In 1983 the world very nearly ended. At least so they tell me. With Thatcher’s landslide re-election and Cowboy Ronnie pushing the Armageddon stakes into the realms of insanity, an extremely jittery USSR prepared to defend itself. In November, during a NATO exercise in Western Europe, some members of the politburo were so convinced a nuclear strike was imminent, their forces were placed on high alert. Together with tens of millions of significant others, one wrong move could have wiped me out before I’d really begun. As it was, while the world teetered on the brink of oblivion I was in a travel cot, accompanying my Dad who had recently launched Criminal Damage records, as he shuffled between Reading and Fulham. Even he has admitted there were probably better years to start a label.
In fact, he would face an unforgiving future. Ominously, just as the real world had moved significantly to the right, in 1983 music culture entered its own conservative phase. Over produced and synthetic, records became cynically escapist and far too eager to please, obsessed with all things superfluous and unnecessary. As post punk slid towards its inevitable, bitter conclusion and the inspirational class of 1977-79 crumbled under the weight of the new pop reality, everyone else ran for the comfort of narrow sub-cultures like oi, anarcho punk, goth and psychobilly.
Luckily I was blissfully unaware of all this, safe in my cocoon of babydom. Whatever the truth behind the realities of 1983 meant nothing to me then and mean nothing now. And yet the year of our own birth always remains endlessly fascinating doesn’t it? And in selecting these ten tracks as a snapshot, I would never have guessed that 1983 was a bit of a bummer. They all sound fantastic to me and in any other year, particularly those of the 21st century, they’d be up there with the best of them no problem.
1. Echo And The Bunnymen / In Bluer Skies / Porcupine / February 1983
2. David Bowie / Ricochet / Let's Dance / April 1983
3. The The / Giant / Soul Mining / October 1983
4. R.E.M. / Pilgrimage / Murmur / April 1983
5. Cabaret Voltaire / Animation / The Crackdown / August 1983
6. New Order / The Village / Power, Corruption & Lies / May 1983
7. The Sisters Of Mercy / Alice / EP / March 1983
8. Depeche Mode / The Landscape Is Changing / Construction Time Again / August 1983
9. Soft Cell / Heat / The Art Of Falling Apart / January 1983
10. Violent Femmes / Promise / Violent Femmes / April 1983