1. Bow Wow Wow, "I Want Candy." Start with the Sex Pistols' ex-manager. Add the Ants without Adam. Toss in a fourteen-year-old girl, born Myint Myint Aye in Myanmar, and have her change her name to Annabella. Record a 60s hit by a band of New York songwriters who pretended to be Australian sheep farmers. Instant hit!
2. George Clinton, "Man's Best Friend/Loopzilla." Clinton's first solo, released when he had already passed 40, was in most ways just another Parliament/Funkadelic album. But "just" hardly gets it ... it was one of the best P-Funk albums ever. Don't touch that radio!
3. David Johansen, "Bohemian Love Pad." Speaking of people who couldn't escape the history of earlier bands. Johansen had the usual curse of the former member of beloved cult band trying his hand as a solo artist: he wasn't the Dolls, so he wasn't good enough. Which was nonsense ... I mean, he wasn't the Dolls, but he WAS good enough. As this song shows: "You know the cockroach traffic in here, it's got me drinkin' too much beer." I saw him open for Pat Benatar around this time ... the crowd had no idea what to make of him, they booed a lot, I left before the headliner hit the stage.
4. Africa Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force, "Planet Rock." As I recall, in one of the earliest incarnations of that Rolling Stone history of rock and roll, they jokingly referred to Kraftwerk as the future of rock and roll. A few years later, Bam proved that RS got something right, with one of the fundaments of modern hip-hop.
5. The Waitresses, "I Know What Boys Like." A woman sang it, but a man wrote it. A man who was at Kent State on That Day. Whatever that means.
6. Dexy's Midnight Runners, "Come On Eileen." Come on, indeed. This is a great song, and this is the version you want. Great band name, too.
7. Trouble Funk, "Drop the Bomb." Stringer Bell may have been cool, but when he said he didn't like that go-go shit, he showed his provincialism.
8. Marshall Crenshaw, "Someday, Someway." How not to start a rock and roll career: play John Lennon in the musical Beatlemania. How to recover: cut a great debut album.
9. Lou Reed, "The Gun." After Sally Can't Dance made the Top Ten, Lou made an instant statement by releasing the notorious Metal Machine Music. Every album he released after that charted lower than the one before it (aside from the unmarketable MMM). The Blue Mask didn't get any higher than #169. Hopefully everyone who did buy it noticed that it was probably the best solo (I'm partial to Coney Island Baby, but that's just me). It also marked the beginning of his long-running collaboration with Fernando Saunders, one of the most distinctive bass players in rock history ... once you hear his sound, you'll recognize his playing every time you hear it again.
10. Gary U.S. Bonds, "Love's on the Line." Bonds made a comeback, supported by Bruce Springsteen. This came from the post-comeback album ... of course, it's been forgotten over time. It's much more of a Bruce album than the previous hit ... Bruce and the E Streeters only took over half of Dedication, but this one is a Bruce album with the man himself sticking to backup vocals so his hero can be the front man. Bruce wrote seven of the songs, he and Miami Steve did the production, the entire E Street band chimed in. In the year of Nebraska, this was Bruce's rock album between The River and Born in the U.S.A. This particular track is especially nice, but there's no video for it, so I linked to Bruce singing "Quarter to Three" in 1975.
And as a bonus, Marshall Crenshaw live: