Saturday, December 14, 1991

Michael Jackson debuted at #1 with Dangerous

First posted 3/21/2008; updated 12/1/2020.

Dangerous

Michael Jackson


Released: November 26, 1991


Charted: December 14, 1991


Peak: 14 US, 112 RB, 11 UK, 3 CN, 16 AU


Sales (in millions): 8.0 US, 1.98 UK, 32.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: pop/R&B


Tracks:

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

  1. Jam (7/11/92, 21a US, 13 UK, 3 RB)
  2. Why You Wanna Trip on Me
  3. In the Closet (4/25/92, 5a US, 8 UK, 1 RB, sales: ½ million)
  4. She Drives Me Wild
  5. Remember the Time (1/25/92, 1a US, 3 UK, 1a RB, 15 AC, sales: ½ million)
  6. Can’t Let Her Get Away
  7. Heal the World (12/5/92, 24a US, 2 UK, 62 RB, 9 AC)
  8. Black or White (11/23/91, 1 US, 1 UK, 3 RB, 23 AC, sales: 1 million)
  9. Who Is It? (7/25/92, 14 US, 10 UK, 6 RB)
  10. Give in to Me (2/27/93, 2 UK)
  11. Will You Be There? (7/10/93, 6a US, 9 UK, 53 RB, 5 AC, sales: ½ million)
  12. Keep the Faith
  13. Gone Too Soon (12/18/93, 33 UK)
  14. Dangerous


Total Running Time: 77:10

Rating:

4.012 out of 5.00 (average of 25 ratings)


Quotable: --


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“Despite the success of Bad, it was hard not to view it as a bit of a letdown, since it presented a cleaner, colder, calculated version of Thriller – something that delivered what it should on the surface, but wound up offering less in the long run. So, it was time for a change-up, something even a superstar as huge as Michael Jackson realized, so he left Quincy Jones behind, hired Guy mastermind Teddy Riley as the main producer, and worked with a variety of other producers, arrangers, and writers, most notably Bruce Swedien and Bill Bottrell.” STE

“Michael Jackson was still going for pop hits with 1991’s Dangerous,” RW but “the end result of this is a much sharper, harder, riskier album than Bad, one that has its eyes on the street, even if its heart gets middle-class soft on Heal the World. The shift in direction and change of collaborators has liberated Jackson, and he’s written a set of songs that is considerably stronger than Bad, often approaching the consistency of Off the Wall and Thriller.” STE In fact, the “six straight Teddy Riley-assisted cuts” RW that front-load the album make for a “ half-hour swoop of tense, aggressive, often angular funk [that] was Jackson’s most interesting music since Thriller.” RW

There is the challenge of Jackson’s “suffocating stardom, which results in a set of songs without much real emotional center, either in their substance or performance.” STE “But, there’s a lot to be said for professional craftsmanship at its peak, and Dangerous has plenty of that, not just on such fine singles as In the Closet, Remember the Time, or the blistering Jam, but on album tracks like Why You Wanna Trip on Me.” STE

“The sprightly Black or White is explicitly pro-interracial romance, an angle its video didn’t go near, and the urgent Give in to Me is almost scary…good.” RWGone Too Soon, a non-Jackson composition about teen AIDS casualty Ryan White, is a quiet statement (particularly played next to the choir-laden ‘Heal the World,’ Keep the Faith, and Will You Be There) showing that the star doesn’t always have to get showy.” RW

The album isn’t “perfect – it has a terrible cover, a couple of slow spots, and suffers from CD-era ailments of the early ‘90s, such as its overly long running time and its deadening Q Sound production, which sounds like somebody forgot to take the Surround Sound button off.” STE

“Even so, Dangerous captures Jackson at a near-peak, delivering an album that would have ruled the pop charts surely and smoothly if it had arrived just a year earlier. But it didn’t – it arrived along with grunge, which changed the rules of the game nearly as much as Thriller itself. Consequently, it’s the rare multi-platinum, number one album that qualifies as a nearly forgotten, underappreciated record.” STE

Resources and Related Links:

Friday, November 29, 1991

50 years ago: Glenn Miller hit #1 with “Chattanooga Choo Choo”

Chattanooga Choo Choo

Glenn Miller with Tex Beneke & the Four Modernaires

Writer(s): Mack Gordon, Harry Warren (see lyrics here)


Recorded: May 7, 1941


First Charted: September 13, 1941


Peak: 19 US, 12 HP, 12 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.2 US


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

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

The team of Mack Gordon and Harry Warren wrote the song while travelling on the Southern Railway. “Chattanooga Choo Choo” didn’t refer to a particular train, but Chattanooga, Tennessee, had been on the route for most trains passing through the American South since 1880. WK The song was used in the film Sun Valley Serenade, a story about a train travelling south from New York. SS Tex Beneke and Paul Kelly from Glenn Miller’s band sang the song in the film with the Modernaires – but actress Dorothy Dandridge lent her pipes to the song in the film as well. SS It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song from a movie in 1941.

A week after finishing work on the movie, the band went into the studio to record “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” SS It became Miller’s biggest hit after “In the Mood.” In Recorded Music in American Life, William Howland Kenney notes how the song resonated with GI’s coming home. It reminded them “of the excitement of entering Penn Station, ticket in hand for a trip home, getting a shine, hopping board and…eat[ing] and drink[ing] while watching the Carolina countryside flash by.” SS

“Chattanooga” achieved the distinction of being the first record to be formally certified as a million seller. PM although Gene Austin’s “My Blue Heaven” had accomplished the feat a dozen years earlier. SS To celebrate the event, RCA Victor presented a gold-laquered facsimile disc to Miller on February 10, 1942. TY Years later the Recording Industry Association of America picked up on the idea and awarded gold records to million-sellers. SS

In addition to Miller’s #1 version of the song in 1941, it found success in 1962 with Floyd Cramer’s #36 version and again in 1978 when the female disco quartet Tuxedo Junction took the song to #32. JA Others who rcorded the song include the Andrews Sisters, George Benson, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Harry Connick Jr., Ray Conniff, John Denver, Bill Haley & the Coments, the Muppets, Oscar Peterson, Elvis Presley, and Hank Snow. WK “It remains a vocal-group standard.” JA


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Glenn Miller
  • JA David A. Jasen. (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 35.
  • SS Steve Sullivan (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings (Volumes I & II). Scarecrow Press: Lanham, Maryland. Pages 603.
  • TY Don Tyler (1985). Hit Parade 1920-1955. New York, NY: Quill. Page 105.
  • PM Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 311.
  • WK Wikipedia

Last updated 4/18/2021.

Tuesday, November 19, 1991

U2 released Achtung Baby: November 19, 1991

Originally posted November 19, 2012.

image from u2interference.com


Release date: 19 November 1991
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Zoo Station / Even Better Than the Real Thing (6/20/92, #32 US, #8 UK, #1 AR, #5 MR) / One (1/4/92, #10 US, #7 UK, #1 AR, #1 MR, #24 AC) / Until the End of the World (2/1/92, #5 AR, #4 MR) / Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses? (1/25/92, #35 US, #14 UK, #2 AR, #7 MR) / So Cruel / The Fly (11/2/91, #61 US, #1 UK, #2 AR, #1 MR) / Mysterious Ways (11/23/91, #9 US, #13 UK, #1 AR, #1 MR) / Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World / Ultra Violet (Light My Way) / Acrobat / Love Is Blindness

Sales (in millions): 8.0 US, 1.2 UK, 20.4 world

Peak: 11 US, 2 UK

Rating:


Review: “Reinventions rarely come as thorough and effective as Achtung Baby,” AMG an album in which “U2 discarded the arena-rock sound that catapulted it into stardom on The Joshua Tree in favor of feedback, electronic beats and introspective lyrics.” RV They “detour[ed] into the darker realms of irony, decay and turmoil on accessible avant-garde rock tunes recorded in Berlin.” UT In addition, U2 loosened up “after fostering a dour public image for years…cracking jokes and even letting themselves be photographed in color. ‘It’s a con, in a way,’ Bono admitted to Rolling Stone in 1992. ‘…It’s probably the heaviest record we’ve ever made.’” RS500

“Coaxed to Berlin by producer Brian Eno, U2 spent several chilly months arguing over how they wanted to sound in their second decade. Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton were in the ‘Ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ camp while Bono and The Edge campaigned for changing everything.” TL

“This radical shift in style is loudly declared on Zoo StationRV with “crashing, unrecognizable distorted guitars” AMG and “postmodern, contemporary European music. Drawing equally from Bowie’s electronic, avant-garde explorations of the late ‘70s and the neo-psychedelic sounds of the thriving rave and Madchester club scenes of early-‘90s England, Achtung Baby sounds vibrant and endlessly inventive.” AMG

Throughout the album, U2 “use the thick dance beats, swirling guitars, layers of effects, and found sounds to break traditional songs out of their constraints, revealing the tortured emotional core of their songs with the hyper-loaded arrangements.” AMG They experimented “with a wall of sound, using waves of melody emanating in Until the End of the World and Ultra Violet.” RV

One

“In such a dense musical setting, it isn’t surprising that U2 have abandoned the political for the personal on Achtung Baby, since the music, even with its inviting rhythms, is more introspective than anthemic.” AMG “Bono has never been as emotionally naked as he is on Achtung Baby, creating a feverish nightmare of broken hearts and desperate loneliness.” AMG “U2 capped its reinvention with…One,” RV “one of the most beautiful songs U2 ever recorded.” RS500 It is “a fragile ballad that shines amidst a whirling soundscape of strings, guitars and Bono’s anguished voice.” RV “Bono wonders whether individuality also means eternal loneliness and comes down on the side of hope.” RS500 The song “started as a bitter take on Bono’s relationship with his father, twisted into a commentary on the state of the band, became a staple at weddings and now is used as an anthem to fight global poverty.” TL

“Unlike other U2 albums, it’s filled with sexual imagery, much of it quite disturbing, and it ends on a disquieting note. Few bands as far into their career as U2 have recorded an album as adventurous or fulfilled their ambitions quite as successfully as they do on Achtung Baby, and the result is arguably their best album.” AMG

The Fly

Mysterious Ways

Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses?


Resources and Related Links:


Award(s):


Thursday, November 14, 1991

Michael Jackson’s video for “Black or White” debuted

First posted 2/7/2021; updated 3/16/2021.

Black or White

Michael Jackson

Writer(s): Michael Jackson, Bill Bottrell (see lyrics here)


Released: November 11, 1991


First Charted: November 15, 1991


Peak: 17 US, 14 CB, 12 RR, 23 AC, 3 RB, 12 UK, 12 CN, 18 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.6 UK, 3.32 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 430.4 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

When “Black or White” hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, it made him the first artist to land on top in the 1970s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. It debuted at #35, shot to #3 the next week, and was on top the week after that. It reached the pinnacle faster than any song since the Beatles’ “Get Back” in 1969. In the UK, it was the first song since Elvis Presley’s “It’s Now or Never” to debut at #1. WK It topped the charts in 20 countries.

The record company billed “Black and White” as “a rock ‘n’ roll dance song about racial harmony.” WK Albumism’s Chris Lacy said it “merges classic rock with soulful crooning in a call for racial unity.” WK Billboard’s Larry Flick said it was an “instantly gratifying pop/rocker that reveals his grittiest and most affecting performance in years.” WK Entertainment Weekly’s David Browne said Jackson “still knows how to fashion a hook that will take up permanent residence in your brain.” WK

Depending on the account, Slash of Guns N’ Roses may or not have played the main guitar riff on the song. Some sources say it was actually Bill Bottrell, who co-wrote and produced the song, but that Slash did play the riff during live performances. WK Bottrell himself said it was Slash and that the piece he plays on was originally developed from a track intended for the 1987 Bad album. BR1

The video was directed by John Landis, who had also helmed “Thriller.” It premiered on November 14, 1991, simultaneously in 27 countries, amassing 500 million views, the most ever for a music video. WK In the U.S., it premiered on BET, Fox, MTV, and VH1, landing the highest Nielsen ratings ever at that time. WK Networks wanting to air the video were required to refer to Jackson as “The King of Pop.” SF The video was controversial because of violent and sexual scenes such as Jackson grabbing his crotch, smashing windows, and destroying a car.


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Michael Jackson
  • DMDB page for parent album Dangerous
  • BR1 Fred Bronson (2007). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (4th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 801.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia

Tuesday, November 12, 1991

Back to Mono box set released

Last updated 11/16/2020.

Back to Mono

Various Artists, produced by Phil Spector


Released: November 12, 1991


Recorded: 1958 to 1969


Peak: -- US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU


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


Genre: pop


Tracks:

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

Tracks, Disc 1:

  1. TEDDY BEARS “To Know Him Is to Love Him” (9/22/58, 1 US, 2 UK, 10 RB)
  2. RAY PETERSON “Corinna, Corinna” (11/21/60, 9 US, 41 UK)
  3. BEN E. KING “Spanish Harlem” (12/31/60, 10 US, 15 RB)
  4. CURTIS LEE “Pretty Little Angel Eyes” (7/3/61, 7 US, 47 UK)
  5. GENE PITNEY “Every Breath I Take” (8/7/61, 42 US)
  6. THE PARIS SISTERS “I Love How You Love Me” (9/4/61, 5 US)
  7. CURTIS LEE “Under the Moon of Love” (10/16/61, 46 US)
  8. THE CRYSTALS “There’s No Other Like My Baby” (11/20/61, 20 US, 5 RB)
  9. THE CRYSTALS “Uptown” (3/31/62, 13 US, 18 RB)
  10. THE CRYSTALS “He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)
  11. THE BLOSSOMS (aka THE CRYSTALS) “He’s a Rebel” (9/8/62, 1 US, 19 UK, 2 RB)
  12. BOB B. SOXX & THE BLUE JEANS “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” (11/17/62, 8 US, 7 RB)
  13. THE ALLEY CATS “Puddin’ N’ Tain” (1/12/63, 43 US, 21 RB)
  14. BOB B. SOXX & THE BLUE JEANS “Why Do Lovers Break Each Other’s Hearts” (2/16/63, 38 US)
  15. DARLENE LOVE “Today I Met the Boy I’m Gonna Marry” (4/6/63, 39 US)
  16. THE CRYSTALS “Da Doo Ron Ron” (4/27/63, 3 US, 5 UK, 5 RB)
  17. THE CRYSTALS “Heartbreaker
  18. VERONICA “Why Don’t They Let Us Fall in Love
  19. DARLENE LOVE “Chapel of Love
  20. BOB B. SOXX & THE BLUE JEANS “Not Too Young to Get Married” (6/8/63, 63 US)
  21. DARLENE LOVE “Wait Til My Bobby Gets Home” (7/20/63, 26 US)
  22. THE CRYSTALS “All Grown Up” (8/1/64, 98 US, 98 RB)

Tracks, Disc 2:

  1. THE RONETTES “Be My Baby” (8/31/63, 2 US, 4 UK, 4 RB)
  2. THE CRYSTALS “Then He Kissed Me” (8/17/63, 6 US, 2 UK, 8 RB)
  3. DARLENE LOVE “A Fine, Fine Boy” (10/19/63, 53 US)
  4. THE RONETTES “Baby, I Love You” (12/21/63, 24 US, 11 UK, 24 RB)
  5. THE RONETTES “I Wonder
  6. THE CRYSTALS “Girls Can Tell
  7. THE CRYSTALS “Little Boy” (2/1/64, 92 US, 92 RB)
  8. THE TREASURES “Hold Me Tight
  9. THE RONETTES “The Best Part of Breakin’ Up” (4/4/64, 39 US, 43 UK, 39 RB)
  10. THE RONETTES “Soldier Boy of Mine
  11. DARLENE LOVE “Strange Love
  12. DARLENE LOVE “Stumble and Fall
  13. THE RONETTES “When I Saw You
  14. VERONICA “So Young
  15. THE RONETTES “Do I Love You?” (6/20/64, 34 US, 35 UK, 34 RB)
  16. THE RONETTES “Keep on Dancing
  17. THE RONETTES “You, Baby
  18. THE RONETTES “Woman in Love with You
  19. THE RONETTES “Walking in the Rain” (10/24/64, 23 US, 28 RB)

Tracks, Disc 3:

  1. THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” (12/12/64, 1 US, 1 UK, 3 RB)
  2. THE RONETTES “Born to Be Together” (2/6/65, 52 US)
  3. THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS “Just Once in My Life” (4/10/65, 9 US, 26 RB)
  4. THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS “Unchained Melody” (7/17/65, 3a US, 1 UK, 1 AC, 6 RB, sales: 1.0 m)
  5. THE RONETTES “Is This What I Get for Loving You?
  6. DARLENE LOVE “Long Way to Be Happy
  7. THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS “Love You for Sentimental Reasons
  8. THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS “Ebb Tide” (12/4/65, 5 US, 3 UK, 13 RB)
  9. THE MODERN FOLK QUARTET “This Could Be the Night
  10. THE RONETTES “Paradise
  11. IKE & TINA TURNER “River Deep, Mountain High” (5/28/66, 88 US, 3 UK)
  12. IKE & TINA TURNER “I’ll Never Need More Than This
  13. IKE & TINA TURNER “A Love Like Yours Don’t Come Knockin’ Everyday” (10/27/66, 16 UK)
  14. IKE & TINA TURNER “Save the Last Dance for Me
  15. THE RONETTES “I Wish I Never Saw the Sunshine
  16. THE RONETTES “You Came, You Saw, You Conquered
  17. SONNY CHARLES & THE CHECKMATES “Black Pearl” (5/10/69, 13 US, 8 RB)
  18. THE CHECKMATES “Love Is All I Have to Give” (4/5/69, 65 US)

Tracks, Disc 4 (A Christmas Gift for You):

  1. DARLENE LOVE “White Christmas
  2. THE RONETTES “Frosty the Snowman
  3. BOB B. SOXX & THE BLUE JEANS “The Bells of St. Mary
  4. THE CRYSTALS “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
  5. THE RONETTES “Sleigh Ride
  6. DARLENE LOVE “Marshmallow World
  7. THE RONETTES “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
  8. THE CRYSTALS “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  9. DARLENE LOVE “Winter Wonderland
  10. THE CRYSTALS “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers”
  11. DARLENE LOVE “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
  12. BOB B. SOXX & THE BLUE JEANS “Here Comes Santa Claus
  13. PHIL SPECTOR & ARTISTS “Silent Night


Total Running Time: 206:12

Rating:

4.529 out of 5.00 (average of 7 ratings)


Quotable: “Spector’s Wall of Sound made even the most pedestrian teen pop seem mythic.” Blender Magazine


Awards:

About the Album:

“Two hits and ten pieces of junk, was how [producer Phil] Spector described the typical album, so the groups he produced released singles – honed to perfection and exclusively in mono.” TL “Monomaniacally massive, magical and mysterious,” BL “Spector thought that stereo sound gave listeners more control than producers; he really liked control.” TL

“This junk-free, four-disc set released in 1991 includes Ben E. King’s Spanish Harlem, The Ronettes’ Be My Baby (Brian Wilson pulled off the road and wept with joy the first time he heard it) and the Righteous Brothers’ You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling, all pinnacles of Spector’s Wall of Sound production techniques” TL in which “a huge Wagnerian slab of instruments…made even the most pedestrian teen pop seem mythic.” BL

“At the time Back to Mono was released in 1991, Phil Spector’s reputation as one of pop's great visionaries was intact, but there was no way to hear his genius. It wasn't just that there were no collections spotlighting his productions, there weren't collections of artists he produced. It wasn't until Back to Mono that there was a thorough overview of Spector's greatest work, and while it’s not without flaws, it still stands as one of the great box sets. Some may complain that there are no selections from his superstar '70s productions for John Lennon, George Harrison, Leonard Cohen, and the Ramones, but that's for the best, since their presence would have been incongruous, taking attention away from the music that forms the heart of Spector's legacy.” STE

“All of that music is here, not just on the first three discs, all devoted to singles, but also on the fourth disc, his seminal 1963 holiday album, A Christmas Gift for You,” STE “the only holiday album one ever need own.” TL Not only is it “the greatest rock Christmas album, but a crystallization of his skills.” STE

“It could be argued that the song selection overlooks some obscure fan favorites, such as ‘Do the Screw,’ but that’s simply nitpicking, because what’s here are all the great Spector records, which were hardly just great productions, they were great songs as well. As the set plays, it’s hard not to be stunned by the depth of the material and clarity of Spector’s vision…whether you’ve heard these songs hundreds of times or not at all – especially because they gain power when grouped together. Many producers have been credited as the true creative force behind many rock records, but usually that’s hyperbole. In Spector's case, it wasn’t, as this set gloriously proves.” STE

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Phil Spector
  • BL Blender Magazine’s “100 Greatest American Albums” (10/08)
  • STE Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide
  • TL Josh Tyrangiel and Alan Light, Time Magazine’s “All-TIME 100 Albums” (11/13/06)