Saturday, July 23, 1988

Public Enemy Charts with It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back: July 23, 1988

Originally posted 7/23/11. Updated 7/23/13.

Release date: 14 April 1988
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) 1. Countdown to Armageddon 2. Bring the Noise (2/6/88, #32 UK, #56 RB) 3. Don’t Believe the Hype (7/16/88, #18 UK, #18 RB) 4. Cold Lampin’ with Flavor 5. Terminator X to the Edge of the Panic 6. Mind Terrorist 7. Louder Than a Bomb 8. Caught, Can We Get a Witness? 9. Show ‘Em Whatcha Got 10. She Watch Channel Zero?! 11. Night of the Living Baseheads (11/12/88, #63 UK, #62 RB) 12. Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos (4/22/89, #86 RB) 13. Security of the First World 14. Rebel without a Pause (11/21/87, #37 UK) 15. Prophets of Rage 16. Party for Your Right to Fight

Sales (in millions): 1.72 US, 0.06 UK, 1.78 world (includes US and UK)

Peak: 42 US, 8 UK


Review: It only reached #42 on the Billboard 200 album chart and its one million in album sales pales compared to multi-million-selling rap blockbusters from Eminem, MC Hammer, Will Smith, the Beastie Boys, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, the Notorious B.I.G., 2pac, 50 Cent, and Nelly. However, Nation is one of only three rap albums in the top 100 albums of all time according to Dave’s Music Database. The DMDB rated it album of the year and, perhaps most significantly, it tops the DMDB list of the best rap albums of all time.

All Music Guide’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine called it “a record that rewrote the rules of what hip-hop could do.” AMG The group has said they “set out to make what they considered to be the hip hop equivalent to Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, an album noted for its strong social commentary.” WK

The message, delivered via Chuck D’s strong writing, “scared the hell out of America’s white parents with lyrics that praised Louis Farrakhan and a delivery that made retributive black violence seem inevitable, rational and – egad! – cool.” TL As Los Angeles Times critic Robert Hilburn said, Chuck D “isn’t afraid of being labeled an extremist, and it’s that fearless bite – or game plan – that helps infuse his black-consciousness raps with the anger and assult of punk pioneers like the Sex Pistols and Clash.” WK

The production team known as The Bomb Squad developed “a dense and chaotic production style that relied on found sounds and avant-garde noise as much as it did on old-school funk.” WK Bomb Squad member Hank Shocklee has said, “Chuck’s a powerful rapper. We wanted to make something that could sonically stand up to him.” WK

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Def Leppard finally hit #1 with Hysteria: July 23, 1988

Originally posted July 23, 2012.

image from

Def Leppard broke through with 1983’s Pyromania, an album which “introduced a new form of highly polished, melodic heavy rock.” TB It was so successful many assumed the band couldn’t reach those heights again. They began work on a follow-up in late ’84, TB but were derailed on New Year’s Eve when drummer Rick Allen lost his arm in a car accident. They “stuck by their old mate,” RS going on hiatus for most of 1985 TB and waiting for him to learn to play drums with a customized drum set built which allowed him to trigger fills with his feet. PR


To further complicate things, the band initially tapped “Mutt” Lange as the producer. He dropped out and they turned to Jim Steinman of Meat Loaf fame. However, was more interested in a raw rock record while the band wanted a more pristine sound. The band then tried unsuccessfully to self-produce the album WK before Lange returned. Sessions were delayed again when he suffered injuries from a car accident and then once more when singer Joe Elliott was hit with the mumps in 1986. WK

Pour Some Sugar on Me

Lange’s goal was to make “a hard rock version of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, in that every track was a potential hit single.” WK Like Pyromania, the members of the band were brought in separately to record. WK “The multiple vocal harmonies were enhanced by Lange’s techniques…[and] guitar parts were now focused more on emphasising melody than hard rock’s more basic and cliched riffs.” WK While the album had “production value bleeding from its pores” ZG its “unavoidably addictive hits” ZG made it “arguably the best pop-metal ever recorded.” AZ Few “pop-metal bands…could compete with Leppard’s sense of craft; certainly none had the pop songwriting savvy to produce seven chart singles from the same album.” AMG Its blockbuster success helped pave the way for a whole new second wave of hair metal bands, while proving that the late-‘80s musical climate could also be very friendly to veteran hard rock acts, a lead many would follow in the next few years.” AMG

Love Bites

The album ultimately sold over 12 million copies in the U.S. and more than 20 million worldwide. However, the album was a slow burner, not hitting #1 on the Billboard 200 until the album was nearly a year old and on its fourth single. The first U.S. single, Women peaked at a lowly #80. Animal, the first single in the U.K. and second in the U.S, brought the group to the top ten and top twenty respectively. Follow-up singles in the U.S. were even bigger. The title cut, Hysteria, got the band in the top ten for the first time stateside; the “playfully silly anthem Pour Some Sugar on MeAMG took the band all the way to #2. With the album showing no signs of letting up, the band released its fifth, and biggest, U.S. single – the #1 Love Bites, “one of the few pop-metal ballads that doesn’t sound saccharine.” AZ Next up, “Armageddon It” gave the band another top 5 and then the “British glam rock tribute RocketAMG landed the group in the top 20 once more.


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Saturday, June 11, 1988

Guns N’ Roses charted with “Sweet Child O’ Mine”: June 11, 1988

Originally posted June 11, 2012.

image from

This content is taken from the The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era, 1954-1999, available at as a standard book or ebook!

In the late ‘80s, the music world hailed the return of raunchy rock with the rise of Guns N’ Roses. Ironically, though, it wasn’t a down and dirty account of drugs or depravity that launched the band, but a sentimental love song written for the daughter of musical icon Don Everly.

GNR frontman Axl Rose was dating Erin Everly when he penned what he called, “the first positive love song I’ve ever written.” BR1 Axl’s screech may not seem a natural fit for a romantic ballad, but it is “as eloquent – if not as ’poetic’ – as anything Joni Mitchell ever wrote” MA and “conveys an aching passion in a way that a smooth, polished performance simply couldn’t.” AMG

Sweet Child O’ Mine

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to back it up with “one of the most memorable guitar intros in the history of rock & roll.” AMG Slash, the band’s guitarist, came up with the riff when he was just fiddling around. He dismissed it as silly SF and the band wasn’t impressed either. RS500 Bassist Duff McKagan said, “It was written in five minutes...It was kinda like a joke because we thought, ...It’s gonna be nothin’, it’ll be filler on the record.’” WK

However, when Rose heard Slash and Izzy Stradlin, the band’s other guitarist, working on the tune, a poem popped into his head which he’d shelved when it hit a dead end. BR1 The song proved to be much more than filler.

A third verse was cut from when producer Mike Clink voiced concern over the song’s running time. At his suggestion, though, the band did add the final “Where do we go? Where do we go now?” breakdown. The lines came about when Axl pondered the question aloud of exactly how they would end the song. WK


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Thursday, January 28, 1988

Phantom of the Opera opened on Broadway: January 26, 1988

Originally posted January 26, 2012.

Not only can Phantom of the Opera boast winning the Olivier and Tony awards for best musical, but it is one of the longest-running musicals in history. As of 2011, it has played to more than 130 million people in 145 cities across 27 countries and has grossed more than $5.1 billion worldwide, making it “the highest-grossing entertainment event of all time and the most financially successful theatrical show in history.” WK

The story, which was based on “a 1911 gothic mystery novel by French novelist Gaston Leroux,” WK “focuses on a beautiful soprano, Christine DaaĆ©, who becomes the obsession of a mysterious, disfigured musical genius known as ‘The Phantom of the Opera’, who terrorizes the Paris Opera House.” WK For the musical version, Andrew Lloyd Webber composed the music while Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe wrote the lyrics.

In London, the musical opened on September 27, 1986. It celebrated its 9,000th performance at Her Majesty’s Theatre on May 31, 2008. That made it “the second-longest-running West End musical of all time, behind Les Miserables.” WK October 2011 marked the musical’s 25th anniversary in London. A year before, Phantom celebrated its 25th anniversary.

In New York, the show debuted at the Majestic Theater on January 26, 1988. The original London stars, Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman, helmed the Broadway production as well. On January 9, 2006, Phantom became “the longest-running Broadway musical of all time, breaking the record held by Lloyd Webber’s Cats…with its 7,486th performance.” WK With a gross of more than $800 million, it is “the most financially successful Broadway show in history.” WK February 11, 2012, marks the musical’s 10,000th performance, the first Broadway musical in history to accomplish such a feat. WK


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