Forgotten Musical gems from the 80s

Every single year, a lot of musicians come out with their various records. The amount of musical content is now so varied and huge that it’s only natural to forget the songs we’ve listened to before. 

While 80s music might be one of the most popular and enduring collections, not all the musical gems of that time remain popular today. Whether we were growing up during that time, already an adult, or a younger fan of the 80s, there are a lot of great songs or even whole albums that everyone seems to have forgotten. Let’s discuss some of the best examples now and see if they’re still enjoyable today:

‘Well Down Blue Highway’ by The Leaving Trains

This band was quite popular in the 1980s, especially when it came to the first three albums they ever released. Their debut was in 1984, with the album ‘Well Down Blue Highway’, and is still a great one to listen to almost four decades later. The band’s front man was Falling James Moreland, one of the most charismatic yet under-appreciated songwriters in the 80s. 

The characteristic sound of this band is said to might both dark and light elements, taking inspiration from acts like Credence Clearwater and The Doors along with the more hard-core acts like The Clash and The Saints. 

Overall, this album can be counted as among the classic offerings from The Leaving Trains. The top options here include ‘Creeping Coastline of Light’, ‘Going Down To Town’, and ‘Always Between Wars’. 

‘Scooter’ by The Mice

We have seen a lot of musicians start off when they were very young, and this band was one of them. As far as power pop goes, The Mice were one of the most classic acts to date. They hailed from Cleveland and started off in 1985. Their first single was a self-released one, with the debut EP being released in 1986. This was titled ‘For Almost Ever’. At the time, their drummer Tommy Fox was a mere 14 years old. 

In 1987, the band came out with ‘Scooter’, an album that’s full of enjoyable and catchy songs such as ‘Bye Bye Kitty Cat’. Bill Fox, who was also the guitarist, penned all the songs here. Any power pop fan would be delighted by this find, especially as the lyrics don’t usually cater to the usual clichés of that genre. 

Unfortunately, Fox left the band shortly after this album was released. This caused the collapse of the whole band. While Bill Fox found a career on his own and had a couple of critically acclaimed albums around the 2000s, The Mice’s music can still be relevant today. 

‘The Salvation Army’ by The Salvation Army

The first-ever single by this band took the chance of combining certain psychedelic elements with melodic punk music. With its debut album, The Salvation Army showed fans even more of these elements, drawing them in and causing intrigue. 

Songs like ‘Upside Down’, ‘She Turns to Flowers’, and ‘Going Home’ crossed the genres of pure pop, psychedelia, and garage music to create a trippy effect for the delighted audiences. Michael Quercio’s songwriting is also a unique aspect here, along with the distinct vocals that set this musical act apart during the 1980s. 

Eventually, this band went through a name change and was more recently known as The Three O’clock. After this, their approach was more pop than anything else. While it was fairly successful in this line as well, the Salvation Army album’s greatness was never truly replicated. 

‘Miami’ by The Gun Club

At the very beginning of the 80s, the band called The Gun Club started capturing the music scene in Los Angeles. The lead here was Jeffery Lee Pierces, and the performances were known to be volatile, electric, and somewhat unpredictable. 

The music here mixed up elements of country, folk, and the blue, along with more energetic genres like punk and rock ‘n roll. Their debut work was ‘Fire of Love’, and is usually considered to be their masterpiece offering. However, ‘Miami’ gives us something a little more intense. Some say that it has all the musical elements blending together perfectly. The songwriting skills of Jeffrey Lee Pierce are also more mature here. While this album might have been overlooked today, there are several other successful records from this band. Unfortunately, these worked halted in 1996 after Pierce tragically passed away at only 37 years of age. For anyone who enjoys the music of the 80s, this album is worth picking up and listening to at least once. 

‘Guitar Beat’ by The Raybeats

The band The Raybeats were known for their surf-based instrumentals and their NYC attitude. They fully embraced a lot of the clichés within this genre, but also discarded several of them in order to get their own unique sound. Their music could be labelled as both contemporary and retro, so it’s likely to appeal to a lot of audiences today as well. 

With ‘Guitar Beat’, the band had their successful full-length debut and also their finest moment of glory. Some might still enjoy songs such as ‘Calhoun’ Surf’. Danny Amis was the guitarist here, who started out in the band The Overtones. He eventually played for the Los Straitjackets and is an under-appreciated guitar hero in many ways. If you’re looking to liven up an 80s themed party, this album might be the one to go for. You might also want to check out some of these one-hit wonders of 80s British music to get the party going. 

‘Beneath the Shadows’ by T.S.O.L.

T.S.O.L was never meant to be the usual kind of punk band. Some of their early releases were ‘Dance With Me’ and ‘Weathered Statues’, along with an EP titled with the band’s name. All of these offerings had a variety and uniqueness all their own. They were high-energy tracks, though the melody was definitely there. Jack Grisham, the lead singer, contributed a lot to the dramatic flair of every performance and song. 

‘Beneath the Shadows’ was the band’s 1982 album. Its sound took the band’s music further away from the constraints of punk music. It added on keyboards, a string melodic sense, and other elements. 

All too soon, however, the band split up. Grisham left completely, while the rest trying out a more general approach that was reminiscent of hard rock. In the latter half of the 90s, however, the original lineup would occasionally have reunion gigs. With ‘Beneath the Shadows’, however, we had the combined talent of every band member for a wonderful musical moment.

‘Horror Stories’ by The Dwarves

The Dwarves are among the most notorious bands in the history of music, let alone the 1980s. They spent some time with the Sub Pop label and became known for the loud and fast hardcore punk style. These might be called their grunge years, as their songs were speed-freak, no-frills, somewhat violent, but a bit ridiculous sort of punk rock. 

The shows by this band were legendary, with firecrackers being casually thrown into the crowd, aggressive fights between the band members and audience, even one altercation with a policeman. Needless to say, the music and performance by Dwarves is not for the faint of heart. 

Before the band reached this point, however, they were a relatively unassuming garage band with music inspired from the ‘60s. The band was called Suburban Nightmare, and only had one LP to its name. After changing the band name, the first release was in 1986 by the name of ‘Horror Stories’.  Here, the Dwarves retains its roots in garage rock, though the inspiration from the Sex Pistols and the Cramps also remained. In short, if someone wants to check out an album by this crazy group and isn’t afraid of the hardcore music, they might want to give this one a try.

‘Drums Along the Hudson’ by The Bongos

The Bongos were influenced by Marc Bolan, The Beatles, and the like. They were originally from Hoboken, and started making music at the beginning in the 1980s. While the sound wasn’t derivative, it was exciting and will probably be regarded as so in the current era. Along with R.E.M and the individuals, this band is also regarded as helping to usher in college rock. While their later releases were also successful, ‘Drums Along the Hudson’ is usually said to be their masterpiece. 

Conclusion

It’s not just about the music made by the underground artists of the 80s, or about songs that didn’t make it to the top. Indeed, there are several forgotten gems that even occupied the highest positions on the Billboard Top 100 but have somehow faded away over the years. If anyone enjoys 80s music in any form, the list above should be of great interest to them. Start one of these tracks today; they might become the reason to explore further and find more hidden treasures from that vibrant decade.