Five albums from the 1980s that have no business being as great as they are

The 1980s churned out a bunch of great songs, but these five albums were really good too.
Depeche Mode in the 1980s
Depeche Mode in the 1980s / Paul Natkin/GettyImages
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Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers - Conscious Party (1988)

Following in the footsteps of a parent is an iconic figure in music, and it is likely not easy. Finding a way out of the parent's shadow is probably even tougher when the parent has sadly passed away. For one album, at least, Ziggy Marley and his siblings created their own excellence and distanced themselves from simply being Bob Marley's kids.

There was no real indication that Conscious Party would be as popular or as good as it was. This was the band's fourth record, though many of the members were quite young on the early albums. By this record, the members had matured and so did the sound of the album. The theme of the lyrics became more adult as well.

"Tomorrow People" is the band's best-known single, but that isn't the only reason to buy this album. Nearly every song excels. "Lee and Molly" is about an interracial couple and is perfectly written. "Dreams of Home" is a beautiful way to end the record. Assisted by the production of Tina Weymouth and Chris Franz of the Talking Heads, the record stands up even now.

R.E.M. - Lifes Rich Pageant (1986)

In 1986, R.E.M. had already grown its fanbase but not to the degree in which they eventually would. They produced thick, folky-alternative rock. They were not loud, but because of the murkiness of songs such as "Radio Free Europe," they appeared more bombastic than they actually were. Every genre of the band has proved to be listenable and enjoyable, but this record signified a departure from the group's earlier sound and one they would never truly revisit.

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In other words, the band was taking a chance. They might alienate some long-time fans while hoping to add others who would explore the group's older music. Even the location of recording the record was different. The band's first three LPs were all recorded in North Carolina, while the fourth was in London. Lifes Rich Pageant was recorded at John Mellencamp's studio in Indiana and there is a feel of the Midwest to the tracks.

There is certainly a more focused straightforward rock sound, though. This pays off on tracks such as "Fall on Me" and "Cuyahoga." Every song is a winner, however. Plus, the album sets up the one that would follow it and the record that would move R.E.M. into superstardom, Document.

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