Best of the '80s, Poll — October 28, 2013 at 8:13 am

Top 100 Albums of 1988: Slicing Up Eyeballs’ Best of the ’80s — Part 9

Best of 1988

With the end of October in sight, we present the results of Part 9 of our year-long Best of the ’80s feature, a year-by-year poll of Slicing Up Eyeballs’ readers to determine the best albums of each year of the 1980s — and then, at the end of 2013, we’ll run a huge best-of-the-decade poll to crown the overall rulers of the ’80s.

After two straight polls that exceeded 50,000 votes apiece, we saw a drop in the 1988 survey, with about 48,000 total votes, a drop possibly due to a couple major website outages during the voting period — or people are just less interested as we approach the end of the ’80s. More than 300 different albums earned votes via both the pre-selected ballot and write-ins.

So thank you all for voting and sharing your thoughts. Take a look at the Top 100 list below — and feel free to offer your own take on the results, good or bad, in the comments below.

And stay tuned for the Best of 1989 poll, which will launch next week.

PAST RESULTS: 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987




Pixies, 'Surfer Rosa'

1. Pixies, Surfer Rosa

BACKSTORY: With their their first full-length, the Pixies perfected their trademark loud-quiet-loud sound, delivering an instant classic filled with unforgettable songs (“Where Is My Mind?,” “Bone Machine”).
SINGLES: “Gigantic”
BAND: Black Francis, Kim Deal, Joey Santiago, David Lovering
PRODUCER: Steve Albini
BUY IT: (CD, digital, vinyl), iTunes (Digital)



R.E.M., 'Green'

2. R.E.M., Green

BACKSTORY: Released on Election Day, R.E.M.’s major-label debut addressed themes both political and personal, further rocketing the band into the mainstream with a string of hit singles.
SINGLES: “Orange Crush,” “Stand,” “Pop Song 89,” “Get Up”
BAND: Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe
PRODUCER: Scott Litt and R.E.M.
BUY IT: (CD, digital, vinyl), iTunes (Digital)



Morrissey Viva Hate

3. Morrissey, Viva Hate

BACKSTORY: Released less than a year after Johnny Marr’s departure killed The Smiths, Morrissey’s very successful solo debut found the singer collaborating with The Durutti Column’s Vini Reilly.
SINGLES: “Suedehead,” “Everyday is Like Sunday”
BAND: Morrissey, Stephen Street, Vini Reilly, Andrew Paresi
PRODUCER: Stephen Street
BUY IT: (CD, digital, vinyl), iTunes (Digital)



The Church Starfish

4. The Church, Starfish

BACKSTORY: The veteran Australian rockers finally broke through in the U.S. with their fifth album and, specifically, the crossover modern-rock singles “Under the Milky Way” and “Reptile.”
SINGLES: “Under the Milky Way,” “Reptile,” “Destination”
BAND: Steve Kilbey, Peter Koppes, Marty Willson-Piper, Richard Ploog
PRODUCER: Greg Ladanyi, Waddy Wachtel and The Church
BUY IT: (CD, digital, vinyl), iTunes (Digital)



Jane's Addiction Nothing's Shocking

5. Jane’s Addiction, Nothing’s Shocking

BACKSTORY: With their first studio album and major-label debut, following the self-titled live album, Jane’s established themselves as leaders of the growing alt-rock scene that would break wide in the early ’90s.
SINGLES: “Jane Says,” “Mountain Song,” “Ocean Size”
BAND: Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro, Eric Avery, Stephen Perkins
PRODUCER: Dave Jerden and Perry Farrell
BUY IT: (CD, digital, vinyl), iTunes (Digital)



Siouxsie and the Banshees Peepshow

6. Siouxsie and the Banshees, Peepshow

BACKSTORY: Siouxsie and the Banshees expanded to a five-piece for the first time with this, their successful ninth album, bolstered by a huge modern-rock hit in single “Peek-a-Boo.”
SINGLES: “Peek-a-Boo,” “The Killing Jar,” “The Last Beat of My Heart”
BAND: Siouxsie Sioux, Steven Severin, Budgie, Martin McCarrick, Jon Klein
PRODUCER: Siouxsie and the Banshees and Mike Hedges
BUY IT: (CD, digital, vinyl), iTunes (Digital)



Sonic Youth Daydream Nation

7. Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation

BACKSTORY: Considered by many to be Sonic Youth’s masterwork, the band’s sprawling fifth album — a double record — helped land the group a major-label deal and spawned a classic single.
SINGLES: “Teen Age Riot”
BAND: Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley
PRODUCER: Nick Sanaso and Sonic Youth
BUY IT: (CD, digital, vinyl), iTunes (Digital)



Cocteau Twins Bluebell Knoll

8. Cocteau Twins, Blue Bell Knoll

BACKSTORY: The Cocteaus finally got U.S. distribution with their fifth album, a record stacked with the band’s trademark elements: shimmering guitars and the ethereal wailing of Elizabeth Fraser.
SINGLES: “Carolyn’s Fingers”
BAND: Elizabeth Fraser, Robin Guthrie, Simon Raymonde
PRODUCER: Cocteau Twins
BUY IT: (CD, digital, vinyl), iTunes (Digital)



Ministry Land of Rape and Honey

9. Ministry, The Land of Rape and Honey

BACKSTORY: On his third album under the Ministry banner, Al Jourgensen firmly veers into industrial territory, a stark contrast from debut With Sympathy and its darker follow-up Twitch.
SINGLES: “Stigmata,” “Flashback,” “The Land of Rape and Honey”
BAND: Alain Jourgensen, Paul Barker
PRODUCER: Hypo Luxa, Hermes Pan, Eddie Echo
BUY IT: (CD, digital, vinyl), iTunes (Digital)



The Sugarcubes Life's Too Good

10. The Sugarcubes, Life’s Too Good

BACKSTORY: The debut album from the Icelandic rockers introduced Björk to the world, spawned a number of modern-rock hits and landed the band on a high-profile tour with New Order and PiL.
SINGLES: “Birthday,” “Coldsweat,” “Deus,” “Motorcrash”
BAND: Björk, Einar Örn, Þór Eldon Jónsson, Bragi Ólafsson, Sigtryggur Baldursson
PRODUCER: Ray Shulman
BUY IT: (CD, digital, vinyl), iTunes (Digital)



11. U2, Rattle and Hum
12. My Bloody Valentine, Isn’t Anything
13. Peter Murphy, Love Hysteria
14. The Pogues, If I Should Fall from Grace with God
15. Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
16. Erasure, The Innocents
17. The Mission, Children
18. Front 242, Front By Front
19. The Waterboys, Fisherman’s Blues
20. The House of Love, The House of Love



21. Dinosaur Jr, Bug
22. Cowboy Junkies, The Trinity Session
23. N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton
24. Pet Shop Boys, Introspective
25. Talk Talk, Spirit of Eden
26. Metallica, …And Justice For All
27. Dead Can Dance, The Serpent’s Egg
28. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Tender Prey
29. Tracy Chapman, Tracy Chapman
30. Fine Young Cannibals, The Raw & The Cooked



31. Living Colour, Vivid
32. They Might Be Giants, Lincoln
33. Camper Van Beethoven, Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart
34. Crowded House, Temple of Low Men
35. The Smithereens, Green Thoughts
36. The Go-Betweens, 16 Lovers Lane
37. Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars
38. Leonard Cohen, I’m Your Man
39. Duran Duran, Big Thing
40. Galaxie 500, Today



41. Billy Bragg, Workers Playtime (TIE)
41. Skinny Puppy, VIVIsectVI (TIE)
43. Talking Heads, Naked
44. Robyn Hitchcock and The Egyptians, Globe of Frogs
45. Enya, Watermark
46. Fields of the Nephilim, The Nephilim
47. The Wonder Stuff, The Eight Legged Groove Machine
48. The Dead Milkmen, Beelzebubba
49. Information Society, Information Society
50. Camouflage, Voices & Images



51. Danzig, Danzig
52. The Feelies, Only Life
53. The Godfathers, Birth, School, Work, Death
54. Happy Mondays, Bummed
55. The Mighty Lemon Drops, World Without End
56. Guns N’ Roses, GN’R Lies
57. Prince, Lovesexy
58. The Primitives, Lovely
59. Big Audio Dynamite, Tighten Up Vol. 88
60. All About Eve, All About Eve



61. Marc Almond, The Stars We Are
62. Fishbone, Truth and Soul
63. Book of Love, Lullaby
64. Wire, A Bell Is a Cup… Until It Is Struck
65. Bad Religion, Suffer
66. Butthole Surfers, Hairway to Steven (TIE)
66. Prefab Sprout, From Langley Park to Memphis (TIE)
68. Social Distortion, Prison Bound
69. a-ha, Stay on These Roads
70. Soundgarden, Ultramega OK



71. The Fall, The Frenz Experiment
72. Violent Femmes, 3
73. Throwing Muses, House Tornado
74. The Fall, I Am Kurious Oranj
75. L7, L7
76. Slayer, South of Heaven
77. Skin Yard, Hallowed Ground
78. Soul Asylum, Hang Time
79. UB40, UB40
80. Marty Willson-Piper, Art Attack



81. Everything But the Girl, Idlewild
82. Thomas Dolby, Aliens Ate My Buick
83. Eric B. and Rakim, Follow the Leader (TIE)
83. My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, I See Good Spirits and I See Bad Spirits (TIE)
85. Julian Cope, My Nation Underground
86. The Proclaimers, Sunshine on Leith
87. The Style Council, Confessions of a Pop Group (TIE)
87. ‘Til Tuesday, Everything’s Different Now (TIE)
89. Lucinda Williams, Lucinda Williams
90. Big Country, Peace in Our Time



91. The Pursuit of Happiness, Love Junk (TIE)
91. Devo, Total Devo (TIE)
93. James, Strip-mine
94. American Music Club, California
95. Ciccone Youth, The Whitey Album
96. Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Nothing Wrong
97. Let’s Active, Every Dog Has Its Day
98. Hothouse Flowers, People
99. The Bangles, Everything
100. Killing Joke, Outside the Gate







  1. TWO CORRECTIONS: Sonic Youth also released “Candle” and “Silver Rocket” as singles, which I have so let’s not argue. Cocteau Twins also released “Cico Buff” as a single, which like “Carolyn’s Fingers” has no actual release but has a video.

    • ‘Providence’ was also released as a single from Daydream Nation.

    • how can a song be “released as a single” and have “no actual release”? do you mean a physical release? or are you just assuming that if a song has a video, it’s a single? because that would be inaccurate.

      • There were indeed four singles released from this album. “Providence” and “Candle” were promo only releases, though. “Providence” was somewhat limited. “Silver Rocket” was on the Forced Exposure label and was given away to subscribers. So, yeah, commercially released singles, I guess just “Teenage Riot”.

      • Two things, thanks for pointing out Providence was also a single, as I forgot about that one, released in stereo with mono as the b-side! Two, Cocteau Twins had no official single for either of the tracks used as promotional material for their album, but there were promotional 12″ singles sent to radio. Can’t remember but one of them had “A Kissed Out Red Floatboat” as the b-side. I don’t assume, you know what they say about people that assume!

  2. Wow… Really surprised that Erasure’s “The Innocents” didn’t rank higher. It was a great album, and their big US breakthrough.

  3. Damn, Game Theory’s “3 Steps From The Middle Ages” didn’t even make the list. :o/

    • Opinions will differ, but I think a lot of people considered the record a bit of a letdown after ‘Lolita Nation.’ That said, ‘Throwing the Election’ was one of the very best songs of the year. RIP Scott.

  4. davidenright

    glad to see american music club finally cracked the list.

  5. This is the first poll result that I disagree with…or rather, that my choices didn’t synch up with. Guess it’s a sign of age. LOL

  6. Nice to see The Church so high up. Didn’t expect that.

  7. El Arreglardo

    Nothings Shocking may be the best cover art of all time.

  8. Pretty good list. These are all going to be subjective etc. This was probably close to my apogee as a “music nut” as I was 25 in 1988. I probably would have had The Feelies and Dino Jr higher but that’s personal preference. REM and U2 were really not “college rock” at this point but that’s quibbling I suppose.

  9. what an awesome top 10

  10. I thought I loved Siouxsie & the Banshees a lot, but I guess not enough to think that Peepshow is the #6 best album of 1988. Come on!

  11. I’m very glad to see I’m not the only one who remembers that Enya got her start on alternative radio!

  12. Leonard Cohen should’ve been much higher

  13. Yep, sounds about right. One of my favorite years for college rock. :)

  14. Voted for the top 3, but the rest of my choices came right at the other end.

  15. Nothing’s Shocking about the top 10 except possibly the order of the albums.

  16. @Glenn,
    Nice article on The Innocents. But one problem, writer claims Erasure were the first gay band or group with a gay member. No! Bands like Soft Cell, Culture Club, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Bronski Beat and The Communards all had openly members.

  17. i’m actually a little stunned, in a bad way, at some of this–particularly the pixies at number one (which is ridiculous), and sonic youth and ministry in the top 10. however, there are a lot of other fairly high-placing albums here–top 30-40–that i quite like and didn’t expect would rate so high (for instance, cocteau twins–top 10!–& galaxie 500), and overall, i like that this year’s results, for a change, were eclectic and not simply a reflection of who the 10 most popular alt-rock bands of the day were. of course, this is also mitigated by ’88 being a no-cure, no-DM, etc. year..and we have touched on this before, but clearly these results are about what alternative fans NOW see as the best records of this year, not what they/we were actually listening to in 1988–because about 10 people were actually heavily into the pixies, sonic youth, dinosaur jr., nick cave, front 242 and the go-betweens IN ’88. but all in all, this poll is a fine document of the VASTLY diverse landscape of alternative/modern rock/college rock etc. that existed for a very brief moment back then, in that little window where american jangly proto-indie rock and british post-punk and dreampop and hard-rock/psychedelia-influenced pre-grunge and industrial rock coexisted in a weirdo’s paradise. the late 80s into the early 90s boasted an embarrassment of musical riches.

    this was my top 10, for what its worth:

    the sugarcubes–life’s too good
    tracy chapman–tracy chapman
    peter murphy–love hysteria
    cocteau twins–blue bell knoll
    edie brickell & new bohemians–shooting rubberbands at the stars
    galaxie 500–today
    jane’s addiction–nothing’s shocking
    living colour–vivid

    • Agree probably a lot of these were embraced while digging through their back catalog after ‘discovering’ them at some later time. I remember the same Pixies Surfer Rosa album being on the racks for probably at least a year in the bins at Tower when I worked there..then Doolittle came out and while Doolittle sold fairly well, that same Surfer Rosa album sat untouched…

      • well at the time it was the 2 CDs on one CD import of Come on Pilgrim/Surfer Rosa together. i don’t think those were released in the US separately until 1992…. maybe that was just on CD though. the Pixies definitely became cooler and more popular after they broke up, specifically after Fight Club used Where is My Mind. no one used to know that song back in 1990, just Doolittle and Bossanova stuff…

    • I guess I was one of the 10 – I bought ‘Surfer Rosa’ when it came out.

      I really like your comments, though, quotita — they ring totally true. It made me look at the records I actually bought that year, as opposed to some time after their release:

      The Church – Starfish
      REM – Green
      Pixies – Surfer Rosa
      Cocteau Twins – Blue Bell Knoll
      The Fall – Frenz Experiment
      The Fall – I Am Kurious Oranj
      Sugarcubes – Life’s Too Good
      Peter Murphy – Love Hysteria
      Dead Can Dance – The Serpent’s Egg
      America Music Club – California
      Skinny Puppy – VIVIsectVI

      And you are exactly right about the diversity of the scene that year. I remember one of my roommates was into hard rock, so the Guns n’ Roses and Metallica albums were getting played a lot in our household and at parties. And we were all totally captivated by Living Colour’s ‘Cult of Personality’ video on MTV, although I don’t remember any of us buying the record at the time.

      Finally, I thought this was a really cool sentence. Very well said (and nice nod to New Order with “weirdo’s paradise”):

      >>>all in all, this poll is a fine document of the VASTLY diverse landscape of alternative/modern rock/college rock etc. that existed for a very brief moment back then, in that little window where american jangly proto-indie rock and british post-punk and dreampop and hard-rock/psychedelia-influenced pre-grunge and industrial rock coexisted in a weirdo’s paradise.

      • well, thank you for that–though it’s funny i would say something reminiscent of new order, considering i don’t like them much lol (but i love joy division).

    • Slanted (not enchanted)

      I have to disagree with the idea that no one was listening to Sonic Youth, Front 242, etc. in 1988. Even high schoolers had those records and listened to them a lot. Pixies were a slightly different story, but the folks really into music picked up Surfer Rosa after Doolittle came out the following year so I don’t think it’s terribly revisionist to have Surfer Rosa top this list. (And like a few others I don’t have a problem with voting in hindsight on this list.).

      The true revisionist vote on this list was Beat Happening. A few years later they would become indie rock gods (if there is such a thing), but no one I’ve ever met listened to them in ’88 despite how fantastic Jamboree was (and remains).

      • well, not in my high school i guess, lol..and i was there from ’87-90. there were a LOT of people i knew by ’88-89 who were into alternative music (despite the fact that we went to a largely black school with a predominant hip-hop bent–and hip-hop at that point was ALSO amazing)..and none of the “freaks” i knew had any of those records or spoke of those bands at all. first i ever really heard of sonic youth was in ’89-90, and even then they were quite obscure..pixies came along for us in ’89 as well with monkey gone to heaven, la la love you, here comes your man etc..and i didn’t know 242 or any of the industrial stuff really until ’90-91 when i did radio. and this was in long island new york, mind you, where we all listened to wlir/wdre, perhaps the most influential modern rock station ever. none of that stuff got play in ’88.

        matter of fact, here is the list of “shreeks of the week” for 1988–wdre’s feature where listeners could vote for their favorite new song of the week (the numbers before the months are which week of the month it was):

        Route 66 Depeche Mode 1-Feb-88
        Suedehead Morrissey 2-Feb-88
        Full Of Love Dr. Calculus 1-Mar-88
        Hey You Cure 2-Mar-88
        Ship Of Fools Erasure 3-Mar-88
        Like The Weather 10,000 Maniacs 4-Mar-88
        When I Feel This Way APB 5-Mar-88
        I Don’t Mind If You Forget Me Morrissey 1-Apr-88
        Soviet Snow Shona Laing 2-Apr-88
        Crash Primitives 3-Apr-88
        Chains Of Love Erasure 4-Apr-88
        Strangers Images In Vogue 1-May-88
        Somewhere In My Heart Aztec Camera 2-May-88
        Everyday Is Like Sunday Morrissey 3-May-88
        That Smiling Face Camouflage 4-May-88
        Just Play Music Big Audio Dynamite 1-Jun-88
        One Force, One Crew, One Song Chiefs Of Relief 2-Jun-88
        Reptile Church 3-Jun-88
        I Want You Now Depeche Mode 4-Jun-88
        Yahoo Erasure 5-Jun-88
        Different World INXS 1-Jul-88
        Peek-A-Boo Siouxsie & The Banshees 2-Jul-88
        The Canary Song Crossfire Choir 3-Jul-88
        Perfect Fairground Attraction 4-Jul-88
        Phantom Bride Erasure 1-Aug-88
        Wild, Wild West Escape Club 2-Aug-88
        What’s The Matter Here 10,000 Maniacs 3-Aug-88
        Don’t Worry, Be Happy Bobby McFerrin 4-Aug-88
        Jesus Christ U2 1-Sep-88
        All I Wanted In Tua Nua 2-Sep-88
        Desire U2 3-Sep-88
        Sister, I’m A Poet Morrissey 4-Sep-88
        A Little Respect ** Erasure 5-Sep-88
        I Don’t Want Your Love Duran Duran 1-Oct-88
        One Day APB 2-Oct-88
        God, Part II U2 3-Oct-88
        I Beg Your Pardon Kon Kan 4-Oct-88
        Angel Of Harlem U2 1-Nov-88
        Big Thing Duran Duran 2-Nov-88
        The Different Story (World Of Lust And Crime) Peter Schilling 3-Nov-88
        Fine Time New Order 4-Nov-88
        Im Nin’Alu Ofra Haza 1-Dec-88
        She Won’t Be Home Erasure 2-Dec-88
        Tears Run Rings Marc Almond 3-Dec-88
        Ana Ng They Might Be Giants 4-Dec-88
        Orinoco Flow (Sail Away) Enya 5-Dec-88

        • Pffft, we’re talking about HIGH SCHOOL?!

          Your listening habits didn’t mean beans to this poll; what was played in the clubs does. I was happily surprised that Front 242 got enough respect to be top 20, and I’m ok with where it’s at though I had it about #5. While you were busy learning algebra, we were dancing to two of the greatest club songs to come out with “Headhunter” and “Welcome to Paradise” and who didn’t know HEY POOR…HEY POOR YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE POOR ANYMORE.

          ‘it wasn’t big in my high school’. well at least we know the background for such a commentary.
          For the record I stated prior to voting (go look at my comments 1987) that 1988 was ‘all about the Pixies’ and for once the voters and I agreed. I owned and listened to it then and still do on occasion. All my friends did, and we ALL owned Ministry and Front 242.

          As for the person who said ‘no one paid attention to Pixies until [later albums], Surfer Rosa was the only Pixies I ever owned.

      • I was in college rather than high school in 1988 and I can assure you that my group of friends were definitely into Front 242, Sonic Youth, Ministry, and the Cocteau Twins by then. I taped “Sister” off my friend Kathy well before “Daydream Nation” came out, and I bought “Official Version” on vinyl in early ’87 and promptly told all my friends how great it was. Most of my friends already owned the 12″ of “Over the Shoulder” (one of our earlier intros to industrial music) by the time “The Land of Rape and Honey” came out.

        The Pixies are another story — I do agree that a lot of self-styled rock critics have belatedly decided that the Pixies are an “important” artist and that that has probably prompted some people to engage in some revisionist history and vote for “Surfer Rosa” even though they may not have heard it til years later. (I am not one of those people, however — I was never into them and don’t understand why people rave about them so much, then or now. But as they say, there’s no accounting for taste.)

    • I also have to disagree. I was a high school freshman when Surfer Rosa came out, and I thought it was the greatest thing ever! A bunch of kids in my small suburban town loved Pixies, Sonic Youth, and Dinosaur Jr.

    • Well said my friend. but disagree with ur list :(

  18. Disappointed Cowboy Junkies didn’t do better, but what can you do?. I guess 22 is respectable..

  19. Crowded House should have placed higher.

    • Agree – that was my favorite for ’88 but I suppose some might not find it “edgy” enough which seemed to be the way stuff was going by then. Starfish is a good top 10 though and I think Morrissey was a given to finish high. ’89 should be a fun one.

  20. Surprised to see Tender Prey so low…
    would have ranked The Innocents higher too.
    Never got The Pixies.
    Looking forward to 89, surely Disintegration will top the list?!

    • I tend to think ‘Doolittle,’ ‘Pretty Hate Machine,’ ‘Technique’ and ‘Mother’s Milk’ will give ‘Disintegration’ a run for its money in the 1989 poll. And ‘Bleach’ will probably place fairly high, even though in actuality NOBODY paid any attention to it at the time.

      All bets are off, though, if AndyP stuffs the ballot box for Tin Machine…. ;-)

      • ZOINKS!!! :0

        • Ha! I can’t actually remember if you like that record or not. Personally I never got past the ‘Soupy Sales’ connection, it was just too bizarre. I never heard the whole record though.

          • Other than getting the occasional urge to play “One Shot” really loud, I don’t really revisit those two TM albums. Did you ever see that 1989 International Rock Awards (say what?!) show with Bowie & Co., the ‘Mats (with mad ‘Mats fan Matt Dillon showing the love!), the late great Lou, and more? I remember taping it and watching the Replacements over and over again.


            The Stone Roses will be way way up there in ’89. I expect “Cosmic Thing” (hello again, Nile!) and “Seeds of Love” to fare well, too. And “Don’t Tell a Soul” Top 15? The crossover album, but arguably their weakest despite some ACE tracks. And bring on “3 Feet High and Rising”!!!

          • “Crossover attempt” would be more accurate. I forget if it was in RS, but that reviewer who said “All Shook Down” was the album they should have made after “Pleased…” seemed to nail it.

            Bring on more reunion shows starting in Seattle and then heading down here to NorCal! :)

      • Spot on but Kiss Me x3 placed at #1 for ’87 and that is mostly a bad release. If that can rise to the top then Disintegration is sure to do the same.

        • Cool Andy, I’ll check out that video! I missed that show somehow back in the day. I see Bangles, H&O and Living Colour were also on the bill — and I’ve been on a big Bangles kick lately.

          Question: Was there ever a 2nd awards show?

          • Looks like there was a 2nd and a 3rd. Don’t remember either, though. And, right, Living Colour was at the first! They also received one of my ’88 votes here.

            Have recommended that Nile concert to so many friends, and it all started here. Thanks, man.

        • i don’t know where you get that an album with just like heaven, catch, the kiss, if only tonight we could sleep, why can’t i be you, like cockatoos, one more time, a thousand hours, the perfect girl and hey you is “mostly a bad release.”

        • I think Andy is spot on re: Stone Roses. Surely top 10, could go top 5. Will be in my book, so there’s one vote.

  21. Green and Starfish?

  22. Ernesto Alfredo Jara

    Disappointed! Where’s one the best album of 1988? THE WILD SWANS and their masterpiece “Bringing Home The Ashes” was criminally ignored!!!

  23. For once, I am completely happy with the results of this poll! FOUR of the albums I voted for made the Top 10! (Oh, and yes I DID like them in 1988) Ministry, Sonic Youth, Siouxsie & The Banshees, and the Pixies. I can’t believe I voted for the #1 album on this poll for once! Also, voted for a Top 10 near miss with My Bloody Valentine.

    Personally, I think it’s great that Surfer Rosa finished at #1. It’s a great album. Bone Machine, Gigantic, Where Is My Mind?, hell the whole album is amazing! I was sure that R.E.M.’s Green was going to get it. As wonderful as Orange Crush is, that is how horrible Stand is.

    No more Depeche Mode for the 80’s. Violator didn’t come out until March of 90. YAY!

    Oh, and as far as people voting for the Pixies, or anyone for that matter, so what? Tastes evolve and change over time. I actually did like Depeche Mode back then, I don’t, with the exception of a few songs here and there, now. Anyway, there are probably some people voting in this poll who might have been too young to really know about and enjoy this music in 1988. Heck, there are probably some poll voters who weren’t even born in 88.

    As I said, I, for one, am very happy.

  24. This is definitely worst year in eighties.

    • Absolutely. I said prior to voting no way was Ministry’s Land of Rape n Honey a top 10 album…. then I went through the list and only checked 8. With two votes to go, they got one of them, Wire got the other. Dreadful when you can’t find 10 sure things, all the other years I was having a tough time getting to 15 much less 10.

  25. Pretty good. Followers of this site would also appreciate these albums:

    Eleventh Dream Day – Prairie School Freakout
    For Against – December
    And Also The Trees – The Millpond Years
    Ambitious Lovers – Greed
    The Woodentops – Wooden Foot Cops On A Highway

  26. Though I’m (a little) surprised that the Pixies took #1 (fully expected Viva Hate to be there), the top 10 shook out, basically, as I thought it would.

    The poll is what it is. Some people will vote for the ones they held as their favorites *in* the year (and I agree that Erasure would’ve been higher — though not #1 — if this poll was taken at the end of 1988). Some will vote for the ones that grew on them over time. Some folks who were 3 years old in 1988 (or whatever) will vote for the ones they discovered five years ago. Some will vote for an album on the strength of one single. And yes, perhaps someone out there thinks that “The Raw and the Cooked” was the best album ever and listened to it 100 times a day. It’s all opinion and the poll isn’t exactly scientific.

    It is, however, interesting to reflect on one radio station’s Top 100 singles of the year ( Some tracks are one-off hits and singles/b-sides from albums released in 1987. But most of the tracks are from albums that ranked high here; stripping out the one-offs and old singles, you’d end up with a top 10 of: The Church, Morrissey, REM, Pet Shop Boys, BAD, U2, Erasure, Siouxsie, The Smithereens, and Information Society. Stick in some of the albums that didn’t take off until later, and I’d say that this list represents a good mix of what was considered “best” (or most popular) in ’88, as well as some of the albums that gained steam and appreciation a couple years down the road.

    And I think that’s legitimate. Think about books: some are immediately recognized as classics; some take time to gather appreciation; and others fade with time.

    I’m just glad “Big Thing” didn’t end up in the Top 10.

  27. Fairly pleased with these results. Glad Starfish got #4, was hoping for number 1 though! Don’t really agree with some of the top 10, surprised Viva Hate placed so high, Morrissey is more of a singles artist for me, his albums always come off uneven. I’m also surprised Tender Prey placed so low, to me this is Nick Cave’s breakthrough album. Also would’ve placed Violent Femmes (extremely underrated album) and The Go-Betweens a lot higher. Fun year, can’t wait for 1989, bring on Disintegration! Ha!

  28. Matt Thurston

    1988 was a weird, transitional year, and it is reflected in the results of this poll.

    No albums by the dominant 80s mainstays The Cure, New Order, Depeche Mode, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Replacements, The Smiths (I know, Morrissey, but still), and U2 (I know, Rattle & Hum, but still).

    R.E.M. had an album, but it was their worst album of the 80s.

    Instead, you start seeing newer bands with a harder edge becoming mainstream, with The Pixies, Jane’s Addiction, Sonic Youth, and Ministry all in the Top 10. Surfer Rosa and Nothing’s Shocking are brilliant records, and probably make my Top 10 or 15 for the whole decade. Also a fan of Daydream Nation. Not a fan of Ministry.

    The other trend that started in ’87-’88 was the female-fronted folk sound, highlighted by Tracy Chapman, Edie Brickell, 10,000 Maniacs, The Cowboy Junkies, Shona Laing, EBTG, and Indigo Girls.

    Wish “The House of Love” had charted higher, although it finished a respectable #20. It’s the only album on this list (with the exception of maybe The Happy Mondays and The Wonder Stuff) that hints at the oncoming sound of The Stone Roses, Suede, Blur, The Charlatans, etc. which, with grunge, would dominate the alternative sound for the next 5-6 years.

    Also shocked that Billy Bragg’s best album, “Workers Playtime,” and the brilliant “Spirit of Eden” by Talk Talk didn’t rank higher.

  29. I am pleasantly surprised my personal fave of this year, Talk Talk’s “Spirit of Eden”, placed as high as it did, given it’s non-commercial/experimental music.

    • “Spirit of Eden” always places high in UK-based music magazines ‘best of the 80s’ polls but I don’t think it made much of an impact in the US. Great album.

  30. Olivier Dodin

    i bought “Life’s Too Good” (Sugarcubes) the first week of its release in France, just because there were drawing of dicks and cunts on the sleeve.
    i thought that i could be great music…
    And it was.
    And after that, i was looking for a girl who looked like Björk to fall in love with…
    you know what, i found her… she was maybe as crazy as Björk (but she couldn’t sing, at all…)

  31. Olivier Dodin

    Best album of all this decade (and even more):
    “Spirit Of Eden” (Talk Talk)

  32. AndyP and other fans of the Church and ‘Starfish,’

    While I’m thinking of it, here’s a hot tip: the new Marty Willson-Piper record, released under the name MOAT, is excellent. Here’s a link to the Nov. 1 physical release on Second Motion, but it’s already on iTunes too:

    Hopefully SUE will include it in its list of new releases . . .

    • Word up! I’ll be buying it for the jacket alone! And LP w/ free CD?! Heck yeah! Cheers, lotus!

    • Rock on. It’s very un-like Marty’s old jangle pop stuff. It’s mostly acoustic guitar, with strings, piano and other delicate accoutrements to flesh out the arrangements. A very good ‘autumn’ record — mellow, contemplative, kind of spacey at points. Good lyrics, too. It sounds a bit like ‘Nightjar,’ if you have that one.

      • Sounds perfect. It’s in my cart now. Am also tempted to get Minor Alps over at Amazon now. Do you already have that? Another ace jacket, and the tunes are sounding great, too.

      • Hey, I’d read about Minor Alps recently but they had slipped my mind. Thanks for the reminder, as I have pretty much everything Juliana has ever done. (Favorites are her “Please Do Not Disturb” EP and “God Bless the Blake Babies,” for what it’s worth.) I’m previewing the Minor Alps album right now and it sounds good! I’m sure I will get it.

  33. just loved the graphics on the albums. I’m a lover of Minor Alps

  34. Nice to see My Bloody Valentine’s “Isn’t Anything” has not been forgotten especially with all the fuss over the admittedly excellent Loveless.

  35. Yikes! Prefab Sprout down at 66.
    Siouxsie at no. 6 – Really?
    Nice to see the Church so high.
    Would have put House of Love higher.
    Sugarcubes top 10 thank you very much.

  36. Was 1988 really the start of the 90s? So many important releases that would influence alternative (and mainstream) music over the next decade – Surfer Rosa, Daydream Nation, Nothing’s Shocking, It Takes a Nation of Millions, Straight Outta Compton, and Isn’t Anything – all still regular listens.

    1989 will be a tougher call for the order of the top three. Doolittle and Disintegration will battle it out with the Roses debut.

    My top 20 would be:
    1. The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
    2. Doolittle – Pixies
    3. Disintegration – The Cure
    4. Paul’s Boutique – Beastie Boys
    5. 3 Feet High & Rising – De La Soul
    6. Technique – New Order
    7. Mothers Milk – RHCP
    8. Energy – Operation Ivy
    9. About Time – The Odd Numbers
    10. Bleach – Nirvana
    11. Bizarro – The Wedding Present
    12. Primal Scream – Primal Scream
    13. Hup! – The Wonder Stuff
    14. This is the day… – PWEI
    15. Automatic – Jesus & Mary Chain
    16. Full Moon Fever – Tom Petty
    17. Freedom – Neil Young
    18. Hunkpapa – Throwing Muses
    19. Don’t tell a Soul – The Replacements
    20. New York – Lou Reed

    • Seriously? Why would Bleach be in your top 20? You didn’t own it, didn’t listen to it, at best BARELY heard of it or Nirvana in 1988. Suddenly it’s a top 20 release. On what metric? The ‘one of my favorite bands so I will vote for any release of theirs like a lemming’ metric?
      It had no singles, little if any airplay.

      You’re supposed to vote for each individual album in it’s moment in time, not for the name of the band based on their ouvre.

      I can already see how 1989 is going to go with voters like this…

  37. Why would people here think that people didn’t listen to Sonic Youth, Pixies, Dinosaur Jr, etc in 1988? I was 17/18 that year, and SST was my favorite label for years at that point. “Teen Age Riot” got played all the time on 120 Minutes.

    There’s a whole population who grew up on the Our Band Could Be Your Life American underground bands of the 1980s while that was going on and would rather stick screwdrivers in our ears than listen to Depeche Mode, Erasure, etc. This site isn’t exactly for the SST, Homestead, Touch and Go crowd, but we did exist – – glad to finally see some of our bands up top!

  38. Amazing topic, brings me back to the old days. Very glad to see the Sugarcubes in this list. Been a long time since I’ve listened that record.. “It’s about damn time” :)

  39. Doesn’t anyone think Camper Van Beethoven should be higher? Top 5 definitely. Talk Talk “Spirit of Eden” is the best record on this list.

  40. There’s a special place in hell for any of you that helped place Edie Brickell #37.

  41. Still an absolute crime that Ofra Haza (“Shaday”) wasn’t included in the original pile of selections to vote from.
    #1 song in virtually all of Europe

    …and more importantly, “Galbi” being the LEAD track of the highly-acclaimed Sire Records compilation “Just Say Yo!” (1988) that included tracks from Morrissey, Throwing Muses, Book of Love, etc all on your list.

    A heads-up on this album was given.

  42. Monkeytrousers

    Someone seems to have deleted Mary Margaret O’Hara, Miss America from the No 1 spot in error…..Pixies very deserving of No. 2, agreed……..

  43. Edward Galinovic

    A little disappointed Public Enemy’s “It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back” didn’t make the top 10. Its use of sampling was unique and revolutionary for its time and was also the precursor for the Beastie Boys masterpiece “Paul Boutique”
    For me it is the greatest rap/hip-hop album of all time, not only did it change the face of hip-hop but it was also the key album in the famous sampling/copyright court case that changed the laws forever. For these reasons and many more, I really think it deserved top 10 status in this list and if I had to knock an album out of the top 10 it would be Jane’s Addiction’s “Nothing’s Shocking” only because I never managed to get into Jane’s Addiction.

  44. Recently discovered The Style Council, Confessions of a Pop Group. Great, great album. Especially tracks 1-5 on disc. It’s a mix of everything, influence of Burt Bacharach, 80’s pop, jazz & classical music.

  45. David Dylan Malana Puzon.1V

    i dont know with you guys but for me,the years 1987,1988 and 1989 were the best years in cutting edge music/indie.Before it was all synth and then the floodgates of heaven opened when”Joshua Tree”by U2 came out.Bands like the Wild Swans,the Room,A-House,The River Detectives,Jimmy Jimmy,Guadalcanal Diary,The Railway Children,Ocean Blue,House of Love and more came out and changed the musical landscape.It was kinda similar to”The Grunge Revolution”spearheaded by Nirvana 4 years later.

  46. Not a complete surprise, but Michelle Shocked’s “Short Sharp Shocked” probably would have made my top ten. I had no idea who she was until a few year ago when I saw her place at #5 in that year’s Pazz & Jop poll. I was skeptical, thinking she may have been another overhyped singer-songwriter from that era. (Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” and Suzanne Vega’s “Luka” will always be favorites, but the albums themselves were huge letdowns.) But I checked it out and it won me over – it’s a surprisingly strong and consistent album, and even the production itself hasn’t dated at all. Her decision to leave the major labels should be applauded, but her subsequent efforts to block not just uploads but sales of her music probably did a lot more harm than good (you can’t find her stuff on Spotify and you can’t even purchase her music on Amazon – she even shut down third-party sellers who tried to sell used copies of her music on Amazon). I won’t get into some of the controversies she got into, sadly the only news coverage she’s gotten in recent years, but it’s no surprise this once celebrated album has dropped into obscurity.

  47. What I find interesting about these best album lists on this website is the inclusion of bands such as Duran Duran and A-ha. In the UK we think of College Rock as a US thing which means Indie/Alternative. but Duran Duran are just a Pop band. Yes they played their own instruments but even in their heyday of the early 80s, they weren’t taken seriously. If a DJ played Duran Duran in an indie club the floor would have cleared. Cultural differences I guess.

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