As 1988 rolls out and 1989 rolls in, it's time once again to reflect on the best and worst in pop music of the past year. And like 1987 before it, 1988 wasn't a year that will go down in history as a great year.
Not that it was bad, necessarily. But it wasn't great.Most of all, 1988 will be remembered as the year rock 'n' roll found its social conscience - the same one it lost sometime in the early 1970s. Spurred by artists like Tracy Chapman and Michelle Shocked, America discovered there is more to pop music than George Michael and Debbie Gibson.
It is also the year America discovered that music from the 1960s was the bestever recorded, and the 1970s wasn't that bad either. "Classic rock" not only found its way onto the air waves but back on the charts with numerous remakes, including "Groovy Kind of Love," "Red Red Wine," "The Loco-Motion."
Dozens of rockers who got their starts in the '60s or '70s started strong on the comeback trail in 1987, and the trend continued in 1988 with the long-awaited reunion of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and the first Brian Wilson album in a couple of decades.
If you think the trend is about to fizzle out, think again. Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman and the other original members of Yes have just announced a new album/tour for 1989.
And there was much, much more. Other highlights and lowlights included:
- The death of Roy Orbison.
- The year Guns 'n' Roses, Def Leppard, Van Halen, Bon Jovi, Cinderella and Poison proved heavy metal could rule not only the album charts, but the singles charts as well.
- The year's the most talked about video (Neil Young's "This Song's for You") was never played on MTV.
- "Dirty Dancing" proved a movie doesn't have to have a plot to make millions off the soundtrack.
- George Harrison came of age. Again.
- Pink Floyd found life after Roger Waters is still extremely lucrative.
- David Crosby discovered life without cocaine.
- - -
BEST ALBUMS OF 1988:
1. "Crossroads" (Eric Clapton) - The most definitive of the definitive collections in a year of definitive collections.
2. "Streets of This Town" (Steve Forbert) - Powerful, moving hybrid that blends the best of Bob Dylan with the best of John Cougar Mellencamp.
3. "Volume I" (Traveling Wilburys) - In a year typified by classic rock, these classic rockers delivered a fantastic package of new music.
4. "American Dream" (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) - A dream album of conscience-rock by four pioneers of the genre.
5. "Now and Zen" (Robert Plant) - The best yet by a former Led Zeppelinite, combining the sheer power of LZ with a savvy sophistication.
6. "Brian Wilson" (Brian Wilson) - The troubled genius behind the Beach Boys strikes back with his best work since "Pet Sounds."
7. "Rattle and Hum" (U2) - These increasingly diverse Irish rockers are proving they can cross all musical boundaries.
8. "Slow Turning" (John Hiatt) - A fantastic collection of story songs and vignettes, all told in Hiatt's gravely vocal style.
9. "A Fresh Aire Christmas" (Mannheim Steamroller) - Musical artistry at its finest.
10. "Folkways" (Various Artists) - The best of today's pop stars, includingU2, Mellencamp, Springsteen, etc., interpret Woody Guthrie tunes, reaffirming the timelessness of Guthrie's music.
- - -
BEST SALT LAKE CONCERTS:
1. Robert Plant proved you're never too old to rock 'n' roll, using a blend of finesse and old Led Zeppelin hits to deliver the hottest Utah show in years.
2. Steve Winwood survived the dust bowl at Park West and delivered a sensational chronology of tunes from his Spencer Davis Group, Traffic and solo days.
3. The aging Arlo Guthrie proved again he's getting better. And he proves time and again it's not what you say, but how you say it.
- - -
1. Belinda Carlisle may have scored big on the record charts, but she struck out during her Salt Lake concert. Dullsville.
- - -
BEST NEW ARTISTS:
1. Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians.
2. Tommy Conwell & the Young Rumblers.
- - -
WORST NEWS FOR 1989:
1. Tiffany's got a new album.
- - -
PREDICTIONS FOR 1989:
1. George Michael will score seven more No. 1 singles off the "Faith" LP.
2. Tiffany will score a No. 1 hit with her cover of the unforgettable classic "That's the Way, Uh-huh, Uh-huh, I Like It."
3. Anthrax will rule the pop singles charts for 27 consecutive weeks with their cover of "Yesterday."
4. Pepsi will pay Neil Young $434 billion to appear in a new Pepsi commercial.
5. Neil Young will pen the love ballad, "This Song's for You, Pepsi."
6. First lady Barbara Bush will invite Ratt and Guns 'n' Roses to play July 4 in Washington, D.C.
7. Tipper Gore (PMRC) will gross $43 million from her stock in black spandex.
8. David Lee Roth will stop acting like a 14-year-old spoiled brat. Instead, he'll just act like a 14-year-old.
9. John Cougar Mellencamp will change his name again, this time to John Leopard Mellencamp.
10. Elvis will be seen at a West Valley JB's Big Boy eating lunch with Buddy Holly.
11. Billboard will announce random drug testing to qualify for the Hot 100. Column will quickly be renamed to the Hot 4.
12. Bruce Springsteen, Dire Straits, Mellencamp and Pink Floyd will come to Salt Lake City. Passing through to somewhere else.