|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 2/6/2021.|
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, 1188.0 video, 643.0 streaming
Awards: (Click on award for more details).
Awards (Sheryl Crow):
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
In 1998, Sheryl Crow recorded the song as a bonus cut on her Globe Sessions album and for the Big Daddy soundtrack.
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Saturday, August 6, 1988
|First posted 7/21/2013; updated 11/24/2020.|
Appetite for Destruction
Released: July 21, 1987
Peak: 15 US, 5 UK, 7 CN, 7 AU
Sales (in millions): 18.0 US, 1.95 UK, 30.4 world (includes US and UK)
Genre: hard rock/metal
Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Total Running Time: 53:52
4.505 out of 5.00 (average of 26 ratings)
Quotable: “The best metal record of the late ‘80s.” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide
About the Album:
“Guns N’ Roses’ debut, Appetite for Destruction was a turning point for hard rock in the late ‘80s – it was a dirty, dangerous, and mean record in a time when heavy metal meant nothing but a good time.” AMG Guns N’ Roses embraced “the wasted rock star lifestyle with such earnest determination that you’d think they invented it.” GW As guitarist Slash said, “When we had to go up against whatever was going on at the time, there were no gritty rock bands, and we were sort of a break-through rock band, sort of a fluke in a way.” GW
On the surface, Guns N’ Roses may appear to celebrate the same things as their peers – namely, sex, liquor, drugs, and rock & roll.” AMG In addition, this is music “wallowing in a bluesy, metallic hard rock borrowed from Aerosmith, AC/DC, and countless faceless hard rock bands of the early ‘80s.” GW However, GNR were an “L.A. blend of surface glamour and nasty underbelly.” BL Their debut album is a mix of “exquisite pain, uncorked rage and pure rebellion meet[ing] in a full metal racket.” UT The band “played lacerating music that was tough, ugly and sometimes misogynistic.” GW “There is a nasty edge to their songs, since Axl Rose doesn’t see much fun in the urban sprawl of L.A. and its parade of heavy metal thugs, cheap women, booze, and crime.” AMG Their music was “tough, ugly” GW and built on a “sleazy sound that adds grit to already grim tales…[which made] Rose’s misogyny, fear, and anger hard to dismiss as merely an artistic statement; this is music that sounds lived-in.” AMG
Initially radio and MTV didn’t embrace the album, but label honcho David Geffen finally convinced the video music channel to give the band a chance. “Once music fans got a look at Guns N’ Roses, they liked what they saw: five tough dudes who weren’t all gussied up like Cinderella.” GW but made “raw, hard-driving, classic-sounding rock and roll.” GW It was “metallic enough for metalheads but melodic enough for the chicks. Glam Metal kids weren’t embarrassed to be seen with it, yet Bob Seger fans could drink beer to it.” GW
The band also demonstrated an ability to write hits. On Sweet Child O' Mine, Rose showed the band wasn’t just about being fast and loud. He showed he also was vulnerable. AMG It was unique as power ballads went – it rocked out even as it went straight for the heart.
Elsewhere “the charging Welcome to the Jungle” AMG and the driving Paradise City showed that there was still a place in the top ten of the pop charts for the rockers as well. These were gritty tales in which Rose was “conveying the fears and horrors of the decaying inner city.” AMG He did the same thing on other album cuts, such as the well-known “heroin ode Mr. Brownstone.” AMG
“But as good as Rose’s lyrics and screeching vocals are, they wouldn’t be nearly as effective without the twin-guitar interplay of Slash and Izzy Stradlin, who spit out riffs and solos better than any band since the Rolling Stones, and that’s what makes Appetite for Destruction the best metal record of the late '80s” AMG and the “hardest-rocking outfit since Aerosmith.” BL
Notes: In 2018, deluxe and super deluxe versions of the album were released which were two and four discs respectively. The bonus material includes B-sides, EP’s, and recording sessions for the album.
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