Theoretical geek in 1981 needs records.
August 6, 2009 5:53 AM   Subscribe

More than a playlist, I'm trying to make an entire sub-set of my music collection: I want the music that a 17-year-old D&D playing geeky almost-metalhead would be listening 1981.

For the purposes of this, obviously the range goes 1981 (somewhat arbitrary, 1982's fine too, (I was just slightly too young at the time to have much recollection of the music.)) and backwards. It's actually the backwards that's tripping me up -- I can find 'best of 1980' and so on, but hunting through that for what someone would be listening to as part of their own collection is somewhat difficult.

As regards to availability: I'm not going out and finding rare LPs -- I'm looking for music that is available today. That being said, if it's not available in stores but is 'available,' that's ok.
posted by Weighted Companion Cube to Media & Arts (33 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Take a look at the soundtrack for Freaks and Geeks. It's the exact time period you're looking for, and there are even a lot of D&D playing nerds.
posted by oinopaponton at 6:02 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Rush or Yes?
posted by bunny hugger at 6:03 AM on August 6, 2009

Rush, Yes. Heh. Maybe Blue Öyster Cult? Way mystical.
posted by limeonaire at 6:05 AM on August 6, 2009

posted by limeonaire at 6:06 AM on August 6, 2009

Best answer: There would almost certainly be some Rush in there, specifically some of the science-fictiony/fantasy material on Caress of Steel (1975), 2112 (1976), and Hemispheres (1978).

On preview, yep, Rush.
posted by Balonious Assault at 6:11 AM on August 6, 2009

I'm a few years too young to be an exact match for your criteria, but these should be there or thereabouts: Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, ELP, Jethro Tull, Queen, early Iron Maiden (Number of the Beast was 1982). Nthing Rush and Yes.
posted by Bodd at 6:20 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Led Zepp.
Bon Scott era AC/DC
Black Sabbath
Alice Cooper
posted by COD at 6:21 AM on August 6, 2009

Journey perhaps. Boston, Kansas. The Knack. The Kings (Switchin' to Glide was a classic!). Cheap Trick. The Cars.

I've said too much.
posted by adamrice at 6:22 AM on August 6, 2009

Other maybes that occur to me: Led Zeppelin (also way mystical), The Outlaws, and the Scorpions, perhaps?
posted by limeonaire at 6:22 AM on August 6, 2009

ufo. aerosmith.
posted by lester at 6:28 AM on August 6, 2009

Best answer: Detroit Rock City soundtrack for sure. Some remixes/covers on there, but the feel is real.
posted by ShadePlant at 6:30 AM on August 6, 2009

Also maybe ELO?
posted by ShadePlant at 6:30 AM on August 6, 2009

Best answer: I'm going to throw out Coven as one of those "probably got a tape of this from an unsavory older friend" bands. Who could refuse an album called Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls?
posted by adipocere at 6:31 AM on August 6, 2009

Also the soundtrack from Dazed and Confused.
posted by scratch at 6:37 AM on August 6, 2009

Response by poster: I'm almost sorry I missed realizing Freaks and Geeks takes place then. I have a vibrant hatred for Apatow, but hey, the soundtrack listing sounds great and now I might try watching an episode or two. Maybe it's just his recent stuff I loathe with the fury of a thousand suns.

Since this is for what's called a 'total environment' experiment in my spare room, the mention of Coven as an 'unsavory friend's tape' is absolutely perfect and a significant part of the vibe I'm kind of looking for. Sure, Mom knows you have the Boston LP, but she doesn't know about the other tapes. (Like in 'Detroit Rock City,' which I did see and had totally forgotten about now.)
posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 6:59 AM on August 6, 2009

Best answer: Manowar
Mercyful Fate
posted by permafrost at 7:02 AM on August 6, 2009

Best answer: *drops cassette of "London Calling" onto gaming table, walks away to bum cigarettes off the cool kids*
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:13 AM on August 6, 2009 [5 favorites]

Your non-metal records might include Klaus Schulze, Mike Oldfield, Tangerine Dream, Can, Material, George Clinton, Frank Zappa, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report and electric Miles Davis.
posted by box at 7:15 AM on August 6, 2009

Best answer: Billy Squier?
Van Halen?
Iron Maiden?

During Luven Lightfinger's shadowy career as a thief, I probably listened to all of those, along with the aforementioned Rush, Yes, Boston, Kansas, The Cars, DEVO, The Pretenders, The Clash, ELO (never Journey or REO Speedwagon and only early Foreigner, however, cause those guys sucked).
posted by notyou at 7:48 AM on August 6, 2009

Best answer: There will be absolutely no disco or dance music. My ex was about the age of your theoretical geek and I'm five years younger. My affection for disco bewildered and kind of disgusted him; it was a very generational divide between us. Aside: we met at the D&D table when I was 17.

For the record, he liked a lot of AOR (big Boston fan) but was also a big fan of British/Celtic folk and folk-rock bands. Steeleye Span is your core band of this type: it took traditional folk songs about magic and faeries and rocked them up, sort of the way Led Zeppelin did with the blues. I'd have to hit my record collection to see which other bands would be period-appropriate, but that's a starting point to spice up your AOR. From other non-AOR things suggested: Mike Oldfield and Tangerine Dream yes. George Clinton, no.

The Freaks & Geeks soundtrack is dead on.
posted by immlass at 8:11 AM on August 6, 2009

Best answer: The movie "Heavy Metal" came out in 1981. The soundtrack hits what you are looking for and was in constant play in my cassette boombox of the day.

Also in the boombox.

Judas Priest
posted by Otis at 8:31 AM on August 6, 2009

Best answer: Dio.
posted by biggity at 8:47 AM on August 6, 2009

Further research: Watch The Gate (probably shot in 1986), look for any band poster on Terry's walls and any insignia his jacket might bear, then discount everything after 1982.
posted by adipocere at 8:50 AM on August 6, 2009

Best answer: Rush's Moving Pictures came out February 1981, although the D&D-playing geek in you might prefer 1977's A Farewell to Kings for "Cygnus X-1," or 1978's Hemispheres for the eponymous, side-long continuation of the "Cygnus X-1" saga.

And then there's 1976's 2112, but what more can be said about that classic?
posted by judomadonna at 8:54 AM on August 6, 2009

Best answer: Playing D&D in my friend's basement 1977-1983 (seventh to twelfth grades) , we would listen to lots of Rush, Kiss, Judas Priest, The Who, AC/DC, Ted Nugent, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath (and Ozzy later when he went solo), Blue Oyster Cult, the soundtracks to Conan the Barbarian and Heavy Metal, Pink Floyd, Saxon, The Police, Styx, Alice Cooper, Kansas, Steve Miller, Deep Purple, Holst: The Planets, Devo, The Dead Milkmen, Jimi Hendrix, Queen, Jethro Tull, Ramones, B-52's, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Joe Walsh, The Cars, The Clash, Cheap Trick, Molly Hatchet, Oingo Boingo, Nazareth, Def Lepard, Aeosmith, and even more Rush. I am sure there are some I am forgetting, but I tossed my cassette collection 3 years ago.
posted by fings at 11:36 AM on August 6, 2009

Most of what I'd suggest has been already, so I'll just add Peter Gabriel-era Genesis.
posted by JaredSeth at 12:44 PM on August 6, 2009

i wish i could favorite BitterOldPunk's comment a million times.
posted by radiosilents at 1:45 PM on August 6, 2009

Response by poster: You guys recommended over seventy different bands! Holy crap! I marked a lot of you best answer since there's soooo much here.

I'm in decent shape with a few of these bands – Sabbath, BOC, AC/DC, Queen, Mercyful Fate, and Rainbow. There's a few I'm demoting for now as they're not really fitting my vibe, but I'll hold on to for later stages of the project: the punk and proggier stuff moreso, the poppier and new wave stuff is okay for when it's really developed. And to be brutally honest, I just don't really like jazz or jazz fusion or funk.

Breakdown for anyone following this thread:
The winner, with 6 votes and specific album recommendations: Rush! Congratulations! I will dig these records out of the Goodwill Store bins, since they're always there anyway.

Runner up, with 5 votes: Black Sabbath*. Not a surprise, good showing.

3 each:
AC/DC, ELO, Iron Maiden, Kansas, Led Zeppelin, Scorpions, The Cars, The Clash, Yes

2 votes each:
Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Blue Öyster Cult, Boston, Cheap Trick, DEVO, Jethro Tull, Judas Priest, Mike Oldfield, Pink Floyd, Queen, Tangerine Dream, Van Halen.
soundtracks to: Freaks and Geeks & Heavy Metal.

1 vote each:
B-52's, Billy Squier, Can, Coven, David Bowie, Deep Purple, Def Leppard, Dio , Frank Zappa, Genesis (Peter Gabriel-era ), Heart, Holst: The Planets, Jimi Hendrix, Joe Walsh, Kiss, Klaus Schulze, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Manowar, Material, Mercyful Fate, Miles Davis (electric), Molly Hatchet, Nazareth, Oingo Boingo, Ozzy later when he went solo, Rainbow*, Ramones, Saxon, Steeleye Span, Steve Miller, Styx, Ted Nugent, The Dead Milkmen, The Kings, The Knack, The Outlaws, The Police, The Pretenders, The Rolling Stones, The Who, ufo, Venom, Weather Report
soundtracks to: Conan the Barbarian, Dazed and Confused, Detroit Rock City.

*one vote for each was extrapolated from the 'Dio' vote.
posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 6:44 PM on August 6, 2009

Definitely Black Sabbath: Paranoid & Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath.
And almost definitely Aerosmith, AC/DC, Cheap Trick
All Rush up to 1981.
Certainly Zeppelin: Zep II, Zep IV, Houses Of The Holy
Pink Floyd, of course.
Some Jethro Tull: definitely Aqualung, maybe Songs From The Wood, Stormwatch
Some Yes: Close To The Edge & The Yes Album
Some King Crimson: Court Of The Crimson King, Starless & Bible Black, Red, maybe Discipline
Possibly some experimentation with ELP (depending on how much the d&d crossed with metal to lead down the bad Prog-rock path): Brain Salad Surgery
posted by croctommy at 11:30 PM on August 6, 2009

King Crimson. Discipline came out in 1981 if I recall correctly (and it's entirely possible that I don't, but it would definitely be on the playlist).
posted by jokeefe at 6:41 PM on August 7, 2009

Response by poster: Ha! The one new band two people name, I even have the vinyl for that! Gooooo Cube!
posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 7:06 PM on August 7, 2009

Best answer: Hello. I'm here as an erstwhile metal fan to mention one band:


Yes, that's the name of a small bird. Yes, that makes them sound silly. Yes, they released a record called Impeckable. Yes, they are a band which to some degree 'flew under the radar' (pun intended) and yes, this Welsh metal band of the late seventies might have been slightly obscure for a young metalhead in the US.

Whatever. Go listen to them. They are glorious, they are raging, they have a sense of humor, and they are (wonder of wonders) a 70's metal band that isn't campy. They had hilariously awesome album titles like If I Were Britannia, I'd Waive The Rules. Their song titles tended to be even better, and included:

  • 'Crash Course In Brain Surgery'

  • 'You're the Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk'

  • 'In the Grip of a Tyrefitter's Hand'

  • 'Hot as a Docker's Armpit'

  • 'Breadfan'

  • and that acme of the metal arts, 'Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman.'

  • Those tunes give you a good idea of what they were all about; really fantastic grooves in the dirty, slamming style of those more popular metal groups of the era, but with something more: a sort of ease and ponderous, contemplative tone which was more ready to embrace the dark and the silent than those famous guitar-slinging groups which were thrilling London in the '70s. Like... well, listen to 'Wondering What Everyone Knows,' which is from their fourth album, In For The Kill (1974). This is a beautiful and primal song, and utterly unlike anything other contemporary heavy groups might have come up with, a sort of paean to nervous social isolation. Or listen to my absolute favorite song of theirs - one of my favorite songs of all time - a fantastic heavy tune called 'Parents.' [album version / fantastic live version, date unknown] Yeah. That is a guitar solo, my friends. I can't really describe the way that song makes me feel; only that it reminds me of my parents. That's not a good thing, though it's no more or less than the human condition.

    So: Budgie's great.

    As far as that awesome old metal groove, you also can't forget Mountain's 'Mississippi Queen' (which has better cowbell than 'Don't Fear The Reaper' anyway OH SHIT I JUST SAID IT) and Imogen's weird old uncle Uriah who could always be counted on for a good song about a wizard.
    posted by koeselitz at 10:32 PM on August 7, 2009

    Just an aside: I loathe the Apatow films that I have seen, but I love, love, love Freaks & Geeks. It is perfection. The freaks are whiny, the geeks are awkward, & there are so many moments when you will turn to your watching partner & say, "That is why this series got cancelled, right there" & it is wonderful.

    +1 hermaphrodite.
    posted by opossumnus at 10:17 PM on December 20, 2009

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