Tuesday, August 29, 1989

The Rolling Stones’ Steel Wheels released

Steel Wheels

The Rolling Stones

Released: August 29, 1989

Peak: 3 US, 2 UK, 14 CN, 7 AU

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.1 UK, 6.0 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: classic rock


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

  1. Sad, Sad, Sad [3:44] (9/9/89, 14 AR)
  2. Mixed Emotions [4:40] (8/17/89, 5 US, 3 CB, 9 RR, 1 AR, 22 MR, 36 UK, 1 CN, 25 AU)
  3. Terrifying [4:57] (9/23/89, 8 AR)
  4. Hold on to Your Hat [3:35]
  5. Hearts for Sale [4:40]
  6. Blinded by Love [4:45]
  7. Rock and a Hard Place [5:20] (9/9/89, 23 US, 18 CB, 22 RR, 1 AR, 63 UK, 10 CN, 99 AU)
  8. Can't Be Seen [4:05]
  9. Almost Hear You Sigh (Jagger/ Jordan/ Richards) [4:25] (1/20/90, 50 US, 53 CB, 1 AR, 31 UK, 14 CN)
  10. Continental Drift [5:14]
  11. Break the Spell [3:40]
  12. Slipping Away [4:30]

Songs written by Jagger/ Richards unless indicated otherwise.

Total Running Time: 53:35

The Players:

  • Mick Jagger (vocals, guitar, percussion)
  • Keith Richards (guitar, vocals, bass)
  • Ronnie Wood (guitar, backing vocals)
  • Bill Wyman (bass, guitar, synthesizer, percussion)
  • Charlie Watts (drums)


3.416 out of 5.00 (average of 23 ratings)

Quotable: A “vital album of, for and about their time.” – Anthony DeCurtis, Rolling Stone

About the Album:

1986’s Dirty Work is generally considered the Rolling Stones’ low point. It also marked the implosion of the relationship between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, who each went off and made solo records. Such friction set the stage for the Stones to be “right in the element that has historically spawned their best music – a murky, dangerously charged environment.” RS However, the resulting Steel Wheels is “a self-styled reunion album” AMG which “often feels as if they sat down and decided exactly what their audience wanted from a Stones album.” AMG

The “lack of surprises and unabashed calculation” AMG means “this lacks the vigor and menace that fuels the best singles.” AMG “It doesn’t make for a great Stones album, but it’s not bad, and it feels like a comeback – which it was supposed to, after all.” AMG

“Jagger miraculously avoids camp posturing in his singing, and the rest of the band – Richards, Ron Wood, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts, augmented by keyboardists Chuck Leavell and Matt Clifford, a horn section and backup singers – plays with an ensemble flair more redolent of the stage than the studio. Jagger, Richards and their coproducer, Chris Kimsey, strike an appropriate balance between upto-date recording sheen and the Stones’ inspired sloppiness.” RS

The lead single, Mixed Emotions, is “the most assured Stones single since ‘Start Me Up.’” RS It “is buoyed by one of the stronger choruses of late-era Stones.” CD Jagger offers a “measured, characteristically pragmatic – and guardedly conciliatory – reply to the verbal pounding he took in the round of interviews Richards gave after…his solo album, Talk Is Cheap…‘Button your lip baby,’ counsels Jagger over a swinging guitar groove in the song’s opening line, before offering to ‘bury the hatchet/ Wipe out the past.’ In a bid for some understanding from his band mate, Jagger sings, ‘You’re not the only one/ With mixed emotions/ You’re not the only one/ That’s feeling lonesome.” RS

The Stones also offer up “full-tilt rock & roll on Sad Sad SadRS and “the nasty rocker Rock and a Hard Place.” CD Like “Mixed Emotions,” these are There are “Tattoo You-styled rockers.” CD

“The feral rocker Hold on to Your Hat seems to sketch some of the problems of excess that threatened to drive Jagger out of the Stones. ‘We’ll never make it,’ Jagger sings angrily, as Richards unleashes a flamethrower riff. ‘Don’t you fake it/ You’re getting loaded/ I’m getting goaded.’” RS

There are also “ballads in the vein of ‘Fool to Cry.’” AMG “Mick and Keith both get off a killer ballad apiece with Almost Hear You Sigh and Slipping Away, respectively.” AMG The latter is about Richards’ own “brand of mixed emotions. ‘All I want is ecstasy/ But I ain’t getting much/ Just getting off on misery,’ the Glimmer Twins harmonize on the song’s chorus, and then Richards returns to sing the concluding verse. ‘Well it’s just another song,’ he sings. ‘But it’s slipping away.’” RS

Continental Drift, with its north-African feel, and the elegant Blinded by Love extend the Stones’ musical reach further than it has gone in some time.” RS The former, “the album’s most unusual track,” CD boasts “a touch of old-fashioned experimentalism.” AMG It is “a powerful, Middle-Eastern-tinged number with ‘African instruments’ played by the legendary Master Musicians of Jajouka.” CD The latter is a “country-flavored” CD song in which “the Stones’ show their long-standing appreciation for rootsy American music.” CD

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First posted 3/23/2008; last updated 10/24/2021.

Saturday, August 26, 1989

The B-52’s “Love Shack” charted

Love Shack

The B-52’s

Writer(s): Kate Pierson, Fred Schneider, Keith Strickland, Cindy Wilson (see lyrics here)

Released: June 20, 1989

First Charted: August 26, 1989

Peak: 3 US, 4 CB, 6 GR, 5 RR, 14 MR, 2 UK, 5 CN, 19 AU, 3 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, 0.6 UK, 1.24 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 87.05 video, 244.05 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The B-52’s arrived on the scene a decade earlier with their debut album and became a definitive band of the new wave/post-punk era. They had a cult following primarily comprised of the gay community and college radio listeners. However, their relevance declined and in 1985, they considered calling it quits after guitarist Ricky Wilson died of AIDS. Instead, they soldiered on with drummer Keith Strickland recording guitar parts in Wilson’s style. SF

In 1989, they came back on the scene in a big way. The band wanted Nile Rodgers (best known for his band Chic) to produce their Cosmic Thing album, but he wasn’t available. They turned to Don Was who had his own group Was (Not Was), but had also worked with Bob Dylan, Elton John, and the Rolling Stones. Kate Pierson, one of the singers in the band, credits Was for making the song a hit. The band used to perform songs live before recording them, but Was helped them structure “Love Shack” and record it in the studio. SF

“The gorgeously infectious ‘Love Shack’” TB didn’t just put the “perennially eccentric B-52’s” TB back on the radar, but gave them their first taste of mainstream success and became their signature song. It topped the charts in Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand and hit the top 5 in the U.S., UK, and Canada. WK

The band was inspired by the club in the movie The Color Purple, as well as Hawaiian Ha-Le, a real club outside Athens, Georgia where the band hung out. The club drew a wide variety of hippies, scenesters, and University of Georgia students. Cindy Wilson, another of the band’s singers, described the club as “a really cool place – a run-down love shack kind of thing…It was a really interesting place.” SF The concept for the song was that the Love Shack was “a place where people of all stripes come together for a groovy time.” SF

The song was additionally inspired by a tin-roofed cabin – also in the Athens, Georgia area – where Pierson lived in the ‘70s. The band conceived their 1979 hit “Rock Lobster,” probably their best-known song prior to “Love Shack,” at the cabin. Wilson’s memorable line about “tin roof rusted” was actually an outtake from a jamming session. WK The line has been famously misinterpreted as “Hennn-ry, busted.” SF Wilson has said she was thinking of the rusty roof from the Hawaiian Ha-Le club. SF


First posted 11/16/2019; last updated 5/2/2024.

Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” topped the album rock chart

Free Fallin’

Tom Petty

Writer(s): Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne (see lyrics here)

First Charted: May 6, 1989

Peak: 7 US, 6 CB, 9 RR, 17 AC, 11 AR, 64 UK, 5 CN, 59 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.4 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 121.8 video, 421.27 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

From his debut in 1976, Tom Petty became one of America’s most beloved rockers. He was the #2 album rock artist of the 1980s, only behind John Mellencamp. With his group the Heartbreakers, he topped that chart three times with “The Waiting” (1981), “You Got Lucky” (1982), and “Jammin’ Me” (1987). In 1989, he released his first solo album, Full Moon Fever, although fans still got the same reliable heartland rock and roll (even though he was from Florida) they’d come to expect.

Mike Campbell, a guitarist with the Heartbreakers, worked on the album. He said the group had fallen into a rut and this just came along as something fun to do – mostly him, Petty, and Lynne. Surprisingly, Petty’s label, MCA Records, rejected the album in 1988, claiming they didn’t hear a hit. However, after a management change in 1989, the new regime liked the album and released it. SF

The album gave Petty three more album rock chart-toppers with “I Won’t Back Down,” “Free Fallin’,” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream.” “Free Fallin’” was the most successful, reaching the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was his first top 10 hit since he’d reached #3 in 1981 with the Heartbreakers on Stevie Nicks’ “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.”

Petty wrote the song with Jeff Lynne, best known for his work with Electric Light Orchestra. The pair worked together in 1988 in the supergroup the Traveling Wilburys with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, and Roy Orbison after Petty had recorded Full Moon Fever. Petty wrote about things he saw on frequent drives around Los Angeles, including Ventura Boulevard, Mulholland Drive, and the San Fernando Valley neighborhood of Reseda. The video echoed that with scenes from various locations around Los Angeles.


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First posted 11/7/2021; last updated 3/16/2023.

Thursday, August 24, 1989

Squeeze released Frank



Released: August 24, 1989

Peak: 113 US, 58 UK

Sales (in millions): --

Genre: new wave


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

  1. Frank (no author – studio chatter) [0:15]
  2. If It’s Love [4:02] (9/89, 7 MR)
  3. Peyton Place [4:08]
  4. Rose, I Said [3:36]
  5. Slaughtered, Gutted and Heartbroken [4:37]
  6. This Could Be the Last Time [3:49]
  7. She Doesn’t Have to Shave [3:27]
  8. Love Circles [5:34] (1/15/90, --)
  9. Melody Motel [3:51]
  10. Can of Worms [4:47]
  11. Dr. Jazz (Holland) [4:04]
  12. Is It Too Late [3:12]

Songs written by Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook unless noted otherwise.

Total Running Time: 45:22

The Players:

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


3.089 out of 5.00 (average of 17 ratings)

Quotable: “An unpretentious, classily produced album that’s packed with quality tunes” – John Alroy, Wilson & Alroy’s Record Reviews

About the Album:

”Though Babylon and On was hailed as a return to form, the unfairly overlooked follow-up, Frank, comes much closer to the sound of classic Squeeze.” AMG ”The band suddenly showed signs of life with an unpretentious, classily produced album that's packed with quality tunes and comes off as a true group effort.” JA “Wilkinson's ferociously melodic, Tilbrook's guitar parts are a tour de force, and, like everyone, Holland sounds like he's having the party of his life.” JA “Practically everything works, with crisp but complex arrangements, significant stylistic variety, and a genuine sense of humor…Several tunes are among their best ever.” JA

“Mysteriously, the…singles completely bombed.” JA Then again, this should come as no surprise to anyone following their career. Squeeze can churn out pop masterpieces in their sleep and the charts will never give them a second glance. Both “If It's Love and the mesmerizingly harmonized Love Circles (hey, that's Difford in the lead) sound like Paul McCartney at his best.” JA

"Peyton Place has great dynamics and a riveting chorus” JA while “the twisting rockers Rose I Said and (This Could Be) The Last Time are excellent examples of the group's debt to Elvis Costello and the early Beatles.” JA

Dr. Jazz, Holland’s “boogie-woogie jazz tribute is endearingly odd.” JA He’s also “memorable on another of Difford's spotlights – the smooth, 40's small-combo jazz number Slaughtered, Gutted and Heartbroken,” JA the peak of the album.

The most “Squeeze-like” song on the album is the “irresistible” AMG She Doesn’t Have to Shave. Complete with witty lyrics that make you chuckle and an understated pop hook, the song catches on after a few listens and never lets you go again after that.

That song and Can of Worms fit the fairly standard “blue-eyed soul love songs,” JA but, as is often the case with Squeeze, they charm more than they detract.

There are also the “good-natured musical sendups (country-western on Melody Motel; manic rockabilly on It's Too Late) [that] are so well-performed they're gems.” JA

”None of this pushes the band's limits, but such a minor shortcoming won't spoil your enjoyment in the slightest.” JA With Frank, Squeeze has churned out yet another inexplicably overlooked delight.

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

Monday, August 21, 1989

Tears for Fears “Sowing the Seeds of Love” released

Sowing the Seeds of Love

Tears for Fears

Writer(s): Roland Orzabal, Curt Smith (see lyrics here)

Released: August 21, 1989

First Charted: September 1, 1989

Peak: 2 US, 11 CB, 4 RR, 29 AC, 4 AR, 11 MR, 5 UK, 13 CN, 13 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 51.25 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Tears for Fears hit the big time with their 1985 sophomore album, Songs from the Big Chair. The #1 hits “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and “Shout” pushed the album to #1 and multi-platinum status in the U.S. When the duo waited four years – an eternity in the world of pop music – to release a follow-up album, it wouldn’t have surprised anyone if it flopped commercially. Instead, The Seeds of Love was another top-10 platinum release.

The lead single, “Sowing the Seeds of Love,” made it all the way to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also topped the alternative chart, a feat new to a Tears for Fears song since the chart hadn’t existed during the last album. The song “is a throwback to ‘60s nostalgia” and Flower Power. SF It has been called “a pastiche of the Beatles” because it was “produced in a style reminscient of their late 1960s output.” WK

It was inspired by a radio program about Cecil Sharp (1859-1924), a scholar and folk song collector. He overheard a gardner named John England singing a song called “The Seeds of Love.” It inspired Sharp to look into English traditional songs, which sparked the English folk song revival. WK

The song was written in June 1987 in response to staunch conservative Margaret Thatcher winning her third consecutive term as Britain’s Prime Minister. Roland Orzabal, who’d never particularly taken an interest in politics, considered this the band’s most “overtly political song.” WK It refers to Thatcher as “Politician granny with your high ideas/ Have you no idea how the majority feels?” He advocates, “High time we made a stand / And shook up the views of the common man.”


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First posted 8/5/2022.