|First posted 7/24/2008; updated 9/17/2020. This page has been expanded, reworked, and moved here.|
Tuesday, November 15, 1988
Saturday, November 5, 1988
|First posted 4/6/2008; last updated 9/17/2020.|
4.370 out of 5.00 (average of 9 ratings)
A Brief History:
Fleetwood Mac started in 1967 as a British blues band. Over eight years, members came and went with Mick Fleetwood and John McVie being the only constants. By 1975, they’d settled on the lineup that over a dozen years, would bring them to their greatest commercial heights. The American folk-duo of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined the band in 1974, giving the band a poppier, classic rock feel.
The Studio Albums:
Under each album snapshot, songs featured on the Greatest Hits are noted. Song titles are followed by the names of writers in parentheses, the song’s length in brackets, and then the date the song charted and its peaks on various charts. Click for codes to singles charts.
Fleetwood Mac (1975):
After ten studio albums, Fleetwood Mac leapt into the arena of commercial stardom with a self-titled release. On the strength of three top-20 hits in the U.S., the album which introduced Lindsey Buckingham to Stevie Nicks, hit #1 and became a multi-platinum seller. The band had previously never reached higher than #34 on the Billboard album chart.
Expectations were high and so were the band members. They were also fighting so much as a band that the success they’d just found looked certain to derail. Instead, the broken relationships behind the scenes fueled their songs and the album became one of the most successful in history. Sporting four top-ten U.S. hits, it sold 40 million copies worldwide and spent 31 weeks atop the Billboard album chart in the U.S.
Fleetwood Mac got ambitious the next time out, releasing a double album. It didn’t match the success of the previous outing – which would have been damn-near impossible – but it still gave the band two more top-ten hits in the U.S.
Since their last album, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham had each found solo success. Nicks had gone all the way to #1 on the U.S. album chart with Bella Donna, which had two top-ten hits, and Buckingam hit the top 10 with his song “Trouble.” Audiences were eager to hear the band as a whole again. Ironically, though, it was Christine McVie who had the highest-charting single from the album with “Hold Me.”
Tango in the Night (1987):
After some more solo forays, which now included a solo album and top-10 hit from Christine McVie, the band came together again for what would be the last studio album with the classic lineup that brought the group its biggest taste of fame. Seven songs from Tango in the Night hit various charts with four of those reaching the top-20 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Greatest Hits (1988):
“Greatest Hits is a fine overview of Fleetwood Mac’s hit-making years, containing the bulk of the group’s Top 40 hits of the late ‘70s and ‘80s,” AMG which included such fare as top-10 hits Go Your Own Way, Tusk, Sara, Hold Me, Big Love, and Little Lies and their only #1 hit, Dreams. Minor hits like ‘Think About Me’ [and] ‘Love in Store’… are missing, making room for the new songs As Long as You Follow…and No Questions Asked, but overall, Greatest Hits is an excellent choice for casual listeners.” AMG
Notes: “Seven Wonders” was added to the 2006 reissue.
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Tuesday, October 11, 1988
|First posted 3/23/2008; updated 10/4/2020.|
Rattle and Hum
Released: October 11, 1988
Peak: 16 US, 11 UK, 113 CN, 15 AU
Sales (in millions): 5.0 US, 1.2 UK, 14.6 world (includes US and UK)
Genre: mainstream rock
Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Songs written by U2 unless indicated otherwise.
Total Running Time: 72:27
3.820 out of 5.00 (average of 17 ratings)
About the Album:
Faced with the task of following-up the mega-successful Joshua Tree, U2 made a feature-film documentary and an accompanying soundtrack instead of a conventional studio album. The move wasn’t without precedent. U2 followed their 1983 War album with the live Under a Blood Red Sky and 1984’s Unforgettable Fire with the Wide Awake in America EP which mixed a few B-sides with a couple of live cuts.
The movie was considered a flop, but the soundtrack was a worldwide #1 hit, selling more than 14 million copies The Rattle and Hum album, a mix of new studio cuts as well as live material, “is all over the place. The live cuts lack the revelatory power of Under a Blood Red Sky and are undercut by heavy-handed performances and Bono's embarrassing stage patter.” STE He prefaces “a leaden cover of Helter Skelter with ‘This is a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles, and now we're stealing it back.’” STE There’s also his laughable “exhortation ‘OK, Edge, play the blues!’ on the worthy, decidedly unbluesy Silver and Gold.” STE
“U2 sound paralyzed by their new status as ‘rock's most important band.’ They react by attempting to boost their classic rock credibility.” STE The live cuts attempt to be an musical history lesson. In addition to tackling the Beatles and claiming to play the blues, the band covers Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower and infuses Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For with a gospel vibe.
By mixing the live material with new studio songs, the album comes across as “the least-focused record U2 ever made.” STE One senses the group couldn’t commit to a live album or a studio album so they comprised and tried to do both.
The studio cuts carry over the general theme of paying tribute to the music that came before, specifically American roots rock. “Desire has an intoxicating Bo Diddley beat.” STE It was released as the first single and became U2’s first #1 hit in the UK.
Angel of Harlem is a punchy, sunny Stax-soul” STE “horn-filled tribute to Billie Holiday.” WK “When Loves Come to Town is an endearingly awkward blues duet with B.B. King.” STE “The Dylan collaboration Love Rescue Me is an overlooked minor bluesy gem.” STE Bono and Dylan met in Los Angeles and wrote a song called “Prisoner of Love” which evolved into “Love Rescue Me.” On the original recording, Dylan takes lead vocals which Bono called “astonishing,” WK but Dylan asked U2 not to use it because of his commitment at the time to the Traveling Wilburys. WK
All three of those songs were recorded in Memphis, Tennessee, at the famed Sun Studios where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Roy Orbison recorded. Those same sessions produced a cover of Woody Guthrie’s “Jesus Christ,” which appeared on the Folkways compilation, and “She’s a Mystery to Me,” which Orbison recorded for his final studio album. WK
U2 also create an answer to John Lennon’s “God” with “the bass-heavy” WK God, Part 2. In addition, they offer up “a couple of affecting laments — the cascading All I Want Is You and Heartland.” STE The band started writing the latter during sessions for The Unforgettable Fire in 1984 and worked on it again during sessions for The Joshua Tree. WK
Hawkmoon 269 was, according to Bono, written partly as a tribute to Sam Shepard, an American playwright and actor who’d written a book called Hawk Moon. He said they mixed the song 269 times, a comment assumed to be a joke for years but confirmed by the Edge, who said they spent three weeks mixing the song. WK He did, however, contradict Bono about the song’s subject matter, saying it is a place in Rapid City, South Dakota. WK
In the end, a studio-only album would have been more unified and could have stood on its own with just the nine cuts released on Rattle and Hum. However, it could have been fleshed out with the aforementioned “Jesus Christ” and “She’s a Mystery to Me,” as well as “A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel” and “Hallelujah Here She Comes,” as well as covers of “Dancing Barefoot,” “Unchained Melody,” and “Everlasting Love,” all of which were released as B-sides.
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Saturday, September 10, 1988
|First posted 6/11/2012; updated 4/12/2020.|
Sweet Child O’ Mine
Guns N’ Roses
Writer(s): Axl Rose, Izzy Stradlin, Slash (see lyrics here)
Released: August 17, 1988
First Charted: June 11, 1988
Peak: 12 US, 13 CB, 12 RR, 7 AR, 6 UK, 7 CN, 11 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): 3.4 US, 1.2 UK, 4.6 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1030.0 video, 643.0 streaming
About the Song:
In the late ‘80s, the music world hailed the return of raunchy rock with the rise of Guns N’ Roses. Ironically, though, it wasn’t a down and dirty account of drugs or depravity that launched the band, but a sentimental love song written for the daughter of musical icon Don Everly.
GNR frontman Axl Rose was dating Erin Everly when he penned what he called, “the first positive love song I’ve ever written.” BR1 Axl’s screech may not seem a natural fit for a romantic ballad, but it is “as eloquent – if not as ’poetic’ – as anything Joni Mitchell ever wrote” MA and “conveys an aching passion in a way that a smooth, polished performance simply couldn’t.” AMG
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to back it up with “one of the most memorable guitar intros in the history of rock & roll.” AMG Slash, the band’s guitarist, came up with the riff when he was just fiddling around. He dismissed it as silly SF and the band wasn’t impressed either. RS500 Bassist Duff McKagan said, “It was written in five minutes...It was kinda like a joke because we thought, ...It’s gonna be nothin’, it’ll be filler on the record.’” WK
However, when Rose heard Slash and Izzy Stradlin, the band’s other guitarist, working on the tune, a poem popped into his head which he’d shelved when it hit a dead end. BR1 The song proved to be much more than filler.
A third verse was cut from when producer Mike Clink voiced concern over the song’s running time. At his suggestion, though, the band did add the final “Where do we go? Where do we go now?” breakdown. The lines came about when Axl pondered the question aloud of exactly how they would end the song. WK
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Saturday, July 23, 1988
|First posted 7/23/2011; updated 6/14/2019.|
It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Nation isn’t just considered to be the greatest rap album ever made by many, but is considered “one of the greatest and most influential albums of all-time” WK in any genre. The group itself has said they “set out to make what they considered to be the hip hop equivalent to Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, an album noted for its strong social commentary.” WK
“Welding Chuck D’s hectoring black-power agenda to the equality militant sound of the Bomb Squad’s apocalyptic sample barrage, the fierce Nation made traditional rock & roll posturing seem museum-bound.” BL “Yo! Bum Rush the Show was an invigorating record, but it looks like child’s play compared to its monumental sequel, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, a record that rewrote the rules of what hip-hop could do. That’s not to say the album is without precedent, since what’s particularly ingenious about the album is how it reconfigures things that came before into a startling, fresh, modern sound. Public Enemy used the template Run-D.M.C. created of a rap crew as a rock band, then brought in elements of free jazz, hard funk, even musique concrète, via their producing team, the Bomb Squad, creating a dense, ferocious sound unlike anything that came before.” STE
“This coincided with a breakthrough in Chuck D’s writing, both in his themes and lyrics.” STE “Chuck D. scared the hell out of America’s white parents with lyrics that praised Louis Farrakhan and a delivery that made retributive black violence seem inevitable, rational and – egad! – cool.” TL
“It’s not that Chuck D was smarter or more ambitious than his contemporaries – certainly, KRS-One tackled many similar sociopolitical tracts, while Rakim had a greater flow – but he marshaled considerable revolutionary force, clear vision, and a boundless vocabulary to create galvanizing, logical arguments that were undeniable in their strength.” STE As Los Angeles Times critic Robert Hilburn said, Chuck D “isn’t afraid of being labeled an extremist, and it’s that fearless bite – or game plan – that helps infuse his black-consciousness raps with the anger and assult of punk pioneers like the Sex Pistols and Clash.” WK
Chuck D’s “deeply felt and commercially calculated radicalism was best expressed in Bring the Noise and Rebel Without a Pause, whip-smart, reference-filled songs saved from pretension by Flavor Flav, rap’s greatest hype man, who even makes the prison break in Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos seem like daffy fun.” TL
“Some of the song titles make reference to other works from popular culture. The song title ‘Rebel Without a Pause’ is a play on Rebel Without a Cause, a film from 1955 starring actor James Dean. The title of the track Louder Than a Bomb was influenced by the title of The Smiths’ album Louder Than Bombs. The title of the song Party for Your Right to Fight is a rerrangement of the Beastie Boys’ 1987 hit single ‘(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)’.” WK
“Producers Bill Stephney, Hank Shocklee, and Terminator X – known as The Bomb Squad – laced every track with siren-wails and funk explosives that ratcheted the tension ever higher.” TL They developed “a dense and chaotic production style that relied on found sounds and avant-garde noise as much as it did on old-school funk.” WK Shocklee has said, “Chuck’s a powerful rapper. We wanted to make something that could sonically stand up to him.” WK
“What’s amazing is how the words and music become intertwined, gaining strength from each other. Though this music is certainly a representation of its time, it hasn’t dated at all. It set a standard that few could touch then, and even fewer have attempted to meet since.” STE