Poll — August 5, 2013 at 7:42 am

Slicing Up Eyeballs’ Best of the ’80s, Part 7: Vote for your top albums of 1986

Best of 1986

Our year-long Best of the ’80s poll continues into August as we hit 1986, and once again ask Slicing Up Eyeballs’ readers to vote for their favorite albums of that year in our ongoing mission to rank the releases of each year of the decade throughout 2013, concluding, come December, with a poll to determine the absolute best records of the entire 1980s.

VOTING: It’s a simple process. We’ve assembled a list of 215 albums released in 1986, 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.

A few notes and reminders on how this works:

  • Given the theme of this website, the albums that made the ballot are limited to those that fall under the very loose and ill-defined “alternative” banner, generally titles from the punk, post-punk, goth, college rock, indie, synthpop, industrial, New Wave and related genres — and that’s why you won’t find, say, Graceland or Eat ‘Em and Smile on the ’86 ballot. Yet if there are albums missing you want to vote for — those included — certainly feel free to write them in.
  • Speaking of write-ins, you may list multiple albums in the box at the end of the poll, but, please, limit your total votes to 10. If you run out of room, e-mail info@slicingupeyeballs.com.
  • As has been the case with the first four polls in this series, this is a ranking of studio albums. So no EPs (such as Meat Puppets’ Out My Way), live albums or compilations (that means you, Standing on a Beach). If there’s enough interest, we’ll run additional polls to determine the best EPs, comps and/or live albums of the ’80s when this series is done at the end of 2013.
  • And, finally, we’ll reiterate this: Despite pleas to increase the number of albums that can be voted on, we’re going to keep it at 10. Because that’s the real test here: You’re deciding which of your children you like the best. And then cutting the rest loose. This is serious business.

DEADLINE: Voting will be open through 5 p.m. EDT Aug. 30, and results will be posted at the beginning of September — after which we’ll launch the 1987 poll and take it from there.

Sound good? Then vote away.

And feel free to discuss/list/explain/lobby for your picks in the comments section below.

PAST RESULTS: Finally, if you missed any of the previous results, here are the Top 100 albums of 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985 — as voted by Slicing Up Eyeballs’ readers.




NOTE: If this app isn’t letting you vote, you also may vote directly via Polldaddy: poll.fm/4cfk8.






  1. Bob Dalrymple

    Glad to see the Hipsway and the Mighty Lemon Drops albums here. Two of my favorites from the year.

    • Really hard decisions. Went with,
      BAD – 10 Upping
      Chameleons – Strange Times
      L&R – Express
      Ministry – Twitch
      Revco – Big Sexyland
      SSS – Flaunt It
      Siouxsie – Tinderbox
      Sisterhood – Gift
      Skinny Puppy – Mind
      The The – Infected

      Left out,
      Xymox – Medusa
      Mish – God’s Own Medicine
      Peter Murphy – Should World Fail
      Damned – Anything
      Killing Joke – 1000 suns
      FLA – Total Terror
      Mortal Coil – Filligree & Shadow
      Coil – Rotovator

      I considered the top 10 as most influential though.

  2. Rob Southam

    What a year. Born Sandy Devotional by The Triffids remains one of my all time faves.

  3. Best year of music ever! So hard to pare down to 10.

  4. John Byron

    The Queen is Dead of course

    • This one is a given and would be shocked to see it anywhere but #1. Personally, I give it either #1 or #2…so tough.

      • Meh, it isn’t as good as Meat is Murder and has stiffer competition than Meat is Murder. Yes, I see the past polls and am aware you clowns get horny for The Cure and Smiths (whatever)… and yes it’ll be in the top 3, but to me it’s got 4 or 5 songs, some filler, and should land around 9th overall. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t a very good album, but be serious it isn’t in the same area code as Black Celebration or Twitch from beginning to end. There, I’m at peace with your decisions to make it #1 I’ve had my say on the matter.

  5. The Suburbs self titled album was released in ’86.

  6. Got to list “Enjoy” by The Descendents on this list.

  7. Damn, this gets harder and harder. Got at least 30 must haves in there. Ended up just going with the 10 i listened to the most at the time, which as I was in school was basically the ones I could tape off friends and were then the first ones i bought when I had any money.

    Agree with Bob, good to see Mighty Lemon Drops in there.

    • I had to vote for the Mighty Lemon Drops despite not having heard that album for around 25 years. I think I wore the cassette out at the time. I also saved China Crisis from being axed from my list. Others I picked will be more likely to end up in the top 10.

  8. Michael West

    Skylarking from XTC and The Queen Is Dead from The Smiths remain my faves from ’86.

  9. I may be biased but Black Celebration was a game changer not only for the band, but the way music was made with the production/sampling etc…

  10. I have to say, this is the last GREAT year of music. It’s kind of downhill from here. Some great stuff to come, but this was the crescendo year for sure!

    • Agree. Everything changes in 1987. Rick Astley, Kylie Minoque, Jason Donovan in 1987 & 1988 became pop stars. This is definitely last year for great music. My choice for 1986 is:

      1. Hipsway (great, great album and very underrated band)
      2. Duran Duran – Notorious (very underrated album, in my opinion this is best album Duran ever released, second is Big Thing)
      3. Pet Shop Boys – Please (best album by Pet Shop Boys, second best – Behaviour, third – Actually)
      3. Peter Gabriel – So (classic album)
      4. Depeche Mode – Black Celebration (great album, Music For The Masses is probably best album for 1987)
      5. FGTH – Liverpool (underrated second album, for me even better than first album)
      6. The The – Infected
      7. Human League – Crash
      8. Billy Idol – Whiplash Smile
      9. Talk Talk
      10. Communards

    • I TOTALLY agree with you on this,”all downhill from here”.

      • Best period music history is for me period 1977-1987. In this period everything important happened: punk, disco, funk, new wave, new romantics, synth pop…80’s music begin with 1977 and finished with 1987.

  11. This was the hardest year yet to whittle down to ten records!

  12. Throwing Muses – their debut was a little overrated when held up to the rest of their catalogue, but it was truly brilliant and deserves attention.

  13. Robert Young

    Let’s Have A Black Celebration, tonight.

  14. The Queen is dead!

  15. Jason Beran

    If This Mortal Coil’s Filligree and Shadow doesn’t make it to the final 10, something is very, very wrong. ’86, what a great year.

    • Nate Taylor

      I completely agree. This is one of my all time favorites from any era. I wasn’t a big fan of the other two TMC albums, but Filigree & Shadow is just as perfect an album anyone can hope for.

      • An amazing record by any standard.

      • Nate,YOU DIDN’T LIKE ‘It’ll End In Tears’!!

        • Nate Taylor

          Toro – My bad, ‘Tears’ and ‘Blood’ are decent albums that I do/did enjoy….but there is just something about ‘Filigree’ that still resonates. A complete, timeless sounding piece of simple beauty.

          • Nate-I think ‘Filligree’ and ‘Tears’ are equal,and I also do/did enjoy ‘Blood’. By the way, 4AD has remastered and rereleased all three cds in mini-album jacket form.They SOUND GREAT!Additional tracks on ‘Filigree’and ‘Blood’.

      • It’s a work of art.

    • Absolutely! this was one of the greatest years for 4ad. Filigree & Shadow, Clan of Xymox “Medusa”, the first Throwing Muses album. So many great albums on this list.

    • 100 % agreed. The album of the decade.

    • While my initial reaction is to agree with you–I’ve jotted down the ones I would consider and it’s on my list–I just don’t see it as one of the year’s 10 best. Top 20 for sure, top 10…. It looks like it’ll miss the cut. I guess something is very very wrong.

  16. Great year. Started getting interesting again.

  17. The Queen Is Dead from The Smiths lo barrió todo aquel año…

  18. Hard year to pin to 10 — could have easily gone 20.

    Settled on Crowded House, Depeche Mode, Peter Gabriel, Housemartins, Love & Rockets, Pet Shop Boys, Siouxsie, The Smiths, They Might Be Giants and XTC.

    Hard to leave off Book of Love, Husker Du, Mojo Nixon, New Order, OMD, PiL, REM, Smithereens, Talking Heads and others.

  19. No doubt No. 1 Queen is Dead and No. 2 Skylarking. Both timeless.

  20. Hans Bubby Your White Knight

    Black Celebration, Please by PSB, Liverpool by FGTH & Notorious are no brainers here. ’86 seemed like a weak year overall though

  21. Charlie Conner

    What an INCREDIBLE year!!! I couldn’t even get through the “G”s on this poll before I reached 10! This was certainly my sweet spot during my time in College Radio…WMUL at Marshall University for those interested…

    I hope that the 2 Elvis Costello albums don’t cancel each other out…what a great return to form for Mr. McManus…

    Glad to see Peter Gabriel on this list! Now before people start bashing “THAT’S not alternative!” remember that back in ’86 there were numerous college stations that added DWIGHT YOAKAM to their playlists (check CMJ…it’s true!)

    One correction though. American Music Club’s debut “The Restless Stranger” was released in 1985. Did that stop me from voting for it though? Absolutely not, given that it wasn’t on last year’s list.

    as for the top slot, this looks to be a battle between Depeche Mode and The Smiths. Both AWESOME albums, but I give the nod to “The Queen is Dead”, an all-timer. The Smiths would never release another album this strong, while DM still had “Music for the Masses” and “Violator” yet to release.

    • WHOOOOOAAAAAAA when did this become a list of college radio playlists? For the record I owned Dwight Yoakum and Gabriel alongside RevCo and Ministry and This Mortal Coil and PIL. That doesn’t mean they weren’t mainstream. They were. Thus outside the parameters of ‘alternative’ because ironically it was the very music ‘alternative’ music was trying to break free of.

  22. Book of Love Debut album all time favorite!

  23. Padget Cowan

    So many amazing choices here but agree many comments on here. The Queen is Dead will probably be on top. I hate to admit but there were a few here that made go “wow, I didn’t realize it came out in ’86”

  24. So tough to narrow it down to just 10…

  25. Best year that I ever remember when it came to new releases. Never had enough money to buy all the 12inch singles for club play as a dj, but did my best.

  26. perspective sure is fascinating, especially when age is involved…i think ’86 was one of the WEAKEST years of the era, and i also think that each of the next four years features an embarrassment of riches (with the four that follow–’91-94–quite loaded with amazing as well)…and i’m almost 41, for what it’s worth…but i’m guessing many of you who think ’82-86 were brilliant years for music are a bit older, maybe in high school or college during those years as opposed to being 10-14 like i was?

    • I’m 47,and yes those(’82=’86)were great years!You’re not totally off base though…really.By’87,things definitely took a dive by a few notches.I think’86 was theend of the ‘golden era’.

      • 1988 was a big comeback year though for great albums! The Pixies-Surfer Rosa, Wire-A Bell is a Cup, Throwing Muses-House Tornado, Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians-Globe of Frogs, The Go-Betweens-16 Lovers Lane, The Church-Starfish, Till Tuesday-Everything’s Different Now, Talk Talk-Spirit of Eden, etc.

  27. This is going to be nearly impossible. I’ve been limiting myself to albums I actually own and still listen too. And I’m already around 20…

  28. Richard Rider

    The top two spots SHOULD be a fight between ‘The Queen Is Dead’ and ‘Black Celebration’. Both are quite possibly the finest work from both bands, and are extremely essential recordings of the past 30 years.

    Also hard to overlook ‘Electric Cafe’ from Kraftwerk, ‘Please’ by the Pet Shop Boys, ‘Skylarking’ by XTC, ‘So’ by Gabriel, and ‘Pacific Age’ by OMD.

    Great year for music in general, but especially for electronic music.

  29. New Model Army, Depeche Mode, 54-40!, Skinny Puppy, FLA.

    Great stuff!

  30. These polls are so much fun. I was so glad to see Steven Kilbey’s “Unearthed” included. And Elvis Costello’s “Blood and Chocolate” – I know it’s probably wrong, but it is still my favorite one of his. Does anyone else remember the Jet Black Berries?

    • I was surprised to see Steve Kilbey’s ‘Unearthed’ too,Bruce! It made my list…EASILY! Elvis Costello’s ‘Blood And Chocolate’ mad my lis as well,too! I had to leave off his ‘King Of America’album…although BOTH were worthy.

  31. and done

  32. 1986 was the first year I owned anything cool. Unlike some other years, few of my selections (with the exception of REM and New Order) will likely make the final ten, but there are albums on this list that I love like no other (even if, as with Peter Gabriel and Depeche Mode, I haven’t listened to them in a while). Also, with this list I felt like I had to leave off so many (BoDeans, drivin’ n’ cryin’, General Public, Talking Heads, They Might Be Giants).

    Brotherhood barely edges out Life’s Rich Pageant as album of the year for me.

    My picks:

    Crowded House: Crowded House
    Depeche Mode: Black Celebration
    Peter Gabriel: So
    Guadalcanal Diary: Jamboree
    Housemartins: London O Hull 4
    New Order: Brotherhood
    R.E.M.: Life’s Rich Pageant
    The Saints: All Fools Day
    The Smithereens: Especially for You
    XTC: Skylarking

  33. a lot of popular but meidocre albums by artists who had done better earlier

  34. you should do one about compilations maybe 80-85 and then 86-90 or something
    but Standing on a Beach deserves to win something, it was a life changer

    • A Strange Boy

      Yeah, it was one of the first albums that I heard from The Cure, and my life change after this.

    • Fomer 80s DJ KCPR

      cut to the chase…the decade would come down to Standing on a Beach vs Substance vs Louder Than Bombs…amiright?

      • No kidding. Those are the three albums that got me started on The Cure, New Order, and The Smiths. All three still stand today.

  35. Lots of Australian bands, aren’t there? Even without a Midnight Oil entry.

    Crowded House, Hunters and Collectors, Church, Kilbey, Icehouse…

    • …Not to mention the Saints, the Scientists, the Triffids and Nick Cave!

    • Don’t forget The Go-Betweens greatest album! I also voted for the other Australian bands Crowded House, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (for Your Funeral My Trail)and The Church. Non-Australian votes went to Robyn Hitchcock and The Egytptians, Peter Gabriel, Elvis Costello (Blood and Chocolate), R.E.M., Throwing Muses and The Bangles. I would have dropped The Bangles for The Triffids, but I missed them at the bottom of the list before I voted.

  36. Queen is dead & skylarking and the good earth and especially for you are all epic

  37. Alan Wilder with DM was the best band ;)))

  38. Rooting for Life’s Rich Pageant to stand atop the heap of awesome ’86ness.

  39. This year is particularly brutal. I left off albums I really love.

  40. September Bowl of Green- The Grapes of Wrath should probably be on there. Just don’t forget Treehouse in ’87 then Now & Again in ’89.

  41. Too many to choose from to be limited to just 10. GAH!

  42. Cool list.

  43. Wow…kudos to you guys for including American Music Club’s “The Restless Stranger”, still one of my favorites after all these years.

    • I could swear that “The Restless Stranger” was in the 1985 poll. Not that I mind voting for it again (wonderful album!), but 1986 is a lot tougher than I was expecting, and I can use that vote on something else…

      • It was released in 1985 and I believe it did appear in the previous poll. AMC had no 1986 release, as their next record (“Engine”) wasn’t released until late 1987 when they’d been signed to Frontier.

  44. For me XTCs Skylarking is the definitive work of the 80s- lush, swooning, melodic psucedic,pop that wasn’t,popular, a song cycle that can be taken on any number of its spinning cycles,and impossible number,of plates spinning at the same time and forming on long LP, CD, Life, year, day, love affair… Beginning where it eft off and ever sonf a small pop marvel.. the Sgt Pepper’s of the 80s (even better,or more accurately, XTC’s Revolver)…

  45. Scoundrel Days, a-ha’s masterpiece, all the way. The title track and Manhattan Skyline are classic tracks, and the album is full of oddities such as October and Soft Rains of April. A great, great album.

    • The title track is my all-time favorite a-ha song, but Scoundrel Days would actually be a better album if they had omitted the embarrassing “We’re Looking For The Whales”. I could never bring myself to sing along to that one :P

      • You can’t possibly be suggesting that “Maybe Maybe” is a better song than “We’re Looking for the Whales”…I agree that’s not the best, but in my view it would be a flawless album without “Maybe Maybe” (particularly if it were replaced with the beautiful “Days on End” which made the reissue bonus disc in 2010!).

        • I agree those are the two eakest tracks on the album, the other eight are corkers though. Good call on ‘Days On End’ Kylie, I wish ‘Love Is Reason’ had been replaced with ‘Driftwood’ on their first album too…

    • Manhattan Skyline is a brilliant song. The album was all right, not going to crack many top 10 lists given the choices we have.

  46. Frederick botha

    Great year, classic albums by The Smiths, TheThe, Talk Talk and a few great debuts.

  47. I wish I could vote for The The and Depeche Mode five times each.

  48. funny thing, bro-in-law were just talking about how 1986 wasn’t all that great of a year but holy crap, i just a really hard time picking just 10!!! there’s a pot full of really great music released this year (including some canadian content too cowboy junkies, 54-40, skinny puppy, nomeansno) housemartins, go-betweens, the church, PiL, XTC, woodentops, TMC, both felt albums, both Elvis C albums, both nick cave albums, both triffids albums, crowded house, billy bragg, H&C, husker du, james, love & rockets, and on and on . . . will be fun to see who makes the top 10. thanks SUE!!!!

    • I thought the same thing until I saw this list.Then,I remembered that it was ’87 when things started to go downhill.

  49. Very difficult year to choose only 10 albums from. Pretty much every one of my favorite bands released an album this year…

  50. Am I the only person here that thinks Black Celebration is completely over-rated? IMO, the title track and fly on the windscreen, and the whole “look how dark we are!” mentality of the record is completely pretentious. The cure had pornography four years earlier, joy division were gone at the start of the decade and bauhaus had disbanded, yet DM puts out this. THIS. The best songs are stripped and new dress. the rest is so incredibly sub-par (and yes I have all their albums and the singles box sets) that I wonder why anyone thinks this is a great record. THIS is what we don’t like about things like Hot Topic. Black Celebration is the mainstream watered down version of dark introspection, to the point of being comical. When I hear “DEATH IS EVERYWHERE!!!….” all I do is laugh. Why am I typing this? Because I love DM and wish I could get into this album, but it’s just not that great no matter how much I try.

    • It’s not that great to you, you mean. One man’s great is another man’s blah. Relax.

      • what I’m looking for is for anyone to explain why this album is relevant to them or the year it was released, or both. I am relaxed. thanks.

        • Jason Robinson

          I’ve never been a fan of DM’s lyrics but musically, Black Celebration is beautiful. I just listened to it again yesterday in DTS 5.1. It’s incredible. Alan Wilder really knew how to push their sound. I love Martin’s melodies but can definitely do without most of his lyrics. I look past them and focus on the sounds and melodies. I do have to admit though that I can’t even listen to Dressed in Black because it certainly tries too hard and sonically it’s not even that great so I sort of see where you’re coming from.

          • I *do* love DM, and I think you make a good point. Black Celebration is probably not my favorite album lyrically, but in terms of the music, instrumentation (under which I include sampling), and production, I think it’s great and consider it one of my favorite albums for that reason. (And “New Dress” is my “meh” song.)

          • VERY interesting observation,and I agree with your’s and Anne S take on this album…or Depeche Mode as a whole. Sounds good ,but the lyrics are really weak when you take them apart.

        • I think it really depended on your situation when you first heard Black Celebration honestly. I was a Sophmore in high school and the whole world sucked at that particular moment, new school, jerk locals who hated newbies, etc. Petty stuff now but monumental back then. I loved DM and wasn’t prepared for how dark they would get on that one, for them at least. It spoke to me at that particular time. If not necessarily the lyrics, but the mood of the album. I thought at the time that the stars aligned perfectly for them to give me the album I needed at that moment. To this day it brings out memories that seem better when remembered through the filter that this album has become for me. Not everyone was the same age, in the same place or in the mood for this release when it came out, so I can see how it might have disappointed a few initially.

          • I’m definitely going to listen to it again from a programming perspective. Having been in electronic bands and slaved for hours over a synth I can certainly relate, though I have to admit to me, the greatest programmers of electronic music ever are Skinny Puppy, and specificially their 1986 release Mind : the Perpetual Intercourse, which I voted for.

    • Scott,you’re not alone!Although I probably like the album a bit more than you do,I certainly understand your feelings.I think what Anne wrote were my feeling on that album. However,I do like it okay…but my reasons for liking it are almost EXACT as to Anne’s.” I LIKE THE SOUND/PRODUCTION OF IT”. You’re right,it’s not that great when you take it apart! Lyricly,it does NOT move me…but I think I block that out and just get into the rhythm/groove/melody of the songs.”PRETENTIOUS”as hell,but it sounds good.

    • I agree with you. But I think that’s the extent of the agreement because I think just about all DM albums are overrated. I guess Music for the Masses might be an exception, but the only song by DM that ever truly moved me was Never Let me Down Again. Sorry man. In other news, Love and Rockets Express needs to be top 5 at a minimum. Song for song, I put it right there (if not above) the Queen is Dead. But both are among my all time favorites, so I’m ok with the Smiths taking number one, which will happen.

    • I was around from “Speak And Spell” onward and I have to say that “Black Celebration” is the only DM album I still listen to from start to finish on a regular basis.

    • Yes, you are the only person.

    • Black Celebration has some of the best DM songs, and i’d say some of the most impressive programming and arrangements ever, even if it’s not the greatest album from start to finish. I’ve been able to find new layers of sounds in Fly on the Windscreen, New Dress, Black Celebration, But Not Tonight(which is on the US release, thus strengthening the album) and Stripped. there are so many dense interweaving parts on here (Music for the Masses was great for that as well- Alan Wilder was at peak form for sure!) that you could say some of them get buried, and you don’t discover that faint extra percussion keyboard til the 500th time you hear it. Depeche Mode speaks to the 15 year old in many of us, the “oh my world is falling apart and i can’t go on” that you feel when whomever you thought you were in love with could care less. it’s a different sort of dark and depressing as The Cure or Joy Division, and coming from a different place. Less from curling up in a ball and a room all alone, and leaning more towards “please, stay with me tonight- i want to be with you now… (though it’s not love, it means something???) saying that they can’t be “dark” because anyone else had ever been dark before them is kind of silly. and Bauhaus is more silly artsy than dark really, just playing with some of the kinds of sounds Joy Division had broken open, and getting almost progressive rock lyrical over it. :-D i’d almost think you would say the Cure shouldn’t have done Disintegration, since after doing dark albums, they had some pop moments as well, and been there done that? It’s kind of hard to call this one mainstream, since they didn’t get regular airplay until 1990. I think Martin did grow as a writer from the early days- “What good is a photograph of you- when all it does it make me feel blue.” gahhh! but DM is definitely more about the emotion and melody and music than the lyrics being not somewhat embarrassing from time to time. Not to mention how many songs seem to be directed at 15 year old girls in particular. :-P Still, i wouldn’t mind if they had re-done Sometimes, and It Doesn’t Matter II, but i guess it’s their right to make sappy sounding stuff if they want to. I think the drum beat to Fly on the Windscreen will probably propel this ablum to 2nd place on the polls all on its own.

    • stripped and new dress are 2 of the weaker tracks. question of lust, question of time, fly on the windscreen, dressed in black, here is the house and but not tonight are all awesome.

  51. This is the first year that my choices are a little more obscure. Let’s Active, The Lucy Show, Guadalcanal Diary, The Bolshoi, The Mission. And all my favorite albums from Depeche Mode, Talk Talk, REM And The Smiths.
    A lot of great, dark epic 1st tracks like “The Queen is Dead”, “Away”, and “Wasteland”.
    “I still believe in God, but God no longer believes in me”.

  52. XTC -Skylarking i my #1 Greatest album of 86!!

  53. Not a great year as 1985 was. New Order is tops of this list.

  54. Robert Chang

    The Queen is dead. Long live the Smiths!

  55. This is where it starts to get really hard. Queen is Dead is a no brainer for #1, but I’ve had to leave out soooo many favourites to pick a top 10.

  56. João Lopes Pires

    Many of the other discs, I do not remember the songs. This is my list possible.

  57. Mick Brick

    Queen is Dead is the obvious choice but I think The Mighty Lemon Drops just PIPS it

  58. Being a huge Peter Gabriel (and Genesis when he was in the group) fan long before SO and even seeing him two nights in a row on that tour I can’t vote for it among my 10 picks. After “Melting Face” and Security I remember the let down I felt when that album came out. I was glad he became a big star, made some money and started Real World Studios and record label but it was weak. I understand that others don’t feel that way.

    • I didn’t think it was “weak”,but I certainly understand and agree with your overall sentiments.That why I had to leave it(So)off my list.

    • I too was an old prog rocker and I too had little problem with ‘So’ but I too understand your sentiment completely :-) This was certainly Gabriel’s swan song, and Kate Bush’s for that matter.

      It may be a ‘top 10’ album, but I can’t vote for it because it should be outside the parameters of inclusion for this list. What is ‘alternative’ if not for being the alternative to corporate produced and overplayed stuff on the FM dial? And with that, I give you ‘So’. If that’s alternative, I’d like to know to what. My bitching won’t matter, we’ve had Let’s Dance and Ghost in the Machine among a couple others (INXS is hardly alternative by 1985, and certainly not thereafter….and on the homepage of SUE I see a cassette of Jane’s Addiction, that better NOT show up on our voting lists dammit). But no sign of 1999/Purple Rain. Seems inconsistent to say the least. I’m over it.

      • jane’s addiction, in 1988, wasn’t alternative enough for you? “so” is corporate rock? kate bush didn’t make good music after 1986 (“this woman’s work”, “love & anger”, “reaching out”…)? what the fuck are you on about?!

  59. You misspelled The Chameleons, FYI

  60. Nathan Collins

    The Queen is Dead

  61. Actually a REALLY hard year to pick for me since the early 80s. I think this when we start to somewhat see the transition from new wave to alternative rock dominance.

  62. I only came away with 8 picks, and I purposely left out Peter Gabriel’s commercial leviathan because, well, I guess I’m just feeling like a twerp. Anyway, 1986 represents the swan song of my eighties musical experience. That was the first year that I felt that my time in the prime demographic was waning. The JAM was over (1982), The Clash had finally given up, Talking Heads had their “Hey Jude” moment with Stop Making Sense and, probably most ominous, Michael Stipe’s singing was getting easier to understand.
    Turn out the lights on your way out.

    • I know EXACTLY what you mean,and I agree TOTALLY!After ’86,it all started on the downward spiral.

      • exactly!–except not…1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1992 are some of the most densely-packed years of brilliant music in world history.

    • Well Nick, if you only thought 8 albums were worthy, that would mean you didn’t listen to anything on the 4AD label, or anything in the burgeoning industrial music genre. That’s too bad, you missed out.

  63. I didn’t want to waste a vote on a write-in when it was killing me to pick just ten, but I was surprised not seeing Eight Seconds – Almacantar. That’s a great album that deserves the attention.

    • Nice catch! Probably too much high-caliber competition to get them noticed, but Almacantar is a very good album in its own right. You can hear the FIXX-like production and mixing from Rupert Hine and Stephen Tayler. “Sincere” is a kick-ass opening track.

  64. Why is Jason & The Scorchers’ Still Standing not on the list?

    • Funny you should mention that one,I listened to it less than a week ago!

    • It certainly should be. If I recall correctly, the album earned them quite a bit of exposure and the opening slot on a tour with Survivor and they tore it up! (My friends and I decamped for a bar before Survivor came on, of course.)

    • Roger Patton

      Would have been on my top 10..

    • A lot of ‘why is’ not on the list or on the list with little feedback. Jason/Scorchers ought to be on the list of alternative records.

      To the powers that be, you can’t NOT put Prince’s Purple Rain/1999 on the list and then put the Police’s Ghost in the Machine, Bowie’s Let’s Dance or Gabriel’s So! The convoluted argument that would have to be made would be wanting.

      • i LOVE prince, but his music was always too diverse to fit most alt-rock formats, and consequently he was never categorized as such.

  65. The year I began listening to alternative music! I was 16. My list:
    1. Life’s Rich Pageant
    2. The Queen is Dead
    3. So
    4. Black Celebration
    5. It’ll End in Tears
    6. Express
    7. Brotherhood
    8. Victorialand
    9. Should the World Fail to Fall Apart
    10. True Stories

  66. A lot of unconventional albums for 1986

  67. The The Infected by a f@cking country mile. Honourable mentions : David Sylvian, Smiths, Talk Talk, This Mortal Coil

  68. When Prince’s record wasn’t quite good enough to write in and The Pet Shop Boys’ “Please” got left on the outside looking in, I’d say it was a pretty great year for music.

  69. The Lucy Show, ‘Mania’ is such a great album.

  70. Richard Evans

    Best year in music ever. I think it will be between the Smith and DM, with Smiths winning in the end because it is the beloved Smiths, but Black Cel will always my top DM cd ever, loved it when I first heard it and loved since, to bad DM cannot make a cd like that again. Glad to see support for Book Of Love an band that should have been given more love. Pet Shop Boys also seems to have some good support, Please is not the best CD they would go on to make, but was a great start to one of the best if the best electronic band still around today. Love this voting and the memories it is being back from child and teenage years.

  71. Michael Louie

    Yay, The Housemartins, Erasure and Shonen Knife make their debuts on the list, although SK should have been listed twice before (’83 and ’84) but were overlooked by the moderator. Their 1983 debut album, Burning Farm, is so quirky, catchy and bizarre that it remains in my list of fav albums of all time. Their 3rd album which appears on this list is a strong contender for best Shonen Knife album by their fans. I’m sure many out there don’t know about this album, but should definitely seek it out. With that said, I hope it breaks into the Top 50.

  72. Nate Taylor

    A difficult year for me to come up with 10. Many of my favorite artists released sub-standard albums. And a few that I would consider “college radio” in the early half of the 80’s – weren’t so much by ’86. Can I just vote for This Mortal Coil’s “Filigree & Shadow” 10 times? OK 9 times and a vote for the Art Of Noise?

  73. Rooney Cymru


  74. I’d use all ten votes on The Cramps “A Date With Elvis” if I could.

    Where’s Dr. & The Medics “Laughing At The Pieces?”

  75. Samhain’s album November Coming Fire needs to be added :)

  76. Are the rabid Duranies still around, stuffing the ballot box in favor of “Notorious”? ;)

    Not my *favorite* year thus far, but some really good entries — and quite a few of them career highlights for the bands. And yet: DM for the win!

    Already looking forward to 1987! Gonna be a big one, with watershed albums for DM and the Cure, plus releases from the Smiths, Pet Shop Boys, Bryan Ferry (just me? hope not!), INXS (yeah, yeah) and a little band called U2.

  77. aaaahhhh ’86… how i miss you!!!

  78. I don’t think we’ve had a weak year yet. Oh yeah..it’s because that decade RULED. Well, I put a few industrial votes in this year, and was glad to see Severed Heads and Trisomie 21 listed (hoping to see T21’s “Million Lights” on the ’87 poll).

    Depeche Mode, ‘Black Celebration’
    Peter Gabriel, ‘So’
    Killing Joke, ‘Brighter Than a Thousand Suns’
    Ministry, ‘Twitch’
    New Order, ‘Brotherhood’
    Revolting Cocks, ‘Big Sexy Land’
    Siouxsie and the Banshees, ‘Tinderbox’
    Skinny Puppy, ‘Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse’
    The Smiths, ‘The Queen is Dead’
    The The, ‘Infected’

  79. I expect Black Celebration and The Queen Is Dead will duke it out first place, but for me “Strange Times” from the Chameleons is the album of the year.

  80. Balaam & The Angel, Mission UK, Agent Orange (my first punk rock concert), Ramones-Animal Boy (underrated!), Ministry, PiL, Shonen Knife

  81. The The Infected! Queen is Dead, Black Celebration

  82. Easily the hardest to pick 10 from so far.
    Struggled to narrow it down to just 10…had to include Hipsway….listened to that loads at the time which meant I had to leave out The Go Betweens even though NOW I prefer Liberty Belle.

    My Choices:


    It killed me to leave out those 2 Costello LPs and The Woodentops, I absolutely hammered those at the time.

    BUT WHERE IS : NEITHER WASHINGTON NOR MOSCOW by THE REDSKINS??? I would have added this in but I couldnt leave out any of the others.

    This has to be The Best year for “alternative” music.

  83. A massive shout out for the Red Box album. It’s one the great hidden treasures of the 80’s. Full of diverse world influences and experimental flourishes but all delivered with such insanely catchy tunes. The Hunters album is superb too: ‘If sleeping brings relief…you can all go lie down in slumber!’

  84. Great year:
    Agent Orange
    Dead Kennedys
    General Public
    Love and Rockets
    R.E.M. (their best)
    Volcano Suns

    Left off Feelies and Sonic Youth

  85. Big Country was ferocious that year. Yeow!

  86. Best album has to be Skylarking for me. No question whatsoever.

  87. Two glaring omissions – Beastie Boys’ ‘Licensed to Ill’ and RUN DMC’s ‘Raising Hell’

  88. radioredrafts

    I’ve never even heard of most of these, and I actually grew up in the eighties.

  89. LOS Chunderinos

    Candy Apple Grey is my favourite, but The Smiths will be top

  90. Argh — despite my attempt to draw attention to it in advance in a comment on last month’s list, the self-titled and only album by The Lover Speaks fails to get mentioned on the official list, forcing me to write it in. Why? “No More ‘I Love You’s” was a WDRE “shriek of the week” and was later covered by Annie Lennox, and the alternative club I went to in the Philly suburbs used to play “Every Lover’s Sign” right alongside DM and New Order and Skinny Puppy and Siouxsie, so the album definitely belongs in the new-wave world. So frustrating.

    Anyway, I was dreading 1986 even more so than 1985 cuz I knew it was gonna be tough to pick just 10…you know it’s a good year when “Brotherhood” doesn’t make the cut and I have to force myself to pick only one of the Cocteau Twins albums.

    • Wow I forgot THAT one too…. Good question, how the heck is David Freeman’s The Lover Speaks NOT on this list? That is as glaring a boner as Trio and Error. Seriously…. I want to applaud the efforts made by those who owe nothing to me, but dammit how can these oversights happen? At least Bananarama made THIS year’s list whereas the Deep Sea Skiving did not. SMH and rolling eyes.

      If y’all need help with brainstorming the initial lists ask us, we will happily assist.

  91. R.E.M. – Life’s Rich Pageant
    The Smiths – The Queen is Dead
    Mighty Lemon Drops – Happy Head
    The Fall – Bend Sinister
    The Feelies – The Good Earth
    The Chameleons – Strange Times
    James – Stutter
    Peter Gabriel – So
    Sonic Youth – EVOL
    Spacemen 3 – Sound of Confusion

  92. For my 2 cents: Siouxsie Sioux gave me a very powerful lesson in poetry, poetics, and vocabulary in 1987, when I heard The Banshees’ 1986 classic, TINDERBOX, at the tender age of 13. I love everything about that album: The sequencing/bleeding of some tunes in to the next, the power of the instruments, the overall aura of the piece, the cover and inner art, Siouxsie’s beautiful pink dress and hat, and, of course, THE VOICE.

    • That one made my list as well.Love all the things you’ve mentioned as well…and 92 degress is BRILLIANT!

    • tinderbox was my first alternative purchase, if you don’t count the human league making commercial stardom and a few other new wave acts. until then I didn’t even know you could buy these bands in the suburban mall (though it was slim pickings). the album completely changed my life. Then I noticed the cure for sale and the rest is history. For me it’s all about Land’s End — the best Doors song they never wrote!

  93. Don’t want to mention all the ones I voted for, but No 1 for me is Black Celebration, the 2nd best album of the whole 1980s…


  95. Some great albuns, but although I still listen regularly to some of them (like Queen is Dead), EVOL is the one that still seems fresh after all these years. I guess it will still sound fresh in 2040, it’s atemporal music.

  96. The Sisterhood brought out their only album the same year as New Order’s … Brotherhood! I’m probably the only one to have voted for The Gift. Ah, The Queen is Dead ….

  97. Didn’t The Chills ‘Kaleidoscope World’ make the pre-election Top 218 or is this album not eligible as you might consider it a compilation (which it is not, in my eyes)?

  98. You didn’t include CONFLICT – “The Ungovernable Force”. IMO one of the best punk albums ever released.

    Still love that album today.

  100. Christopher Mathis

    Top 10 Favorites of 1986!

    1. The Chameleons – “Strange Times”
    2. The Smiths – “The Queen is Dead”
    3. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – “Your Funeral…My Trial”
    4. Talk Talk – “The Colour of Spring”
    5. This Mortal Coil – “Filigree & Shadow”
    6. XTC – “Skylarking”
    7. Cocteau Twins – “Victorialand”
    8. They Might Be Giants – “They Might Be Giants”
    9. Ministry – “Twitch”
    10. Felt – “Forever Breathes the Lonely Word”

  101. The Smiths at #1 and REM at #2, but Hipsway and World Party definitely released underappreciated gems.

    Also, the Smithereens have one of the best debut albums of the ’80s.

  102. Top 3 for me:
    The Smiths: The Queen Is Dead
    Siouxsie & The Banshees: Tinderbox
    Depeche Mode: Black Celebration

    All influential milestones and possibly the bands best works too.

  103. Very hard to choose..

    My list:

    The Smiths – The Queen is Dead
    A-ha – Scoundrel Days
    Duran Duran – Notorious
    Depeche Mode – Black Celebration
    Pet Shop Boys – Please
    Spandau Ballet – Through the Barricades
    REM – Life’s Rich Peagent
    Erasure – Wonderland
    Housemartins – London 0 Hull 4
    Talking Heads – True Stories

    Other great albuns: Alphaville, New Order, Elvis Costello, Soul Asylum, OMD, The The, Talk Talk, Ramones, Kraftwerk, Human League, Icehouse, The Church, Communards…

  104. So good to see that Darkwave classic ‘Notorious’ by Duran Duran make the list. J/K Matt. Ha! Hard year to choose. DM & Da Smiths will probably take it. I’ll give some mad props to Puppy’s MTPI since it took them to a new level with Goettel. RevCo as well. Loved their sound then. Nothing on these lists are weak. Just Greatness of artistey and distinct personality that can’t be redone today effectively. Keep up the school of alt 80s Matt. This student is still learning.

  105. Cliff Hendroval

    You left off “Greetings From Timbuk 3” by Timbuk 3, another one of those albums (like “New Clear Days” by The Vapors) where the fluke hit single is actually one of the weakest songs on the album.

    I’d also throw in Tommy Keene’s “Songs From The Film”, The Swimming Pool Q’s “Blue Tomorrow”, and Marti Jones’ “Match Game”, but that’s just me.

  106. There were certainly other strong releases this year, but my personal top 10 revealed itself with one pass through the ballot:

    Budd/Fraser/Guthrie/Raymonde – The Moon and the Melodies
    The Church – Heyday
    The Fall – Bend Sinister
    Game Theory – Big Shot Chronicles
    Let’s Active – Big Plans for Everybody
    Love and Rockets – Express
    Peter Murphy – Should the World Fail to Fall Apart
    New Order – Brotherhood
    REM – Lifes Rich Pageant
    This Mortal Coil – Filigree and Shadow

    Three of these (Heyday, Big Plans for Everybody, Filigree and Shadow) would probably make my all-time top 10….

    • Yes, “Big Plans for Everybody” might be in my all-time top 10 as well.

    • NICE, lotus. Still remember a review of “Pageant” saying that the only thing missing was the apostrophe. One of the many consistently great things about R.E.M. was killer album openers, and following “Begin the Begin” with “These Days” has to be one of the most kick-ass opening one-two punches ever…by anyone (though “Aura” and “Ripple” ranks way up there, too)! And nearly half of the album’s songs remained concert highlights over the years. “Pageant” is a lean and mean beast compared to its moody older brother, “Fables,” but love ’em both dearly, as I suspect you and so many others do.

      And the Church and Game Theory together?! Kind of deja vu, backwards foreshadowing, or something like that when you think of Steve and Donnette a few years later. “Heyday” is such a fantastic album, with a cool jacket and memorable B-sides to boot. As I teen, I sometimes thought, “Let’s lose the horns and strings,” but now I appreciate them a lot more and what they bring to one of the most rewarding–and unique–listens in the Church canon. “Starfish” will/should end up in the Top 10 when we get to the ’88 voting/results, and “Heyday” certainly deserves a similar finish in this poll. And if the Church ever decide to do another Future Past Perfect Tour, you’d definitely think that they’d perform this album.

      Bust out the paisley, friends!

      • BOTH Steve Kilbey’s solo album(Unearthed),AND The Church’s ‘Hetday’ made my list! I couldn’t leave either off. I hate I had to leave Game Theory’s ‘The Big Shot Chronicles’off…I had to really struggle with that.

        • Kilbey AND the Church–amen, fellow worshipper!
          And 3,500 CDs and 3,000 albums (and counting), and not one of them named “Cut the Crap”?! Love the comments, Toro. Keep rockin’, bro!

          • Count me in to the Kilbey+The Church love-fest. They are my #1 favorite band and “Heyday” may very well be my favorite in their canon.

      • Thanks! I felt kind of self-conscious filling out that list, like it was more ‘120 Minutes veejay’ than college DJ. But I own or have owned about 35 records on this year’s list, and these are 10 that I still listen to often to this day. And I didn’t vote for the Smiths!

        Your comments on the Church are excellent, of course. The apparent fact that they can’t get their act together and do another album tour, with the brilliant ‘Heyday’ as its centerpiece, is a real shame. It would be terrific to hear it all live with more stripped-down arrangements (maybe just a few synth pads for the strings), even though I love the album as it is.

        As to the Game Theory/Church nexus: yes. Donnette didn’t play on ‘Big Shot’ but joined the band in time for that tour, so the weird wheels of fate were definitely in motion.

        • As in Lewis “lotus” Largent?! No, I don’t think so. Great seeing your finalists and will do some investigating/shopping from here, starting with “The Moon and the Melodies.” Sounds like a perfect four-way marriage. (Listened to “The Plateaux of Mirror” not too long ago…sounded great.)

          • That was a really fertile period for Cocteaus, but I’ve always feared this one slipped through the cracks because they released it under their individual names rather than “Cocteau Twins & Harold Budd” or whatever. It was definitely a good pairing; Robin Guthrie has done five more albums with Mr. Budd in recent years, and is said to be working on another currently. Peas, meet Pod!

            Useless trivia: Richard Thomas of 4AD band Dif Juz also appears on this record.

            Useless trivia 2: A version of the song “Memory Gongs” also appears as “Flowered Knife Shadows” on Budd’s album “Lovely Thunder.”

    • ‘Big Plans’ was one of the best by far. Watched Let’s Active open for Echo a few years earlier, they were great even then. Sad news about Faye Hunter.

      • You are fortunate, Sourdust! I never had occasion to see Let’s Active live in any incarnation.

        Big Plans is a good headphone record, the arrangements and mix have a lot of depth. Just what you’d expect from Mitch, I guess! And of course amazing songs too. I still bang out ‘Badger’ on guitar sometimes, and the song never gets old.

  107. I can’t choose just 10, there were just so many great albums in 1986. But my best album though is Heyday by The Church.

  108. Amazing how much impact The Housemartins had considering how short a time they were a band. Some of the artists were on their way down, others on their way up.

  109. Alien Sex Fiend – It
    And Also the Trees – Virus Meadow
    The Jazz Butcher – Distressed Gentlefolk
    Killing Joke – Brighter Than a Thousand Suns
    Kraftwerk – Electric Cafe
    Love & Rockets – Express
    Peter Murphy – Should the World Fail to Fall Apart
    New Order – Brotherhood
    Red Lorry Yellow Lorry – Paint Your Wagon
    Revolting Cocks – Big Sexy Land

    Bad year. I struggled to find 10 to put on my list. Music has gone downhill ever since. My God, I’m getting old … Anyway, Love and Rockets nudges out And Also the Trees for me for top album of 86.

  110. All I really see are a bunch of bands who put out much better records two or three years earlier. Seems like ’84 was the last gasp for smart, sparse pop records. Everything got too bloated and over polished by the middle of the decade, with a few exceptions of course.

  111. So hard to choose 10 this time, here they are:
    1. Balaam And The Angel, ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’
    2. Cactus World News, ‘Urban Beaches’
    3. A Certain Ratio, ‘Force’
    4. Easterhouse, ‘Contenders’
    5. Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians, ‘Element of Light’
    6. The Jazz Butcher, ‘Distressed Gentlefolk
    7. Killing Joke, ‘Brighter Than a Thousand Suns’
    8. Love and Rockets, ‘Express’
    9. Screaming Blue Messiahs, ‘Gun-Shy’
    10. The Three Johns, ‘The World By Storm’
    In my playlist almost everyday. Great year for me.

  112. Whoah. I had no idea Chumbawamba existed before “Tubthumping”. lol

  113. Although it will unlikely rank at all in the top 100, I must highlight that Severed Heads’ “Come Visit the Big Bigot” is the best “industrial” album of the 80’s.

  114. With each year the choices have gotten increasingly harder but surprisingly for me 1986 was easier!

  115. The B52s’ BOUNCING OFF THE SATELLITES was a criminally overlooked album of 1986: “Summer of Love” (esp. the original July 1985 version!) enchantingly-sung by those two great sirens of Pop/Rock/Alternative, Cindy and Kate; “Nude Beach” w/ all 5 members (Ricky RIP); the very soothing, Kate-performed, “She Brakes For Rainbows”; and, it simply cannot NOT be mentioned, two of Cindy Wilson’s best contributions, “Ain’t It A Shame” and “Girl From Ipamena Goes To Greenland” (what a Hell of a vocal she does on that one!). I’m hoping that this entire LP is remastered for all its beauty to be heard in the 21st Century.

    • Oh man, “Girl from Ipanema Goes to Greenland” was one of the first songs I’d heard by the B-52’s, right around the time I became an avid listener of alternative music. LOVED it. Thanks for the reminder!

      • I FINALLY saw them play Ipanema live a month ago and it was as amazing as I could ever wish it would be. Long live Cindy Wilson!!!!!!! Wish they would play Housework live, though a year or so ago I finally saw them play Wig live! RIP Ricky XO

  116. Another great year for music.

  117. No Tommy Keene, SONGS FROM THE FILM?

  118. Wow, I didn’t realize till I saw this list that this was the year I was introduced to two of my enduring favorites: REM and Crowded House. “Life’s Rich Pageant” (and the earlier REM I discovered afterward) and “Crowded House” remain among my favorite albums ever.

  119. WOW!That was really tough! I didn’t realize that ’86 was such a tough year to choose within,but when I saw the titles! I knew ’83-’85 would be tough,but there were seveveral I was forced to leave off,here! Elvis Costello’s releases were BOTH worthy,but I was forced to pick only one(had to leave room) -‘Blood and Chocolate’.As well as Elvis Costello’s’King of America’,I had to leave off World Party’s’Private Revolution,PiL’S ‘Album’,Peter Gabriel’s ‘So’,R.E.M.’s ‘Life’s Rich Pageant'(though I probably should have chosen this one).Everything But The Girl’s ‘Baby The Stars Shine’,Billy Bragg’s ‘Talking To The Taxman About Poetry’and This Mortal Coil’s ‘Filligree & Shaadows were all worthy too. Anyhow,here’s what I chose:(In no particular order)The Smiths ‘The Queen Is Dead(2)Love And Rockets ‘Express'(3)XTC ‘Skylarking'(4)Siouxsie And The Banshees ‘Tinderbox'(5)The Church ‘Heyday'(6)Elvis Costello ‘Blood And Chocolate'(7)B.A.D. ‘No.10 Upping St.'(8)Steve Kilbey ‘Unearthed’- I know,you’ve never heard it…but it is BRILLIANT!(9)Let’s Active ‘Big Plans For Everybody'(10)Shriekback ‘Big Night Music’. By the way,I can understand if anyone can’t get my last three picks. Again,it was really tough.

    • hey Toro — No apologies necessary for including ‘Big Night Music’ amongst your favorites! True it represents a ‘kinder, gentler’ Shriekback than heard on previous albums, but it’s chock full of good songs and a fine recording overall. There was also a cool B-side from this period (“Bludgeoned [by the Chair Leg of the Truth],” one of the great song titles ever) that unfortunately I’ve never seen in digital format.

  120. “Concrete Blonde.” What a debut. And a special shout-out to His Royal Stipeness for the killer name. “Cold Part of Town” has always been an absolute fave of mine. And Johnette, such an amazing voice.

    And am wondering if David+David’s “Boomtown” will get lots of write-in love from voters. Tons of 5-star reviews at Amazon from people recalling the first time they heard it on college radio in ’86, including at my alma mater, Humboldt State! (A small world, indeed!) Don’t own the album myself (have been waiting the the reissue/remaster treatment!), but have always loved “Welcome to the Boomtown,” which you can find on they very good (but with very familiar songs) “Before X” compilation. http://www.amazon.com/Before-X-Various-Artists/dp/B000000BYF/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1375774912&sr=1-1&keywords=before+x

  121. As we approach to the end of the decade, choice is becoming easier. A lot of good albums, but not many crucial ones. Sonic Youth, Smiths, REM, Husker Du, This Mortal Coil, DK’s…and Talk Talk, often underrated, but from today’s perspective, very influential album.

  122. I was 13 in 1986, and it was the first year of what would become a lifelong addiction to music. Lifes Rich Pageant and Heyday remain tied for #1 on my all time favorites list.

  123. My write-in for 1986 = Dreams So Real’s “Father’s House”…brilliant if obscure record. And to the Posters who mentioned Tommy Keene’s “Songs from the Film” – crime that it was left off the list. But thankfully, TK has tons of other great records that should make later polls.
    Finally, I have to disagree that 86 was last great year … I already have my list ready for next month… The Connells “Boylan Heights”, Miracle Legion “Surprise Surprise Surprise”, The Reivers “Saturday”, Mighty Lemon Drops “Out of Hand”, the Wild Flowers “Dust”, and the Close Lobsters “Foxheads Stalk this Land”. WOW. And that doesn’t even include giants like U2’s Joshua Tree.

  124. – Clan of Xymox, ‘Medusa’
    – Coil, ‘Horse Rotorvator’
    – Diamanda Galas, ‘The Divine Punishment’
    – KMFDM, ‘What Do You Know, Deutschland?’
    – Ministry, ‘Twitch’
    – Revolting Cocks, ‘Big Sexy Land’
    – Severed Heads, ‘Come Visit the Big Bigot’
    – Skinny Puppy, ‘Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse’
    – Test Dept, ‘The Unacceptable Face Of Freedom’
    – The The, ‘Infected’

    I rarely vote for the albums that are likely to be in the top 10, even if I listened to them at the time. In 1986, for example, there was the Pet Shop Boys’ Please. I did listen to a few of those, even though I was rapidly moving towards much fussier, harder-edge underground music like industrial.

    I’d rather give love, in my voting, to that music. I mostly heard it in the clubs (Clan of Xymox, Revco, Severed Heads, Ministry, Skinny Puppy, etc.) and less occasionally on advanced radio stations’ simulcasts in my city. Many on Eyeballs are likely to know this stuff well. Gotta make sure it gets on the final results.

    Test Dept. gets on my 10, because The Unacceptable Face of Freedom is one of the great politicized pieces of music and is almost totally unknown today (its hard to even find it for download). Galas’ Divine Punishment gets on the list for similar reasons. It is almost art music, although her release You Must Be Certain of the Devil got club play a few years later.

  125. Looking at the list I can see what an odd year it was – more so than others at least to me.

    Bands just starting their ascendancy into the 90’s: Throwing Muses, Flaming Lips, Spacemen 3, Pet Shop Boys; Bands at their absolute cusp and riding the wave: REM, XTC, Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians; and bands at the end of the road, Kraftwerk, OMD, B-52’s. Also signs of life-support and no sign of a complete recovery: The Human League, Gary Numan, Howard Jones – to name only a few examples.

    Still, this is a tough one to make picks as there’s a lot of emotion tied up for various reasons.

  126. That was a damn good year!

    …well, for great albums anyway :)

  127. My sophomore year in high school… great memories! I owned
    most of the albums on this list, and thinking about them again,
    there is only one record here that’s truly timeless:

  128. A lot of great music……..The Smiths, TheThe, Depeche
    Mode, Ministry just to name a few.

  129. Fomer 80s DJ KCPR

    picking 10 was challenging, yes. but making me rank those 10 from 1 to 10 would be gut wrenching.

  130. Masterracer

    Such an amazing year, I could definitely pick twenty or so instead of ten. Imho 1986 was in many ways the end of that what we generally call ‘the eighties’ – cause it closed a chapter and prepared the ground for so many great artists and sounds of the next decade.

    • I’m tempted to agree, and I even thought that about 1985 at first, but I think 1987 was really the last year of the 80s…that’s when “Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me”, “Music For the Masses”, and “Substance” all came out, which are all definitive 80s albums, whereas “Disintegration”, “Violator”, and “Technique” ushered in the 90s. Then again, a lot of classic 80s bands made their last real 80s records in 1986…after ’86, Siouxsie went and did a covers album and the Sisters degenerated into a synth-pop band (true, “Gift” is synth-based but at least it’s still edgy) and the Church exploded onto MTV with “Under the Milky Way”. So maybe you’re right after all!

      I think we can definitely agree that the 80s were over by 1988, though. I always think of When In Rome’s “The Promise” as the song that finally killed New Wave.

  131. “The Queen is dead” by the Smiths and “Tinderbox” by Siouxsie And The Banshees remain as my favourites of 1986

  132. Parade!

    • It being my favorite Prince album, Christopher Tracy, but I don’t consider him alternative so I’m not casting any votes for him

  133. Adding another vote for Book of Love and hopefully getting them onto the list. Criminally underrated.

  134. Wow, what a spectacular year for music. Such a tough choice. I had at least 25 classics to whittle down and after much deliberation, left out The Smiths. People have been arrested for less! Funny to think that mid 80s are often seen as the nadir of music. All those washed up rock stars at Live Aid, Linn Drums and poodle rock bands clogging up the airwaves. A telling illustration that the best stuff always lurks in the margins. Bring on ’87 and the best album of all time…..Kiss me Kiss me Kiss me of course!!

  135. William nothing

    This was the end of the 80’s!
    I’m having a hard time finding 10. It’s all down hill fast from this year tho. It was certainly no 1982.

  136. I’m not sure how the makers of this list left out Prince’s 1986 album: “Parade”. It’s a really gorgeous album… one hell of a listen.

  137. Added Anthrax “Among the Living”, because the Big Four happened in the ’80s (and I don’t discriminate against metal).

  138. #1 R.E.M. Life’s Rich Pageant
    #1 XTC Skylarking
    #1 Smiths Queen is Dead

    I can’t decide, but of all those on the list these are the three I still listen to today. LRP and Skylarking are desert island albums for me.

  139. Let’s hope ‘Black Celebration’ wins this time.

    Very surprised not to see Gary Numan’s 1986 album ‘Strange Charm’ not on the shortlist, as it is his best. A must listen if you’ve got a spare Saturday night to hear it in peace and quiet!

  140. You forgot We’ve Got a Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use It’s “Bostin Steve Austin” (aka “We’ve got a Fuzzbox…” in the US). One of my top favorites of the year! :)

  141. Stephen Hanula

    RATS! I’m out of votes and I just got to the “T”s. This is a tough one. Gotta have Skinny Puppy and Ministry but I am out of votes for Front Line Assembly and Throbbing Gristle. Looks like 1986 was a very good year for music.

  142. Wow most of my collection is from this year. Oh wait I think I said that last time. 10 is tough.

  143. Jose Luis Jasso

    The Smiths than nd everyone else

  144. Jose Luis Jasso

    The Smiths than everyone else

  145. Missing from the great list: The Silos – Cuba, Flight of Mavis, Flying Color and Miracle Legion – Backyard EP

  146. EVOL!!

  147. The Church, ‘Heyday’
    Clan of Xymox, ‘Medusa’
    Love and Rockets, ‘Express’
    The Lucy Show, ‘Mania’

  148. that somehow cut off:

    Gene Loves Jezebel, ‘Discover’
    The Mighty Lemon Drops, ‘Happy Head’
    New Model Army, ‘The Ghost of Cain’
    New Order, ‘Brotherhood’
    The Smiths, ‘The Queen is Dead’
    Spacemen 3, ‘Sound of Confusion’
    This Mortal Coil, ‘Filigree & Shadow’

  149. I hadn’t realized this was such an influential year! So many great slabs o’ wax released.

  150. I would have voted for Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s “Flaunt It” 4 times if I were allowed to.

    • Agreed. Not cuz it was a great album, but because it WAS one of the ‘top 10’ albums of the time. It was omnipresent and omnipotent. It was the amalgamation of ubiquity. It was a marketing dream and nightmare.
      Similar to Twitch, a ballot without SSS is not to be taken seriously.

  151. ’87 is going to be brutal.

  152. What an amazing year! Love and Rockets, Peter Murphy, Siouxsie, Depeche Mode, and so many more! Why can’t it be like this anymore? Why is every “alternative” band a nondescript, bland paste of flannel, hipster glasses, and dullness?

  153. Went with
    Big Black – Atomizer
    Nick Cave – Pricks
    Chameleons – Strange Times
    The Fall – Bend Sinister
    Felt – Let the snakes…

  154. Charlie Conner

    I’m a bit embarrassed for not noticing the absence of Joe Jackson’s “Big World” album…the first album mixed BEFORE it was recorded…what a fascinating album, and I wish it were included…

    • I didn’t include it because it’s a live album, but in retrospect, it probably should have made the cut since it’s a different beast altogether…

      • Charlie Conner

        I can see your point, but…you’re right. It IS a different beast. For Those not in the know, the album was recorded in front of a live audience…instructed to maintain COMPLETE silence as the original songs were performed. Joe wanted the band to channel the energy of playing live into the songs. Only after the songs were over did the audience applaud.

        It is a “live” album, but it’s not. Please write in this deserving, awesome album!

        • Charlie and SUE- ‘Big World’should be on this list!- Thanks,I can’t believe I forgot about that one!! “It is a live album,but it is not”RIGHT,Charlie! It’s a studio album that was recorded live…or however to look at it.lol. This BRILLIANT album may have to be included into my top 10…if only I hadn’t already voted. Anyhow,I’m with Charlie.”Please write in this deserving,awesome album.

  155. I had to leave out the B-52s, Erasure, World Party, Eurythmics (great songs but not their best album), Pretenders, and a bunch of others where one or two songs were anthems, but the whole album wasn’t a keeper. Mychoices alphabetically:
    The Bangles, ‘Different Light’
    Elvis Costello, ‘King of America’
    Elvis Costello & The Attracations, ‘Blood & Chocolate’
    Crowded House, ‘Crowded House’
    Peter Gabriel, ‘So’
    Pet Shop Boys, ‘Please’
    R.E.M., ‘Lifes Rich Pageant’
    The Smiths, ‘The Queen is Dead’
    Taking Heads, ‘True Stories’
    XTC, ‘Skylarking’

    Elvis had one of the strongest years of his career after the malaise of “Goodbye Cruel World’ in ’84. He made two raw, blistering albums as a Dear John letter to Columbia. They are two of the best he’s ever put out. But among these choices, I have to single out 2 albums I consider to be absolutely perfect: The Queen Is Dead, and So.

    I wish Joe Jackson’s Big World had been included as a choice, since it’s probably the final album in his catalog that could have been considered part of this genre.

    p.s., Til Tuesday’s album is called Welcome Home, not Welcome Come. Also a good album! ;)

  156. The good: so many great LPs in ’86, including my all-time fave (The Chameleons’ ‘Strange Times’)
    The bad: I didn’t notice The Church’s ‘Heyday’ on the list (a top 5 all-time LP in my book) until after I voted. D’oh!
    The unimaginably excluded from the list: Abecedarians’ ‘Eureka’ and For Against’s ‘Echelons’

  157. Can’t vote for it here, being a compilation, but the “Dogs in Space” soundtrack was a great ’86 release. Think I actually got it in ’87, when I believe it was released here, but sure played that one to death. Will there EVER be a reissue?! Thought we were close when the 20th Anniversary DVD came out. Fingers still crossed here.

  158. What about the “NME C-86”-Compilation?

  159. Wow…1986 was an excellent year for music. Like many, I had to narrow about 25 favorites down to my final 10.

    These polls also make me realize how much I really loved the full album experience back in the 80s and early 90s, as opposed to today’s music that focuses more on singles and filler album tracks.

  160. Things really started to change about this time. this was a year of division in the 80s world. my favs are Chameleons, clan of xymox, depeche mode, firehose, gene loves jezebel, love and rockets, ministry, new order, siouxsie and the banshees and skinny puppy. what a year. M

  161. Throwing Muses was far and away the most remarkable record from this year, and still their best. Truly extraordinary. It’s power to set the nerves on edge hasn’t diluted one iota over time.

    Spacemen 3’s Sound of Confusion is another cracker. The Blue Aeroplane’s Tolerance and the Youth’s EVOL were also easy picks.

    Things like Bend Sinister and The Queen is Dead aren’t my favourites from those bands, but still managed to make the list.

  162. XTC’s Skylarking might very well be the greatest album of all-time, let alone 1986.

  163. i would like vote to The Cure “kiss me, kiss me, kiss me

  164. How is it that Duran Duran, Rio is not on this list and Notorious is? Needless to say, I had to vote for “Other” and type in, “Rio”.

  165. Well I’m still trying to pick 10. I got almost through the letter K without selecting but 2, all the sudden BAM — Ministry, Kraftwerk, Mighty Lemon Drops, PIL, Pet Shop Boys… all mine are used up haven’t gotten to ‘S’ lol. UGH.

    Let’s get this out of the way though. Anyone not selecting TWITCH (Ministry) isn’t taking the poll seriously, as it was THEE seminal album for the industrial wave in the USA, period. If it wasn’t in your wheelhouse I can’t imagine what the HELL you were listening to in the name of being ‘alternative’. Alternative to WHAT? Likewise ‘So’ by Gabriel has no business being in this list for the reason it was 100% mainstream — and I loved it but wont vote for it. It’s a fraud entry.

  166. I know it won’t get much love, and may not make top 100, but I’m here to tell you if you didn’t listen to JAMBOREE by Guadalcanal Diary, you really missed out. They’re the poor man’s REM and quite frankly the tolerable version :-)

  167. Where is TRIO AND ERROR by TRIO ???????????????????????????????????????

    I sent an email.

  168. Has any ‘write in’ album ever made the top 100? That’s SO unfair to the forgotten ones. Many people have already voted.

    How the hell did TRIO not get on this list? That’s a lowdown dirty shame.

    Anna (LetMeInLetMeOut)…..
    Da da da (IDontLoveYouYouDontLoveMe).

    These are underground mainstays. Hearts Are Trump is a great ditty too as well as a few other tracks. Such a shame. I can’t even name a song on at least 30 of the albums you posted. SMFH.

  169. Not that anyone cares, but:
    1a Twitch
    1b. Big Sexy Land
    3. Electric Cafe
    4. Black Celebration
    5. Please
    6. Jamboree
    7. Happy Head
    8. Moon & The Melodies
    9. Album
    10. Should the World Fail to Fall Apart

    • Annh no, I’m moving Filigree & Shadow into that #4/5 slot area and dropping Moon & Melodies out altogether to #11, meaning no vote.

  170. Love and Rockets Express #1

  171. OK, I’m going to try something new for the ’87 poll.

    When I make these ballots, I consult 4-5 different lists online of albums released in the given year, and I find, each time, that even doing that, there are some that slip through the cracks.

    To help be more thorough, I will encourage anybody interested to e-mail me lists of records they think should be considered on the 1987 ballot. I’d like this done via e-mail rather than posted here, because then it’ll just become a full-blown discussion on the ’87 albums… and we’ll be doing that soon enough when that poll launches in September.

    So, if you like to submit albums to be considered for the ’87 list, e-mail them to info@slicingupeyeballs.com with the subject line “1987 ballot.”


  172. Brotherhood #1
    Rembrandt Pussyhorse #2
    Express #3
    Big Sexyland #4
    Filigree & Shadow #5
    Twitch #6
    Skylarking #7
    No. 10, Upping St #8
    Moon and the Melodies #9
    Reconciled #10

  173. This one was really hard!! So many great albums!!

  174. THE THE Infected, hands down #1

  175. The list needs Boomtown by David & David, plus November Coming Fire by Samhain.

  176. Kim Wilde but no Arthur Russell – World of Echo???

  177. Michael Lane

    The Woodentops. OMG Giant was such a good album and so under appreciated.

  178. Well really the best Two personally, but of course these things are personal.. down to the individual THE THE- infected and The Mission – Gods Own Medicine.

  179. Gods own Medicine!!

  180. hardest one yet. 1987 is going to be brutal.

  181. Gods own Medicine

  182. DK and Also The Trees
    missed flash and the pan though

  183. THE MISSION – Gods Own Medicine

  184. I can’t find the original comment now, but bravo to the person who mentioned Dwight Yoakam–his debut album was in 1986 and I’ve followed his career ever since. He came to my attention as an “alternative” artist. Here’s my picks for 1986:
    1) REM (second best of their career–I like “Fabels of the Reconstruction” best)
    2) The Mission
    3) Smithereens
    4) Peter Murphy
    5) The Bolshoi
    6) The Church
    7) Gene Loves Jezebel
    8) Pet Shop Boys
    9) Red Lorry Yellow Lorry
    10) Crowded House
    “So” was awesome, but it will get plenty of votes. Steve Kilbey’s album was very good.

  185. Missing: Stephen Duffy, “Because We Love You” and his alias, Dr. Calculus, “Designer Beatnik.

  186. Pedro Barradas

    The Mission- Gods Own Medicine. Keepin´ the Faith.

  187. Mmmmmmm…. and… where can i find the Prince’s Parade?!

    The best of 1986 is between “Gone To Earth” (a double trip from David Sylvian and his friend Bobby Fripp) and “Victorialand”.

    Just there you can find “Parade”, flesh, soul and mind, perfect chemistry.

  188. Steven Commander

    Wow, I think I’m the only a-ha fan here! “I’ve Been Losing You” received some airplay in ’86 in America – which goes to show you that a-ha is not really a “one-hit wonder”. Scoundrel Days is a GREAT album!

  189. I have to admit, the 1986 list was a bit underwhelming to me. With a few exceptions, primarily The Queen is Dead and Skylarking, the top bands that have dominated the rankings either didn’t release an album or released a solid and necessary album that nonetheless wasn’t quite at the level of their best work, e.g. Brotherhood, Black Celebration. And this is the first year that I’m familiar with very few of the lesser known albums on the list. Most of my more obscure personal favorites didn’t release albums. But overall 1986 is one of the top years for music because there were also some amazing singles, and some of my all-time favorite non-alternative albums came out.

  190. ’86 for me was the year between the last year of junior high school and the first year of high school, and music was _everything_ to me. I was already into more “alternative” stuff like The Cure, R.E.M., etc, and was just starting to get exposed to real punk. This was a hard list to pare down, but here it is:

    Butthole Surfers – Rembrandt Pussyhorse
    Dead Kennedys – Bedtime For Democracy
    Peter Gabriel – So
    Love And Rockets – Express (This album includes “Kundalini Express”, the song that made me say, “Holy fucking shit, I want to do that!” and pick up a guitar.)
    Nurse With Wound – Spiral Insana
    Public image Ltd – album
    R.E.M. – Life’s Rich Pageant
    Siouxsie and the Banshees – Tinderbox
    The Smiths – The Queen is Dead
    XTC – Skylarking

  191. well well after reading some of the comments, YES IT IS VERY HARD TO CHOOSE 10 CAUSE I COULD CHOOSE A LOT MORE,perhaps some of you are right,lats year of great music,kissing the pink, and also the trees,comunards,duran duran,the go betweens,the smiths the the and and and and ……..

  192. This was the year everything went to hell for music to me. Almost all of the bands I like on this list just did not make their best music. One album that stood out was Duran Duran. I loved them working with Nile and getting funkier. That was part of what John wanted from the beginning. I had to look up most of these albums just to see what tracks were on them and a couple on my list were picked just for a track or two. Only about half of the albums on the list I really loved. The rest I just kinda liked. In past years I had to fight to narrow my choices down to just 10. This year, I barely made 10.

    I went with:
    Crowded House – Crowded House
    Black Celebration – Depeche Mode (good, but not their best)
    Notorious – Duran Duran (Some great stuff with Warren Cuccurullo joining them for the first time)
    Wonderland – Erasure (This one had a number of songs I liked a lot.)
    So – Peter Gabriel (for In Your Eyes, moreso than Sledgehammer)
    Discover – Gene Loves Jezebel (The album BEFORE this was the first I ever had signed by a band.)
    Express – Love and Rockets (loved this album, but still, not as much as the one before this)
    Flaunt It – Sigue Sigue Sputnik (Now this album rocked!)
    Tinderbox – Siouxsie and the Banshees (Cities in Dust the one main reason)
    U-Vox – Ultravox (a few great tracks, but still not their best)

  193. Another great year in alt rock. Another great list of albums. Too many to choose from as it was another year of terrific music. Atwood looks forward to seeing the final tally.

  194. NOTORIOUS – Duran Duran, the most important album in my life!!!!

  195. how many times am i allowed to vote for Sigue Sigue Sputnik?

  196. I agree with others that have said the best years for Indie/Alternative music was 1977-1987. Honestly, the last great year was 1986, but there were a few gems released in ’87. For anyone old enough to have been around during those post-punk years… ’87-’89 was a bit hit or miss. The culture was changing… a lot of bands were breaking up or releasing diluted or more commercial music. The bands images were even becoming more conventional or dressed down… perhaps a precursor to Grunge, or some went the other direction and embraced Dance music, like the burgeoning Acid House/Rave scene. Anyway, 1986 will be the last poll that will be difficult for me to choose just 10 albums. My favourite years on here have been ’82, ’84, ’85, ’86.

  197. The Mighty Lemon Drops and the Screaming Blue Messiahs put out two fantastic albums that year. If you’re a Smiths fan (and a few of you are), do yourself a favor and search out Gun Shy and Happy Head. Great stuff!

  198. Morten Foldager

    The Best of 1986

  199. This was a tough one. I could have voted for a top 20, easily.

  200. Corey Sioux Miller

    Cities in Dust = my teen anthem!

  201. 1. Brotherhood (Low-Life from previous year being New Order’s best album.)
    2. Black Celebration
    3. Life’s Rich Pageant (R.E.M’s finest work)
    4. They Might be Giants
    5. The Queen is Dead
    6. Bouncing off the Satellites (Am I the only B-52’s fan on here.)
    7. Scoundrel Days- A-ha
    8. Please- Pet Shop Boys
    9. Wonderland- Erasue
    10. The Colour of Spring, Talk Talk

  202. The Queen Is Dead.
    Violent Femmes? Did I not see them on the list?
    “Blind leading the naked.”
    Thompson Twins are so forgotten its criminal.
    David Bowie “Absolute Beginners’
    Most definitely The Cramps. Lex RIP.
    Erasure ‘Wonderland’ was my first CD. Magical and wonderfully gay.
    (Not in a Coldplay way.)

  203. The Leaving Trains “Kill Tunes” – some how was left off the list. WRITE IN A FEW VOTES!
    – too bad “Kaleidoscope World” by The Chills is a comp.. Ready to vote for “Brave Words” in 1987!

  204. morrissey and the Smiths are the best band!long live queen is dead!

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