A black-and-white photo of a castle with the album and artist name written in dark crimson banners above and below it

  • U2: THE UNFORGETTABLE FIRE: 1984: 4 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: U2 kept the momentum going-a year and a half after War- they had released the live album Under A Blood Red Sky and this their 4th album. The album went to #12 in the US matching War and they had their first hit- Pride {In The Name Of Love.} I have noticed this with a number of U2 albums- not all but some- the first side of the album tends to be stronger than side 2. The sound is more experimental on this album with the addition of Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois producing. A good idea for a growing band to change. Best songs – A Sort Of Homecoming, Pride, The Unforgettable Fire and Bad.


  • U2: UNDER A BLOOD RED SKY: 1983: 4 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: This live album most of the songs recorded in Germany- helped form U2’s reputation as a live band. They were busy back in the 80’s- nowadays they seem to record at a glacial pace. In the 1980’s they recorded 6 studio albums. In the 30 years since a total of 8.  Back to this- an excellent live album.


  • XTC: SKYLARKING: 1986: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: XTC’s peak- their greatest album. At this point they had become a studio band- no longer touring at all. I was talking above about how U2 was busy and ambitious at the start of their careers- XTC with this album-were averaging an album a year since their debut in 1978. Dear God originally wasn’t on the American version of the album but due to the success it was having on college radio stations- the album was recalled the song added on and it helped album sales a great deal. Of course it was a controversial song–recently I was telling my friend Gunther about watching their documentary and his first words- and I knew they would be- was he had a problem with them due to Dear God. This is an album that always sounds fresh to my ears- even 30 plus years later. One of my favorite albums of the 80’s.

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  • R.E.M. AROUND THE SUN: 2004: 2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: Instead of writing about this I will just include a quote that sums the album up perfectly-After the release of their following album, Accelerate, guitarist Peter Buck said that for him Around the Sun “… just wasn’t really listenable, because it sounds like what it is, a bunch of people that are so bored with the material that they can’t stand it anymore. Their worst album.

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  • ISAAC HAYES: HOT BUTTERED SOUL: 1969: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: Hayes had been a behind the scenes producer and writer at Stax in Memphis- his first album was a flop commercially and he was about to go back to the old jobs. Stax lost their great back catalog to Atlantic and Stax executive ordered Stax artists to get new material out there- Hayes said he wouldn’t unless given full control -they wisely agreed and a star was born. A soul classic. Henry Rollins calls it one of his favorite albums. There are only four songs on the album- two on each side- but the 18 plus minute By The Time I Get To Phoenix is worth the price all by itself. Also a cover of the Bacharach and David hit “Walk On By” is great. The album went to #8 on the album charts.

A landscape monochrome photograph of U2 in the desert sits in the center of a black background. U2 are standing on the left half of the photograph, with a mountain range on the right half. Tiny gold text reading "THE JOSHUA TREE U2" is stretched across the top of the black background.

  • U2: THE JOSHUA TREE: 1986: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: They were building up to this- and I recall conversations with a friend back then before this album was even released- we were anticipating something huge- and we were right. I can’t think of any album that has three songs at the beginning that matches The Joshua Tree’s Where The Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For and With Or Without You. I am willing to consider contenders if you have any.  I saw them for the first time on this tour- and 30 years later saw them twice on The Joshua Tree 30th anniversary tour. One of my Top 25 albums ever made.

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  • DUKES OF STRATOSPHEAR: 25 O’CLOCK: 1985: A six song EP- The Dukes are really XTC under a new moniker. Released on April Fools Day 1985. They did a take on the psychedelic rock of the late 60’s- using vintage equipment . A fun album and good stuff.


  1. lol on the REM Peter Buck quote. Popeye’s, “It’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more!” comes to mind. Is that Isaac Hayes the one with “By the Time I get to Phoenix” on it? The Joshua Tree: I’ve played the living hell out of that CD. Never get tired of it. I’ve got the other two as well but they just sit there.

    • Isaac Hayes with the 18 minutes plus By The Time I Get To Phoenix- incredible….. The Joshua Tree is an album I have been playing regularly since its release.

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