7 Incredible Albums Turning 40 This Month

7 Incredible Albums Turning 40 This Month

Posted 8 Oct 2020
talking heads 1980
David Byrne (left) and Tina Weymouth (right) of Talking Heads at Hammersmith Palais, London December 1, 1980 (Photo by David Corio/Redferns/Getty Images)

A lot happened in 1980. John Lennon was tragically shot and killed outside the Dakota in New York. America boycotted the Moscow Olympics. The Rubik’s Cube first went on sale and Azaria Chamberlain went missing. It’s also a year known for producing some of the rocks defining albums. AC/DC dropped Back In Black, Motorhead broke out with Ace Of Spades and Ozzy Osbourne went solo with his debut Blizzard Of Ozz. But it was during the month of October when music fans were really spoiled. Over this four-week period albums from some of rocks greats dropped, including classics from Talking Heads and Bruce Springsteen, along with the debut album from little known Aussie act INXS. Shining a light on this phenomenal month in music history, here are seven incredible albums from 1980 turning 40 this month.

Talking Heads – Remain In Light

David Byrne is a genius. Everything he touches turns to gold. Even when struggling with writer’s block he managed to conceive Remain In Light, arguably Talking Heads Magnum opus. Taking influence from African music - particularly Nigerian artist Fela Kuti - hip-hop and funk, the album is a bubbling cauldron of genres and inspirations that brought Afro-funk to the masses. Unfortunately for Byrne, despite rave reviews, Remain In Light was not a huge success when released. Since then it’s found a wider audience who appreciate what Byrne was trying to achieve, with the album now regarded by many as a cultural touchstone. 

Get Talking Heads on vinyl or CD here!

The Police – Zenyatta Mondatta

Recorded over a four-week period before embarking on a whirlwind world tour, The Police’s Zenyatta Mondatta is a joyous reggae-influenced pop record responsible for two of the band’s biggest hits, “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” and “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da”. Once again teaming with producer Nigel Gray, The Police’s third long-player finds the band expanding on their unique sound while writing songs with a more politically edge. Despite The Police being unimpressed with the final product, Zenyatta Mondatta received universal praise from critics and hit the top of the UK charts.

U2 – Boy

Irish rockers U2 exploded onto the global music scene with their seminal-debut album Boy. Reflecting the album’s title and cover photo of a young boy, the 11 songs deal with themes of adolescence, innocence and youth. Despite producer Steve Lillywhite’s unorthodox methods (drums were recorded in the stairwell of the studio and effects like breaking glass added to flesh out songs), Boy was a great success, spawning hit singles “A Day Without Me” and “I Will Follow” and helped turn U2 into the next big thing. 

Flowers – Icehouse

It’s hard to believe this album is 40 years old. Listening back to it now, Icehouse sounds just as fresh and invigorating as it did when it came out in 1980. Laying the blueprint for Aussie synth-rock, chief songwriter and vocalist Iva Davis demonstrates his knack for writing upbeat compositions ready-made for the local disco. Tracks such as “Walls,” “Not My Kind” and “We Can Get Together” are just incredible, with the albums defining moment, the top 10 charting “Can’t Help Myself,” a phenomenal explosion of upbeat pop.

Dire Straits – Making Movies

Five years before Brothers In Arms cemented Dire Straits as bona fide rock stars, Making Movies proved they were the real deal. Kicking off with the eight-minute epic, “Tunnel Of Love,” the album is a meticulous journey through anthemic guitar riffs, classic rock solos and Mark Knopfler’s romanticised lyrics. “Solid Rock” and “Expresso Love” are both standouts, but it’s the heartbreaking “Romeo And Juliet,” inspired by Knopfler’s failed romance with singer Holly Vincent, that showcases why Dire Straits would become one of the biggest acts of the 80s. 


Compared to the rest of their discography, INXS’ self-titled debut doesn’t quite stack up. Lacking the chart-busting hits of their later records, what the album does exceptionally well is capture the emerging Aussie pub rock sound of the early 80s. It also serves a fantastic introduction to future sex symbol Michael Hutchence. Recorded with an estimated budget of just $100,000, INXS is a solid debut showcasing Hutchence’s sexually charged vocals, Tim Farriss’ kick-ass guitar riffs and Kirk Pengilly’s baby-making saxophone playing, gifting fans the live favourite Just Keep Walking

Bruce Springsteen – The River

It’s been a big year for Bruce Springsteen. Not only does the great man have a new album on the way, but two of his earlier albums, Born To Run and The River, celebrate their 45th and 40th anniversaries respectively. Released in October of 1980, The River is The Boss’ only double album and first Billboard number one. Containing 20 tracks covering familiar Springsteen themes like young love (“Sherry Darling,” “Hungry Heart”), the working class (“Out In The Street”) and mortality (“Wreck On The Highway,” “The River”), it’s epic in both scope and length. Balancing radio hits with deep cuts, Springsteen delivered a classic rock record for the ages that ranks as one of his most enduring releases.   

If you love these songs from 1980, check out our Sounds Of The 80s playlists below!

Listen on Spotify

Listen on Apple Music

Related Posts