In the outside world, the two biggest stories in pop music were the year-long successes of Michael Jackson and MTV. Both subjects have been discussed to death in more prestigious publications thant this one, so we'll dispense with them by noting that Michael Jackson was pretty good and MTV was pretty bad. The eleven albums picked by our jocks (you noted the tie between the Style Council and Eddy Grant) are a pretty good summation of 1983 from our angle, so let's go back and look at these records once more.

1. R.E.M. - Murmur (I.R.S.)     Yes, Michael Stipe mumbles throughout, and yes, what lyrics that are understandable don't make any sense. And yes, after the 10th or 100th or 1000th listening this album still retains the freshness and mystery of the first playing. Of course, part of that mystery is due to Michael's mumbling (murmuring, if you will) and we would have never had the R.E.M. lyric-deciphering party without the incredible music. And it is only their first album.
Voted #1 by Boy Wonder, Tim Gaskill, Jay DJ

2. Violent Femmes - Violent Femmes (Slash)      Though many people found some sort of sick pleasure in Gordon Gano's psycho-sexual lyrics (and to be fair, despite the fact that the lyrics dealt almost obsessively with sex, there was a sense of humour that made his stance fresh and true), it was the "folk-punk" music that put it over the top. The Femmes's "we'll try anything" attitude with their live shows is what will make them legends.
Voted #1 by K.I.R.K., Steph the K, Johnny Heathen, Randy Reed

3. U2 - War (Island)     The best group in the world. Maybe their best album. One of the big surprises of 1983 was mass commercial acceptance of this group. It makes one wonder if anyone who discovered U2 on Rock Radio will realize how they were ripped off by Rock Radio ignoring their first two albums. Probably not.
Voted #1 by Debbie Vrana, Max Volume

4. X - More Fun in the New World (Elektra)     X makes such great music so effortlessly it's easy to see why people have screamed "sell out" at them. But because that music is so great, it's even easier to see that those people are wrong. Song of the year: "I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts."
Voted #1 by Gumby the K

5. UB40 - Labour of Love (A&M)     The surprise of our poll, but not such a surprise when you take into consideration that everybody likes reggae and the way these covers slowly insinuated their way into everybody's minds.

6. The Alarm - The Alarm EP (I.R.S.)     Also the great "68 Guns/Thoughts of a Young Man" single. And their album (due out next month) will undoubtedly be one of '84s best. The secret of The Alarm: they write anthems, not singles. And we need anthems.

7. Translator - No Time Like Now (415/Columbia)     Translator's electrifying live show as well as the great songs on this record are what made them one of our biggies. Quite possibly the only people who can write intelligent love songs.

8. Big Country - The Crossing (Mercury)     These guys came out of nowhere with this stunning and uplifting debut album. One of the groups to watch in the future.

9. Talking Heads - Speaking in Tongues (Sire)     Featuring 1983's best video in "Burning Down the House" and light-hearted lyrics, it was another great example of the Heads' dance music for the mind.

10. Eddy Grant - Killer on the Rampage (Portrait)     Eddy's tough-minded and political reggae-funk made him one of the major crossover acts of the year. His crossover was probably more important than Michael Jackson's or Lionel Ritchie's because Eddy had no real past to make his name instantly recognizable. He did it on music alone.

11. The Style Council - Introducing the Style Council EP (Polydor)     A collection of British singles, really, this EP also showcases the undeniable white soul of Paul Weller and Mick Talbot.

NEXT TIME: EVERY time we promise you something here it seems that something happens and we don't get around to it. Therefore go see Wire Train at the Star Palace on Thursday Jan 12 and root for the 49ers.

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