the early house sound; its distinctive bass synthesizers, minimal vocals, and hypnotic beat over cult disco gems encouraged a slew of others to try their hand at it. The sadly, recently departed Frankie Knuckles would take it further and than the Europeans in England and the Balearics would launch it to a mass audience -- but 1984 remains a pivotal year in house music's evolution.


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