Last year I blogged about the album released in 1987, celebrating their 30th anniversary. I’ll do the same in 2018 with the albums that came out this year! Hope you enjoy the memories!
SIXTEEN: TRACY CHAPMAN – (self-titled) (April 5)
The debut album form Tracy Chapman topped the chart on Billboard’s Top 200 and the first single, “Fast Car”, peaked at #6 on Billboard’s Hot 100. MTV was airing it on heavy rotation and eventually the single received two Grammy nominations for Record of the Year and Song of the Year, as well as a Video Music Award nomination for Best Female Video in 1989.
Two more singles were released from ‘Tracy Chapman’, “Talkin’ ‘Bout A Revolution” and “Baby Can I Hold You”. “…Revolution” peaked at #75 on the Hot 100, but charted much higher in other countries as well as other Billboard charts like Adult Contemporary (#45), Alternative Songs (#24) and Mainstream Rock (#22).
SEVENTEEN: : IRON MAIDEN – Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (April 11)
This is Maiden’s seventh studio album (aptly titled) and is named for the mystical figure that was said to have super-natural powers like second sight, controlling forces and animals, etc. Bassist Steve Harris came up with the title as he was searching for a title for the seventh album. It became a concept album based on the book by Orson Scott Card. The writing of the album took longer than usual as they had to set up a timeline to follow and an outline so Harris and Bruce Dickinson could follow up in the process and not write over one another. “The Clairvoyant”, “Can I Play With Madness” and “The Evil That Men Do” are the killer tracks, in my opinion. And the cover is still one of my all-time favorites!
EIGHTEEN: NEIL YOUNG & THE BLUE NOTES – This Note’s For You (April 11)
This is very much an unknown album from a legendary artist. Neil Young has never been afraid of releasing something he wants to say or have his fans hear. No stranger to protest songs, this album is very much comment on society and the lack of originality and forced consumerism. ‘This Note’s For You’ is a turn of phrase of Budweiser’s “This Bud’s for you!” tag line. Young was pointing out the commercialism of tours (This tour sponsored by Samsonite.) and the artist’s ability to “sell out” rather than perform for the fans and their artistic credibility.
The video for “This Note’s For You” was pretty controversial. It had scenes of a Michael Jackson impersonator and his hair on fire and parodies of commercials where Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson look-a-likes were show. MTV originally banned the video after the threat of being sued by Jackson’s lawyers, but Much Music (a Canadian music television channel) had it in heavy rotation, so MTV eventually added the video to its playlist. So much, in fact, they gave it a MTV Video Music Award for Best Video of the Year for 1989, and was even nominated for a Grammy for “Best Concept Video”. It lost to Weird Al Yankovic’s video parody of Michael Jackson’s “Bad”, called “Fat”.
NINETEEN: WEIRD AL YANKOVIC – Even Worse (April 12)
The reigning king of song and video parodies, Weird Al took on Michael Jackson again with an album and cover feigning Jackson’s ‘Bad’ release, calling the album, ‘Even Worse’. The cover was Weird Al dressed in identical garb and posing exactly like Jackson on the cover of ‘Bad’. Following me here? Song parodies of Billy Idol, Michael Jackson, George Harrison, Tiffany and Los Lobos, other original song were written and performed in the stylization of famous artists such as James Taylor, Beastie Boys and others. ‘Even Worse’ peaked at #27 on Billboard’s Top 200 album chart, making it Al’s best-selling album.
TWENTY: CHEAP TRICK – Lap Of Luxury (April 12)
After a few “dud” albums, Midwestern rockers, Cheap Trick released ‘Lap Of Luxury’ on the back of the hot single “The Flame”. Written by a couple of Brits, the song was offered to a British singer, but turned down. Epic Records told Cheap Trick to record this song and at first, they declined. Epic said that this was a number one hit and they needed a hit for the new album. Epic was right and “The Flame” topped the US Billboard chart. A cover of Elvis’ “Don’t Be Cruel” was the second single and that also went Top 10, with a lot of help from MTV on both accounts.
I met Cheap Trick that summer when they played the Mississippi Valley Fair in Davenport. A friends of my dad’s managed bass player Tom Petersson before he rejoined the band during the recording of ‘Lap Of Luxury’. He contacted Tom and got backstage passes for me and my girlfriend at the time. They were all very nice, by Tom and drummer, Bun E. Carlos headed back to the hotel right after getting off stage, while Rick Neilson and Robin Zander hung around for pics and autographs.