Saturday, June 24, 1989

Public Enemy charted with “Fight the Power”

Fight the Power

Public Enemy

Writer(s): Carlton Ridenhour, Eric Sadler, Hank Boxley, Keith Boxley (see lyrics here)


Released: July 4, 1989


First Charted: June 24, 1989


Peak: 20 RB, 29 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): --


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 11.0 video, 35.29 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

With two albums, Public Enemy had established themselves as a poltically-charged rap group, making them the perfect go-to group for director Spike Lee when he was seeking a song for his 1989 movie Do the Right Thing. The movie explored racial tension in a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. He told Time magazine, “I wanted it to be defiant, I wanted it to be angry, I wanted it to be very rhythmic. I thought right away of Public Enemy.” WK

Chuck D wrote most of the song while flying over to Italy while on tour. He said, “I wanted to have sorta…the same theme as the original ‘Fight the Power’ by the Isley Brothers and fill it in with some…modernist views of what our surroundings were at that particular time.” WK Bass player Brian Hardgroove said the song “is not about fighting authority…it’s about fighting abuse of power.” WK

The Bomb Squad, Public Enemy’s production team, incorporated multiple samples into the song alongside saxophone work from Branford Marsalis and scratches from Terminator X, the group’s DJ and turntabalist. WK As Chuck D said, “we put loops on top of loops on top of loops.” WK He said there were “17 samples in the first ten seconds.” SF

The samples are largely drawn from some of the most important figures in the development of African-American music in the late 20th century. They included Afrika Bambaataa’s hugely influential 1982 rap song “Planet Rock” and James Brown’s 1970 song “Funky Drummer,” one of hip-hop’s most sampled rhythmic breaks. WK

The song did reach the top of Billboard’s rap chart, but only peaked at #20 on the R&B chart and didn’t even knick the pop chart. Time magazine’s Janice C. Simpson called it “an anthem for millions of youth,” WK which fit Spike Lee’s vision for the song “to be an anthem that could express what young black America was feeling.” SF Salon’s Laura K. Warrell said it “captur[ed] both the psychological and social conflicts of the time.” WK The Village Voice named “Fight the Power” the best single of 1989. It has since become Public Enemy’s best-known song.


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First posted 10/10/2021.

Tuesday, June 20, 1989

Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman & Howe release album

Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe

Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe


Released: June 20, 1989


Peak: 30 US, 14 UK


Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, -- UK, 0.75 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: progressive rock


Tracks:

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

  1. Themes [5:58]
    i. Sound
    ii. Second Attention
    iii. Soul Warrior
  2. Fist of Fire [3:27]
  3. Brother of Mine [10:18] (6/3/89, 63 UK, 2 AR)
    i. The Big Dream
    ii. Nothing Can Come Between Us
    iii. Long Lost Brother of Mine
  4. Birthright [6:02]
  5. The Meeting [4:21]
  6. Quartet [9:22]
    i. I Wanna Learn
    ii. She Gives Me Love
    iii. Who Was the First
    iv. I’m Alive (1989, --)
  7. Teakbois [7:39]
  8. Order of the Universe [9:02] (8/21/89, 24 AR)
    i. Order Theme
    ii. Rock Gives Courage
    iii. It’s So Hard to Grow
    iv. The Universe
  9. Let’s Pretend [2:56]


Total Running Time: 59:05


The Players:

  • Jon Anderson (vocals, production)
  • Bill Bruford (drums)
  • Rick Wakeman (keyboards)
  • Steve Howe (guitar)
  • Tony Levin (bass)

Rating:

3.217 out of 5.00 (average of 7 ratings)

About the Album:

The law firm album. It isn’t just that this project bore such an unwieldy name. It also stirred up legal activity. Even though these four guys formed the core of the classic ‘70s Yes, they didn’t have rights to the name. That belonged to the ‘Cinema’ lineup (the original name for the project before it became Yes) for 1983’s 90125 and 1987’s Big Generator, which included Anderson along with guitarist Trevor Rabin, bassist Chris Squire, drummer Alan White, and keyboardist Tony Kaye.

After feeling boxed in by the Cinema-era Yes, Anderson revived the classic Yes lineup with Bruford, Wakeman, and Howe. Bruford brought along bassist Tony Levin – they’d been band mates in King Crimson. The result is “a pedestrian effort for these veterans, not as bombastic as some of their stuff, not as inspired as others, but it definitely has the ‘Yes’ sound. She Gives Me Love even refers to ‘Long Distance Runaround’.” WR “Jon Anderson’s tenor wails through spacy lyrics, Rick Wakeman constructs cathedrals of synthesized sound, Steve Howe rips high-pitched guitar leads, and Bill Bruford makes his drums sound like timpani.” WR

“The song Birthright concerns the British nuclear tests at Maralinga.” WK “Many of the tracks on the album (specifically Teakbois) carry Latin and Caribbean influences. Let’s Pretend was co-composed by Vangelis in 1986” WK in his collaborative years with Jon Anderson.

“The artwork for the album was created by artist Roger Dean, known for designing album covers for Yes in the 1970s. It features two paintings, the front titled ‘Blue Desert’ and the back titled ‘Red Desert’. Most releases of this album represent only a truncated version of ‘Blue Desert’. There was, however, a special release with a gatefold cover, though ‘Blue Desert’ was horizontally inverted in that version.” WK

“The album was one of the first original recordings to take advantage of the extended time limit on compact discs clocking at almost 60 minutes.” WK


Notes: A 2011 reissue added a bonus CD which included alternate versions of songs as well as the bonus track “Vultures in the City,” originally the B-side of “Brother of Mine.”

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Saturday, June 17, 1989

Indigo Girls charted with “Closer to Fine”

First posted 10/20/2020.

Closer to Fine

Indigo Girls

Writer(s): Emily Saliers (see lyrics here)


First Charted: June 17, 1989


Peak: 52 US, 48 AC, 48 AR, 26 MR, 53 CN, 57 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


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


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 6.7 video, -- streaming

Awards:

About the Song:

Amy Ray and Emily Saliers met in elementary school in the Atlanta, Georgia area. As the duo Indigo Girls, they walked “the musical line between R.E.M. and Tracy Chapman” SG and were signed to Epic Records. Their 1989 self-titled sophomore album, but major-label debut, was a two-million seller which nabbed them a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album and a nomination for Best New Artist.

Blues singer Michelle Malone, who knew the duo “up-close and early on” SG said the album “captured the essence of that thing Amy and Emily have always done so well: vocal harmony weaving through well-written, sincere songs.” SG On one hand, there was Ray’s “husky alto…digging through the rubble of she was” SG while Saliers’ “lighter touch [served] as a counterweight to Ray’s fiery passion.” SG

The album kicked off with “Closer to Fine,” a song featuring a penny whistle, a reference to Rasputin, and the Hothouse Flowers. SG It became “much more than just a folk song: it is joy, hope, and validation set to music.” SG The duo have played it at every concert since its release, eventually making it their show closer. Singer Matt Nathanson calls it a “magical unicorn of a song wrapped up in these campfire chords that anyone can play.” SG

Saliers wrote the song sitting on the front porch of a cabin in Vermont while on vacation with her family. As she said, “whenever you’re in such a bucolic setting, it can make you feel very philosophical.” SF As a recent college graduate, she was wrestling with the impact of academia and, essentially, the purpose of life. In the song’s lyrics she “looked to the children” and “drank from the fountains” in search for answers, only to conclude that “the less I seek my source for some definitive / The closer I am to fine.” It served as “a testament to the spiritual notion that we each have all the truth and wisdom we need right here inside of us.” SG


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