Great In ’88 – A Few Memories Of The Year’s Top Pop Hits

I’m wrapping up this week looking back at 1988 with a few videos from that year that I have fond memories of. This was several years before I really got into music, but I was still of the world and hearing the pop hits of the day. I didn’t watch MTV back then, but I think there was a video show on Nickelodeon or maybe USA that catered to kid-friendly pop. I intended to write about an album from this year that I came to later in life like Jane’s Addiction’s Nothing’s Shocking or Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, but I’m not sure if I’ve absorbed either album enough to really write about them.

Back when I was 5, I didn’t know who George Harrison was. Heck, I probably didn’t even know who The Beatles were, but I knew that I liked “Got My Mind Set On You.” From doing the tiniest bit of research possible, I’ve discovered something else I didn’t know, this song was a cover. Harrison recorded in for his 1987 album Cloud Nine, but it wound up being the third most popular song on the Billboard Hot 100 the following year. I also had no idea that there were two versions of the video, the one above set in an arcade and the one below which finds everything coming alive in Harrison’s study like a far more lighthearted version of Evil Dead. It’s the latter I remember from being a kid.

The 45-year-old Harrison became an MTV star years after being in the biggest band the world has ever seen, which is pretty impressive. I specifically remember seeing this video while out visiting people with my Grandma in Cleveland. I’m sure I’d seen the video before or at least heard the song, but we were in a place that my memory tells me was like a huge log cabin house, but people lived there, people with teenaged children, so MTV was on. This was one of the videos playing…

And, as it happens, George Michael’s “Faith” was one of the others. That song was the number one most popular song that year, which makes sense ’cause it’s super catchy. The single helped Michael push Wham even further in the rear-view mirror and  transformed him into the “bad boy” sex symbol he would be know as for a decade or so.

When it came to the late 80s pop war between Debbie Gibson and Tiffany, my allegiances firmly lied with the latter. “I Think We’re Alone Now” is just impossible to beat. But that jam came out in ’87 and Tiff’s big hit of this year was “Could’ve Been” which is okay, but not as fun as Debbie’s “Shake Your Love.” The Billboard charts don’t agree with me, though, as Tiffany’s track clocked in at the 8 spot for the year while Gibson’s was at 22. Unlike the other videos on the list, I don’t remember this one was well, but that song was EVERYWHERE.

Finally, you can’t talk about the late 80s without talking about Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine” off of Appetite For Destruction from the previous year. I eventually picked this record up at a used CD store in the late 90s, but even a decade later it hadn’t lost it’s punch and power. I try not to play “What if?” too often, but I can’t help wondering what this band could have evolved into had they kept the wheels on the bus (and their sanity) to make a prolonged go at it.

Listening to these songs and watching the videos was a huge trip down memory lane. Some of the things I wrote about in this week’s review of 1988 were familiar to me then like the Transformers toy commercial and playing Mario 2, but most were things I came to much later like Animal Man, Green Arrow, Not Of This Earth and Bloodsport. It’s kind of nice to end with some tunes like this that I remember so vividly from that year.

Supergroup Showcase: Velvet Revolver

THE PLAYERS: Scott Weiland on vocals (Stone Temple Pilots), Slash and Dave Kushner on guitar (Guns N Roses, Wasted Youth respectively), Duff McKagan on bass (GNR) and Matt Sorum on drums (GNR).
THE STORY: The GNR guys got together with Kushner and were looking around for a singer. They auditioned a bunch of people, Weiland’s name came up, but he was still with STP at the time. Once they “broke up” he joined the band. The band put two CDs–Contraband and Libertad–before Weiland got back together with STP. The band claims to still exist, though they’re working on other projects.
The mid-2000s were a really interesting time for supergroups. Dave Grohl was running around recording albums with all kinds of different groups (not the solid definition of a supergroup in my opinion, but still interesting). Meanwhile, Chris Cornell from Soundgarden essentially took over for Zach Larocca in Rage Against the Machine, calling the result Audioslave and Scott Weiland joined a group of former Guns N Roses musicians. I haven’t listened to Audioslave yet, but I did pick up Velvet Revolver’s first record. My memory of Contraband wasn’t very positive, but when I gave the record another listen today I found myself generally liking it.

I wasn’t really a huge fan of either Stone Temple Pilots or Guns N Roses, but I’ve always had a lot of respect for Slash. He and the rest of the band do their thing and it’s pretty fun for the most part. Weiland does his usual vocal thing. He’s got a good voice for rock and roll, but doesn’t really do much for me. Overall, they’re a pretty good band, but I think I would like anything involving Slash (his most recent solo album with a series of different singers is awesome). I’ll be keeping this one in the collection/on the iPod now, but I don’t know how often I’ll go back to it.

Put The Tape In The VCR: Guns n Roses at VMAs 2002

It’s old man time. Here goes. Back in my day, we didn’t have your fancy DVR rto record our favorite programs. We had to sit around with a blank video tape and hit record at just the right time to capture our shows or important events. I was a big fan of my VCR using it to record and keep my favorite shows like Buffy, Batman Beyond and Daria, but also various cartoons and music events. I was pretty organized, even going so far as to have many different blanks and black hard shell cases for storage. One of the last times my parents visited they brought some boxes which included a bunch of those tapes. I tossed the Buffy and Batman Beyond ones because I either have or want to get those on DVD. I also threw out a tape filled with band performances and videos I wish I had kept. But I did keep a second music tape which I spent all day going through and then after that whole time decided to copy the tape onto DVD.

Anyway, I figured it would be fun to reminisce about some of the things I taped thanks to the glory of YouTube. Of all the things I saw (and there’s a LOT on there) this clip of the ridiculous 2002 Guns n Roses lineup on MTV’s Video Music Awards not only gave me the idea for the recurring title (thanks to host Jimmy Fallon) but also seemed like a good place to start. I’d never really been a big Guns n Roses fan, but like everyone else my age I have Appetite For Destruction and was pretty excited when I heard that this Chinese Democracy might be coming out soon with a kind of supergroup fronted by Axel Rose. So, when I saw this…I was surprised. Buckethead is rad, but just look at this mish mash of people. It looks ridiculous. But, hey, maybe the album would be good…five years later. I never checked it out, but I did see Buckethead live at the first Bonnaroo which was cool.