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


Tracks:

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)

Rating:

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 hit the chart with “Love Shack”

First posted 11/16/2019.

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, 5 RR, 14 MR, 2 UK, 5 CN, 19 AU
(Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales *: 0.5 US, 0.2 UK, 0.84 world (includes US + UK)


Radio Airplay *: 1.0


Video Airplay *: 29.6


Streaming *: --


* in millions

Review:

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 It didn’t just put them 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 also 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


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Awards:


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 (Click for codes to singles charts.)


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


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

Awards:

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) that 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 11/28/2021.

Thursday, August 24, 1989

Squeeze released Frank

Frank

Squeeze


Released: August 24, 1989


Peak: 113 US, 58 UK


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: new wave


Tracks:

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)

Rating:

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.

Saturday, August 19, 1989

8/19/1989: Del Amitri charted with “Kiss This Thing Goodbye”

First posted 12/24/2019.

Kiss This Thing Goodbye

Del Amitri

Writer(s): Justin Currie, Iain Harvie, Mick Slaven (see lyrics here)


Released: July 1989


First Charted: August 19, 1989


Peak: 35 US, 35 CB, 28 RR, 17 AR, 13 MR, 43 UK, 28 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales *: -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)


Radio Airplay *: --


Video Airplay *: 0.32


Streaming *: --


* in millions

Review:

Del Amitri were a Scottish band who got their start in the ‘80s. From then until their final release in 2002, they never featured the same lineup on any two records. WK Only singer/songwriter Justin Currie (the singer) and guitarist/songwriter Iain Harvie appeared on all their albums and keyboardist Andy Alston proved a stable member, having been with the band from 1989 on. While a changing lineup would certainly produce a different sound each time out, it was never more marked than it was from their 1985 self-titled debut to 1989’s Waking Hours. On the latter album, the band eschewed the post-punk sound of the first album for what was arguably “Del Amitri’s first ‘mature’ record.” WK

They also found their first taste of mainstream success. In the U.K., they recached #11 with “Nothing Ever Happens,” and then they hit the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 when “Kiss This Thing Goodbye” saw a re-release as a single. This time, they hit the top 40 and also took the song to the top 20 of the album rock and modern rock charts. In the U.S., they only hit the top 40 two more times – with 1992’s “Always the Last to Know” (#30) and 1995’s “Roll to Me” (#10), but they scored fifteen top-40 hits in the U.K.

Songfacts.com describes it as “one of the more resigned break-up songs, about a relationship that is not working and never will. The couple can barely even stand to share the same space, so there’s no point in prolonging the end of it.” SF The music, however, betrays the gloomy lyrical theme with its poppy, upbeat feel.

On a personal note, I repurposed the song in the early ‘90s. I played the song (then on a car tape deck) as a farewell to my first car – a used Mustang – when I bought a brand spankin’ new Grand Am.


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Awards: