Eighties Rock

It’s hard not to see the Eighties as the Jurassic era of rock and roll, a time when behemoths—Michael, Bruce, Prince, Madonna—dominated the landscape. All of the mega-stars put out good and at times great music, but it’s not difficult to understand why the spectacle drove so many people into their various undergrounds. This list is a bit of an exercise in historical preservation, singling out some of the great albums that don’t get the attention they deserve and recognizing the megastars for their music rather than their hype. Dave Marsh’s Trapped: Michael Jackson and the Crossover Dream breaks down the problems with the main stage. Michael Azzerad’s Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991 reports from the clubs.