Now that's what I call music...

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

A raft of tantalising comebacks and a new radio show are testament to the fact that we're finally recognising the Eighties for what it was: a decade of peerless pop, says Pierre Perrone

It was the decade that couldn't wait to get started and ended early. It kicked off with the celebratory “Pop Muzik'' by M in the spring of 1979, continued with the synth-pop double whammy of Tubeway Army's ”Are 'Friends' Electric?“ and Gary Numan's ”Cars'' in the summer of 1979 – and really got into its stride with “Video Killed the Radio Star”, the Buggles chart-topper of autumn that year, which anticipated the arrival of MTV in the US two years later.

It was the decade when UK acts like The Human League, The Police, Eurythmics, Culture Club, Duran Duran, Wham! and George Michael, Simple Minds, Tears for Fears, Pet Shop Boys, Billy Ocean, Simply Red, Bananarama, Billy Idol, Rick Astley and Fine Young Cannibals topped charts around the world, with the US in particular succumbing to a third British invasion. The only resistance they offered came from the mighty superstar triumvirate of Michael Jackson, Madonna and Prince.

And it started to peter out in 1987 with “Jack Your Body”, the early house classic by Steve “Silk” Hurley, which heralded a shift in musical tastes that continued throughout the Ibiza-inspired Balearic era as well as the second summer of love period of 1988-89, before the rise of Madchester groups like The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays hit the final nail in the coffin.

The Eighties have been undergoing something of a reappraisal and a revival of late, culminating with the launch tonight of Sounds of the 80s, a brand new show presented by Sara Cox on Radio 2. For Bob Shennan, the station's controller, the decision to launch the programme was a no-brainer. “Sounds of the 80s was a show waiting to happen,” he says. With Prefab Sprout, Lisa Stansfield, Sting, Dave Stewart of Eurythmics, as well as Eighties revivalists The Feeling all releasing new albums and featuring on the Radio 2 playlist, it does feel like we're falling in love with the decade all over again.

Dylan Jones recently published The Eighties: One Day, One Decade – a look at the Eighties through the prism of Live Aid, the benefit event that defined a generation. Band Aid and Live Aid's Bob Geldof is back with the Boomtown Rats, one of many Eighties stalwarts gracing UK stages over the coming weeks. Peter Gabriel is touring So, his multi-million selling 1986 album, while Lloyd Cole is undertaking his biggest European solo tour ever.

In December, singer-songwriter Roddy Frame will perform High Land, Hard Rain, Aztec Camera's stunning debut, to celebrate its 30th anniversary. When it comes to value-for-money tours, Eighties fans can choose from a package presenting The Christians, Hue and Cry and Go West, while the epochal, evergreen Simple Minds will not only play four UK arena dates with Ultravox as support at the end of November, but also join the Virgin Records 40th Anniversary celebration at Koko earlier that month, alongside other Eighties acts associated with Richard Branson's old label – Public Image Limited, Boy George, Heaven 17 and Soul II Soul.

Coincidentally, Universal Music is making the most of the Virgin anniversary and catalogue – part and parcel of its recent acquisition of EMI – with a series of compilations appropriately entitled New Gold Dreams, Methods of Dance and Fascinating Rhythms, majoring on the aforementioned Eighties groups as well as John Foxx, OMD, Japan, Soul II Soul and Neneh Cherry.

Universal Music is also issuing 30th anniversary editions of The Hurting, the influential debut by Tears For Fears, one of several duos who helped to define the Eighties, and has big plans for Step by Step, a winning collection of Wet Wet Wet's greatest hits to coincide with the band's arena tour in December. Pet Shop Boys recently released their 12th studio album, Electric, and Erasure have made a Christmas electro album, Snow Globe, which is due in November.

Warner Music is gearing up for the release of a Simply Red box-set entitled Song Book, as well as Fisherman's Box, an exhaustive 7-CD set gathering the 121 tracks the Waterboys recorded for Fisherman's Blues to mark the 25th anniversary of the best-selling album. Not to be outdone, Sony Music have compiled Flashback: The Very Best of Imagination, as cheesy and groovy as you'd expect. Madness are re-releasing their 1981 film Take It Or Leave It and are hosting another House of Fun weekender at the end of November. Cherry Red's Cherry Pop imprint has become the home for lost Eighties albums like Fiction Factory's Throw The Warped Wheel Out, containing their 1983 Top Ten hit “(Feels Like) Heaven”.

Ian Peel juggles being label manager of ZTT Records, the imprint associated with Eighties über-producer Trevor Horn, and Stiff Records, with editing Classic Pop, the “Eighties, Electronic, Eclectic” magazine which launched a year ago. Classic Pop broke away from the music monthlies routinely and regularly doing cover stories on Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd or the Rolling Stones.

“I was born in the early Seventies, so these artists mean nothing to me,” he argues. “The gap in the market was very clear to me because I was falling through it. The magazine has proved really successful. Not all Eighties music was great. But for too long, classic pop music has been sidelined and mistreated by the mainstream media. Every now and then, a TV or radio station does an Eighties night. It turns out to be a total disappointment – just a crude re-run of people joking about mullets and leg-warmers.

“The media has completely misread the public's interest in Eighties pop,” he says. “The kids who were into pop music then are now adults, with appropriately sophisticated tastes. They want to celebrate and see how the music of their youth has developed, not feel forced to cringe about it. Pop stars in the Eighties had an individual sense of style and substance.”

'Sounds of the 80s' starts on Radio 2 at 10pm tonight

Arts & Entertainment
TV

Arts & Entertainment
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
music

Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
ComedyCollier was once told there were "too many women" on bill
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
music

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatre

Review: Of Mice and Men

Arts & Entertainment
art

By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work

Arts & Entertainment
Leonardo DiCaprio will star in an adaptation of Michael Punke's thriller 'The Revenant'
film

Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar

Arts & Entertainment
Cody and Paul Walker pictured in 2003.
film

Arts & Entertainment
Down to earth: Fern Britton presents 'The Big Allotment Challenge'
TV

Arts & Entertainment
The London Mozart Players is the longest-running chamber orchestra in the UK
musicThreatened orchestra plays on, managed by its own members
Arts & Entertainment
Seeing red: James Dean with Sal Mineo in 'Rebel without a Cause'
film

Arts & Entertainment
TV
Arts & Entertainment
Heads up: Andy Scott's The Kelpies in Falkirk
art

What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?

Arts & Entertainment
artGraffiti legend posts picture of work – but no one knows where it is
Arts & Entertainment
A close-up of Tom of Finland's new Finnish stamp
art

Finnish Postal Service praises the 'self irony and humour' of the drawings

Arts & Entertainment
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in 2002's Die Another Day
film

The actor has confessed to his own insecurities

Life & Style
Green fingers: a plot in East London
TV

Allotments are the focus of a new reality show

Arts & Entertainment
Myleene Klass attends the Olivier awards 2014

Oliviers 2014Theatre stars arrive at Britain's most prestigious theatre awards
Arts & Entertainment
Stars of The Book of Mormon by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park

Oliviers 2014Blockbuster picked up Best Musical and Best Actor in a Musical
Arts & Entertainment
Lesley Manville with her Olivier for Best Actress for her role in 'Ghosts'

Oliviers 2014Actress thanked director Richard Eyre for a stunning production
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

    Jury still out on Pellegrini

    Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit