The Best 80s Albums No One Is Talking About

The underrated records of the 80s

The 80s was an era of golden records. The albums released in the 1980s have now become so legendary and iconic, some even defining era itself, and even thriving well into the 21st century. But because of the many great and popular records that came out of the 80s, it’s unavoidable that many have been overlooked. The 80s contained an overwhelming amount of great music that some just outshone the others, but now that we are in the post-millenial era of throwing it back to the good ol’ days, it’s time that there underrated classic rock albums be given a second chance. Let’s talk about these wonderful 80s albums that no one seems to talk about.


Emotional Rescue (1980) – Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones put out so many good records over the last 50-plus years that it’s almost certain one of them will be buried into obscurity. Their 1980 release Emotional Rescue is one of those long-forgotten but equally good albums. Though admittedly, it is not as good as their earlier albums from the 60s and 70s, Emotional Rescue contains a strong list of songs that are largely overlooked perhaps because it was the time of the beginning of the Stones’ struggle to put out phenomenal records. Still, Emotional Rescue was a solid collection of songs that still expressed who The Rolling Stones truly were through their music. Now is the time to revisit this great record and appreciate it as best we can.

Reckoning (1980) – The Grateful Dead

Reckoning was a surprise record from The Grateful Dead. It’s very refreshing, a different path and sound from what the band was known to play and put out. For a long time before this record was released, the Grateful Dead was thought to be just drugged-up rockers who always sang about space. This album, which was released at the beginning of a brand new era, was a collection of acoustic jam sessions that proved the Grateful Dead had more in them than what people had expected. The songs were easy to listen to and were feel-good-play-it-on-a-Sunday-morning kind of album. Have another listen today and it will take you back to happy days on the porch of your mother’s house in the countryside.

Killers (1981) – Iron Maiden 

Iron Maiden’s commercial & critical breakthrough album The Number of The Beast wasn’t released until 1982. That album paved the way to success for the band. However, what is much overlooked is the album that preceded their breakthrough, and that was Killers, released in 1981, just a year before The Number of The Beast. Killers is a hidden and forgotten gem of a record full of energetic songs that feature Steve Harris’ bass-playing skills and Paul Di’Anno’s gritty vocals before he was replaced by Bruce Dickinson.

 Private Eyes (1981) – Hall & Oates

1981’s Private Eyes was Hall & Oates’ 10th album and it was their first chart-topping record when it went to No. 5 on the album charts. It took 11 years for the band to have a Top 10 record and still it all went underrated. This genre-busting album is kind of a comeback for Daryl Hall and John Oates after they had left Atlantic Records and their signature Soul sound in the late 70s. Private Eyes is the first record featuring the revamped punk and new wave elements in their new music. However, most of the songs in the album were hardly aired on radio. So now is the time that we bump this album up again as it so deserved back in the day.

VU (1985) –  The Velvet Underground

VU by The Velvet Underground is probably the most overlooked gem of all the records released in 1985. This album is a collection of 19 outtakes and lost tracks recorded by the band when they were at their transitional period between 1968-1969, a time when they switched record labels from Verve to MGM and replaced John Cale with Doug Yule. It was in the seventies when The Velvet Underground grew in popularity but their music was way ahead of their time but only in 1985 when the world heard the greatness of the band’s creativity.


August (1986) – Eric Clapton 

This album is evidently vastly overshadowed by Clapton’s more popular records such as Money and Cigarettes, Slowhand, and Journey Man, all of which were released in close proximity to 1986’s August. Phil Collins produced this album and it featured Madlib’s uncle Jon Faddis on trumpet joining the studio band. The album also includes a cover of the Yellow Magic Orchestra’s “Behind the Mask” that was previously commissioned by Quincy Jones. If that wasn’t cool then, well, it’s definitely cool now.


Gone Troppo (1982) – George Harrison 

The strange title for this album came from the Australian slang term for “going crazy”. Gone Troppo was released in November of 1982 only to minimal recognition and praise. Even the fans weren’t as receptive about the record so much so that it was forgotten fairly quickly. Like the album didn’t even exist, which is much of a bummer because it’s actually a fun and frill record in which George explores the world of new wave sounds. Listening to it today is a fun surprise given the knowledge that it comes from the former Beatle.



Oh Mercy (1989) – Bob Dylan 

It could be argued that the eighties was the lowest point in Bob Dylan’s career as the decade produced only his least favored creative output. It’s a bracket in his career where Dylan could be categorized as “not-so-good” in contrast to his legendary greatness as a musician. However, at the end of this “low point” is the highly-underrated gem that ironically everyone seems to love anyway, and that is 1989’s Oh Mercy. This is the record people put on and is surprised by how good it actually is. Oh Mercy is a an underrated masterpiece that deserves more attention.