DAR Retro: 7 Important Albums From 1984

By @TrueGodImmortal

We recently discussed how the albums of 1985 were important to the R&B and soul genre and listed some of the ones that we felt were vital. Today, we go one year back and look at albums from 1984. These albums are turning 35 next year and are still mostly amazing to listen to. Some were debuts, some were breakthroughs, but they were all vital albums for the year 1984. Which albums did we select? Read on and find out.

*Sade- Diamond Life

-So, this is the arrival. The arrival of perhaps the greatest woman in the genre and one of the most prolific artists of our time. 35 years ago nearly, Sade made their debut, with the beautiful Sade Adu as the lead vocalist in the group. Her talent, her voice, and her ability pushed the group to new heights, so much so that she essentially took over the discussion and the name Sade only become synonymous to her as a solo artist. This debut album is an excellent listen, as each song hits harder than the next in their own way. The highlights here are major, from the classic "Smooth Operator" to the soulful and jazzy "Hang On To Your Love", "Sally", and my personal favorite "Your Love Is King". Sade would sell over 6 million copies worldwide on this debut and her name would have lived on forever in the music landscape just with this one album, but as we know, she had more classics to give.

*The Temptations- Truly For You

-When you look at the greatest groups in soul music, it is clear that The Temptations will always be on that list. They had moments where they took a bit of a decline, missed on an album or two, but their ability to always stay relevant and bounce back when need be is what made them a special group. This is what fuels their 1984 release, as the group had to reinvent themselves a bit musically and look wise, and they executed well. This album, another in their extensive catalog features one of their best hits in "Treat Her Like A Lady", as well as "Running" and "Set Your Love Right". This album isn't perfect, but it is an important album for the year and for the catalog of The Temptations.

*Ashford and Simpson- Solid

-So, this duo had a nice run. A lengthy run at that. After some major success previously, who would have guessed that their 11th album together would have led them to their biggest hit together? The title track on this album is essentially the song we know and remember them by and it came so many years down the line for the group. This album is solid (no pun intended), with only 8 tracks that are all enjoyable, but if I had to pick the highlights here, I would have to go with the aforementioned title track, "Honey I Love You", "Closest To Love", and "Cherish Forever More". Ashford and Simpson were one of the greatest duos in soul music and this album reaffirmed their status as such.

*The Jacksons- Victory

-So, when Michael Jackson became the biggest star in the world, it was clear he had no reason to continue the Jacksons albums, mostly because it would distract from his own creativity. The group itself hadn't struck gold quite like Michael did, but they did have a decent run of songs and albums. With his success the highest it had ever been, it seemed as if a Thriller tour was imminent, but instead, Michael ended up touring with his brothers and making this album, which was intended to piggyback off of his success. This album is actually pretty solid, but it lacks the togetherness that made the other Jackson albums feel special. While tracks like "Torture", "Wait", "Be Not Always", "State Of Shock", and "We Can Change The World" are solid songs, it doesn't compare to anything released on what I feel is their best album Triumph.

*The Time- Ice Cream Castle

-So, in the 80's, Prince was the man. However, so was Morris Day. Morris Day to some might have actually been cooler than Prince and I could see an argument for that for sure. Morris Day was more stylish, a bit more aggressive as an artist in his own way, and he didn't dress nearly as androgynous as Prince did so he found a decent lane. Prince worked closely with Morris Day and his band The Time, producing and helping to arrange the music on their albums, but this is their most memorable project, mostly due to the fact that it came in the same year as Purple Rain and Morris Day was featured in the film. This album features my favorite song from The Time, "Jungle Love", as well as "The Bird" and the title track. The group would disband shortly after this album and the Purple Rain movie for a while, which made the success a little bittersweet I'm sure.

*New Edition- New Edition

-So, the group that stands as perhaps the greatest R&B group ever evolved and began to grow up on their second album, which happened to be self titled. After breaking away from former producer Maurice Starr, the group looked to make an impact and bring smoother hits that showcases their teenage plight and this album manages to do that. They deliver on the singles like the popular "Cool It Now" and the iconic "Mr. Telephone Man", which is my favorite song from the group during that early run before the Heartbreak album. In addition, tracks like "Lost In Love", "Hide and Seek", and "Maryann" are also highlights on this solid project. While this album wasn't the best this year, and it isn't the best NE album overall, it was their second best project just below Heartbreak and slightly above Home Again.

*Prince- Purple Rain

-The album of the decade next to Thriller essentially. I don't think there's any arguing that. Prince was the king in 1984 and he owned the music scene that year. With his film and album that was pretty much the soundtrack, Prince took his music to new heights, and in turn made his star bigger than anyone except Michael Jackson. The album has sold over 25 million copies worldwide and moved 14 million copies in the United States alone, fueled by the strength of singles like the title track and "When Doves Cry", as well as "Let's Go Crazy", "I Would Die 4 U", and my personal favorite "The Beautiful Ones". Every song on this album is essentially a classic in its own right and Purple Rain is that rare album that overdelivers and exceeds all expectations by huge margins. This is a landmark moment in not only Prince's career, but music in general.



  1. Other albums that were sadly overlooked and perhaps, major successors, were Chaka Khan (I FEEL FOR YOU), Billy Ocean (SUDDENLY), and Klymaxx (MEETING IN THE LADIES ROOM).


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