Saturday, March 30, 2013

HAPPY 25th BIRTHDAY 1988!

HAPPY 25th BIRTHDAY
1988! 
______________________

For those of us old
enough to remember 
the glorious pre-
iGadget era of big
hair and big rock,
it seems like just
yesterday. Do you 
remember 1988?
______________________

I was a blond 25-year-old aspiring rocker dude in 1988. I worked in a record store by day and played the Florida club circuit by night. My band, Dead Serios was geared up to take over the world. We were young, loud, obnoxious and going places — or so we thought. I had hardly a care in the world — blasting White LionStryper and Faster Pussycat cassettes on the ol' boom box as I spent my off time soaking up the rays by my apartment complex pool. Life was good. Everybody looked like Lita Ford — even some of the chicks. Man, I loved 1988.

Popular TV programs such as The Cosby ShowFull House and LA Law all remained ratings champs in 1988. For my crew, we lived by Headbangers Ball. And soon-to-be hit shows such as Murphy BrownThe Wonder Years, and Yo! MTV Raps all made their debut in 1988.

This is NOT Lita Ford! It's me circa 1988.  
Now quit laughing. No, really. Stop it!
Movie theaters were also abuzz, with such flicks as BeetlejuiceWho Framed Roger Rabbit and Rain Man all becoming box office winners in 1988.

At the bookstores (Remember those?) in 1988, The Cardinal of the Kremlin by Tom Clancy

In politics, Republican Presidential nominee George H.W. Bush beat out his Democrat challenger, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis in the November general election.


And it was on February 20, 1988 that Robyn Fenty was born in Barbados. 17 years later, in 2005, Fenty would enjoy breakthrough success as a budding pop star under her stage name, Rihanna.

For me, and probably at least a few others, it was the music that made 1988 such an exciting and memorable year. Bon Jovi completed the mission of achieving total global domination with the release of the mammoth, New Jersey record. San Francisco speed kings, Metallica cemented its reputation as a force to be reckoned with —  riding the ...And Justice for All record straight to the Top Ten, while arena rockers, CinderellaPoison and Guns N' Roses all released platinum-selling sophomore sets.

A rock and roll game-changer!
It was a year of rock comebacks with Joan Jett and Cheap Trick both returning to the Top 20. Additionally, bankable acts scored big with the release of such best-sellers as Van Halen's OU812, Robert Plant's Now and Zen and U2's Rattle and Hum.

On the pop side, The Bangles enjoyed two Top Five singles from their million-seller, Everything. Newcomer Paula Adul racked up four #1 singles from her seven x platinum debut, Forever Your Girl. And although it was one of his poorest-selling records of the '80s, Prince's Lovesexy was simply amazing — one of my all-time favorites.

I'm talkin' 'bout DOUG!
But in my world, it wasn't the blockbusters from acknowledged biggies in 1988 that made the greatest impact. It was the "little" records that sold only about 38 copies each that truly thwacked me. Produced by the legendary Todd RundgrenLove Junk from the Canadian combo, The Pursuit of Happiness, is one of  the finest power pop / rock records EVER! All Systems Go, the sophomore album from one-time KISS guitarist Vinnie Vincent and his Invasion exemplifies what arena rock was supposed to be. Why it didn't sell ten million units escapes me still. However, frontman Mark Slaughter and bassist Dana Strum did go on to platinum success in the '90s with their post-Invasion project, Slaughter. And then there's Doug, from the Atlanta, Georgia-based band, The Coolies. I don't even know how to begin describing this epic rock opera masterpiece. If The Who's Tommy told a more compelling story, had better songs, was scaled down to a single album and was about a paranoid, schizophrenic, drug-addicted, homophobe, skinhead with an unquenchable thirst for power and success, instead of a deaf, dumb and blind wannabe religious guru, it could have been Doug — a powerful record indeed — one that probably only nine people on the planet will ever understand. And I'm one of them.

So, here's to ya, 1988 — thanks for the memories. Happy Birthday, and may you enjoy many more. FYI, after 25 years, you still don't look a day older than 1993!

-Christopher Long
(March 2013)

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