The 1980s was the Thatcher-Reagan era. Britain became embroiled in the Falklands War in 1982, and the bitter industrial dispute of the miners’ strike 1984-85. The US brokered relations with the Soviet Union which led to the end of the Cold War. It was a decade that saw the advent of ‘yuppies’ and the first mobile phones.

These 1980s essentials will make you feel like you’re back in the ‘Decade of Decadence’.


Perfume novel

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (1985) by Patrick Suskind – Kurt Kobain’s favourite book. Perfumery in extremis

The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) by Margaret Atwood – when it was written in 1985 it was classed as science-fiction. A cautionary tale about totalitarianism

The Satanic Verses (1988) by Salman Rushdie – still one of the most controversial books ever written. Rushdie’s portrayal of the prophet Mohammad led to a fatwa being put on his head (Islamic ruling to kill him) which still stands to this day

A Confederacy of Dunces (1980) by John Kennedy Toole – the novel was published 11 years after the death of Toole and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize the following year

The Wasp Factory (1984) by Iain Banks – branded ‘a work of unparalleled depravity’ by the The Irish Times



The Cramps

The Cramps – no one does sexual euphemisms better than Lux & Ivy (except perhaps the early blues singers)

Thee Milkshakes – American garage trash UK style with a bit of KInks thrown in. No it’s not a spelling mistake, Billy Childish went on to use this idiosyncrasy in future bands – Thee Headcoats & Thee Mighty Caesars

Public Enemy – get the biggest clock you can find and hang it round your neck Flavor Flav style

Acid House – epitomised by tracks such as ‘Voodoo Ray’ A Guy Called Gerald, ‘I’ll House You’ the Jungle Brothers and ‘Move Your Body’ Marshall Jefferson. ‘We Call it Acieed’ by D-Mob was banned by the BBC. Get on one, matey!

Misfits – pioneers of the horror punk genre with a cult following known as the ‘Fiend Club’



Killer Klowns From Outer Space

Killer Klowns From Outerspace (1988) – schlocky 1980s nonsense

Blade Runner (1982) – another dystopian film considered science-fiction that is now looking increasingly possible

The Hunger (1983) – one for the Goths. Erotic vampire tale starring Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie, who commented that “the first twenty minutes rattle along like hell”. The movie opens promisingly enough in a smoke filled New York City nightclub to the mood-setting ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’, by Bauhaus. However, this is a  case of style over substance and can feel like one long music video at times

Hairspray (1988) – John Waters again, but with a more mainstream appeal

The Shining (1980) – ‘Here’s Johnny…’ Stanley Kubrick’s interpretation of Stephen King’s 1977 novel