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Mike Barnes  |  Jul 15, 2021
The '80s is generally looked back upon as a time of glossy escapist pop, yet by writing songs about topics such as vegetarianism, street violence and despair, Mancunian quartet The Smiths became one of the biggest and best-loved indie bands of the decade

The Smiths' debut single 'Hand In Glove' was released in May 1983. Although ostensibly indie guitar-pop, it was a fresh take on the genre. Ushered in by blasts of wheezy harmonica and punctuated by cymbal crashes, the singer intoned, in sinuous melody lines, a tale of a pair of defiant lovers in the verses, while the instrumental choruses were based around an intricate guitar refrain.

Mike Barnes  |  Jun 06, 2019
Released in the UK at the tail end of a decade that was becoming defined by tribalism and industrial strife, this eponymous debut drew on the energies of both punk and ska music, bringing the band's mission to promote racial equality to the mainstream

Ska originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s and was first taken up in the UK in the early '60s by the mods. It began to gain mainstream popularity towards the end of that decade, yielding hit singles such as The Pioneers' 'Long Shot (Kick The Bucket)', Desmond Dekker's 'The Israelites', Jimmy Cliff's 'You Can Get It If You Really Want' and 'The Liquidator' by the Harry J Allstars.

Mike Barnes  |  Apr 10, 2019
Produced over a six-month period in 1968 by the group's manager Kit Lambert, this was the first big rock opera to appear on LP. Today it is regarded as Pete Townshend's 'magnum opus', yet on release there were those who derided it for being in poor taste

For The Who, 1966 was a pivotal year. Listen to their debut album My Generation, released in 1965, and it's clear they were essentially still a mod band – posters for a Marquee residency the previous year had them billed as 'Maximum R&B'. But once you've reached the maximum, where do you go from there?

Johnny Black  |  Nov 13, 2020
Waits once joked he wrote only two kinds of songs, describing them as grim reapers and grand weepers. And while this 1978 album was not a best-seller, it saw him refine his beat poet balladry by drawing on the blues, resulting in some of his greatest tracks

Millions first encountered the name Tom Waits when he was listed as the composer of 'Ol' 55', one of the stand-out tracks on The Eagles' 1974 album On The Border. Anyone sufficiently smitten by that ultra-smooth slab of Californian country rock to wonder who this songwriter was, probably went on to discover that Waits resembled The Eagles about as much as Bob Dylan resembled Peter, Paul And Mary.

Mike Barnes  |  Apr 22, 2021
They went from post-punk hopefuls to stadium headliners in just five years, but keen to avoid repeating themselves the band turned to producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois to reshape their music, a strategy that resulted in one of the best selling records of all time 

It was relatively brief, but the cultural convulsion of UK punk in the late '70s prompted an upwelling of rock groups, leaner and hungrier than their predecessors. One of these began life in 1976 at Mount Temple Comprehensive School in Clontarf, a coastal suburb of Dublin. First calling themselves Feedback and then The Hype, before settling on U2, the group comprised four teenage friends: vocalist Bono Vox (real name Paul Hewson), guitarist The Edge (aka Dave Evans), Adam Clayton on bass and Larry Mullen Jr on drums.

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