With the decade coming towards its end, 1988 was a genuine mixed bag. Pet Shop Boys released some of their best ever work; Elton John’s ‘Reg Strikes Back’ album marked somewhat of a comeback for the megastar after five years of intermittently enjoyable material and Jane Wiedlin hit the UK singles chart with ‘Rush Hour’, arguably one of the decade’s greatest pop singles.
With debut albums from Crowded House and The Housemartins standing alongside massive hits from Madonna, a-ha and Red Box, 1986 would already have a strong enough grounding to challenge 1984 as one of the decade’s finest years for music. With Huey Lewis’s ‘Fore!’ challenging 1983’s as his masterpiece, a strong AOR debut from Robert Tepper and Jackson Browne’s ‘Lives In The Balance’ channelling a very commercial sound, it was also very much a year for great Transatlantic AOR and sounds that now seem so entrenched within that decade, you can’t help but love them.
For a lot of people, 1981 is a year where the 1980s really found its feet. It’s a year where fewer things carry a feel of the 70s; it’s a year where the New Romantics and the new wave of synth pop stars dominated the charts. As well as being a solid year for pop, 1981 also found the New Wave of British Heavy Metal reaching its crescendo.
Back in the mists of time, long before Iron Maiden became a reality – let alone a world conquering phenomenon – bassist and founder member Steve Harris was in a band called Gypsy’s Kiss. Maiden fans will surely have heard Steve briefly talk about the band during the excellent Iron Maiden ‘Early Years’ documentary, but few would have suspected they’d actually get to hear them.
In some people’s minds, Samson are often considered either a second division act of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, or simply “that band that Bruce Dickinson used to be in”. While neither is technically incorrect – historically, most NWOBHM bands are now second division compared to scene titans Iron Maiden and Saxon, and Bruce was in the band – such basic thinking does Samson a massive disservice. By the time they’d recorded their debut album in 1979, the band were actually at the forefront of the emerging scene. They were one of the first to release a full length album and despite some fluctuation in early line-ups, at their best, they could more than hold their own when it came to hard rock entertainment.