Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Year That Was - 1988

I've been wanting to do another year in music retrospective, but just hadn't gotten around to it.  Until now, so here we go.  The year is 1988, I'm a freshman in high school and I'm wide open to new music.  It's a very good year for new influences, even if I didn't recognize it right away.

If I Should Fall From The Grace Of God by the Pogues was a sound I was unfamiliar with at the time.  Irish folk punk, what's that all about?  It's definitely music that will get you moving.  It also features probably my all-time favorite Christmas song.  The late, Kristy McColl and Shane MacGowan form an odd, but perfect duo.

Another very foreign sound appeared in 1988 for me, an all black heavy rock band.  These were my formative years of getting into music.  I did not yet know the greatness of bands like; The P-Funk family of bands, Sly & The Family Stone and various others that would influence, Living Colour and their debut album, Vivid.  When "Cult of Personality" hits, it really knocks you on you're collective ass.  Vernon Reid, became a guitar hero, almost overnight.  They were discovered by Mick Jagger.  What was he doing at CBGB's?

The breakout album for the progressive metal band from Seattle.  Operation: Mindcrime is a stunning album.  The story, the music and Geoff Tate's vocals, really make the album.  The man has major league pipes.  He can sing, so he doesn't have to scream like most metal vocalists.  The double guitar attack of DeGarmo and Wilton remind you of the best Thin Lizzy guitar duels. 

It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back is one of those "here we come, you better fasten your seatbelts" albums.  I almost thought about putting Straight Outta Compton here, because I think they were both equally important at the time.  The difference I believe was NWA was about opening your eyes, but Public Enemy was about opening your eyes and then educating you.

Their first full length album and what an album it is.  Surfer Rosa was the beginning of the critically acclaimed and highly influential band, the Pixies.  Often, in fact, maybe all the time, the band that influences the most, doesn't succeed.  The Pixies had minor success, in my opinion.  They had to break up and wait about 10 years and then reform for people to go, "How did we miss this?"  No Pixies, probably no Nirvana like you know them.  They adopted the song formula of Black Francis.

The band that you either love them or you hate them.  There is no in between with Sonic Youth.  Daydream Nation is the perfect example of that.  It's their magnum opus, but also one of the (if not the) most difficult of their albums to get into.  it took me quite a bit to "get it."  It's not an album that you can just throw on, you have to pay attention to it.  They aren't just a "noise" band, the feedback is used as a device for their songs.  They can really write some great music and lyrics.  It's all there, you just need to know the password or code to get into the club.

This barely touches on the great year for music that 1988 was.  Maybe, this gets you interested in bands you had heard of, but never heard before.  I recommend it all, but with Sonic Youth, you might want to start with Dirty or Goo

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