Just step over Mr. Kordosh. He's prepping to write another installment of Framed, Y! Music's other well-edited blog, by leaning heavily on the Sambuca, while Miss Lyndsey is the one in the penthouse with the spreadsheet keeping track of every contestant to ever appear on a TV talent show. She gets better digs than the rest of us, since people actually read her blog. Dave only comes in to collect his mail, so he can blog about it. I'm the guy down here in the basement, with a thrilling view of a wall!
Anyhow, on the master list I compiled, there were over 170 choices and this is 1987 we're talking about! Granted a good number of these albums are esoteric highlights known best -- and maybe only -- by people who had either a professional obligation at the time or a stint as a college DJ. I held records such as These Immortal Souls' Get Lost (Don't Lie), Game Theory's Lolita Nation and Microdisney's Crooked Mile in my hands and it felt good. Money was tight for a young college lad, so playing these records, vinyl LPs, on the radio was the only chance I had to get up close and personal.
Now the question remains, how many lists can I assemble about 1987 before you walk and turn slowly away? Astute readers of this column, that means you, sense there will be a column celebrating the 40th Anniversary of 1972, a year I've always considered pretty darn special. But we have to pace ourselves! One history lesson at a time.
This list features a smattering of everything: hits, mainstream junk that was hard to believe anyone wanted, college radio indie stuff…and it's missing key albums saved for Part Two. Wait till you see that one! (Feel the anticipation!!!) In fact, staring at this list, there are way too many old people on it and many albums I would never listen to knowingly. But they're big names!
24) Mick Jagger -- Primitive Cool: Now this old pro, on the other hand, he…yeah, nobody took this seriously either. No one believed Mick as proletariat man on the Dave Stewart co-write "Let's Work" and I don't think anyone's ever made it to the six-and-a-half minute finale, "War Baby." As a Stones die-hard, I enjoyed the Jeff Beck-featured single "Throwaway," so maybe Mick should've just made a single and made me happy.
22) Starship -- No Protection: I know what you're thinking! How is it possible that I'm nailing all the good stuff so early on? I'm all about pacing myself, but this cup runneth over. While the previous Starship album, Knee Deep In The Hoopla featured the immortal classic "We Built This City," this follow-up had the #1 hit "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now," which either I've completely blanked from my mind or successfully avoided hearing for all these years. I'm not going to break the streak now.
20) Pink Floyd -- A Momentary Lapse of Reason: Waters' old band wasn't doing any better. They were still selling out tours based on name recognition and this album was a huge commercial success, but anyone who ever spent a portion of their youth staring into space listening to Piper at the Gates of Dawn or Atom Heart Mother or Meddle or Animals or even The Wall and The Final Cut likely sensed the momentary lapse of concept behind a band that lived and died on its grand conceits.
18) INXS -- Kick: Michael Hutchence had the hair and was therefore the perfect guy to put on the cover of Rolling Stone and Spin. It was hard back then finding musicians who appealed to the heart, the head and the body. Musicians must've been getting uglier, or just too old.
16) The Steppes -- Drop of the Creature: The Steppes never made much of an indentation into the 1980s. But they made a series of records that are sublimely psychedelic and folk-druid in the best way imaginable. Backwards guitars, freaky vocal effects, drums that tumble down the mountain, the blotter acid must've been good that day.
14) Sting -- …Nothing Like The Sun: OK, I've run out of seven-hour tantric sex jokes.
12) The Cult -- Electric: I love it when "alternative" rockers say to hell with it and openly admit they want to be rock gods. Once people are themselves, good things happen. Even if some of us in the cheap seats liked it better when they faked it.
10) Public Enemy -- Yo! Bum Rush The Show: Let all the white male rock critics in the house make some noise! It would be PE's next album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Make Us Multiplatinum, that would cement their status, but the use of hard rock riffs here allowed them to crossover with kids who didn't often (never?) listen to hip-hop.
8) U2 -- The Joshua Tree: Having already traded in Steve Lillywhite for Brian Eno (and Daniel Lanois), U2 decide to make their non-secular Christian Rock resonate in natural canyons while knowing full well they'll be playing this stuff in massive arenas. Looking like extras from MASH -- bass player as Father Mulcahy -- they really take this Jesuit stuff seriously. Save the world? Really?
6) Butthole Surfers -- Locust Abortion Technician: Satan! Satan! Satan! Yeah, sure! Hardly nobody knew that night how soon they'd be crying. Hardly nobody knew that night the Butthole Surfers were dying. If one album assembles all this band's best moving parts into one place, it's this one. They'd never be so fresh and crazy again. For soon enough even they would insist on writing songs! Like R.E.M. songs!
4) Sonic Youth -- Sister: On the underside of the 1980s, the underground was making headway, thought it felt like one long, endless, pointless trudge at the time. Reviews were better and sales were decent for a band with no airplay beyond 92 degrees on the FM band. But who expected to be talking about them in Godmother-Godfather terms? "Integrity rock"? Yawn. But here's where they take the modal drones and tonal clusters and actually rock. If the scream in "Catholic Block" doesn't raise the hairs on your neck, your stereo's missing a channel. Or your ears are clogged or something.
2) Bruce Springsteen -- Tunnel of Love: Adult-contemporary Springsteen might sound like a contradiction in terms. He's a rocker. He even told us so. But marriage is marriage and wedding bells sure enough break up that old gang of his. That's what happens when you marry Hollywood. He's loved the whole world over for bringing Fred Flintstone Rock 'n' Roll to the people, but the Catholic Boy's always been at his best when at his most somber, his most contrite. There might not be a single song on Tunnel that makes anyone want to dance, but there's plenty to make you reflect on your life and think what a drag it is getting old.
- Mick Jagger