I was listening to my ipod earlier and I realized that there is music from my childhood that deals with much heavier stuff than the rest of the fluff from that age. I found five albums from five artists that wrote about much more mature subjects than their listeners were able to comprehend.
Nik Kershaw got famous for his summer hit “I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” and the lots more depressing “Wouldn’t It Be Good”. I’ve slowly come to realize that the album is quite underrated. On different songs he deals with complex and mature subjects like career chasing, shyness, loss of love etc. It’s a pity that this artist is only remembered for a handful of hits that were above average, but on the whole rather forgettable for all others than eighties fanatics.
Howard Jones’s debut album is also an interesting listen due to its’ subject matter. The opening song “Conditioning” deals with how we are conditioned into roles at a very young age. Listening to it at the age of twelve, it meant little or nothing to me, but at twentyfive, I realized what a difficult subject he had made the theme of a rather upbeat synthpop-tune. His big hit “What Is Love?” deals with how we often feel insecurity in love and how natural this is. The whole album deals with themes like equality, liberation and self fulfilment, ideas I had little knowledge about in my early teens.
Everyone remembers “Shout”, the only pop song about primal scream therapy to reach hit lists. The debut album of Tears For Fears mostly deals with mental disease and therapy and it’s a rather dark affair. In addition, it has a rather sparse production making it sound outdated already in 1985. Listening to it ten years later (someone gave me the record on vinyl) revealed a rather sincere album with a rather mature subject matter.
This album was never underrated, but has been largely forgotten. Matt Johnson (who for all practical purposes is The The) sings about war with the islamic world, lost love and the americanization of Britain under Thatcher. If you’ve never heard this one, you should. It was considered one of the best albums of 1986 and it hasn’t faded much.
Back in 1999, I was a DJ at a vernissage, and one of the gallery owners said it was nice that I played Kraftwerk but I should have kept off the other stuff (I played Alphaville). Alphaville easily attracts criticism, partly for the song that gave the album its’ name (it’s quite horrible) and the other hits that it spawned. The problem with this album is that in addition to several catchy hits, and a song about divided Germany, is that it also contain some rather bad fillers at the end. I can never bring myself to listen through it all.