Suzie's on the Ball Now - The Three O'Clock gave us this paisley underground track. I do adore jangle.
Fall on Me - REM had another great year in 86, with Fall On Me being among their strongest and most iconic songs. This one caught the attention of many listeners who weren't into college radio.
Boy - Book of Love. Britpop. Synthy without being sappy.
On the Moon - Beyond Words produced the very enjoyable EP (Beyond Words). I enjoyed all the tracks, but this one earned the mention.
Steel Strings - The acoustic version of this song garnered Peter Case quite a bit of attention. His mix of folk and blues touched deep into Americana.
Ten Minutes (Electric Version) - Winter Hours was making a name for themselves back then with another worthwhile EP. I could easily have picked any track from that year, but I liked this one the best.
September Girls - With their image revamping on their second album, the Bangles lost much of it's beloved paisly-undergroundness. However, this gem still remained, somehow escaping overproduction.
Moon Over Bourbon Street (Live) - Sting's live album Bring On The Night ought to be in some hall of fame. It really is that good. The recordings are absolutely gorgeous.
Behind the Wall of Sleep - This track by the Smithereens gained substantial airplay outside of college radio, yet this bar band still sounded college, making me thing that their major success occurred despite their target demographic.
Famous Blue Raincoat - Nobody asked for this album of Jennifer Warnes singing Leonard Cohen songs. We got it anyway and fell in love. Pick a track. How did something this amazing ever get made?
You Can Call Me Hal - Paul Simon put himself back on the charts with Graceland. If you need a smile, this is the track to choose.
Facts About Cats - Insanely ear-wormy and very singlable, Timkuk 3 give us a song that demonstrates why they were so damned interesting to listen to. Clever lyrics, wry humor, and catchy tunes made them a favorite act.
The Housemartins - More popular in Britain then the states, the Housemartins brought us this socially biting and musically catchy track.
Left of Center - If there's anyone who said folk in the 80's, it was Suzanne Vega. She led the revival of the folk genre (which wasn't really a genre). With Joe Jackson on piano, she recorded this track for the film Pretty In Pink.
Bigmouth Strikes Again - The Smiths earned their way to the top of the college charts through songs just like this one, self-aware, yet utterly ungradiose, with solid rhythm and no cheap tricks.
Dixie Storms - Lone Justice may be better know for their upbeat work, but in this song Maria McKee's shows her singing and songwriting chops in this introspective and underproduced masterpiece.
Skylarking - Nowhere else have I given in and included an entire album, end-to-end, but XTC's skylarking earns the right.
Help Save the Youth of America - Billy Bragg's prophetic vision of America's future. He was right.
Cattle Prod - Guadalcanal Diary's not so serious song about one power-starved young man in charge of a herd of cows.