Wednesday, May 31, 1989

The Rainmakers released The Good News and the Bad News this month

The Good News and the Bad News

The Rainmakers


Released: May 1989


Peak: --


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: roots rock


Tracks:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks)

  1. Reckoning Day [3:10]
  2. Hoo Dee Hoo [4:28]
  3. Spend It on Love [2:54]
  4. Battle of the Roses [4:08]
  5. Wild Oats [3:17]
  6. We Walk the Levee [4:14]
  7. Thirty Days [4:08]
  8. Knock on Wood (Phillips) [3:18]
  9. Dry Dry Land [3:31]
  10. Shiny Shiny [2:52]
  11. Johnny Reb [2:32]
  12. Horn O Plenty [2:12]

Songs written by Bob Walkenhorst unless noted otherwise.


Total Running Time: 40:44


The Players:

  • Bob Walkenhorst (vocals, guitar, keyboards)
  • Rich Ruth (bass, vocals)
  • Steve Phillips (guitar, vocals on “Knock on Wood”)
  • Pat Tomek (drums)

Rating:

3.824 out of 5.00 (average of 10 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“The good news is that once again this Kansas City quartet marries hard-rocking blues to literate references, mentioning Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and John Wilkes Booth in the opening track alone.” AMG The bad news is the “murky production by [Bob] Walkenhorst and engineer Jeff Glixman.” AMG

Also, the “enthusiastic whoop of songwriter and frontman Bob Walkenhorst will put off some listeners. Their loss.” AMG Not only does he bring energy and charisma, but he has a unique voice that casts him as the Midwestern version of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s John Fogerty.

With this being the Rainmakers’ third album, it was apparent they weren’t going to take off and get the audience they deserved. Their first album produced gems like “Let My People Go-Go,” “Downstream,” and “Big Fat Blonde.” The second album wasn’t quite as strong, but “Snake Dance,” “The Wages of Sin,” and “Small Circles” made for more deserved radio hits.

This time around, Walkenhorst and Co. serve up more songs which feel like they should have clicked with album-rock listeners, if not a wider pop audience. Spend It on Love is sentimental, Thirty Days is clever, and Wild Oats is a party rocker. All three demonstrate an ear for commercial music that has something to say.

The band took a four-year hiatus after this release, but released a live album in 1990 and a best-of collection in 1993. Reckoning Day, Hoo Dee Hoo, and Shiny Shiny were all featured on both albums.


Notes: The 2010 reissue of the CD added acoustic versions of “Frustration Train,” “Renaissance Man,” “Prove Me Wrong,” “Downstream,” Johnny Reb,” “Spend It on Love,” and “Shenandoah.”

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First posted 2/27/2006; updated 6/2/2021.

Dennis DeYoung released Boomchild this month

May 1989:

Boomchild

Dennis DeYoung


Released: May 1989


Peak: --


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: rock


Tracks:

Song Title (Writers) [time] Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Beneath the Moon [4:42]
  2. The Best Is Yet to Come [4:15]
  3. What a Way to Go [4:45]
  4. Harry’s Hands [4:52]
  5. Boomchild [4:56]
  6. Who Shot Daddy? [4:33]
  7. Outside Looking in Again [5:23]
  8. Won’t Go Wasted (DeYoung, Rob Friedman) [4:20]

All songs written by Dennis DeYoung unless noted otherwise.

Rating:

2.641 out of 5.00 (average of 11 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Dennis DeYoung’s third solo album didn’t come anywhere close to the singer’s glory days with Styx. In 1984, his single “Desert Moon” was a top-10 hit and made it look like he might do just fine. Three more singles hit the Billboard Hot 100 – “Don’t Wait for Heroes” from Desert Moon and “Call Me” and “This Is the Time” from Back to the World in 1986. However, DeYoung never hit the pop charts again as a solo artist.

The Boomchild album didn’t chart either. The failure of the album caused his label, MCA Records, to drop him. He wouldn’t release another solo album until 1994 – and that was a collection of Broadway songs (10 on Broadway) that showed how far he’d moved away from his initial rock base.

The album was largely a collection of forgettable songs, but it wasn’t without its charms. The title cut showcased DeYoung’s ever-present inclinations toward reminiscing, but did so via an upbeat track that trod similar territory as Billy Joel’s #1 hit “We Didn’t Start the Fire” from later that year.

The highlight of the album is Harry’s Hands, a song which found DeYoung working the sentimental balladry vein that served him so well with top-10 hits with Styx such as “Lady,” “Babe,” and “Don’t Let It End.” However, this one isn’t a love song like those. Instead, DeYoung crafts a tribute to the working man: “Harry’s hands are all he’s got / 8 to 5 in the welding shop. / Barely finished junior high / Took a job at the tool and die.” Harry endures union strikes, unemployment, and factory’s shipping work overseas, but refuses charity, asking just for a job to save his dignity. All the while his patriotism remains intact: “Harry’s hands keep holding on / Harry’s heart keeps on beating strong / Born and raised in the promised land / He still believes that Ameri-can.”

Also worthy of note is the album’s lead-off track, Beneath the Moon. Once DeYoung let his theatrical leanings loose, he crafted the musical The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 2003. It consisted largely of new songs written by DeYoung, but also contained a reworked version of “Beneath the Moon.”

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First posted 6/7/2021.

Monday, May 22, 1989

Tin Machine debut released

Tin Machine

Tin Machine


Released: May 22, 1989


Peak: 28 US, 3 UK, -- CN, 42 AU


Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.1 UK


Genre: classic rock veteran


Tracks:

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

  1. Heaven’s in Here [6:01] (7/29/89, 47 AR, 12 MR)
  2. Tin Machine (Bowie/Gabrels/Sales/Sales) [3:34] (8/89, 48 UK)
  3. Prisoner of Love (Bowie/Gabrels/Sales/Sales) [4:50]
  4. Crack City (Bowie/Gabrels/Sales/Sales) [4:36]
  5. I Can’t Read (Bowie/Gabrels) [4:54]
  6. Under the God [4:06] (5/27/89, 8 AR, 4 MR, 52 UK)
  7. Amazing (Bowie/Gabrels) [3:06]
  8. Working Class Hero (John Lennon) [4:38]
  9. Bus Stop (Bowie/Gabrels) [1:41]
  10. Pretty Thing (Bowie) [4:39]
  11. Video Crime (Bowie/Sales/Sales) [3:52]
  12. Run (Armstrong/Bowie) [3:20]
  13. Sacrifice Yourself (Bowie/Sales/Sales) [2:08]
  14. Baby Can Dance [4:57]

Songs written by David Bowie unless indicated otherwise.


Total Running Time: 55:46


The Players:

  • David Bowie (vocals, rhythm guitar)
  • Reeves Gabrels (guitar)
  • Tony Sales (bass, backing vocals)
  • Hunt Sales (drums, backing vocals)
  • Kevin Armstrong (rhythm guitar, Hammon organ)

Rating:

3.044 out of 5.00 (average of 19 ratings)

About the Album:

“A remarkable recording for many reasons. The debut of Tin Machine predates by nearly half a decade much of the guitar-oriented alternative pop that followed the grunge explosion of 1991-1992. This does not sound like Bowie in a band; missing are the quirkiness and theatrics that characterize much of Bowie’s solo work. This is a band with a band attitude, not exactly what the fans were wanting at the time. Stunt guitarist Reeves Gabrels provides much in the way of ambient guitar solos, not unlike Adrian Belew's work. Drummer Hunt Sales provides a sticky tenor vocal similar to Bowie’s own voice in a higher register; they blend very well together.” AMG

“The music is hard-edged guitar rock with an intelligence missing from much of the work of that genre at the time. Highlights include the emotional Prisoner of Love and the driving Under the God. The band does a rocking rework of John Lennon's Working Class Hero, with a killer machine-gun fire-sounding riff that permeated the track. The strongest analog to Bowie's earlier work is a five-minute number toward the beginning of the record called I Can't Read; with its deliberately out-of-tune guitars and halfhearted vocals, it's a nice piece of artistry. This record would have been more popular had it been released five or six years later.” AMG


Notes: Another version of “Bus Stop” is included on a reissue.

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First posted 2/20/2008; last updated 8/2/2021.

Saturday, May 13, 1989

The Stone Roses’ debut album hit the charts

The Stone Roses

The Stone Roses


Released: May 2, 1989


Peak: 86 US, 5 UK, 62 CN, 36 AU


Sales (in millions): -- US, 1.2 UK


Genre: alternative rock/Britpop


Tracks:

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

  1. I Wanna Be Adored (9/14/91, 20 UK, 18 MR)
  2. She Bangs the Drums (7/29/89, 34 UK, 9 MR)
  3. Waterfall (1/11/92, 27 UK)
  4. Don’t Stop
  5. Bye Bye Badman
  6. Elizabeth My Dear
  7. (Song for My) Sugar Spun Sister
  8. Made of Stone (3/31/89, 20 UK)
  9. Shoot You Down
  10. This Is the One
  11. I Am the Resurrection (4/11/92, 33 UK)


Total Running Time: 49:02


The Players:

  • Ian Brown (vocals)
  • John Squire (guitars, backing vocals)
  • Mani (bass)
  • Reni (drums, backing vocals)

Rating:

4.363 out of 5.00 (average of 20 ratings)


Quotable:

“There’s almost no precedent for the Stone Roses…their debut was a fully formed gem that gave birth to an entire genre – Brit-pop.” – Josh Tyrangiel and Alan Light, Time magazine

Awards:

(Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“There’s almost no precedent for the Stone Roses…their debut was a fully formed gem that gave birth to an entire genre – Brit-pop.” TL “Pop hooks [are] one thing, and dance rhythms [are] another, but it’s also important to have dat swing, you know, and the band has it.” GS The album “ushered in the era of Madchester,” AZ “an indie rock phenomenon that fused guitar-pop with drug-fueled rave and dance culture.” AMG At the time, “British youth were abandoning rock music en masse for acid-house sounds and communal raves” BN “and the charts were looking less than healthy.” AD By bringing “dance music to an audience…previously obsessed with droning guitars,” AMG the Stone Roses “almost single-handedly made British rock music hip again.” BN

Through “classic psychedelia married with punk energy and rave swagger” BN, the Roses established themselves as “postmodern English, filtering folk-rock romanticism through Joy Division and Jesus and Mary Chain hyperromanticism.” RC “The repercussions…could be heard throughout the ‘90s” AMG as the band spawned the sound of the guitar-based pop of Oasis and Blur, “gave birth to shoegazer bands like My Bloody Valentine,” RV and were “a definite precursor of grunge.” JA

Frontman Ian Brown revived “the concept of classic pop songwriting.” AMG “Quietly melodic” PK “prime ‘sixties’ harmonies” AD “owe far more to, say, Simon & Garfunkel than to New Order.” PK The lyrics “flicked at epic romance…without veering into sentimentality.” TL The album “creates it’s own world and atmosphere whilst simultaneously reminding you of almost every great sixties English group.” AD It has “the lyrical sensibilities of John Lennon and Joe Strummer, mixes in Motown rhythms, adds a dash of Sex Pistols and tops it off with a purple haze of instrumentation and production reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix.” RV “The vocal melodies are well-written and sound fresh, sincere, and inspiring. And happy, too: this is one hell of a cheerful, optimistic record.” GS “Only The Beatles ever dared exhaust so many good tunes in the space of an hour.” IB Ultimately, the album is “a crystallization of everything there is to love about the last 40 years of pop music.” RV

Guitarist John Squire establishes himself as “a new hero for a new age,” AZ deftly heading into the world of “guitar heroism without the attendant pomp and egomania.” IB His “playing is endlessly inventive but never overwhelms the songs.” IB His “layers of simple, exceedingly catchy hooks” AMG are “a thing of magic,” AZ “recalling the British Invasion while suggesting the future with their phased, echoey effects.” AMG He “lingered over chords like the Byrds’ Roger McGuinn.” TL “Drummer Alan ‘Reni’ Wren’s galloping, hiphop-influenced beats [are] a sonic infusion that became a fixture of ‘90s alt rock.” JA Along with bassist ‘Mani’ Mounfield, the two “shift from charging beat-pop to fluid funkadelic grooves, sometimes in the space of a single song.” IB They “always imply dance rhythms without overtly going into the disco,” AMG establishing themselves as “one of the tightest British rhythm sections of the time.” GS “This is as good as guitars, bass and drums can sound together, and if you don’t get it, you probably have some disease that keeps you from liking music.” IB

“I Wanna Be Adored”

I Wanna Be Adored is “a perfect album opener” AD “with it’s slow, slow build up [and the] impeccably played musical backing” AD of Mani’s “creeping bassline,” AMG Squire’s “waves of cool guitar hooks” AMG and Reni’s “funky drummer shuffle.” QM Through it all, Brown “sings with a vitriolic verve unheard since Johnny Rotten” RV as he “reveals the band is driven by the devil to make great music.” RV

“Emerging through a thick, but parting musical fog of winding, digitally echoed guitars, a disembodied bass line and the lone pull of a steam train, Brown audaciously announces, ‘I don’t need to sell my soul / He’s already in me.’” AG-21 The song is “a meditation on achieving immortality through success” AG-21 and “a shameless but catchy blast of sheer self-promotion.” AG-21 However, one could also say it “doesn’t seem like an egotistical statement from a band in its infancy as much as it is a prelude to greatness.” RV

Besides, the song is “far more vulnerable…than it appears. On the surface, the repetition of the song’s title in the framework reveals a desperate yearning for success and adoration, but deeper than that, it’s a shameless almost adolescent search for approval.” AG-24 In the end, the song is “The Stone Roses’ piece de resistance, the song that provides a titular thesis and gives the subsequent numbers their steam, both sonically and thematicall.” AG-26

“She Bangs the Drums”

On She Bangs the Drums “the ‘60s hooks and the rolling beats manage to convey the colorful, neo-psychedelic world of acid house” AMG and “wind into the rhythm inseparably” AMG while displaying “a rush of guitars not heard since The Byrds invented folk rock.” AD

It’s also “a great example of the Stone Roses’ almost preternatural talent for knowing how to deliver a winning blow in a pop song.” AG-33 It “is the kind of song that bands spend their careers trying to write; it’s verses are rousing, its chorus exhileratin and in between all that, the notion of ‘the future’s mine,’ is an inspiring proclamation by a band staking their claim on a new era and cheering the death of the old one.” AG-33

Contextually, the song fits into the late ‘80s atmosphere of England when the lower class were feeling trampled by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s policies and turning to ecstasy-fueled rave parties for escapism. Thus the song “comes off as a rallying cr for governmental change.” AG-30 The Stone Roses weren’t “considered a political band, but Brown was quick to remind the press in the late eighties that they had no qualms engaging in civil discourse.” AG-30

“Waterfall”

Waterfall “is an astonishing and exquisite” AG-52 “luminous, druggy, Byrds-style ballad.” JA It showcases “delicate repeating guitar figure and its dramatic ending” AD leans on “sixties-influenced studio gimmicks like backwards tracks and phasing.” JA Brown told Uncut magazine that while recording the song, it “was the first time we went, ‘Wow, this is it.’” AG-52

“Sonically, it’s a gentle, swirling number that demonstrates the band’s finesse and range.” AG-55 Lyrically, however, it is “like many of the Stone Roses’ songs…purposely impenentrable and open to interpretation” AG-53 but “it appears to be about a young woman who finds her physical, emotional, and possibly spiritual freedom through the use of drugs.” AG-53 It’s a song “about growing up by taking a trip – or tripping and then growing up.” AG-56

“Don’t Stop”

“With touches of psychedelia powered by a loopy back-masked shuffle, ‘Don’t Stop’ – rumored to be Brown’s favorite track on the album – is an artful and adventurous composition.” AG-63 “Thanks to its murmured vocals and dizzyingly manipulated instrumentation, [Don’t Stop] sounds both backward and forward at the same time. And that’s because it is.” AG-62 Squire explained that “it’s the tape of ‘Waterfall’ backwards with the bass drum triggered…and the only real overdubs are the vocals and a bit of cowbell.” AG-62

“Bye Bye Badman”

This song was inspired by the 1968 student riots in Paris. Brown had been contemplating a song on the subject matter after he and his girlfriend encountered a Frenchaman while on a hitchhiking journey through Europe. He had been in the riots and relayed a story of using lemons to counteract the effect of tear gas. AG-69 When Brown and Squire saw a documentary celebrating the 20th anniversary of the riots “and subsequent riots that all but paralyzed France,” AG-68 it proved to be the catalyst to write the song.

“Beginning with Squire’s muted guitar and ending with a flanged solo, all propelled by Brown’s thoughtful hush, ‘Bye Bye Badman’ manages…to achieve a lilting pop momentum.” AG-71

“Elizabeth My Dear”

This “dark and angry anthem” AG-78 is a “gently strummed 59-second ad hominem attack on the Queen” AG-75 which uses the melody from “Scarborough Fair.” While some were stunned that the Stone Roses “would have the gall to reinterpret a Simon and Garfunkel classic” AG-75 the song is actually an English ballad from the 16th century. AG-74

While this song lacks the venom of the Sex Pistols’ classic “God Save the Queen,” “Elizabeth My Dear” “is haunted by a subdued sense of menace.” AG-75 It is “beautifully played and lyrically direct…Its irresistibility lies somewhere between Brown’s saccharine vocals, Squire’s gentle picking, and the sheer force of its political subversion.” AG-78

“(Song for My) Sugar Spun Sister”

This song is said to be about a relationship with a prostitute and the union “is not the PG-rated fare of Pretty Woman.” AG-85 This, however, is “more than just a post-coital shrug of the shoulders; it’s an unconventional love song, charged with longing and regret.” AG-86 “Brown’s delivery goes from intimate and confessional to angry and accusing, without ever sacrificing an instant of loveliness.” AG-84 His “heartsick melancholy indicates that the financial and emotional math of this relationship is not only taking its toll and driving him nuts, but like any proper addict, he’s unable to stop.” AG-84

It’s accompanied by “minor changes in which Squire’s guitar fades up and down like the sound of someone changing his mind.” AG-85

“Made of Stone”

Made of Stone is an “atmospheric” and “heartbreaking, swoon-some classic pop rock song.” AD “The band were justly proud of this and released it as a single.” AD It “is one of the band’s most enduring pop songs” AG-92 and “may very well be one of the greatest outsider pop songs.” AG-92 The song “builds on the idea that with the right navigation one can drive through alienation.” AG-94

It “depicts the destruction of Manchester under dwindling industrialization and Margaret Thatcher’s iron fist. ‘When the streets are cold and lonely / And the cars they burn below me / Are you all alone / Are you made of stone?’” RV British magazine New Musical Express called it “the final, painful, unanswered question.” AG-96

“Shoot You Down”

Brown and Squire discussed openly how much they were influenced by the Sex Pistols and the Clash, but tended to deny that their debut album was influenced by ‘60s pop. Still, the did acknowledge a love of Jimi Hendrix, “an influence most apparent on ‘Shoot You Down,’ a slow-burning and blurry ballad that brings to mind ‘The Wind Cries Mary,’ but unlike its forbearer, boasts an threatening undercurrent of emotional and physical violence.” AG-100

“Yet it’s all delivered so smoothly, making the elegant menace that surfaces through its placid currents all the more disturbing.” AG-101 “Set against its airy instrumentation, Brown shadowboxes behind Squire’s sleepy riffs, just ahead of Mani’s drowsy bass and in between the shuffle of Reni’s nimble drumming.” AG-100 It makes for a “gliding, predatory classic.” AG-105

“This Is the One”

This Is the One is “all about getting the hell out of town,” AG-109 an ironic statement considering how the Stone Roses put their hometown, Manchester, on the map as the center of the escstasy-fueled rave culture in which its followers wore clothes that made them look “possessed by relaxation and utterly chilled out.” AG-107

It is “an inspiring pop song boasting stirring background vocals and a textured melodic attack.” AG-109 “On the strength of Brown’s starry murmur, Squire’s clamoring power chords, Reni’s rushing cymbals and Mani’s metronomic but breezy bass line, the song surges into an accelerated sige of lush, layered harmonies that rise and sail over each other in continuously flowing bursts of pure mellisonance.” AG-110 Melody Maker called it “the centerpiece of the record.” AG-110

“I Am the Resurrection”

While every song on the album “is knocking on the door of perfection…[the epic finale I Am the Resurrection] kicks it down, taking in bubblegum, Motown, and psychedelic funk on the way to a glorious instrumental climax that’ll having you shaking your head in disbelief.” IB It is “an eight-minute blast of pomposity, impiety, and sheer pop toughness” AG-115 that “moves from cascading pop to an inspired and experimental instrumental jam the likes of which weren’t found on indie guitar albums at the time.” AG-116 “Lyrically, the song thumbs its nose at everything from organized religion to love to death, and is fueled by both irreverence…and omniscience.” AG-116 Ultimately the song “declares itself to be bigger and more important than anything in the world.” AG-115“It takes a certain amount of arrogance for a band to claim its [sic] the second coming, let alone an upstart. The Roses pull it off with ease. Brown snarls, ‘I am the resurrection and I am the light / I couldn’t ever bring myself to hate you as I fly,’ sounding more like a villain than the messiah…By the time the band reaches its instrumental climax, it’s easy to adore the Roses.” RV

Conclusion:

The band would never find a way to equal their debut. With their fame came subsequent legal battles to move from independent status to a major label. They eventually signed with Geffen and, five years after their debut, “reemerged…with the stodgy and wrongly titled Second Coming. The Stone Roses, however, remains a stellar contribution to the canon of classic debuts.” BN It is “one of the finest records of the past 30 years.” CL “Some albums really can change the world, and in 1989 this was one of them.” AZ


Notes:

There are versions of the album which include the singles “Elephant Stone” and “Fools Gold.”

Resources and Related Links:


First posted 3/23/2008; last updated 11/30/2022.

Tuesday, May 2, 1989

Simple Minds’ Street Fighting Years released

First posted 7/9/2010; updated 10/9/2020.

Street Fighting Years

Simple Minds


Released: May 2, 1989


Peak: 70 US, 11 UK, 24 CN, 11 AU


Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.6 UK, 2.44 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: alternative rock


Tracks:

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

  1. Street Fighting Years
  2. Soul Crying Out
  3. Wall of Love
  4. This Is Your Land (with Lou Reed) (4/22/89, 37 AR, 12 MR, 13 UK, 40 CN, 38 AU)
  5. Take a Step Back (6/24/89, 14 MR)
  6. Kick It In (7/17/89, 15 UK, 94 AU)
  7. Let It All Come Down (12/3/89, 77 AU)
  8. Mandela Day (4/18/89, 17 MR, 12 AU)
  9. Belfast Child (2/6/89, 1 UK, 12 AU)
  10. Biko (2/6/89, 12 AU)
  11. When Spirits Rise


Total Running Time: 61:13


The Players:

  • Jim Kerr (vocals)
  • Charlie Burchill (guitar)
  • Mick MacNeil (keyboards)
  • John Giblin, Stephen Lipson (bass)
  • Manu Katché, Mel Gaynor (drums)
  • Leroy Williams (percussion)

Rating:

3.550 out of 5.00 (average of 9 ratings)


Awards:

About the Album:

Simple Minds built a following in the U.K. during the early ‘80s, but didn’t have their U.S. breakthrough until 1985’s #1 pop hit “Don’t You Forget about Me.” Before the year was out, the band followed that up with their most successful album to date, the top 10, gold-selling Once Upon a Time. Then, other than an interim live album, the group disappeared from the scene for four years.

The band was now officially a trio, comprised of founding members Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill, as well as Mick MacNeil, who’d joined in 1978. Mel Gaynor, who’d drummed with the band since 1982, was demoted to a session player after disagreements with producer Trevor Horn. John Giblin, who’d joined the band on bass in 1985, left during the sessions. Horn maintained the “arena rock sense of scale and drama which the band had developed since the mid’1980s,” WK but added “soundtrack atmospherics and a new incorporation of acoustic and Celtic-folk music-related ingredients.” WK

The new approach made for a “decidedly, noncommercial follow-up. Street Fighting Years is a moody, dark affair. The music is yearning and most of the songs are politically charged lyrically.” TD Kerr noted that “every song seemed to be about conflict.” WK The lyrics covered topics such as “the Poll Tax, the Soweto townships, the Berlin Wall, and the stationing of nuclear submarines on the Scottish coast.” WK

It made for mixed reviews. Rolling Stone’s Mark Coleman said the album “stands as an unfortunate example of politicized rock at its most simple-minded.” WK On the other side, though, Q magazine’s David Sinclair said the band “had finally produced a record to justify their reputation.” WK

“Noteworthy tracks include a version of the Peter Gabriel classic Biko and the soaring Mandela Day.” TD “The title track takes some dramatic turns that give the gentle melody added thrust. Take a Step Back pulsates and Wall of Love rocks with conviction. Slower tracks like the brooding Let It All Come Down and a spirited run through the traditional Belfast Child are well done.” TD

The latter was the lead single in the UK and went to #1, as did the album. In the U.S., however, the album was a commercial failure. This Is Your Land, with a guest spot from Lou Reed, was released as the lead single in America. It made the album rock and mainstream rock charts, but failed to dent the Billboard Hot 100.

Overall, “Street Fighting Years is an artistic and elegant album that might lack immediate choruses but draws in the listener.” TD “It might not have satisfied the band’s newly won fans, but Street Fighting Years is an interesting, enjoyable album with some truly lovely moments.” TD

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