Even though 1982 was a bad year for the record industry, it was a good year nonetheless for the music
So good, in fact, that at least 15 or 16 albums were released that I considered good enough to be included in the year end top 10 list.
Elvis Costello came out with a masterpiece, Tom Petty, Warren Zevon and Billy Joel came out with their finest efforts to date, and Bruce Springsteen shocked the country by releasing an acoustic album.
This is my year-end top 10, plus a list of honorable mention selections:
1. Imperial Bedroom. Elvis Costello and the Attractions — This is Costello's best album to date — a masterpiece. For the first time, Costello finally sheds his angry young man stance, and lets the listener in on some of his innermost feelings. This one ranks right up there with the Beatles's Sgt. Pepper and the Who's Who's Next.
2. Nebraska. Bruce Springsteen — Known as America's premier rock 'n' roller, Springsteen took a big risk by recording an acoustic album on the heels of the success of 1980'sThe River. But he succeeds beyond all expectations with this gritty, grim portrait of America. The songs on Nebraska were originally meant to be recorded with the E Street Band, but Springsteen felt the message of the songs were more forceful in their acoustic versions.
3. It's Hard. The Who — It's Hard is the Who's strongest album in years. Pete Townsend and Company are back in full force, on what will probably be the group's final studio effort.
4. Long After Dark. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers — Petty establishes himself as one of America's top rockers with Long After Dark, his finest album to date. With his distinctive vocals and the impressive Heartbreakers backing with their usual flair, Petty has come up with one of the finest rock albums this year.
S. The Nylon Curtain. Billy Joel — Billy Joel has finally won the critics over with his most mature record, which deals with some strong subjects, including unemployment, love, pressure, the Vietnam War and other social concerns. His turn toward more serious material is a stunning success.
6. The Envoy. Warren Zevon — His days of hard drinking behind him, Zevon is finally starting to erase his image as Hollywood's bad boy. The Envoy is a fine work, filled not with images of werewolves in London and headless machine gunners in Africa, but with political envoys, Beverly Hills doctors and hula hula boys.
7. I Can't Stand Still. Don Henley — The ex-Eagle soars solo with one of 1982's most biting social commentaries. With songs like "Johnny, Can't Read" and "Dirty Laundry" on the radio, Henley has taken a hard stance against illiteracy and the exploitative media. Henley also sings about the nuclear threat, "Them and Us," and has successfully moved away from the sound of the Eagles.
8. Sweets from a Stranger. Squeeze — The final album from this British group is probably their best, although 1981's East Side Story, is a strong contender. Filled with high-quality pop ditties and romantic ballads, Sweets from a Stranger is a refreshing album. The often-made comparison of Paul McCartney and John Lennon to Squeeze's Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford aren't that far off-base, as evidenced on this record.
9. Night and Day. Joe Jackson — Joe Jackson is an artist not afraid to experiment with various types of music. Last year it was swing and jive music, this year it's Latin-flavored salsa. With "Night and Day," Joe Jackson proves that you can make an excellent pop-rock album without using any guitars.
10. Forever, For Always, For Love. Luther Vandross — Luther Vandross nukes some of the most beautiful soul music heard on the radio these days. The second solo album from this brilliant soulful crooner firmly establishes Vandross as one of the finest male vocalists in the music business. With his lush vocals and beautiful arrangements, Luther Vandross has finally hit it big.