Poll — March 11, 2013 at 11:00 am

Slicing Up Eyeballs’ Best of the ’80s, Part 2: Vote for your top albums of 1981

Slicing Up Eyeballs Best of 1981

Our year-long Best of the ’80s feature continues this month as we turn to 1981, and once again ask Slicing Up Eyeballs’ readers to weigh in on their favorite albums of that year in our ongoing quest to rank the releases of each year of the decade over the course of 2013, concluding, come December, with a poll to determine the best of the ’80s.

It’s a simple process: We’ve assembled a list of 125 albums released in 1981, and you’re welcome to vote for up to 10 of them — or write in any title(s) you wish that we didn’t include.

Based on feedback on the 1980 poll, we’ve tweaked a few things:

  • Switching to Polldaddy for the voting app should make these polls more compatible with smartphone and tablet use, and it also lets us actually cap the number of selections in each vote.
  • Voters can choose up to 10 albums this time, up from 5, based on suggestions from the last poll.
  • For write-ins, you may list multiple albums in the box at the end of the poll, but, please, limit your total votes to 10 (honor system, here).

Voting will be open through 5 p.m. EDT March 22, and results will be posted the first week of April — at which time we’ll launch the 1982 poll and take it from there.

Sound good? Then vote away. And feel free to discuss/explain your picks in the comments below.

And if you missed it, here are the Top 100 albums of 1980 — as voted by Slicing Up Eyeballs readers.




NOTE: If this app isn’t letting you vote, you may also do so directly on the Polldaddy site.






  1. The dB’s album is “Stands for deciBels” (not Stands of ….”

  2. Leonardo Aguirre

    there used to be soooo many classic records in those times!

  3. Marcelo Araujo

    I like this album. They started to use make up.

  4. Jesse Svec

    Minutemen, enough said

  5. I LOVE OCTOBER by U2! Best record followed by Unforgettable Fire.

  6. Sweet year!

  7. thank you! (crosses finger that people know how amazing the Grace Jones album is…)

  8. a tough year

  9. very tough to choose only 10!! had to go with the most popular ones.

  10. Dan Dipple

    I could have easily picked 10 from 1980, but 1981 seemed a bit thinner.

    • Charlie Conner

      Agreed. Also, I have this feeling that some of these albums are getting votes based on their long-term nostalgia value rather than the initial excitement from their debut…

  11. Andrew Coutts

    without doubt – the year of my musical birth!

  12. Tons of great albums on this list… My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, Computer World, October. Wow.

  13. The Sound From the lion’s mouth is excellent from start to finish…

    how they didn’t take the world apart i do not know..

    • You’re so right!

    • for the same reasons the end result of this poll will end with Depeche Mode, New Order, U2, Duran Duran etc on top. People sparingly liked to be challenged. But I guess this album will have at least two votes.

    • Judy Bryan

      Totally agree!

    • A very good album, but like the Comsat Angels they had problems with their image (non-existent) and poor label support. And as much as I admire this record, the cover was appalling. But they certainly deserved a better fate than obscurity.

  14. The Suburbs ‘Credit in Heaven’ was left off the list and its in my top ten. Thanks for the write in option.

  15. Andrew Cude

    You left out Mission of Burma’s Signals, Calls and Marches.

    • Andrew Cude

      Sorry, my mistake. Signals, Calls and Marches is an EP. You mentioned that above and I didn’t notice it at first.

  16. n/a

  17. forgot how many great albums from 1981 there were

  18. Susanne Vega – Tom’s Diner almost made my cut.

  19. Christopher Bloom

    Wow, another killer of a list. Whittling down to 10 isn’t easy, either!

  20. James Netwall

    So many great albums, but these are the ones that moved me the most.

  21. Jack Watters

    I know Rush isn’t “college rock”, but neither is Prince, and this Rush album is great all the way through solid. One of the best hard rock albums ever. =)

  22. Could have picked at least three more from the List. i.e. Bauhaus Mask, Solid Gold and the Resident´s Mole

  23. Another great year

  24. So much good music to choose from!

  25. I love this music!

  26. My small addition to the list: King Crimson “Discipline”.

  27. Looking forward to the results.

  28. christina laramee

    bauhaus- mask and the cure- faith should be on the list for best albums of allll time!!

  29. The Suburbs’ Credit In Heaven, would definitely make my top 10.

  30. You cannot deny how great D^2’s debut D^2 was — and how it is still so awesome today!!!

  31. john vandyke

    the early 80’s,what a great time for new wave music,so many great bands just getting started or in the early stages of their career,easily my favorite decade for music.

  32. Thanks for including The Vapors on this list. Magnets is better than 1980s New Clear Days but by very little!

  33. ….oh, Dan Dipple – AGREED!

  34. Richard Rider

    Several of the most important albums in the history of electronic music were released in ’81: Depeche Mode’s ‘Speak & Spell’, Human League’s ‘Dare’, OMD’s ‘Architecture & Morality’, Kraftwerk’s ‘Computer World’ and Devo’s ‘New Traditionalists’. To say nothing of the albums by Japan, New Order, Duran Duran, and Heaven-17. 1981 was an amazing year for the synthesizer!

  35. It’s so sad that we don’t have this same quality and quantity of great music today. WE WERE SO SPOILED WITH GOOD MUSIC!

    • I’ve had that same thought. This 1981 list isn’t quite as a rich as the previous year (I don’t find it so, at least), but it’s light years beyond the slack-ass rubbish that passes for music these days.

      I know it sounds “old fogey”-ish to say that, but I just don’t find today’s “indie” to have any particular passion. Too much irony and distance, not enough fire.

      Kids these days, I tell ya!

  36. Cameron deGrey

    Without time to do some research, i may have overlooked a few, but this is my vote!

  37. Jim vandegrift

    Those were the days

  38. This one was hard! 1981 was Year Zero for the shift from postpunk to new pop (in the UK) and a flourishing Americna underground. We need more than 10 votes to do it justice!

  39. Great poll.

    If you anyone interested, we have a “top 10 new wave power pop songs” poll going at nwoutpost:


    We’re also using polldaddy.

  40. na

  41. 1981 was all about Heaven 17/Human League for me.

  42. Dave Gorton

    The Human League “”Dare”” was deffo my fave of 1981….i still play it now and never get bored of it….BRILL, BRILL, BRILL!!!!

  43. Bauhaus, Japan, Numan, Duran…..so many good LP`s :-)

  44. Hope INXS’s “Underneath the Colours” gets a lot of “Other” votes!

  45. Mats!~

  46. Buena musica……grandes momentos. Lo mejor Duran
    Duran…..aun continuan haciendo musica……un asco
    the police.

  47. Maybe not as great as 1980 for the alternatives but it was a monster year for mainstream rock&roll.

    From Harder Rock….
    Nature of the Beast , Difficult to Cure, Moving Pictures, The Fool Circle & Snaz, Don’t Say No, Fair Warning, Fires of Unkown Origin, High n Dry, Tattoo You, MSG, Diary of a Madman, Re-ac-tor (well 2 songs anyway), For Those About to Rock, Allied Forces

    To Mega Popular….
    Paradise Theatre, Face Dances, Long Distance Voyager, Escape, Bella Donna, Precious Time, Give The People What They Want, Abacab, Get Lucky,
    Freeze Frame, Tonight I’m Yours, I Love Rock & Roll, 4





  50. Duran Duran

  51. I hope Duran Duran wins! They are the BEST Band Ever! Go for it DD !

  52. David Fargier

    Best album ever

  53. Martin Castro

    Adam and the Ants, the Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, New Order, Bauhaus, the Birthday Party, Tom Tom Club, Depeche Mode, Public Image Limited & Soft Cell all have my vote. But Psychedelic Furs, Gang of Four, Prince, Oingo Boingo & OMD come in as close seconds. M

  54. Sara Di Virgilio

    The best of album of all times… Xxx

  55. The dB´s and The Sound, the sound of 1981

  56. I could have easily picked more than ten! Tough list to choose from!

  57. Gavin ONeill

    Some great California punk starts to surface here. The Agent Orange boys turned off all the lights and recorded the entire record in pitch darkness. Awesome. The TSOL record is great, but their next record “Beneath The Shadows” would really appeal to the New Wavers. Rollins first album with Black Flag. X’s greatest album, Wild Gift. Gun Club record is unbelievably brilliant and unique. Minutemen, Adolescents, both top notch.

  58. francescajt

    duran duran the best the only very music that give feelings

  59. Added Human Sexual Response, “In a Roman Mood”. One of my favorite 80s decade albums!

  60. Duran Duran!! Perfect!

  61. Joshua Burke

    Prince, new wave? Really?

  62. The Sound, ‘From the Lions Mouth’ and Bauhaus, ‘Mask’ are great.
    The Cure, ‘Faith’ and Echo & The Bunnymen, ‘Heaven Up Here’ are absolutely fabulously brilliant.

  63. You forgot to put the record “Blow Away Your Troubles” by the great Cleaners From Venus

  64. Lionel Villanueva

    on the list most of the albums change the way in music forever but I think the one’s I chose are the more influential of all !!!


    (just kidding) :)

  66. MrRichPeoples

    A few 1981 albums that are conspicuous by their absence….

    Roky Erickson And The Aliens – The Evil One
    Radio Birdman – Living Eyes
    David Lindley – El Rayo-X
    Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – I Love Rock ‘N Roll

  67. Damn – I wanted to add in *three* write-ins!
    – Pete Shelley “Homosapien”
    – King Crimson “Discipline”
    – Godley & Creme “Ismism”

  68. Tubes – The Completion Backward Principle!

  69. The ’80s had the best music! Nothing these days compares. Music was so much fun back then.

  70. Two great records from France and Belgium:
    Taxi Girl, Seppuku (in french, not the english version)
    Honeymoonkillers, Les Tueurs de la Lune de Miel

  71. Ah, the early 80’s!

  72. Someone please create a radio channel from all these albums and put it on Spotify and every other app! And then make a compilation of choice cuts and sell on iTunes, etc. Oh my GOD what a year for music!

  73. Modern Eon “Fiction Tales”!

  74. Evelyn Wade

    Duran Duran Unbeatable x.

  75. Gonzalo Comas

    All of you should check “Wadu Wadu” by Virus (a band from Argentina).

  76. peter pesic

    Hey If You Havent Heard THE CURE FAITH Ablum

    Turn off all your gaggets – Make sure no one Interupts you and Just let the Album do its thing
    Unbelevably one of The Great True Albums amongst all those truelly captavating and emotionaly amazing
    Do your self a Favour.
    Just Listen.

  77. adam klimas

    A Product Of… by Thompson Twins…YES!!!!

  78. Well been a Duran fan since whenever so it had to be Duran
    With Adam Ant as a close second.

  79. Late 70s/early 80s release dates aren’t accurate. It took up to a couple months sometimes for stuff to actually appear in stores. Most famously London Calling in Jan 80 and Sandinista in Jan 81 (with many stores not getting it until Feb). Back then there were vinyl, pressing, printing and shipping problems all the time. If Loverboy suddenly had a million-seller, they’d just stop the planned production of whatever cool indy album was supposed to be pressed that week, even though it was past the release date. Or they’d hold shipping until certain tour or promo obs were met. This had all mostly changed by the late 80s.

    People in England may have possibly had the Clash albums on time but in the western (f not all of) US nobody had them until after new year’s.

  80. Katy Cowans

    This album changed my life. 32 years later it’s still in my car.

  81. Daniel Magazin

    The Passage,’Pindrop’ – paranoia never sounded so sweet. (I know, released Nov. 1980, but heard early 1981)

  82. Juju album of the forever >:p

  83. Shane Nunley

    Duran Duran

  84. 80s is the best! True Duranie here!!

  85. Yet another year of brilliance and so difficult to select 10.

    What makes it somewhat easier is that 5 of my all-time fave LPs ever – any era – were released this year:

    The Sound: From The Lion’s Mouth…should have been massive, shame on the music press for not getting behind this more

    Kraftwerk: Computer World; Police: GITM; New Order: Movement; Human League: Dare

    I went w/Killing Joke, Comsat Angels, Echo & The Bunnymen, Duran Duran & Soft Cell as I’ve played these to death over the years.

    Too hard to choose after this…when The Cure, Wipers, Au Pairs, Gang Of Four, Simple Minds, Bauhaus, Stranglers: La Folie, Devo, Psychedelic Furs, Modern English, Heaven 17, Depeche Mode, the church, SATB, Black Flag, Josef K, Tom Tom Club…and a few that aren’t mentioned above, Girls At Our Best! Pleasure; TV21: Thin Red Line; Modern Eon: Fiction Tales & Level 42: Level 42. All four are brilliant!

    Also left off:

    Fra Lippo Lippi: In Silence
    Delta 5: See The Whirl
    Diagram Brothers: Some Marvels Of Modern Science
    Girls At Our Best! Pleasure
    The Go-Betweens: Send Me A Lullaby (released late 1981 in Australia, early-82 rest of the world)
    INXS: Underneath The Colours
    Level 42: Level 42 (brilliant debut, dance classic, they would steer away from underground credibility after their 2nd LP)
    Marine Girls: Beach Party (pre-Everything But The Girl/Tracey Thorn indie band)
    Modern Eon: Fiction Tales
    Monochrome Set: Love Zombies
    Opposition: Breaking The Silence
    The Passage: For All And None
    The Passions: Thirty Thousand Feet Over China (classic)
    Polyrock: Changing Hearts
    Section 25: Always Now (landmark post-punk release, massively influential)
    Snowy Red: Snowy Red
    Synergy: Audion
    TV21: A Thin Red Line (another lost classic)

    And don’t forget, although it’s an EP, R.E.M.’s Chronic Town was released in 1981.

    • ‘See the Whirl’ was a brilliant disc, that was on heavy rotation in our basement music pit. Great horn section really made it stand out from a lot of postpunk genre.

  86. I went ahead and wrote in ‘Discipline,’ particularly in considering Belew’s presence and its much updated sound in comparison to earlier KC works.

    After much temptation I was able to refrain from writing in my favorite album of all-time, ‘Moving Pictures’ (despite the new wave flavor of “Vital Signs”). :)

    Also, I’ve always kind of liked Felt but was somehow unaware they started this early. One to add to my wish list …

  87. Alessandro

    The cure – the best!!!

  88. Alessandra


  89. Laura Cormack

    The best album of the 80s and still at good 32 years later

  90. Only Faith!

  91. Great album. Second of great trlogy.

  92. Michael Louie

    Wow, that was 100x easier than the last poll! Even if we got to choose ten albums instead of five in 1980, the competition was much stiffer! Hope there were better albums released in 1982!

    • Claiming this wasn’t a good year is pretty harsh, as many of us had a hard time stopping at 10. Even some of the second tier stuff like the Eurythmics first lp is worth a listen.

  93. The Cure is really the greatest group of 80’s…

  94. 1981 is all about Adam Ant, and the “Anthem” album from Toyah..

  95. Jody Thimm

    one of my favorite albums

  96. How about the Wanderers (basically Stiv Bators fronting Sham 69) “Only Lovers Left Alive?”

  97. Moustickator

    Architecture and morality from OMD was the best of 1981’s album

  98. Definately Anthem by Toyah. Anthem was such a brilliant album and i really wish it could be appreciated in this day and age as much as it was back then. Also Juju by Siouxsie and the banshees is one of those gems that is so under rated. Into the light being such a brilliant and haunting song.
    Kraftwek and Tuxedo moon also on my list for 1981.

  99. Def Duran

  100. Duran duran best band ever

  101. Fantastic debut album

  102. Duran Duran without doubt

  103. Duran Duran rule then and now!!! ❤

  104. DD got my vote

  105. Has to be Duran Duran because I have been a fan for 33 years.

  106. Duran Duran, The Furs, Go Go’s, Cars…’81 was a New Wave music year!

  107. It was hard naming only ten!

  108. its nearly impossible to pick only 10

  109. a lot of great music.. but DD will always have my heart

  110. Marc Fentress

    So good to see Agent Orange ” Living In Darkness ” on the list. To this day I still love this album.

  111. may not make a popular top 10 but The Sound’s “From The Lions Mouth” is the other amazing album produced by Hugh Jones that year (Heaven Up Here)

  112. 1981 was a great year for music which makes choosing a Top Ten from this list very difficult. I’ll remember ’81 (my first year of college)for the near constant thrill of discovering yet another new and eclectic band/artist/sound from the UK and the hastening emergence of the US “college rock” scene.
    My Top 10 artists from 1981 in alphabetical order:
    Black Flag,Comsat Angels,Echo & The Bunnymen,Eno & Byrne,Felt,Psychedelic Furs, Soft Cell, The Sound, Teardrop Explodes, The Undertones
    Onto ’82!

  113. here’s hoping that “The Best Of Jayne/Wayne County And The Electric Chairs” on Safari Records UK makes the 1982 ballot..

  114. Speak and Spell- Depeche Mode
    Faith- The Cure
    Dare- Human League
    Movement- New Order
    Mask- bauhaus & too many more to mention.

    I still listen to these records and never get sick of them. Shame they don’t make ’em like this anymore. Even though I was a young kid in the 1980’s, and don’t remember it from the perspective of a teenager, the music that my mom played still resonates. I have such fond memories of that time. Long live the 80’s!!!

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