“Ah”, said a wise old former FACT staffer about this list, “possibly the best decade of them all?”
Looking at the evidence, it’s hard to argue: this is the decade that brought us fusion’s high noon, ten summers of disco, the rise of the dub cosmonauts, ambient’s first stirrings, and the viperous bite of punk. Electronic music left the academies and the novelty charts and started to infect rock and pop wholesale. Prog gazed upwards, New Age looked inwards, metal plumbed the depths – and the Germans released a lot of great records.
More than anything, though, this was popular music’s Cambrian period: a melting pot from which vital new forms (hip-hop, house, post-punk) would already be emerging by the end of the decade. It’s a decade of strange combinations, of unlikely correspondences and (to reference one album on the rundown) chance meetings – some disastrous, some very auspicious indeed.