Forgotten Songs of the 80’s, Part II

vinyl record on vinyl player
vinyl record on vinyl player
Photo by Andrea Turner on

Five more forgotten songs of the 80’s. Maybe you heard these on the radio, but they probably faded in the background, and were not oft-repeated. But that doesn’t mean they’re not deserving of a second look, because they absolutely are. In a decade that produced so much great music, I would suggest that the best music of all is actually the stuff that very few people listened to. Videos linked below.

The first post in this series is here, and lists ten other fantastic forgotten songs of the 80’s.

Worlds Away – Strange Advance

Do you like American Music? I like American Music. With all respect to the Violent Femmes, Canadian music is also amazing, and was certainly so in the 80’s. Strange Advance is a progressive rock band that never toured, to my knowledge. They made incredibly atmospheric prog-rock that can only be described as epic. This 1982 track is more than seven minutes long, progressing from a slow intro into a posh set of vocals, backed up by a clamouring completion. This is the type of song you would want to play for aliens if you ever ran across them. Close your eyes. And turn it up loud.

Stranger than Paradise – Sass Jordan

In Canada, Sass Jordan is legend. She has a wonderful voice, and such energy. But this song was tragically forgotten. The lyrics suggest an ages-long epic conflict between two people. “I owe an explanation. You owe an open mind. But when we’re both upset, the words are so unkind. I wanna run away, or cut you down to size.” The video is a movie unto itself, with some of the strangest imagery you can ever pile against a sepia and black-and-white background. This 1988 song should have been a huge hit – at the very least, someone should cover it, and bring it back to the forefront. It deserves the attention.

Touch and Go – Emerson, Lake and Powell

Yes, the same people who were once Emerson, Lake and Palmer. With Powell along, they only had one album, in 1986, and this is the best song off it. I remember hearing this for the first time, pretty sure someone had taken an abandoned Rush song and upgraded it with Queen-like backing, to create a song that would have been right at home in a Star Wars sequel that never got made. It’s effortlessly epic in the spaces it treads, and smashes in a bit of a metal sensibility to boot. I’ve never heard anything like it since, which is, to be sure, a bad thing.

Terminal Frost – Pink Floyd

We all think of Pink Floyd as a seminal band of the 70’s, but they put out two amazing discs in the 80’s. So worth a listen. “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” came out in 1987, and has some recognizable music, like “Learning to Fly”. No, not the Tom Petty song, something totally different. But if you delve into that amazing CD, you will find a 6-minute instrumental piece called Terminal Frost. To me, it has the full force of Pink Floyd’s ethereal vibe, especially as it gets to its heights, when voices finally appear. This is a trans-locational song. You can’t possibly stay in the place where you are, when you hear it.

Mama – Genesis

Oh lord. There is evil, and there is evil. I don’t fully know what is going on with this song, or how it could have come out of the brain of Phil Collins, no less. But between his evil laughter and the ominous drums, this 1983 epic somehow completely flopped in North America, despite being popular in the UK. Why does a song like this need to exist? I don’t know. It’s deeply uncomfortable and unsettling, but ends by launching into a ravenous landscape of intensity, noise and hollering that makes it utterly indispensable. “Can’t you feel my heart? Ha ha ha!” The most evil song of the 80’s, which means it’s so worth a listen.

Dream hard, rage hard.

4 thoughts on “Forgotten Songs of the 80’s, Part II

  1. Alrighty then… I actually do remember Strange Advance – but more for We Run.
    Thanks for reminding me about Sass Jordan – I always loved her.
    Didn’t know the ELPowell…
    Nor was I familiar with this particular Pink Floyd tune.
    I do, however, LOVE Mama. Was nice to see them play it last year when they came to town…

  2. Well, I have to say you brought back a lot of memories with these choices! “Worlds Away – Strange Advance” was the only one I did not recognize. The lyrics to that song are brilliant, though. The others had me dancing (my version of) and singing (again, my version of) around the house for a couple of hours. Of course, the club scene in Toronto was pretty amazing back then and that was were I saw Sass Jordan live. I think it was at the Diamond Club. Love her!

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