National Album Day will return for its third edition on Saturday 10 October with the perfect antidote to lockdown blues – a celebration of arguably music’s greatest decade, the Eighties!
This year’s 80s theme is a first in a series of musical themes for National Album Day that will be rolled out annually, and coincides with the current resurgence of 80s popular culture that is loved by audiences both young and old. 80s culture and music is all around us; on our TV’s, on our music streaming services, and in fashion and in classic film remakes.
The Weeknd, Dua Lipa and The 1975 all know it. The Eighties really were a special time, long voted the UK’s favourite music decade that has inspired future generations. Now National Album Day – the annual celebration of the art and creativity of the album – will focus on an era that it’s hard to believe began 40 years ago! It was the decade that gave us Madonna, Eurythmics, Culture Club, Kylie and Wham!, but where Depeche Mode, Sade, The Cure, Run DMC and New Order also came to the fore. It saw the advent of the CD, and through Live Aid showed us the compelling power of music.
National Album Day will celebrate all this, with record labels and music retailers joining in the fun with the release of a series of new albums, boxsets and classic reissues including: Duran Duran ‘Duran Duran’, Paul Simon ‘Graceland’, ‘The Stone Roses ‘Stone Roses’, Blues Brothers ‘Blues Brothers’, Smash Hits 80s and more. See below a selection of product announced so far, with more confirmed titles to come.
In traditional National Music Day style there will be a series of official National Album Day Ambassadors to be our guides to a musically-rich decade that witnessed exciting new genres such as new wave, hip hop, electronica and indie come to the fore and shape our musical heritage to this day.
National Album Day is delighted to announce its first wave of 2020 ambassadors – global soul legend Billy Ocean, Manchester’s indie pop finest Blossoms, ‘Bulletproof’ chanteuse La Roux, post-punk icons The Psychedelic Furs and post-punk singer and actress Toyah Willcox. Further artist ambassadors will be announced in due course.
Billy Ocean, who achieved global stardom with 1985 film soundtrack to “The Jewel in the Nile”, said “As bodies of work, albums allow us to tell stories, express deep emotions, and take people on imaginary journeys over the course of a number of individual songs that are connected to each other. In my opinion, some of the greatest albums ever made were concept albums, such as Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by The Beatles – how would it be possible to bring those ideas to life without crafting them into a whole album? The enduring popularity of those albums, and their continued influence on newer artists of today, truly is testament to how important the album is.”
Stockport band, Blossoms, who were inspired by 80s indie, said: “We’re very proud to have been invited to be ambassadors for National Album Day. The album is really important to us, not just as a band but as full time music obsessives. Through our parents we’ve grown up listening to so many great albums, most of our parents were teenagers in the 1980s so we were exposed to so many great albums from that era. The Smiths in particular for the fact they made 4 albums in 4 years, that’s very inspiring as a songwriter. The video game Grand Theft Auto Vice City had a brilliant 80s soundtrack, which had so many great songs on it, it made you then go back and discover great albums like The Human League’s ‘Dare’ and Luther Vandross’ ‘Never Too Much’. The album really has been the main influence in the way that we work and the kind of work we look to produce, it gives us so much scope for ideas & experimentation. I tend to write about my life and normally what’s happened over the previous 12/18 months. It’s not easy putting all that into just one song so that’s another thing I personally love about making albums.”
La Roux, who has cited the 80s as a major influence, said: “The album is changing but will never lose its power, it is still the best way to get to know an artist. The Eighties was such an incredible period for the album and birthed a lot of sonically seminal albums, it's been a very inspiring period for me because of that.”
Post-punk icons, Psychedelic Furs, who performed the iconic title track for 1986 movie Pretty in Pink, said: “We love the album because it pushes you to listen to songs which you might not otherwise hear, and which may be even better than the radio friendly songs that brought you there. It gives you a chance to more deeply explore the artists’ world and what they have to say besides the sometimes rather simple single lyrics . An album often has a flow and a cohesion that may have had a lot of thought and effort put into it.”
Toyah Willcox, who emerged from post-punk to become one of the defining voices of the 80s, said: "I am supporting National Album Day because it is important that future generations do not miss out on the fantastic experience of listening to a whole album of songs...A culture could be lost if listeners never experience how life changing it is to discover a hidden gem not deemed worthy of being a single by a record company, ie Bowie’s ‘Lady Grinning Soul’ on Aladdin Sane. When I heard this song I felt the artist was speaking directly to me. Listening to an entire album is enriching and allows the listener precious time to connect with creativity... Albums are akin to a great book, a great party, a brilliant day in the park...they are the whole meal.”
National Album Day is organised jointly by record labels body the BPI (The BRIT Awards and Hyundai Mercury Prize) and the Entertainment Retailers Association (Record Store Day), and is supported across the BBC with highlights available to listen to on BBC Sounds, along with the UK’s recorded music industry including AIM and other trade associations, retailers and digital/streaming platforms, and partners including Classic Albums Sunday – who this October celebrate their tenth anniversary.