Best of 1981- The Albums List

Following the tragic death of John Lennon in December 1980, the world was still in mourning after the loss of one of the most influential musical masterminds of all time. All this did also had impact on the charts as his biggest hits "Woman" and "Imagine" dominated the music charts and even Roxy Music paid tribute to him by covering "Jealous Guy".
Apart from this, the charts were still dominated by the rising stars from 1980, Adam and the Ants while The Police had more hits. Human League has re-formed this year exiting the dark phase and releasing "Don't You Want Me Baby" which together with Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" helped to emblem the music style which would in the coming years be known as Synth-pop.
Along with the increasing popularity of synth driven music, the New Romanitic movement slowly grew to fame as new kids adopted synths and started wearing lipstick. Perhaps the biggest event of the year was the launch of MTV which aired "Video Killed a Radio Star" by the Buggles. The song became a huge hit, the band disappeared short after and MTV lost its charm meanwhile, the rest is history. 

The following Top 20 represents the result of the 'Best of 1981 - The Album list' together with our in-house votes. The list us last updated April 2020. 




01. The Human League- Dare [Virgin] 
Dare was released in 1981 as Human League’s third and most successful album to date. It was released shortly after the departure of founding members Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh and after the dancers/backing vocalists Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley joined the band. Their music began to change from avant-garde to commercial pop and first hits did hit the charts including “Don’t You Want Me Baby”, “Love Action” and “The Sound of the Crowd”. Martin Rushent received the 'Best Producer Award' at the 1982 Brit Awards and the success of the album led to the band winning the award for 'Best British Newcomer' too. Dare became critically acclaimed and has proved to be a genre-defining album, whose influence can be felt in many areas of pop music. The album and its four singles were hugely successful commercially, with the album reaching No 1 in the UK and being certified Triple Platinum by the BPI.



02. Soft Cell- Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret [Some Bizzare / Sire] 
Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret was a debut album by Soft Cell, originally released in the late 1981 by Vertigo. The album gained broader popularity when “Tainted Love” was released as single. As a result of the single's success the album had reported advance orders of more than 200,000 copies. It also featured the hit singles “Bedsitter”, “Memorabilia” and back then, the shocking “Sex Dwarf” and was also included in Robert Dimery's book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. In 2002, it was remastered and reissued with bonus tracks.



03. OMD- Architecture and Morality [DinDisc] 
Architecture & Morality is the third album by the British synthpop band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, released in 1981. Its associated singles – "Souvenir", "Joan of Arc", and "Maid of Orleans (The Waltz Joan of Arc)" sold more than 8 million copies combined. According to the album's credits, its title was suggested to the band by Martha Ladly, formerly of Martha and the Muffins, after the 1977 book Morality and Architecture by David Watkin. All songs were written by Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys while the artwork has once again been provided by Peter Saville. Architecture & Morality is widely regarded as one of the greatest electronic albums of all time which sold over 4 million copies.



04. Kraftwerk- Computer World [Kling Klang] 
Computer World is the eighth studio album by Kraftwerk, released on 10. May 1981. The album deals with the themes of the rise of computers within society and critics see this album as a peak in the career of Kraftwerk, along with The Man-Machine and Trans-Europe Express.“Computer Welt” was the only single release from the album which was backed by “The Model” previously released in 1978. The album was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and Slant Magazine placed the album at number twenty-five on its list of The 100 Best Albums of the 1980s. The album was remastered in 2009.



05. The Cure- Faith [Fiction] 
Faith is the third studio album by the Cure, released on 14. April 1981 by record labels Fiction and Polydor. The album was a moderate success commercially and received ambivalently critics. It saw the Cure continuing in the goth rock vein of 1980's Seventeen Seconds, which would conclude with the band's next album, Pornography. The album featured only one single release which was covered by the Dandy Warhols for the Cure tribute album Perfect as Cats: A Tribute to The Cure. Faith was reissued in the UK in 2005 as part of Universal Music's Deluxe Edition series.



06. Japan- Tin Drum [Virgin] 
Tin Drum is the fifth and final studio album by Japan released on Virgin Records on 13. November 1981. The band continued to work with electronic music leaning more towards the eastern elements and style. Four of the eight tracks from the album were released as singles including album’s most successful and memorable song “Ghosts”. The album itself peaked at No. 12 in the UK and was certified "Gold" by the BPI in 1982. It was awarded BBC Radio 6 Music's 'Goldie' award for the best album of 1981. Tin Drum was reissued in 2004.



07. Siouxsie and the Banshees – Juju [Polydor]
Juju is the fourth studio album Siouxsie and the Banshees which was released on 6 June 1981 by record label Polydor. Two singles were released from Juju: "Spellbound" and "Arabian Knights". After the slightly electronic bent of their previous album, 1980's Kaleidoscope, the band returned to a guitar-based sound for Juju, due to the presence of a new guitarist John McGeoch. The album reached No. 7 in the UK Albums Chart and it is a true post-punk classic that was included in "1000 Albums to Hear Before You Die". Juju was remastered in 2006.



08. Simple Minds- Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call [Virgin]
Simple Minds' first release on Virgin was a double album, the Steve Hillage-produced, Sons and Fascination and Sister Feelings Call. The latter album was initially included as a bonus disc with the first 10,000 vinyl copies of Sons and Fascination, but it was later re-issued as an album in its own right. The album featured the singles “The American”, “Sweet in Bullet” and "Love Song" out of which "Love Song" became an international hit (reaching the Top 20 in Canada and Australia). The 2002 remastered reissue includes all titles from both albums.



09. Ultravox- Rage in Eden [Chrysalis]
Rage in Eden was the fifth album by the British New Wave band Ultravox released in 1981 on Chrysalis. The album reached No. 4 in the UK album charts and was certified Gold by the BPI for sales in excess of 100,000 copies. The album featured the singles “The Voice” and “The Thin Wall”, both reaching top 20 in the UK charts. The album sleeve for Rage in Eden was designed by Peter Saville while all the reissues after 1981 featured different artwork, due to licensing problems concerning the original cover. The album was remastered in 2008.



10. Duran Duran- Duran Duran [EMI] 
Duran Duran released their self-titled debut album on EMI Records in the summer of 1981. The album reached No. 3 on the United Kingdom charts and remained in the UK Top 100 for 117 weeks, achieving platinum status by December 1982. “Planet Earth” was the first official release while the album also featured “Girls on Film”, the best-selling single. The album was reissued in 1983 following the success of Rio in the US and it was remastered in 2010 as a special edition.


11. The Sound - From Lion's Mouth [Korova]
12. Echo and The Bunnymen- Heaven Up Here [Korova]
13. New Order- Movement [Factory Records]
14. The Go Go's - Beauty and the Beat [I.R.S]
15. Gang of Four - Solid Gold [Warner Bros]
16. The Gun Club - Fire of Love [Ruby]
17. Heaven 17 - Penthouse and Pavements [Virgin]
18. Bauhaus- Mask [Beggars Banquet]
19. Tuxedoomoon - Desire [Ralph]
20. The Stranglers - La Folie [Parlophone]
21. D.A.F. - Alles ist Gut [Virgin]
22. Squeeze - East Side Story [A&M]
23. Eurythmics - In the Garden [RCA]
24. Kim Wilde - Kim Wilde [RAK]
25. Pete Shelley- Homosapien [Island]
 

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