1) Peter Gabriel- So During his 25th anniversary tour of the masterpiece So, John Cusack joined Gabriel on stage during his epic love ballad, "In Your Eyes", and handed him a boombox, referencing one of the most memorable scenes in 80s cinema. Ranked number #14 on "Top 100 Albums of the 80s", Gabriel's, So, embodied the definitive pop sound of the 80s. The album features mega hit "Sledgehammer", which Gabriel explains was his "chance to sing like Otis Redding". This was Gabriel's most ambitious record, using world music influences with user-friendly pop "that was still reassuringly odd".
2) R.E.M.- Life's Rich Pageant Recorded in John Mellencamp's Studio in Indiana, Life's Rich Pageant showcased Michael Stipe's concern with environmental issues on tracks "Fall on Me" and "Cuyahoga", along with the band's rebellion to follow expected music industry beahviors. It was their cleanest and hardest record to date which showed us glimpses of new sounds and styles that would show up on albums like Document and Green.
3) Talking Heads-True Stories A regrettable project for the Byrne, the album was the soundtrack to the his directorial debut of True Stories. Byrne said he had meant to use John Goodman's vocals on the tracks instead of his. Their seventh album was the beginning of conflict that plagued them until their disbandment '91. They did, however, produce one of their biggest hits with "Wild, WIld, Life" and the song "Radio Head", which was the inspiration for the guys in Radiohead to name their band after it.
4) Steve Winwood- Back In The High Life With guest appearances by Chaka Kahn on "Higher Love" and James Taylor on "Back in the High Life Again", Back in the High Life sold over five million copies and "Higher Love" won a Grammy Award for "Record of the Year". The album marked the final album Winwood would produce for Island Records, after a 21 year relationship.
5) Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band- Live 1975:1985 The massive 40 track collection of live recordings from Bruce and band, became the second best selling live album in U.S history. One New York store claimed to have sold it right off the back of a delivery truck. The album gave a glimpse of the Boss to the people who were never able to get tickets to one of his shows. Diehard fans, including acclaimed music journalist, David Fricke, saying "It's not enough". The album took music listeners by storm and is held as one of the great live albums.
6) Paul Simon-Graceland With the help of many different artists, including co-star Chevy Chase in the music video for the hit song "You Can Call Me Al", Paul Simon's Graceland became one the most beloved albums of 1986. Winning "Album of the Year" at the Grammy Awards that year, Graceland became Simon's most successful solo album. Along with positive critical acclaim, Simon was in a dispute of song crediting with Los Lobos and was accused of breaking the cultural boycott the world had imposed on the apartheid regime in South Africa.
7) Joe Jackson- Big World The innovative recording of Big World in 1986, captured an intimate live performance of 15 original tracks at the Roundabout Theater in New York City. The audience did make a sound. Jackson wanted the feel of excitement and spontaneity of a live show, without the crowd's involvement. The album's front and back cover displayed the phrase "Big World" in 26 different languages to play into themes on the album of cultural differences, politics and relationships.
8) Elvis Costello-Blood & Chocolate The brief, yet fulfilling, reunion of The Attractions with Elvis Costello brought us Blood & Chocolate. It was Costello's second record in a year. The album showcased straight rock & roll including some of the "nastiest" tracks that Costello has ever written including; "I Want You" and "I Hope You're Happy Now".
9) BoDeans- Sex & Hope & Sex & Dreams Tension and high studio cost couldn't stop BoDeans from creating Love & Sex & Hope & Dreams, which is regarded to be their finest work. With help from the high in-demand producer, T-Bone Burnett, BoDeans poured their hearts into this album with simplicity and passionate song structure.
10) Genesis-Invisible Touch A milestone 13th studio album, Genesis' Invisible Touch was their most commercially successful album, spending 96 weeks at No. 1 in the UK pop charts. The album sold 15 million tracks worldwide. The album receives praise in the film American Psycho, where Christian Bale's character, Patrick Bateman, refers to the album as the group's "undisputed masterpiece".