MTV Vinyl Records 1981 - First Bands of the Year

Did you know vinyl record sales increased 30% in 2020? It's an incredible statistic considering the digital revolution and the convenience of streaming services. Young folks are now discovering the warm, human listening experience that vinyl offers, and are digging through the stacks of their local record stores like never before.

Music industry trends come and go, and a great vinyl collection can serve as a personal music history museum. One of the most fateful days in the history of modern music was the birth of MTV. Do you have a part of your collection dedicated to MTV vinyl records?

Read on to learn about the 40 years of MTV music history, the artists who led the video revolution, and the records you need for your collection.

The Buggles: The Age of Plastic (1980)

On August 1st, 1981, MTV launched with a simple announcement, "Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll!" What followed was a video by UK new wave band, The Buggles.

The song? "Video Killed the Radio Star." The first MTV video became a pop culture moment akin to The Beatles' first Ed Sullivan appearance. The world would never be the same.

The song rose to the top of the UK charts and appears on the band's first full-length LP. The band's success would be short-lived, however. After a poorly received collaboration with the prog-rock band Yes, The Buggles disbanded in 1982.

Due to the mark made on popular culture, The Age of Plastic is a must-have for all vinyl record collectors.

Pat Benatar: Crimes of Passion (1980)

What was the second video played on MTV? It's like asking who was the second person to walk on the moon. Both are historically significant, but history always favors the first.

Don't tell that to Pat Benatar. She made her bones as a tough-as-nails rock vocalist. Her video of The Young Rascals' "You Better Run" aired right after The Buggles.

Crimes of Passion is another essential record of the early MTV era. Not only does it feature the song from the second video played on MTV, but also her massive hit, "Hit Me with Your Best Shot."

Pretenders: Pretenders (1979)

One of the most enduring visuals of the early MTV days is Chrissie Hynde strutting around a diner in a black uniform serving coffee to strangers in the video for "Brass in Pocket."

The song, found on the band's self-titled debut, Pretenders, was the seventh video aired on MTV. From there, Hynde and the band shot to international stardom buffeted by songs like "Tattooed Love Boys" and a cover of the Kinks hit, "Stop Your Sobbing."

The record showcases the Akron-born Hynde's swaggering vocals and the band's raw but refined musicianship that sounds as fresh today as it did in 1979. Pretenders is a record not only for the music historian but the music fan.

Buy a copy and make sure to clean the grooves because this record won't leave your turntable.

Donnie Iris and The Cruisers: Back on the Streets (1980)

You might not know the name, but you know the song. "Ah! Leah" reached #29 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was one of the first videos played in heavy rotation on MTV.

Back on the Streets is a perfect distillation of the American radio rock sound of the early 80s. This record is full of finger-snapping hooks, larger-than-life guitar riffs, and modern keyboard sounds. Tying it all together are Iris' soaring but gritty vocals.

Donnie Iris and The Cruisers never again reached their 1981 heights, but they remain local legends. Donnie still plays to sold-out crowds in his hometown of Pittsburgh.

The Who: Face Dances (1981)

New bands weren't the only acts finding airplay on MTV, especially in the early days. Many bands from the previous music generation found a home because they were still on the charts, and the network needed content. Acts like The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, and CSN all jumped feet-first into the video era.

What more can anyone say about The Who? They're one of the most influential and enduring British Invasion acts, and their legacy is irreproachable. Face Dances isn't a classic in The Who's discography, but it makes this list because their video for "You Better You Bet" was the fourth video shown on MTV.

This record encapsulates a famous band trying to incorporate a new, modern sound that many legacy artists would struggle with during the 80s.

Blondie: Autoamerican (1980)

Blondie found success before the dawn of MTV, but they were a band made for the video genre. They emerged from the late-70s New York punk scene as innovators of new wave and disco and already had a massive hit under their belts with "Heart of Glass."

Harry's glamorous looks helped their transition to the video era, but don't be fooled. Blondie's genre-bending musical innovations make them one of the most influential and enduring bands of that period. Many critics consider their video for "Rapture" as one of the best as it exposed the New York hip-hop scene to a nationwide audience.

Autoamerican also features another Blondie hit single, "The Tide is High," and the album's meshing of prevailing early-80s popular music styles makes it a required listen for any MTV music fan.

Stevie Nicks: Bella Donna (1981)

Nicks spent the second half of the 70s churning out radio-friendly rock hits in Fleetwood Mac. Their 1977 album, Rumors, is one of the best-selling albums in music history with classics like "Dreams" and "Gold Dust Woman."

By 1981, Stevie felt ready to spread her wings as a solo artist. The video for the duet with Tom Petty, "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," received massive airplay during the early days of MTV.

The video and the album also established Stevie Nicks as an artist outside of her already popular band.

Classic MTV Vinyl Records

MTV's 1981 debut was a pop culture watershed moment, and any record collection should contain music from the era. These artists were the tastemakers who paved the way for modern music television, and their influence is undeniable.

Are you looking to build your collection of MTV vinyl records? Swaggie Records is your one-stop shop for new and classic vinyl. Check out our inventory of classics today.