Music – 1980s


According to popular myth, LA punk was the backward cousin of its Anglophile/East Coast counterparts, rich kids in plastic strapping on some tinsel and cowboy stirrups. Truth was, most were drop-outs, runaways and disaffected kids from the ‘burbs – most feeling revolted by the intrinsic vulgarity and stifling opulence of Hollywood. Unlike in NYC though,(…)

XL Capris

Formed in Sydney (Australia) at the end of 1978, XL Capris soon acquired a healthy following on the punk/alternative circuit when they formed their own Axle Records and released two singles, including Red Bikini Runaway, about 18-year old Lillian Gasinskaya -a young Ukrainian woman who was briefly famous in 1979 when, seeking asylum, she jumped from a Russian(…)


Formed in Wiltshire, England, in 1972 as Star Park (“Rats Krap” backwards) this widely beloved UK pop unit became the Helium Kidz in 1973 with the addition of bass player Colin Moulding, drummer Terry Chambers and a second guitarist Dave Cartner to the nucleus of Andy Partridge (guitar, vocals). The Helium Kidz were heavily influenced(…)

Y&T (Yesterday & Today)

When it comes to the original MTV generation of big-haired heavy metal band, Y&T (originally Yesterday & Today before they shortened their name) were one of the best, yet they remained underrated. The San Francisco-based band featured Dave Meniketti, Joey Alves, Philip Kennemore and Leonard Haze. They recorded steadily throughout the 80s, with albums including Yesterday(…)


This little known British band produced some killer power pop during the early 80s and should have been huuuuuge stars – but sadly they weren’t and their two LP’s remain a secret enjoyed by the knowledgeable few. Formed in Liverpool by Henry Priestman and Martin Dempsey from the remains of an R&B band called Albert Dock in(…)


When Essex girl Alison ‘Alf’ Moyet put an advertisement in the music papers, she was looking for a “rootsy blues band”. What she got was synthesizer wizard Vince Clarke (pictured at right), who had just left hit pop band Depeche Mode. Together as Yazoo they became an instant success, receiving the Best Newcomer award at the(…)

Yazz (& The Plastic Population)

Ex-model Yasmin Evans recorded a high-energy cover of the Otis Clay soul track The Only Way Is Up in 1988. It became the year’s biggest-selling single in the UK. The subsequent release, Stand Up For Your Love Rights, was a Yazz original.


Wacky Swiss synth-pop pioneers Dieter Meier and Boris Blank were contemporaries of Kraftwerk and had early acclaim for albums Solid Pleasure and Claro Que Si. They quickly proved popular with the Futurist and New Romantic movements in the UK. Their 1986 hit Oh Yeah featured in the films Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Secret Of My Success, and was later used in(…)

Yoko Ono

Born in Japan on 13 February 1933, Yoko Ono finished her education in the USA and became a well-known figure during the 1960s in New York avant-garde art circles, making films and organizing “happenings”. She met John Lennon at an art exhibition in London, and Yoko (previously married with one child, Kyoko) married him on(…)

Yothu Yindi

This multiracial Australian band (the name is an Australian aboriginal phrase for ‘Mother Child’) blended native and white sounds and sentiments. Yothu Yindi were founded in 1986, the year of Australia’s bicentennial, and practiced a highly politicised and nationalistic form of music making. Drawing from sounds as diverse as the didgeridoo and the electric guitar,(…)

Young Homebuyers

Young Homebuyers hailed from Adelaide, Australia, and pivoted around the songwriting team of Nigel Lawrence and Greg Williams, who met at high school. In their original incarnation, the band were heavily into satire, offering hilarious stage parodies of The Police, Billy Joel, Redgum and others, with songs like It’s Still Billy Joel To Me, Penguins Took My(…)

ZZ Top

This sturdy American blues-rock trio from Texas were formed in 1970 in and around Houston, from rival bands The Moving Sidewalks (Gibbons) and The American Blues (Hill and Beard). Their first two albums reflected the strong blues roots and Texas humour of the band. Their third album, Tres Hombres, gained them national attention with their hit(…)

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