Saturday, September 26, 1987

Michael Jackson debuted at #1 with Bad

First posted 3/21/2008; updated 12/1/2020.

Bad

Michael Jackson


Released: August 31, 1987


Peak: 16 US, 118 RB, 11 UK, 11 CN, 2 AU


Sales (in millions): 10.0 US, 3.9 UK, 35.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: pop/R&B


Tracks:

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

  1. Bad (9/19/87, 1 US, 3 UK, 1 RB, 33 AC)
  2. The Way You Make Me Feel (11/21/87, 1 US, 3 UK, 1 RB, 9 AC)
  3. Speed Demon
  4. Liberian Girl (7/15/89, 13 UK)
  5. Just Good Friends (with Stevie Wonder)
  6. Another Part of Me (7/23/88, 10a US, 15 UK, 1 RB, 44 AC)
  7. Man in the Mirror (2/6/88, 1 US, 21 UK, 1 RB, 2 AC)
  8. I Just Can’t Stop Loving You (with Siedah Garrett) (8/8/87, 1 US, 1 UK, 1 RB, 1 AC, sales: ½ million)
  9. Dirty Diana (5/7/88, 1 US, 4 UK, 2a RB)
  10. Smooth Criminal (11/12/88, 7 US, 8 UK, 2 RB)
  11. Leave Me Alone (2/25/89, 2 UK) *


Total Running Time: 48:40

Rating:

4.200 out of 5.00 (average of 24 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

How does one follow the most successful album of all time? Michael Jackson’s approach was to “take the basic formula of the predecessor, expand it slightly, and move it outward. This meant that he moved deeper into hard rock, deeper into schmaltzy adult contemporary, deeper into hard dance – essentially taking each portion of Thriller to an extreme, while increasing the quotient of immaculate studiocraft.” STE

Once again, Jackson turns to Quincy Jones as a producer but this time Jackson co-produced, as well as composing all but two of the tracks. He did move away from “his trademark groove sound and high-pitched vocals” WK and integrated modern technology such as digital synthesizers and drum machines. The result was a more aggressive, but “sleeker, slicker Thriller, which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not a rousing success, either.” STE

“I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”

Jackson followed a similar template with the single releases as he had with Thriller. The lead single was a duet ballad, but unlike the superstar pairing of him and Paul McCartney for “The Girl Is Mine,” this time it was with the virtually unknown Siedah Garrett on I Just Can’t Stop Loving You. The song did do better on the charts, peaking at #1 – a notch higher than “The Girl Is Mine.”

“Bad”

Rather than waiting the usual three months between singles, Jackson again employed a technique from Thriller by getting a new song to radio even before the predecessor had cooled. Much like his title track for Thriller the Bad single was promoted with a mini-movie video. It became the album’s second #1 hit.

Lyrically, the song was about boastfulness and musically it was sort of a revision of Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road Jack.” It was initially intended as a duet between Jackson and Prince. WK

“The Way You Make Me Feel”

Another upbeat song with a flashy video came next. With The Way You Make Me Feel, Jackson managed a feat he hadn’t with Thriller: a third #1 song. He wasn’t done, though. Jackson would, in fact, land a whopping five chart-topping songs from the album – a feat never before accomplished in pop music.

“Man in the Mirror”

Next up was “the saccharine Man in the Mirror,” STE Jackson’s own personal version of “We Are the World,” the superstar artist collection from two years earlier which was penned by Jackson and Lionel Richie. Once again, Jackson writes from an ego-driven “I can change the world” perspective, although it’s hard to fault him for the sentiment of wanting the man in the mirror to “change his ways.”

“Dirty Diana”

Dirty Diana was Bad’s closest equivalent to “Beat It” in terms of the hard-driving guitar sound. It was lyrically similar to “Billie Jean” in its description of a sexual predator, but while “Billie Jean” evoked a paranoia of a woman out to trap Jackson, “Dirty Diana” had Jacksons “sounding equally intrigued by and apprehensive of a sexual challenge.” WK The song does lose something because of its “misogynistic” STE nature.

“Another Part of Me”

After five #1 songs, the sixth single not only missed the top of the charts, but the top ten. That was significant in that it was the first single out of seventeen released from his last three studio albums to not hit the top ten.

In the context of the album, it also represented “a near-fatal dead spot on the record – songs three through six, from Speed Demon to ‘Another Part of Me,’ a sequence that’s utterly faceless, lacking memorable hooks and melodies, even when Stevie Wonder steps in for Just Good Friends.” STE Unlike the “tremendous songs, performances, and fresh, vivacious beats” STE found on Off the Wall and Thriller, these are songs which are “mechanical,” STE “relying on nothing but studiocraft.” STE

“Smooth Criminal”

Once again, Jackson followed the template of Thriller here by releasing seven singles. The seventh and final single put Jackson back in the top ten with a song characterized by All Music Guide’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine as “simply OK.” AMG The song was supported, a la “Thriller,” with a big-budget story video, this time with Jackson envisioning himself as a gangster.

“Leave Me Alone”

While it wasn’t a single or even part of the original album (it was a CD-only release), “Leave Me Alone” was significant. Erlewine called it “the best song on the album,” STE while also asking “why are all of his best songs paranoid anthems?” STE It was accompanied by a video that saw Jackson poking fun at himself and the tabloid fodder he had become since Thriller. Erlewine asserts that “not coincidentally, [it] was the best video from the album.” STE


Notes:
“Leave Me Alone” was a bonus track on the CD version of the album only.

A reissue in 2001 added the songs “Streetwalker,” “Todo Mi Amor Eres Tu,” and “Fly Away” as well as interviews with album producer Quincy Jones. A 25th anniversary edition in 2012 added an second disc of unreleased songs and remixes.

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Monday, September 21, 1987

Yes Big Generator released

Big Generator

Yes


Released: September 21, 1987


Peak: 15 US, 17 UK, 14 CN, 44 AU


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US


Genre: progressive rock


Tracks:

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

  1. Rhythm of Love (Kaye, Rabin, Anderson, Squire) [4:49] (10/10/87, 40 US, 2 AR)
  2. Big Generator (Rabin, Kaye, Anderson, Squire, White) [4:31]
  3. Shoot High Aim Low (White, Kaye, Rabin, Anderson, Squire) [6:59] (11/14/87, 11 AR)
  4. Almost Like Love (Kaye, Rabin, Anderson, Squire) [4:58]
  5. Love Will Find a Way (Rabin) [4:48] (10/3/87, 30 US, 73 UK, 1 AR)
  6. Final Eyes (Rabin, Kaye, Anderson, Squire) [6:20] (2/20/88, 20 AR)
  7. I’m Running (Rabin, Squire, Anderson, Kaye, White) [7:34]
  8. Holy Lamb (Song for Harmonic Convergence) (Anderson) [3:15]


Total Running Time: 43:14


The Players:

  • Jon Anderson (vocals)
  • Trevor Rabin (guitar, keyboards)
  • Chris Squire (bass)
  • Alan White (drums, percussion)
  • Tony Kaye (keyboards)

Rating:

2.760 out of 5.00 (average of 10 ratings)

About the Album:

After the surprise success of 1983’s 90125, the biggest album of Yes’ career, that lineup of vocalist John Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, drummer Alan White, keyboardist Tony Kaye, and guitarist Trevor Rabin reconvened for a follow-up. “Big Generator’s sessions dragged on for two years, largely over creative differences…Rabin was aiming to progress beyond 90125, while…Anderson was beginning to yearn for more traditional Yes music. Trevor Horn, who was a major factor in the success of Yes’ previous disc 90125 was part of the early recording sessions, but dropped out after a few months due in major part to his inability to get along with…Kaye.” WK “Rabin assumed the production duties after the departure of Horn, and is credited for pulling together the final line-up of music on the disc.” WK

Like 90125, “Big Generator was also a million-selling hit, although not as successful as its predecessor, probably because the singles Love Will Find a Way…and Rhythm of Love…couldn’t match ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’ from the previous LP, even if they were favorites on AOR radio at the time. Actually, it was the title track that was a carbon copy of ‘Owner,’ so maybe that was the problem. More likely, though, ‘Owner’ was a one-shot (courtesy of producer Trevor Horn), and as Yes asserted itself more here, the band reverted more to its old style, making for some confusion. Nevertheless, this album was Yes’ last major hit.” WR

The difference in ideas over direction led to Anderson “working on other projects at the conclusion of the Big Generator tour in 1988 including a partial reformation with his Yes bandmates from the 1970s (this reformation would lead to Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe).” WK The “Cinema” lineup (so-named because of that being the early name for the project that led to 90125) would come together again, however, on 1991’s Union and 1994’s Talk.


Notes: A 2009 reiusse added five bonus cuts – two more versions of “Love Will Find a Way” and three of “Rhythm of Love.”

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First posted 6/7/2011; updated 7/25/2021.

Friday, September 18, 1987

50 years ago: Count Basie charts with "One O'Clock Jump"

First posted 9/18/2011; updated 3/18/2021.

One O’Clock Jump

Count Basie

Writer(s): Count Basie


First Charted: September 18, 1937


Peak: 12 US (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1.075 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Count Basie and his Orchestra crafted this instrumental jazz “landmark of the big band Swing Era” NRR around a head arrangement, an approach in which a song was developed through rehearsal and memorized without being written down. NRR The approach let musicians focus on the rhythmic drive NRR which was the main thrust of Basie’s and other Kansas City dance bands. Such songs were known as “stomps” and “shouts” or, in this case, a “jump”. CR

The approach also allowed soloists a lot of freedom. In “One O’Clock Jump”, extraordinary players like Lester Young, Herschel Evans, and Buck Clayton are allowed a showcase their interplay of brass and reeds. NRR

The song grew out of a rearrangement of Fats Waller’s “Six or Seven Times” CR and became a song originally called “Blue Ball”, CR which showcased the band’s ties to the blues. However, when Basie & crew were scheduled to perform the song for a radio broadcast, the announced balked at the risqué name so Basie retitled it “One O’Clock Jump”. CR

Basie was the first to chart with the song in 1937. The following year, Harry James and Benny Goodman had top 10 versions with it. However, the song has become known as “Basie’s signature theme, and the band played it at the end of their performances for more than 50 years.” NPR As a demonstration of this instrumental’s staying power and ability to cross genres, country group Asleep at the Wheel won a Grammy in 1978 for best country instrumental performance. TY Neil Peart, the drummer with progressive rock group Rush, used it to conclude his solos in concert from 2002 to 2004. WK


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Tuesday, September 15, 1987

Squeeze released Babylon and On

Babylon and On

Squeeze


Released: September 15, 1987


Peak: 36 US, 14 UK, 95 CN, 84 AU


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: new wave


Tracks:

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

  1. Hourglass [3:16] (7/87, 15 US, 13 RR, 45 AC, 22 AR, 3 CO, 16 UK, 23 CN, 90 AU)
  2. Footprints [3:49] (6/88, --)
  3. Tough Love [3:07]
  4. The Prisoner [4:06]
  5. 853-5937 [3:16] (12/19/87, 32 US, 27 RR, 37 AR, 6 CO, 91 UK, 50 CN)
  6. In Today's Room [3:28]
  7. Trust Me To Open My Mouth [3:12] (9/87, 50 AR, 25 CO, 72 UK)
  8. Striking Matches [3:02]
  9. Cigarette of a Single Man [3:29]
  10. Who Are You? [3:30]
  11. The Waiting Game [3:06] (11/87, --)
  12. Some Americans [4:40]

Songs written by Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook.


Total Running Time: 42:01


The Players:

  • Chris Difford (vocals, rhythm guitar)
  • Glenn Tilbrook (vocals, lead guitar)
  • Jools Holland, Andy Metcalfe (keyboards)
  • Keith Wilkinson (bass)
  • Gilson Lavis (drums, percussion)

Rating:

3.413 out of 5.00 (average of 15 ratings)


Quotable: “A fully engaging album” – Amazon.com

About the Album:

For their seventh album, “Squeeze decided to return to the more straight-ahead pop of their classic period.” AMG Babylon and On strips back a bit and, although the return is a welcomed one AMG “with hooks that make sly demands on the attention of the listener,” AZ “much of the material misses the mark, and the move seems a little forced. Flaws aside, there are some moments of inspiration.” AMG

With a tongue-twister lightning-speed chorus, Hourglass “became the band's biggest Stateside hit” AMG and “revels in Squeeze's signature sound: idiosyncratically structured choruses made inviting by the enthusiasm of multiple voices” AZ definitely has pop appeal, but it is sad to think that masterpieces like “Tempted,” “Up the Junction,” and “Black Coffee in Bed” were dwarfed by this “near-novelty” AMG song.

Footprints and 853-5937 are two of Squeeze’s weaker singles releases. They aren’t entirely without witty lines or catchy hooks, but they pale in comparison to previous classics like “Cool for Cats” and “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell).”

The first half of the album is also doomed with several filler songs. “Tough Love presents another one of their finely detailed little vignettes.” AZ While it may be lyrically interesting, it makes for one of the weak points of the album, along with The Prisoner and In Today’s Room.

The second half of the album is much stronger. "Trust Me to Open My Mouth offers a narrator flawed in familiar way.” AZ ”It kicks butt all over the place, with a great harmony arrangement and a compelling bass line.” JA

That song then launches into Striking Matches, a Difford-sung song that would have fit comfortably on previous album Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti, Squeeze’s welcome return after a three-year layoff.

Things just keep kicking with Cigarette of a Single Man. This song fits comfortably into the role of a classic Squeeze song overshadowed by the album’s hit singles. With Argybargy, it was “Separate Beds;” on East Side Story it was a pair of songs with “Messed Around” and “Vanity Fair.” Here, “Cigarette” unnecessarily plays second fiddle to “Hourglass” and “Trust Me to Open My Mouth.” This is the kind of song that may not musically overwhelm you, but you’ll find yourself bopping along to it as you back up to play the song again to listen to the catchy lyrics.

The album closes out with three strong songs that are still easy to overlook after the strong trifecta that they follow. Who Are You? is a decent toe-tapper, followed by a smooth ballad in The Waiting Game. Things wrap up with Some Americans, which hits on the familiar British perspective that Squeeze brings to many of their songs as they sing “about how they really don't understand Americans.” RC

Chop out a few of the dead weight songs and replace them with that era’s B-side “Wedding Bells” and “What Have They Done,” from the When the Wind Blows and you have a perfect album. Even as is, though, ”Squeeze [have] fashioned a fully engaging album.” AZ


Notes: The UK re-release added bonus tracks “Splitting into Three” and “Wedding Bells.”

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First posted 3/16/2006; last updated 2/7/2022.

Monday, September 7, 1987

Pink Floyd A Momentary Lapse of Reason released

A Momentary Lapse of Reason

Pink Floyd


Released: September 7, 1987


Peak: 3 US, 3 UK, 5 CN, 2 AU


Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 0.1 UK, 10.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic rock


Tracks:

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

  1. Signs of Life (Gilmour, Bob Ezrin) [4:24]
  2. Learning to Fly (Gilmour, Ezrin, Anthony Moore, Jon Carin) [4:52] (9/5/87, 70 US, 1 AR, 34 AU)
  3. The Dogs of War (Gilmour, Moore) [6:10] (9/26/87, 30 AR)
  4. One Slip (Gilmour, Phil Manzanera) [5:05] (9/26/87, 5 AR, 50 UK)
  5. On the Turning Away (Gilmour, Moore) [5:42] (9/26/87, 1 AR, 55 UK, 48 AU)
  6. Yet Another Movie (Gilmour, Patrick Leonard) [6:14]
  7. Round and Around (instrumental) [1:13]
  8. A New Machine, Pt. 1 [1:46]
  9. Terminal Frost (instrumental) [6:17]
  10. A New Machine, Pt. 2 [0:38]
  11. Sorrow [8:47] (3/5/88, 36 AR) *

Songs written by Gilmour unless noted otherwise.

* Chart info for live version released on 1988’s Delicate Sound of Thunder.


Total Running Time: 51:09


The Players:

  • David Gilmour (vocals, guitar)
  • Nick Mason (drums, percussion)
  • Richard Wright (keyboards)

Rating:

3.232 out of 5.00 (average of 23 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

This was the Pink Floyd album that divided its fans into two camps; those who thought the now-departed Roger “Waters unifying vision and lyrical ability” AMG “was the heart and soul of the band and those that preferred “the kind of atmospheric instrumental music and Gilmour guitar sound typical” AMG of Floyd in its heyday.

With respect to those in Waters’ camp, 1983’s The Final Cut made it clear it was time for Waters to go. He was pushing music that lacked the accessibility of Floyd’s previous efforts. Even as monstrous as 1979’s The Wall had been, it suffered under the weight of Waters’ over-reaching concept. Still, that album worked because the rest of the band reigned him in. By The Final Cut, Waters had reduced his fellow bandmates to session players on what was effectively his first solo album. Compare the liner notes of The Final Cut and Waters’ first solo album, 1984’s The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking; about the only difference between the numerous players on the two albums is the absence of the other Floyd members on the latter (and the presence of some guitarist named Eric Clapton).

When Gilmour and Co. decided to soldier on as Pink Floyd, Waters did a lot of whining about who had rights to the name and even took his ex-bandmates to court, but, truth be told, neither incarnation bore the same sound as classic seventies Pink Floyd. The resulting A Momentary Lapse of Reason is arguably a “David Gilmour solo album in all but name,” AMG but it offered up exactly what album rock radio wanted; big anthems that would rock stadiums alongside the band’s stellar classic rock catalog. Heck, regardless of whether you attach the name ‘Pink Floyd’ to it or not, who can argue with whether or not songs like Learning to Fly, On the Turning Away, and One Slip, weren’t perfectly suited for radio stations needing some nice slabs of classic rock?

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First posted 3/22/2008; last updated 9/1/2021.