Thursday, October 29, 1987

200 years ago: Mozart’s Don Giovanni first performed

Last updated 11/16/2020.

Il dissoluto punito, ossia il
Don Giovanni, opera, K. 527

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (composer)


Composed: 1787


First Performed: October 29, 1787


Peak: -- US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU


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


Genre: classical > opera


Parts/Movements:

  1. Overture, Andante

Act I

  1. Introduzione ("Notte e giorno faticar")
  2. Recitative & Duet ("Ma qual mai s'offre, oh Dei, spettacolo funesto... Fuggi, crudele, fuggi")
  3. Aria ("Ah! chi mi dice mai")
  4. Aria ("Madamina! Il catalogo e questo")
  5. Duet with Chorus ("Giovinette che fate all' amore")
  6. Aria ("Ho capito, Signor, si")
  7. Duet ("La ci darem la mano, la mi dirai di si")
  8. Aria ("Ah, fuggi il traditor")
  9. Quartet ("Non ti fidar, o misera")
  10. Recitative & Aria ("Don Ottavio, son morta!... Or sai chi l'onore")
  11. Aria ("Dalla sua pace la mia dipende")
  12. Aria ("Finch' han dal vino calda la testa")
  13. Aria ("Batti, batti, o bel Masetto, la tua povera Zerlina")
  14. Finale ("Presto, presto! priach' ei venga, por mi vo'")

Act II

  1. Duet ("Eh via buffone, eh via buffone")
  2. Trio ("Ah, taci ingiusto core")
  3. Canzonetta ("Deh, vieni alla finestra")
  4. Aria ("Metà di voi quà vadano")
  5. Aria ("Vedrai, carino, se sei buonino")
  6. Sextet ("Sola, sola in buio loco palpitar")
  7. Aria ("Ah, pieta, signori miei! Ah, pieta, pieta")
  8. Aria ("Il mio tesoro intanto")
  9. Recitative & Aria ("In qualieccessi, o Numi... Mi tradi quell' alma ingrata, quell' alma ingrata")
  10. Duet ("O statua gentilissima")
  11. Recitative & Aria ("Crudele! Ah no, mio bene... Non mi dir, bell' idol mio")
  12. Finale ("Gia la mensa e preparata")


Average Length: 164:20

Rating:

4.465 out of 5.00 (average of 5 ratings)


Quotable: --


Awards:

About the Album:

Don Giovanni is a two-act opera was billed at the time as “drama giocoso”, which refers to a mix of serious and comedic action. WK It tells the story of seducing legend Don Juan (“Don Giovanni” in Italian) and how he is destroyed by his excesses. WK

Mozart was in Prague during the first couple months of 1787 to attend and conduct performances of several works, most notably Le nozze di Figaro, his most recent opera. While there, he was commissioned to create a new opera by impresario Pasquale Bondini. JH

It premiered in Prague on October 29, 1787. Reports suggest Mozart didn’t complete the work until that day or the day before. WK It was well-received, as was generally the case for Mozart’s work in Prague. The Prager Oberamtszeitung reported, “Connoisseurs and musicians say that Prague has never heard the like.” WK By contrast, reviews of the opera’s first Vienna performances in 1788 “suggested mild dissatisfaction with the work’s extended length and unnecessary plot elaborations.” JH According to Operabase, it is the seventh most-performed opera worldwide. WK

The final score used double woodwinds, horns, trumpets, timpani, and strings. WK He used three onstage ensembles for a ballroom dance scene at the end of the first act. WK In addition, “Mozart creates levels of dramatic expression through recitativo secco, recitative accompagnato, and aria styles…Recitativo accompagnato is reserved for moments of great emotion, in which the accompanying orchestra virtually assumes a dramatic role. In Act Two, Scene Ten (d), the orchestra virtually speaks for the conflicted Donna Elvira… conveying her rage and slurred couplets giving musical voice to her sighs.” JH

“The dramatically stagnant da capo aria that was the mainstay of the operas of George Friedrich Handel is virtually absent from Don Giovanni. Leporello’s so-called ‘catalog aria’ (Madamina, il catalogo è questo) in Act One, Scene Five, for example, suggests both through-composed and bi-partite formal elements. Some arias in Don Giovanni, however, such as Don Ottavio’s Act One, Scene Fourteen aria (Dalla sue pace), contain traces of the ternary form idea of returning to beginning material after a section of contrasting music. Donna Elvira’s aria in Act Two, Scene Ten(d) (Mi tradì quell'alma ingrate) juxtaposes ternary and rondo form ideas, reinforcing through musical form Donna Elvira’s returning to the same position of pity and longing for Don Giovanni.” JH

“In keeping with the function of the opera overture to introduce the opera’s important themes, the music that begins the overture, marked by alternations between the D minor tonic and its dominant, returns in the Commendatore’s scene in Act Two, Scene Fifteen. The drama of this scene is set in relief by the light use popular music in the preceding party scene, where the on-stage musicians play melodies from arias by Martín y Soler, Sarti, and even Mozart’s own Le nozze di Figaro during Don Giovanni’s party. Don Giovanni’s canzonetta (Deh, vieni alla fenestra, o mio Tesoro) in Act Two, Scene Three, an airy strophic song scored for pizzicato strings and mandolin, is a similarly witty musical juxtaposition of planes of realism.” JH

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Tuesday, October 13, 1987

Sting Nothing Like the Sun released

Nothing Like the Sun

Sting


Released: October 13, 1987


Peak: 9 US, 11 UK, 3 CN, 3 AU


Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.3 UK, 9.5 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: rock


Tracks:

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

  1. The Lazarus Heart [4:35] (11/28/87, 30 AR, 29 CO)
  2. Be Still My Beating Heart [5:34] (12/31/87, 15 US, 20 CB, 13 RR, 37 AC, 2 AR, 4 CO, 94 AU)
  3. Englishman in New York [4:27] (2/20/88, 84 US, 80 CB, 48 AC, 32 AR, 7 CO, 15 UK)
  4. History Will Teach Us Nothing [5:07]
  5. They Dance Alone (Cueca Solo) [6:48] (8/31/88, 16 CO)
  6. Fragile [3:58] (4/9/88, 18 AA, 22 CO, 70 UK)
  7. We’ll Be Together [4:53] (10/9/87, 7 US, 7 CB, 8 RR, 20 AR, 4 CO, 41 UK, 13 AU)
  8. Straight to My Heart [3:54]
  9. Rock Steady [4:28]
  10. Sister Moon [3:57]
  11. Little Wing (Hendrix) [5:03] (10/24/87, 11 AR, 25 CO)
  12. The Secret Marriage (Eisler/Sting) [2:02]

Songs written by Sting unless noted otherwise.


Total Running Time: 54:45


The Players:

  • Sting (vocals, bass, guitar, arrangements)
  • Mike Egan (bass)
  • Hiram Bullock, Andy Summers, Eric Clapton, Fareed Haque, Mark Knopfler (guitar)
  • Kenny Kirkland, Ken Helman (keyboards/piano)
  • Manu Katche, Kenwood Dennard, Andy Newmark (drums)
  • Mino Cinelu (percussion, vocoder)
  • Brandford Marsalis (saxophone)
  • Gil Evans & His Orchestra (on “Little Wing”)
  • Janice Pendarvis, Dolette McDonald, Renee Geyer, Pamela Quinlan, Vesta Williams, Annie Lennox (backing vocals)
  • Ruben Blades (spoken Spanish on “They Dance Alone”)

Rating:

4.366 out of 5.00 (average of 18 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“If Dream of the Blue Turtles was an unabashedly pretentious affair, it looks positively lighthearted in comparison to Sting’s sophomore effort, Nothing Like the Sun, one of the most doggedly serious pop albums ever recorded.” AMG Some critics, such as The Village Voice’s Robert Christgau, thought Sting was still pretentious on this record. Trouser Press’s Ira Robbins called it “self important…a tedious, bankrupt and vacuous cavern of a record.” WK On the flip side, All Music Guide’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine calls this “one of his better albums.” AMG

“This is an album where the only up-tempo track, the only trifle – the cheerfully stiff white-funk We’ll Be Together – was added at the insistence of the label because they believed there wasn’t a cut on the record that could be pulled as a single, one that would break down the doors to mainstream radio.” AMG

“And they were right, since everything else here is too measured, calm, and deliberately subtle to be immediate (including the intentional throwaway, Rock Steady). So, why is it a better album than its predecessor? Because Sting doesn’t seem to be trying so hard. It flows naturally, largely because this isn’t trying to explicitly be a jazz-rock record. Thank the presence of a new rhythm section of Sting and drummer Manu Katche for that.” AMG

This is an album which effortlessly “explores the genres of pop rock, soft rock, jazz, reggae, world, acoustic rock, dance rock, and funk rock.” WK Rolling Stone’s Anthony DeCurtis wrote that “musically he is stretching without straining.” WK He said the album represented an “impressive growth for Sting. His voice is rich, grainy, and more mature; his ideas are gaining in complexity.” WK

This is an album which also features a number of well-known guests, including Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Annie Lennox, and former Police drummer Andy Summers. Jazz legend Gil Evans even assists on Sting’s cover of the Jimi Hendrix song Little Wing.

“The melodies are insinuating, slowly working their way into memory, while the entire record plays like a mood piece – playing equally well as background music or as intensive, serious listening.” AMG There are times “Sting’s words can still grate”AMG such as in “the stifling pompousness of History Will Teach Us Nothing, the clearest example, yet calls of ‘Hey Mr. Pinochet’ also strike an uneasy chord,” AMG but often “his lyricism shines.” AMG

The album title was taken from the line “my mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” from Shakespeare’s Sonnet No. 130. Sting uses the line in the song Sister Moon. Sting says he quoted the line to a drunk who asked, “How beautiful is the moon?” WK That song and Englishman in New York continue the jazz-rock sound that Sting employed on The Dream of the Blue Turtles. The latter song was written in honor of English writer, raconteur, and artist Quentin Crisp. WK

Inspiration for the album came from the death of Sting’s mother and his participation in Amnesty International’s Cospiracy of Hope tour. He saw parts of Latin America ravaged by civil wars and governments which oppressed its people. They Dance Alone was inspired by wives and daughters in Chile dancing the Cueca, a traditional dance expressing grief about men who had been tortured and murdered by the country’s military dictatorship. WK

Be Still My Beating Heart was nominated for Grammys for Song of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. That song and The Lazarus Heart “approach the subjects of life, love, and death.” WK The latter was originally written to be the musical finale of the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? In an earlier version of the movie, Roger Rabbit was killed. When Disney changed the ending, the song was deleted. WK

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First posted 3/24/2008; last updated 8/25/2021.

Monday, October 12, 1987

INXS released Kick

First posted 5/31/2008; updated 11/24/2020.

Kick

INXS


Released: October 12, 1987


Peak: 3 US, 9 UK, 11 CN, 2 AU


Sales (in millions): 6.0 US, 0.9 UK, 20.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: new wave/college rock


Tracks:

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

  1. Guns in the Sky
  2. New Sensation (1/9/88, 3 US, 3 CB, 2 RR, 8 AR, 2 CO, 25 UK, 11 CN, 9 AU)
  3. Devil Inside (12/26/87, 2 US, 2 CB, 3 RR, 2 AR, 4 CO, 47 UK, 3 CN, 6 AU)
  4. Need You Tonight (10/24/87, 11 US, 11 CB, 11 RR, 73 RB, 12 AR, 1 CO, 2 UK, 1 CN, 3 AU)
  5. Mediate
  6. The Loved One
  7. Wild Life
  8. Never Tear Us Apart (6/25/88, 7 US, 8 CB, 6 RR, 42 AC, 5 AR, 2 CO, 28 MR, 24 UK, 9 CN, 11 AU)
  9. Mystify (12/17/88, 17 AR, 11 CO, 14 UK, 5 CN)
  10. Kick (6/18/88, 33 AR, 30 CO)
  11. Calling All Nations
  12. Tiny Daggers


Total Running Time: 39:12


The Players:

  • Michael Hutchence (vocals)
  • Tim Farriss (guitar, backing vocals)
  • Kirk Pengilly (saxophone, rhythm guitar, backing vocals)
  • Garry Gary Beers (bass)
  • Jon Farriss (drums, percussion)
  • Andrew Farriss (synthesizers, drum machine, rhythm guitar, backing vocals)

Rating:

4.367 out of 5.00 (average of 6 ratings)


Quotable: “One of the best mainstream pop albums of the ‘80s” – Steve Huey, All Music Guide


Awards:

About the Album:

“Throughout the early 1980s, INXS kept threatening to go big league;” MR “‘What You Need’ had taken INXS from college radio into the American Top Five, but there was little indication that the group would follow it with a multi-platinum blockbuster like Kick. SH The album “fused the funk and soul of The Swing with the mainstream rock of Listen Like Thieves.” WK The band “set out to make an album that did not share any musical formula with other hits of the time.” WK

The result was an album which created multiple hits in its time. “Where the follow-ups to ‘What You Need’ made barely a ripple on the pop charts, Kick spun off four Top Ten singles.” SH The success of that song had given Hutchence and Andrew Farris, the primary songwriters, “the confidence and optimism to pen bigger material.” WK As Kirk Pengilly said, “We wanted an album where all the songs were possible singles.” WK

They succeeded. The lead single, Need You Tonight, became the band’s sole chart-topper in the United States. The song, paired with Mediate, also made for a hugely successful and iconic video which took home five MTV video awards, including Video of the Year. The songs also showcased the diversity of the album in its lyrical themes. While the former was dripping in sexuality, the latter tackled social concerns such as apartheid.

Follow-up singles would continue to cement that. Devil Inside, , which just missed out on the top spot, peaking at #2, was about “a life of excess” WK and New Sensation was about a party lifestyle, but “the shimmering ballad Never Tear Us ApartMR was about “an instant connection between two people who formed an unending bond.” WK Musically, the song was originally “a piano ballad having no orchestral structure at all.” WK

“The rest of Kick, especially the strutting Guns in the Sky and the groovy Wild Life, is of similar quality.” MR The album “crystallized all of the band’s influences” SH – “Stones-y guitars and angular, funk-tinged rhythms” MR alongside “contemporary dance-pop – into a cool, stylish dance/rock hybrid.” SH “Hutchence’s MTV good looks and Aretha-meets-Aerosmith swagger completed the musical equation for both the girls and the boys.” MR Also putting the band in the spotlight was Hutchence’s “feline sexuality, which certainly didn’t hurt the band’s already inventive videos.” SH

“But it wasn’t just image that provided their breakthrough. For the first (and really only) time, INXS made a consistently solid album that had no weak moments from top to bottom. More than that, really, Kick is an impeccably crafted pop tour de force, the band succeeding at everything they try. Every track has at least a subtly different feel from what came before it; INXS freely incorporates tense guitar riffs, rock & roll anthems, swing-tinged pop/rock, string-laden balladry, danceable pop-funk, horn-driven ‘60s soul, ‘80s R&B, and even a bit of the new wave-ish sound they’d started out with. More to the point, every song is catchy and memorable, branded with indelible hooks. Even without the band’s sense of style, the flawless songcraft is intoxicating, and it’s what makes Kick one of the best mainstream pop albums of the ‘80s.” SH


Notes: The 2002 reissue adds and alternate of “Mystify” as well as the songs “Move On,” “Jesus Was a Man,” and “The Trap.” A 2005 deluxe edition adds a whole second disc of bonus material, including the aforementioned material as well as the songs “I’m Coming Home” and “On the Rocks;” remixes of “New Sensation,” “Guns in the Sky,” and “Need You Tonight;” and live versions of “Mediate,” “Never Tear Us Apart,” and “Kick.”

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Friday, October 9, 1987

Bruce Springsteen Tunnel of Love released

Tunnel of Love

Bruce Springsteen


Released: October 9, 1987


Peak: 11 US, 11 UK, 11 CN, 5 AU


Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.3 UK, 8.5 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: rock


Tracks:

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

  1. Ain’t Got You [2:11]
  2. Tougher Than the Rest [4:35] (6/18/88, 13 UK, 35 AU)
  3. All That Heaven Will Allow [2:39] (2/27/88, 5 AR)
  4. Spare Parts [3:44] (10/17/87, 28 AR, 32 UK, 57 AU)
  5. Cautious Man [3:58]
  6. Walk Like a Man [3:45]
  7. Tunnel of Love [5:12] (10/17/87, 9 US, 12 CB, 13 RR, 13 AC, 1 AR, 45 UK, 17 CN, 41 AU)
  8. Two Faces [3:03]
  9. Brilliant Disguise [4:17] (9/25/87, 5 US, 4 CB, 5 RR, 5 AC, 1 AR, 20 UK, 9 CN, 17 AU)
  10. One Step Up [4:22] (12/12/87, 13 US, 17 CB, 15 RR, 3 AC, 2 AR, 23 CN, 67 AU)
  11. When You’re Alone [3:24]
  12. Valentine’s Day [5:10]

All songs written by Bruce Springsteen.


Total Running Time: 46:25

Rating:

4.4.067 out of 5.00 (average of 22 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“Just as he had followed his 1980 commercial breakthrough The River with the challenging Nebraska, Bruce Springsteen followed the most popular album of his career, Born in the U.S.A., with another low-key, anguished effort, Tunnel of Love. Especially in their sound, several of the songs, Cautious Man and Two Faces, for example, could have fit seamlessly onto Nebraska, though the arrangements overall were not as stripped-down and acoustic as on the earlier album.” AMG

“While Nebraska was filled with songs of economic desperation, however, Tunnel of Love, as its title suggested, was an album of romantic exploration. But the lovers were just as desperate in their way as Nebraska's small-time criminals. In song after song, Springsteen questioned the trust and honesty on both sides in a romantic relationship, specifically a married relationship.” AMG

“Since Springsteen sounded more autobiographical than ever before (Ain’t Got You referred to his popular success, while Walk Like a Man seemed another explicit message to his father), it was hard not to wonder about the state of his own two-and-a-half-year marriage, and it wasn't surprising when that marriage collapsed the following year.” AMG

Tunnel of Love was not the album that the ten million fans who had bought Born in the U.S.A. as of 1987 were waiting for, and though it topped the charts, sold three million copies, and spawned three Top 40 hits, much of this was on career momentum. Springsteen was as much at a crossroads with his audience as he seemed to be in his work and in his personal life, though this was not immediately apparent.” AMG

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First posted 3/23/2008; last updated 8/22/2021.

Saturday, October 3, 1987

Guns N’ Roses charted with “Welcome to the Jungle”

First posted 2/1/2021.

Welcome to the Jungle

Guns N’ Roses

Writer(s): Guns N’ Roses (see lyrics here)


Released: September 28, 1987


First Charted: October 3, 1987


Peak: 7 US, 9 CB, 10 RR, 37 AR, 24 UK, 41 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, 0.6 UK, 1.1 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 445.85 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

“Welcome to the Jungle” was initially released in September 1987 as the second single from Guns N’ Roses’ debut album, Appetite for Destruction. It was a minor hit in the UK, reaching #67. It wasn’t until April 1988 that it hit the Billboard album rock chart and it didn’t hit the Billboard Hot 100 until October 1988, after the success of the #1 hit “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” The song then recharted in the UK, reaching #24.

The song is about “the ugly underbelly of the streets of L.A.” AMG “many people encounter when they go there to pursue fame.” SF However, lead singer Axl Rose’s lyrical inspiration came from an encounter in New York with a homeless man who yelled, “You know where you are? You’re in the jungle, baby.” WK Musically, bassist Duff McKagan contends that the song’s breakdown originated from a song called “The Fake” that he wrote in 1978 for a punk band, the Vains, that he was in. WK

According to Alan Niven, the band’s then-manager, the video was inspired by the movies Midnight Cowboy, The Man Who Fell to Earth, and A Clockwork Orange. It depicts Axl Rose arriving in Los Angeles and transforming into a city punk after encounters with a drug dealer and a wino, played by the band’s guitarists Izzy Stradlin and Slash, respectively. When Geffen Records was struggling to sell the video to MTV, David Geffen made a deal that they show it once about 5am on a Sunday morning. The network received multiple callers wanting to see the video again and it soon became MTV’s most requested video. WK

The song’s “gritty, swirling angry sound was a huge contrast to the cartoonish pop-metal” AMG of “buffoonish party bands like Poison.” AMG The guitar work was “unapologetically loud, wailing, and unpolished” AMG and Rose’s “abrasive, screeching voice had a sneering, well-worn quality to it.” AMG VH1 named this the greatest hard rock song of all time WK while a Blender poll called it the “greatest song about Los Angeles.” WK Rolling Stone readers named it the greatest sports anthem in 2009. WK


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