With the decade coming towards its end, 1988 was a genuine mixed bag. Pet Shop Boys released some of their best ever work; Elton John’s ‘Reg Strikes Back’ album marked somewhat of a comeback for the megastar after five years of intermittently enjoyable material and Jane Wiedlin hit the UK singles chart with ‘Rush Hour’, arguably one of the decade’s greatest pop singles.
After three years of brilliant pop frivolity, 1987 has a huge contrast in mood with albums and singles that seem far more thoughtful and downbeat. U2 turned in a career best with ‘The Joshua Tree’; Pink Floyd made a huge comeback with the moody ‘A Momentary Lapse of Reason’ and from a more alternative perspective, Sisters of Mercy and The Jesus & Mary Chain made huge waves with epic goth sounds.
With debut albums from Crowded House and The Housemartins standing alongside massive hits from Madonna, a-ha and Red Box, 1986 would already have a strong enough grounding to challenge 1984 as one of the decade’s finest years for music. With Huey Lewis’s ‘Fore!’ challenging 1983’s as his masterpiece, a strong AOR debut from Robert Tepper and Jackson Browne’s ‘Lives In The Balance’ channelling a very commercial sound, it was also very much a year for great Transatlantic AOR and sounds that now seem so entrenched within that decade, you can’t help but love them.
After 1984’s gargantuan greatness with the dominance of Frankie and meteoric rise of Madonna and Prince, 1985 had a lot to measure up to. …And indeed, some have said it’s a rather more forgettable year for pop.
Looking back, it’s easy to see that 1983 was a massive year. It represents the point where a few of its stars were making huge steps to being the decade’s megastars. Five years into his career, Prince had finally succeeded in gaining worldwide success with his ‘1999’ album (a double platter of much filthiness); with their ‘War’ album, U2 made the leap from successful rock band to being an act with much bigger potential and Madonna showed early signs of being more exciting than your average pop performer.