For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, Bruce Warren is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1986.
For a turbulent year of alarming news stories — from the Challenger to Chernobyl to Mad Cow Disease and the Iran-Contra Affair — the music of 1986 was equally turbulent, and not easily contained in a box.
You had Paul Simon collaborate with Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the Boyoyo Boys to record Graceland, the album that defined the second era of the veteran singer-songwriter’s career, and an eternal best-rock/pop-album-of-all-time contender.
You saw New Order release its fourth LP, Brotherhood, topping charts in its native United Kingdom and getting a warm reception stateside as well, solidifying the Manchester band’s transition from post-punk to electronic dance, particularly on the hit single “Bizarre Love Triangle.”
Run D.M.C. and Beastie Boys brought hip-hop to the mainstream with Raising Hell and Licensed to Ill, respectively, while Janet Jackson re-invented herself as a pop goddess on Control and They Might Be Giants debuted with their self-titled collection cerebral indie rock.
Other albums with hits galore on the mainstream and college rock scenes were Prince’s Parade, Madonna’s True Blue, and R.E.M.’s Life’s Rich Pageant.
Continue reading →