Ranking #1 albums, U.K. edition: 1982

A year of surprises. I did not expect Dire Straits to impress me more than The Jam. In The Number of the Beast, I discovered a metal album as fresh as Motörhead’s. None are great, to be clear, but I hear in even a pinched luddite like Mark Knopfler an attempt to accept that the times demand an integration of New Pop’s spirit without treating it like a ghost (Knopfler sounds like Edwyn Collins on “Private Investigations”). “In places, Dire Straits sound almost like they were working toward a rock-oriented spin on new-age music,” Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote in a 2020 reassessment. As usual the prettiness can be synonymous with complacence, but the evidence is scant here.

As for Iron Maiden, well, I underrated the smartness in speed. Bruce Dickinson has a wail as piercing as Geddy Lee, and while he won’t convince me he believes in Satan’s wrath and the importance of 666, his performances are as canny in their way as Cliff Richard’s, whom I addressed last night.

Ah, Status Quo — was any band more aptly named?

Finally, for all the thousands of words — some by yours truly — explaining what Bryan Ferry does or does not do as a vocalist, I find the envoi of Avalon shrewder and lovelier now that I’m older than Ferry, Andy Mackay, and Phil Manzanera when they recorded it. For the last time he deigned to sing whole syllables, sometimes words; his keyboards pitch in when vocals fail, as so Mackay and Manzanera. He explained himself to us in the most deluxe and fulsome of goodbyes before he abstracted himself on Boys + Girls and Bete Noire into a Holy Spirit of Divine Melancholy.

Meh

Status Quo – 1+9+8+2
The Kids from “Fame” – The Kids from Fame

Sound, Solid

Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast
Dire Straits – Love over Gold
The Jam – The Gift
Paul McCartney – Tug of War
Barbra Streisand – Love Songs

Good to Great

ABC – The Lexicon of Love
Roxy Music – Avalon
Madness – Complete Madness
ABBA – The Singles: The First Ten Years
John Lennon – The John Lennon Collection

2 thoughts on “Ranking #1 albums, U.K. edition: 1982

  1. Genuinely wish ‘Pelican West’ were here, if only because – unlike even Yazoo – they never had another chance.

    The falconry scenes in the “Avalon” video have always struck me as incredibly symbolic: Falklands just regained, Prince William being born … the NME Left created this whole consensus here where this era of Roxy was considered a worthless, decadent betrayal, on a par with the prog stigma, and it took a long time to overcome. Now it seems faintly laughable that it ever held such power.

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