Tuesday, May 27, 1986

Run-D.M.C. released Raising Hell

Raising Hell


Released: May 27, 1986

Peak: 3 US, 17 RB, 41 UK, 32 CN, 50 AU

Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.6 UK

Genre: rap


Song Title [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Peter Piper [3:25]
  2. It’s Tricky [3:03] (2/8/87, 57 US, 21 RB)
  3. My Adidas [2:47] (5/17/86, 5 RB)
  4. Walk This Way (with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler & Joe Perry) [5:11] (7/4/86, 4 US, 8 RB, 8 UK, gold single)
  5. Is It Live? [3:07]
  6. Perfection [2:52]
  7. Hit It Run [3:10]
  8. Raising Hell [5:22]
  9. You Be Illin’ [3:26] (10/21/86, 29 US, 12 RB, 42 UK)
  10. Dumb Girl [3:31]
  11. Son of Byford [0:27]
  12. Proud to Be Black [3:15]

Total Running Time: 39:46


4.435 out of 5.00 (average of 13 ratings)

Quotable: “Rap’s first masterpiece” – Josh Tyrangiel/ Alan Light, Time magazine

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“Darryl McDaniels, Jam Master Jay and the Reverend Run wore black leather suits, gold chains and Adidas with no laces. They looked like drug dealers, and plenty of people thought they were. In reality, they were middle class kids from Queens desperate to become rock stars, and Raising Hell was their defining statement.” TL

“Run-D.M.C. were primed for a breakthrough into the mainstream, but nobody was prepared for a blockbuster on the level of Raising Hell. [Their first two albums] – Run-D.M.C. and King of Rock – had established the crew’s fusion of hip-hop and hard rock, but that sound didn't blossom until Raising Hell, partially due to the presence of Rick Rubin as producer. Rubin loved metal and rap in equal measures and he knew how to play to the strengths of both, while slipping in commercial concessions that seemed sly even when they borrowed from songs as familiar as ‘My Sharona’ (heard on It’s Tricky).” AMG

“Along with longtime Run-D.M.C. producer Russell Simmons, Rubin blew down the doors of what hip-hop could do with Raising Hell because it reached beyond rap-rock and found all sorts of sounds outside of it. Sonically, there is simply more going on in this album than any previous rap record – more hooks, more drum loops (courtesy of ace drum programmer Sam Sever), more scratching, more riffs, more of everything. Where other rap records, including Run-D.M.C.’s, were all about the rhythm, this is layered with sounds and ideas, giving the music a tangible flow.” AMG

“They opened with Peter Piper (‘Now Peter Piper picked peppers, but Run rapped rhymes/ Humpty Dumpty fell down, that's his hard time’) to show off their spitting speed, followed it with ‘It's Tricky’ to prove their ferocity, My Adidas to test their promotional skills and ‘Walk This Way’…to show off their catholic tastes. And those are just the first four tracks.” TL

“But the brilliance of this record is that even with this increased musical depth, it still rocks as hard as hell, and in a manner that brought in a new audience. Of course, the cover of Aerosmith’s Walk This Way, complete with that band’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, helped matters considerably, since it gave an audience unfamiliar with rap an entry point.” AMG It was, after all, “the first rock-rap collaboration to hit the Top 10.” TL

However, “if it were just a novelty record, a one-shot fusion of rap and rock, Raising Hell would never have sold three million copies. No, the music was fully realized and thoroughly invigorating, rocking harder and better than any of its rock or rap peers in 1986, and years later, that sense of excitement is still palpable on this towering success story for rap in general and Run-D.M.C. in specific.” AMGRaising Hell is rap’s first masterpiece, and it’s just as audacious now as it was two decades ago.” TL

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First posted 4/15/2008; last updated 12/5/2021.

Tuesday, May 13, 1986

Peter Gabriel’s So released


Peter Gabriel

Released: May 13, 1986

Peak: 2 US, 12 UK, 1 CN, 5 AU

Sales (in millions): 5.0 US, 0.9 UK, 12.1 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: rock


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Red Rain [5:39] (6/14/86, 3 AR, 46 UK)
  2. Sledgehammer [5:12] (4/26/86, 1 US, 1 AR, 61 RB, 4 UK, 1 CN, 3 AU)
  3. Don’t Give Up (with Kate Bush) [6:33] (11/1/86, 72 US, 9 UK, 40 CN, 5 AU)
  4. That Voice Again (Gabriel, David Rhodes) [4:53] (10/18/86, 14 AR)
  5. In Your Eyes [6:27] (6/21/86, 26 US, 1 AR, 29 CN, 97 AU, sales: ½ million)
  6. Mercy Street [6:22]
  7. Big Time [4:28] (11/29/86, 4a US, 3 AR, 13 UK, 15 CN, 37 AU)
  8. We Do What We’re Told (Milgram’s 37) [3:22]
  9. This Is the Picture (Excellent Birds) (with Laurie Anderson) (Gabriel, Anderson) [4:25]

All songs written by Gabriel unless noted otherwise.

Total Running Time: 45:21


4.271 out of 5.00 (average of 20 ratings)

Quotable: A mix of both halves of Gabriel: the “more conventional pop-writing style and…[a] dark, brooding sense of experimentalism.” – Wikipedia

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

For Gabriel’s fifth studio effort, So, many of his songs reflected “a more conventional pop-writing style and became radio hits, others still retain Gabriel’s dark, brooding sense of experimentalism.” WK Producer Daniel Lanois, who’d previous worked with Gabriel for the Birdy soundtrack, was “known for his ambient collaborations with Brian Eno as well as producing U2 since 1984. As he had with the soundtrack to the film Birdy, Lanois brought many of his own ambient sensibilities to this recording.” WK

“This was Gabriel’s first studio album to bear an official title from its inception. His previous regular albums were simply titled Peter Gabriel, including 1982’s Security, which was retitled by Gabriel’s U.S. label at the time, Geffen Records. It had been speculated that the album was named for the fifth note on the scale (do-re-mi-fa-SO), signifying that it was Gabriel’s fifth solo album. However, the fifth note of the scale is actually SOL, and according to Peter Gabriel himself, the title did not have any meaning. ‘It doesn’t mean anything’, he said in an interview with Smash Hits in 1986. ‘We just liked the form of the word and the two letters. That’s all.’” WK

Much of the album’s success had to do with “Sledgehammer, an Otis Redding-inspired soul-pop raver that was easily his catchiest, happiest single to date. Needless to say, it was also his most accessible, and, in that sense it was a good introduction to So, the catchiest, happiest record he ever cut.” STE The song was a #1 hit in the U.S. and its accompanying groundbreaking video, which won MTV’s Video of the Year, is generally in the discussion of best videos ever made. “Directed by Steven Johnson, it features stop motion animation by Aardman Animations of Wallace and Gromit fame. The dancing chickens were animated by Nick Park.” WK

“‘Sledgehammer’ propelled the record toward blockbuster status, and Gabriel had enough songs with single potential to keep it there.” STE Big Time was “another colorful dance number” STE that was “a send-up of the narcissism of the 1980s and was also accompanied by a video in the same vein of ‘Sledgehammer.’” WK

Also in the hit vein are “the urgent That Voice Again,” STEDon’t Give Up, a moving duet with Kate Bush…and In Your Eyes, Gabriel’s greatest love song which achieved genuine classic status after being featured in Cameron Crowe’s classic, Say Anything. These all illustrated the strengths of the album: Gabriel’s increased melodicism and ability to blend African music, jangly pop, and soul into his moody art rock.” STE

Bridging the gap between the hits and the more experimental material is Red Rain, “a stately anthem popular on album rock radio.” STE “Inspired by a recurring dream which Gabriel had of swimming in a sea of red water, its lyrics vividly depict dream imagery that reflect a sense of vulnerability. The song is one of the works in the story of Mozo, a wandering stranger who appears in several Gabriel songs,” WK others being “On the Air” and “Exposure.” WK “Of all the tracks on the album, Gabriel considers ‘Red Rain’ one of his favourites.” WK

“The rest of the record is as quiet as the album tracks of Security.” STEMercy Street is dedicated to poet Anne Sexton and takes its title from her 1969 play, Mercy Street (Sexton also posthumously released a book of poetry, 45 Mercy Street).” WK We Do What We’re Told (Milgram’s 37) “refers to the 37 out of 40 compliant subjects of Milgram Experiment 18.” WK It was also “featured in an episode of the TV series Miami Vice.” WK

This Is the Picture (Excellent Birds) “features vocals with co-writer Laurie Anderson. This track is not included on the original vinyl release of the album, but was added to the audio cassette and CD editions. Anderson had previously recorded a different arrangement of the song entitled ‘Excellent Birds’ for her 1984 album, Mister Heartbreak, which also featured vocals by Gabriel. A video rendition of the song featuring Anderson and Gabriel was included in the 1 January 1984 TV satellite broadcast Good Morning, Mr. Orwell. Anderson also performs the song in her concert film Home of the Brave, released around the same time as So.” STE

While on Security the singles “were part of the overall fabric; here, the singles are the fabric, which can make the album seem top-heavy (a fault of many blockbuster albums, particularly those of the mid-‘80s). Even so, those songs are so strong, finding Gabriel in a newfound confidence and accessibility, that it’s hard not to be won over by them, even if So doesn’t develop the unity of its two predecessors.” STE

Notes: “When the album was remastered in 2002 with most of Gabriel’s catalogue, the song ‘In Your Eyes’ was moved from the fifth song to the ninth song. This was what Peter Gabriel originally intended, but because of the limitations of the vinyl release format it was moved up to be the first track on side two.” WK

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First posted 3/17/2008; last updated 8/20/2021.

Saturday, May 10, 1986

Pet Shop Boys “West End Girls” hit #1 in the U.S.

West End Girls

Pet Shop Boys

Writer(s): Neil Tennant, Chris Lowe (see lyrics here)

Released: October 28, 1985

First Charted: November 23, 1985

Peak: 11 US, 12 GR, 12 RR, 26 AC, 37 AR, 1 CO, 12 UK, 11 CN, 5 AU, 6 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, 0.6 UK, 1.15 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 191.12 video, 275.85 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe formed the Pet Shop Boys in London in 1981. Tennant was a music critic for the UK pop music magazine Smash Hits TB when he met Lowe, which according to Tom Breihan in his Stereogum column “Number Ones,” may make Tennant the only former music critic to land a #1 hit. SG That song was “West End Girls,” which The Guardian went so far as to name the greatest British #1 single of all time in June 2020. SG

It was the only chart topper in the United States for the snyth-pop duo, although they would land four more top-10 hits. In the UK, the Pet Shop Boys have had more than 20 top-10 hits, of which “West End Girls” and three others went to #1. According to the 1999 edition of The Guinness Book of Records, they are the most successful duo in UK music history.

The Pet Shop Boys first recorded the song with producer Bobby Orlando and released it in April 1984. They saw it as a New York dance record. Tennant said, “our career ambition was to have a record you could only buy on import in the gay record shop on Berwick Street…And we achieved that — by September 1984, you could only buy ‘West End Girls’ on a Canadian import in the Record Shack.” SG

Of course, the song went far beyond the duo’s initial ambitions, taking off in dance clubs in France and Belgium SG as well as becoming a club hit in Los Angeles and San Francisco. WK The duo would eventually sever ties with Orlando and re-record the song in 1985 with producer Stephen Hague. He “fattened up the sounds and gave it an overall polish.” TB

Lyrically, the song is inspired by T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Waste Land.” It is “an impressionistic free-floating account of urban London glamor and squalor. Tennant’s East End boys are the brutish young men of working-class London; his West End girls are the monied young women attracted to those boys.” SG Tennant “muses about class and attraction, about the threat of violence that lies under the surface of those interactions.” SG

Musically, Tennant’s “rap-like delivery and relative grittiness” TB was inspired by Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message.” TB Tennant “doesn’t really rap, but he doesn’t really sing, either. Instead, he comes off like a narrator, dispassionately describing scenes of passion, sounding both amused and bemused.” SG His “detatched vocal” is similar to the “reserved, icy sing-speak of early-’80s UK synthpoppers like Soft Cell’s Marc Almond.” SG

The UK duo “had a massive impact on the music scene in the ‘80s. They helped to make club music accessible for the mainstream white audience…They invited the suburban straight audience to check out hip-hop and dance music, which was confied to gay clubs outside the U.S.” TC


First posted 9/27/2022; last updated 5/2/2024.

Saturday, May 3, 1986

Robert Palmer “Addicted to Love” hit #1

Addicted to Love

Robert Palmer

Writer(s): Robert Palmer (see lyrics here)

Released: January 1986

First Charted: February 8, 1986

Peak: 11 BB, 12 CB, 12 GR, 11 RR, 12 AR, 1 CO, 5 UK, 4 CN, 12 AU, 6 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.4 UK, 1.4 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 119.90 video, 161.09 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Rock singer/songwriter Robert Palmer was born in England in 1949. After working with several bands, he went solo in 1974. In the United States, he found top-20 success on the Billboard Hot 100 with 1978’s “Every Kinda People” and 1979’s “Bad Case of Loving You” efore a brief stint with the Power Station in 1985 gave him a pair of top-10 hits with “Some Like It Hot” and “Bang a Gong.”

The Power Station was produced by Bernard Edwards, a former member of Chic (“Le Freak,” “Good Times”) and producer for major disco hits such as Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” and Diana Ross’s “Upside Down.” Palmer had never heard of him before FB but after working with him in the Power Station he asked Edwards to produce his next solo album, 1985’s Riptide. The album gave Palmer his greatest commercial success with the #1 hit “Addicted to Love.”

Palmer said, “There was a lot of concern throughout the media about various substances…It strikes me that it’s not the substance…It’s the addictive personality that’s the problem…It doesn’t matter what’s around, you’re gonna get hooked on it…I just thought it was a facetious kind of thing, being addicted to love.” FB

“Addicted to Love” is “funky and bluesy but very modern in its production – massive gated drums and a thunderous, if simple, hook line.” TC It gained a lot of attention for its video which featured Palmer dressed in a suit and backed by “an all girl band in little black dresses and classic cocktail styling.” TC It became “one of the most famous video clips ever made.” TC

The song was originally recorded as a duet with Chaka Khan. However, Palmer explained that, “Her people said ti was a conflict of interest. She’d have three singles out at the same time.” FB Her vocals were erased from the master.


First posted 2/20/2024.