So how was 1986 for you then?
Given that 2016 brings us as far away from that year as Heartbreak Hotel and the Suez crisis were, perhaps it’s time for reflection. It didn’t feel to me like a vintage year for the music at the time, and time hasn’t changed that opinion much, so why is that?
It seems like a year of transition, the decade’s summer holidays. The early 80s pop boom was winding down: Duran Duran, Frankie, Spandau and Culture Club had all seen their best days, but hip hop, house music and hair metal had yet to really make their breakthrough (although they were knocking at the door: Livin’ on a Prayer and Walk this Way both were hits this year).
It also seems to have been a year that a lot of acts that were in their prime at the time sat out. The list of bands who made albums in 1985 and 87 but not 86 is striking: U2, Simply Red, The Cure, The Sisters of Mercy, The Cult, all were touring/resting/drying out. The charts abhor a vacuum of course, and you wonder if bands like The Mission would have been as successful in 1986 had some of the acts on that list made records. Still, this was the year of Parade and The Queen is Dead.
Perhaps the year did have some influence though. For one, this seems to have been the year that bands realised, thanks to live Aid, that they could play stadia instead or arenas. Wham! played Wembley and Queen played Wembley Stadium and Knebworth, where two years previously they had played Wembley Arena and the NEC. Touring would change for good.
Then there was C86. While it can be difficult to name many of the bands that were on the cassette, it does seem to have laid down the basic template for Indie bands that is still used today. Before C86, Indie could have meant Throbbing Gristle or Orange Juice. After, it meant a four piece of floppy-haired students trying to sound like The Smiths. It still does, really.
Elsewhere, while we were able to watch the world’s greatest footballer win the World Cup, we were unaware that a big dreadlocked guy was becoming the first truly modern footballer over at PSV. There was a lot less football on the TV those days.
So, how was 1986 for you? Were you an Advertising big shot with braces and red-framed spectacles and a huge mortgage? Were you nursing some heartbreak over a cider and blackcurrant at the Student Union? O were you hoping to swap Peter Beardsley for Karl-Heinz Ruminegge to fill up your Panini album?