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article by: Michael Canter

25 May 2012

Friday Flashback 1986

FRIDAY FLASHBACK: Every Friday we set the Hot Tub Time Machine to one year in rock history and give you the best (and worst) music from that year, all day long beginning at 1:00 AM EST and running for 24 hours on Jivewired Radio powered by Live365.

This week: 1986
Next week: 1946-1960

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Album Art From 1986, Click Cover To Download

1986 Album I Wish I Owned: The Queen Is Dead by The Smiths
1986 Album I'd Give Back If I Could: True Stories by The Talking Heads
1986 Nominee For Worst Album Cover Ever: Eat 'Em and Smile by David Lee Roth
1986 Most Underrated Song: Ain't So Easy by David & David
1986 Most Overrated Song: Livin' On A Prayer by Bon Jovi
1986 Most Memorable Song: Walk Like An Egyptian by The Bangles
1986 Most Significant Song: (You've Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) by The Beastie Boys
1986 Most Forgotten Song: That's Life by David Lee Roth
1986 Fan's Choice For Most Popular Song: Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel
1986 Album Of The Year: So by Peter Gabriel
1986 Most Likely To Start A Party Song: Word Up by Cameo
1986 Please Don't Play Anymore Song: That's What Friends Are For by Elton John, Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight & Stevie Wonder
1986 Song That I Like More Than I Actually Should: When I Think Of You by Janet Jackson
1986 Album I Liked More Than I Thought I Would: 5150 by Van Halen
1986 Song That I Tend to Leave on REPEAT: Swallowed By The Cracks by David & David
Guilty Pleasure of 1986: I Wanna Be A Cowboy by Boys Don't Cry
Breakout Artist of 1986: The Beastie Boys, David & David, Bruce Hornsby & The Range
Overplayed In 1986: Phil Collins, Lionel Richie
Not Played Enough In 1986: David & David
Greatest Single Chart Re-Entry from 1986: Boys Don't Cry by The Cure (1979)
Best Cover Song Of 1986: Real Wild Child (Wild One) by Iggy Pop
An unheralded great album from 1986: Boomtown by David & David
An unheralded great single from 1986: All Day Long by New Order
Best Soundtrack of 1986: Pretty In Pink

Jivewired's Top Five Six Songs Of The Year
01. (You've Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) by The Beastie Boys
02. Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel
03. Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order
04. Swallowed By The Cracks by David & David
04. The Way It Is by Bruce Hornsby & The Range
05. You Can Call Me Al by Paul Simon
06. It's A Kind Of Magic by Queen

Jivewired's Top Five Albums Of The Year
01. So by Peter Gabriel
02. License To Ill by The Beastie Boys
03. Life's Rich Pageant by R.E.M.
04. David & David  by David & David
05. The Way It Is by Bruce Hornsby & The Range

On the surface, 1986 should have been a year that featured a more nostalgic approach and appeal to mainstream music. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened in Cleveland in 1986 with initial inductees including Chuck Berry, James Brown, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Elvis Presley. This should have been a time for a resurgence in popularity of the inducted artists, and though some did achieve a new notoriety with a younger audience, it was nothing that could be considered era-defining.  James Brown's Living In America was probably the biggest hit by a legacy artist that year, and that may have been his worst song of all time.

Instead, 1986 was just another year initially and inadvertently dubbed The Second British Invasion, though in this case, it may warrant at least some merit. In June of '86, twenty of the top forty songs in the United States were performed by artists from Britain, even though the New Wave phenomenon had pretty much reached it's peak two years earlier as MTV moved toward a more mainstream format and record label executives finally began to accept its phenomenal appeal. Still, music critics and even industry persons were baffled by the fragmenting state of popular music that year. 

Popular music seemed to lack cohesion and direction in 1986. For the second straight year we were trapped in the worldwide explosion of visual audio, and it seemed almost as if songs were built around story-boarded concepts. MTV was certainly responsible for leading the record labels into a lemming-like parade of extravagant video production, with commercialized fluff replacing true, innovative music. With the demise of the New Wave era, we were at a crossroads of uninspiring musical stagnation that offered no new movement to coincide with the video overkill.

Welcome to the era of 4m 45s movies.  Though maybe that's not entirely true.  The music video was not a mini-movie as much as it was an elongated commercial.  Artists sold albums based on the strength of the video rather than the strength of the song or artist. That video was the hook, the drop, the advertisement for said artist's new CD release.   This period of music may also be remembered as the new age for the one hit wonder.  The music industry has always been about the single rather than the album.  45 RPM records at rock and roll's birth, and the digital files with which we listen to music today are all about promoting the single.  In the mid 1980s it was the video.

Not all songs were built around a conceptualized video, however. One of the more successful videos of 1986 had no Academy Award aspirations in the short-film category, no plot whatsoever, and had nothing to do with the lyrical content of the song. It did, however, feature Chevy Chase and resulted in a new mainstream appeal for veteran singer-songwriter Paul Simon.

Paul Simon mixed African beats with his signature singer-songwriter sound and launched a surprisingly great album with Graceland.  The diversified take on pop music was an instant hit and signaled a career resurgence of sorts for Simon.

In hindsight, it's obvious 1986 did indeed represent the dawn of diversification, an era in which artists were freed from the constraints of specified genres. The resulting dissimilarities in popular music presented the listener with a virtual buffet of trends and sounds, from the heart rendering soul of artists like Simply Red, Bryan Ferry and Thomas Dolby and radio-friendly harmonies offered by The Bangles to the alt-pop sound of the Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, New Order and The Cure. It was an eclectic mix to say the least, but the key was heterogeneity and 1986 represented the birth of many musical sub-genres.

In 1986, heavy metal was in a state of musical sobriety to say the least, with the old guard represented by less than inspirational releases from Meat Loaf, Motorhead and a reunited Deep Purple. The metal scene softened a little and was replaced by the emergence of commercial-friendly hard rock, a movement led by the wildly popular release Slippery When Wet by Bon Jovi and Metallica's Master Of Puppets. The emergence of Bon Jovi and Metallica and bands like Whitesnake and Motley Crue prepared the mainstream for the slightly more emotional follow-up -- metal balladry, with its performers affectionately dubbed as emo-metal and led by a slew of media-mainstream engendered hair bands.

Popular music also witnessed a growing affection with female singers: in March, thirteen of the top forty albums featured female singers, a new record. In October, we witnessed, for the first time, performances by female artists (Tina Turner, Janet Jackson and Cyndi Lauper) that sat in the top three positions on the Billboard Hot 100. In November, female artists held the top five spots.

The king of popular music in 1986 was most certainly Peter Gabriel. Gabriel achieved his greatest popularity with songs from his 1986 release So, which charted no less than six singles (see playlist below). The song Sledgehammer was a #1 hit in the U.S., ironically knocking Gabriel's former band, Genesis and their hit single Invisible Touch from the top spot. In fact, the song Sledgehammer was accompanied by a much-lauded music video which won numerous MTV Music Video Awards and set a new standard for art in the music video industry. It is still regarded historically as the vanguard video by MTV.

Finally, 1986 saw the explosion, crossover and acceptance of rap music on mainstream radio, thanks to The Beastie Boys and Run-D.M.C

Returning to the studio in 1986, Run-D.M.C. teamed with producer Rick Rubin for their third album. Rubin wanted to change their sound to give rap music a more mainstream feel. The band also wanted to put a single on the Billboard Hot 100. The resulting Raising Hell became the group's most successful album and one of the best-selling rap albums of all-time. The album was certified double-platinum and peaked at number three on the mainstream charts, an unlikely event deemed virtually impossible by the industry to that point.

License To Ill by The Beastie Boys, also produced by Rick Rubin, was an even bigger success, becoming the first hop hop album to crossover and land the number one spot on Billboard's Hot 100.

Slant Magazine published a retrospective of the album after Adam Yauch's death on May 4, 2012, saying, "Rife with layer upon layer of sampling, start-stop transitions, and aggressive beats, it helped transform the genre from a direct dialogue between MC and DJ into a piercing, multi-threaded narrative" and "helped set an exciting template for the future".

By now it was obvious that MTV had a lot to do with the much-improved bottom line in music and advertising. 1986 saw a continuation of that trend; the use of video and of course, music itself, in advertising. Target marketing techniques using popular music were featured in commercials for everything from automobiles to beer and blue jeans. Commercials for Michelob, featuring music by Eric Clapton and Genesis and targeting the 21-30 year old male demographic were certainly visual audio-driven and very successful. Films like Pretty In Pink, Top Gun and The Breakfast Club did just as well selling soundtracks as they did at the box office thanks to innovative use of the music video, combining soundtrack music with memorable scenes from each movie to create appealing videos.

Results directly attributed to MTV spurred a 139% increase in the sale of CDs in 1986, though the caveat was a 22% decrease in the sale of music singles due to the discontinuation of the 45rpm vinyl and cassette singles. There was a half-hearted and ill-fated attempt at creating CD singles in 1986 that was scratched shortly thereafter due to incredible lack of appeal and poor sales..

Gone Too Soon:
  • Phil Lynott (January 4)
  • Richard Manuel (March 4)
  • Howard Greenfield (March 4)
  • Mark Dining (March 22)
  • O'Kelly Isley (March 31)
  • Benny Goodman (June 13)
  • Cliff Burton (September 27)
  • Kate Wolf (December 10)

Where's David?

On March 27, 1986, Van Halen kicked off their 5150 tour, their first without ego-centric former frontman David Lee Roth.  Roth had left the band a year earlier, with both Van Halen and Roth citing creative differences.  Roth was replaced by Sammy Hagar.

In his 1998 autobiography, Crazy From the Heat, Roth characterized Van Halen's music just before his 1985 departure as morose. Roth wished to record an album quickly, tour, and then shoot a movie, (for which he hoped Van Halen would record the soundtrack. The film, entitled Crazy From The Heat, was budgeted at $20 million by CBS Records however, the project folded after the consolidation of CBS Studios.)

In early 1985, while still a member of Van Halen, Roth had released Crazy From the Heat, a popular solo EP of reconstructed standards. Singles for California Girls and Just A Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody succeeded largely due to their innovative music videos (produced by Jerry Kramer and co-produced by Glenn Goodwin and Bobby Diebold), which featured ridiculous characters created by Roth and his Creative Chief Director, Pete Angelus, who'd previously directed Van Halen's Roth-era videos.

Essentially the Crazy For The Heat project was more about feeding Roth's ego than championing the Van Halen brand.

So Van Halen simply said see ya later.


There's David!

David Lee Roth was becoming  a human caricature of himself, a glorified lounge singer with a slightly heavy metal background.  In 1986, Roth released Eat 'Em And Smile, his first full-length album as a solo performer.  The album was a straightforward hard rock album and was a critical and commercial success.  Rolling Stone Magazine, among others, stated that album was more trashy fun from Roth and that Eat 'Em And Smile wasn't quite as slick as anything on Van Halen's 5150.

In a nod to his previous solo effort, there are two lounge songs included,the re-worked Frank Sinatra standard That's Life as well as a cover of I'm Easy.  Roth also included a cover of the popular hit Tobacco Road.

Eat 'Em And Smile peaked at number 4 on the Billboard 200 charts for one week in 1986 and did not generate enough album sales to earn platinum status.  5150 meanwhile peaked at number one and was certified 6x platinum (six million in sales).

Advantage: Van Halen

Who Were Those Other Guys Named David?

In 1986, studio musicians David Baerwald and David Ricketts collaborated on the release of their debut Boomtown, calling themselves simply David & David.  The album was a surprise hit, with their debut single Welcome To The Boomtown peaking at number 8 on the Billboard Rock Charts.  The album peaked at number 39 on the Billboard 200, and a follow up single, Swallowed By The Cracks made it to number 14.  A third single, Ain't So Easy peaked at number 17.

David & David disbanded shortly after Boomtown and Baerwald and Ricketts continued to do studio work with other musicians. They both collaborated with Sheryl Crow for her debut Tuesday Night Music Club in 1993.

Go Forth, For You Are The Future Of Rock & Roll....

The following bands were all formed in 1986:  Big Head Todd & The Monsters, Buffalo Tom, Cowboy Junkies, Cypress Hill, Goo Goo Dolls, The Lemonheads, Manic Street Preachers, No Doubt, The Offspring, The Pixies, Toad The Wet Sprocket, Urge Overkill, The Vaselines, Widespread Panic and World Party.  On the flip side, 1986 also gave us Jesus Jones, Johnny Hates Jazz, Roxette, Timbuk 3 and T'Pau.

Playlist Adds For Friday Flashback 1986 (by release date):

****Release dates are to the best of my knowledge and in most cases represent the release date of the album from which the single derived. In cases of singles and/or B-Side releases only, we use the official single release date for the A-Side.****

October 1985 (and earlier):
001. Boys Don't Cry by The Cure (1979)
002. Take Me Home by Phil Collins
003. Minutes To Memories by John Mellencamp
004. Lonely Ol' Night by John Mellencamp
005. R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A. by John Mellencamp
006. Rain On The Scarecrow by John Mellencamp
007. Close To Me by The Cure
008. Bad Boy by Miami Sound Machine
009. Overjoyed by Stevie Wonder
010. No Lookin' Back by Michael McDonald
011. Sweet Freedom by Michael McDonald
012. E=MC2 by Big Audio Dynamite
013. What You Need? by INXS
014. Kiss Me On The Bus by The Replacements
015. Swingin' Party by The Replacements
016. Left Of The Dial by The Replacements
017. Once Upon A Time by Simple Minds
018. Alive & Kicking by Simple Minds
019. Sanctify Yourself by Simple Minds
020. Something About You by Level 42

November 1985:
021. Tonight She Comes by The Cars
022. Holding Back The Years by Simply Red
023. Is It A Crime? by Sade
024. Sweetest Taboo by Sade
025. Talk To Me by Stevie Nicks
026. Kyrie by Mr. Mister
027. Broken Wings by Mr. Mister

December 1985:
028. Beat's So Lonely by Charlie Sexton

January 1986:
029. Living In America by James Brown
030. We Said Hello Goodbye by Phil Collins
031. These Dreams by Heart
032. All I Need Is A Miracle by Mike & The Mechanics

February 1986:
033. What Have You Done For Me Lately? by Janet Jackson
034. When I Think Of You by Janet Jackson
035. Shelter Me by Joe Cocker
036. You Can leave Your Hat On by Joe Cocker
037. Heartbreak Beat by The Psychedelic Furs
038. Moon Over Bourbon Street by Sting
039. If You Leave by O.M.D.
040. Left Of Center by Suzanne Vega

March 1986:
041. Walk Like An Egyptian by The Bangles
042. Stripped by Depeche Mode
043. No One Is To Blame by Howard Jones
044. Harlem Shuffle by The Rolling Stones
045. Why Can't This Be Love? by Van Halen
046. Dreams by Van Halen
047. Love Walks In by Van Halen
048. I Wanna Be A Cowboy by Boys Don't Cry

April 1986:
049. Welcome To The Boomtown by David & David
050. Swallowed By The Cracks by David & David
051. Ain't So Easy by David & David

May 1986:
052. Who Needs Love (Like That) by Erasure
053. I Can't Wait by Nu Shooz
054. Blood & Roses by The Smithereens
055. Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel
056. Don't Give Up by Peter Gabriel (with Kate Bush)
057. That Voice Again by Peter Gabriel
058. In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel
059. Mercy Street by Peter Gabriel
060. Big Time by Peter Gabriel
061. No One In The World by Anita Baker
062. Same Ole Love (365 Days A Year) by Anita Baker
063. Girl Can't Help It by Journey
064. I'll Be Alright Without You by Journey

June 1986:
065. A Kind Of Magic by Queen
066. Tonight Tonight Tonight by Genesis
067. Throwing It All Away by Genesis
068. Oh Yeah by Yello
069. Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone) by Glass Tiger
070. Take My Breath Away by Berlin
071. World Where You Live by Crowded House
072. Don't Dream It's Over by Crowded House
073. Something So Strong by Crowded House
074. That's What I Call Love by Crowded House
075. Arizona Sky by China Crisis
076. Higher Love by Steve Winwood
077. Papa Don't Preach by Madonna
078. Open Your Heart by Madonna

July 1986:
079. Word Up by Cameo
080. Living Inside My Heart by Bob Seger
081. Venus by Bananarama
082. Tobacco Road by David Lee Roth
083. A Matter Of Trust by Billy Joel
084. It's Tricky by Run-D.M.C.
085. Rat In Mi Kitchen by UB40
086. Begin The Begin by R.E.M.
087. Fall On Me by R.E.M.
088. Cuyahoga by R.E.M.
089. What If We Give It Away? by R.E.M.

August 1986:
090. The Boy In The Bubble by Paul Simon
091. Graceland by Paul Simon
092. Diamonds On The Souls Of Her Shoes by Paul Simon
093. You Can Call Me Al by Paul Simon
094. Livin' On A Prayer by Bon Jovi
095. Wanted Dead Or Alive by Bon Jovi
096. You Give Love A Bad Name by Bon Jovi
097. Never Say Goodbye by Bon Jovi
098. Guitars, Cadillacs by Dwight Yoakam

September 1986:
099. Love's Easy Tears by Cocteau Twins
100. On The Western Skyline by Bruce Hornsby & The Range
101. Every Little Kiss by Bruce Hornsby & The Range
102. Mandolin Rain by Bruce Hornsby & The Range
103. The Way It Is by Bruce Hornsby & The Range
104. Songbird by Kenny G
105. Human by Human League
106. Stop To Love by Luther Vandross
107. Jacob's Ladder by Huey Lewis & The News
108. Amanda by Boston
109. True Colors by Cyndi Lauper
110. Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order
111. All Day Long by New Order

October 1986:
112. Breakout by Swing Out Sister
113. Wild Wild Life by The Talking Heads
114. Keep Your Hands To Yourself by The Georgia Satellites
115. C'Mon Every Beatbox by Big Audio Dynamite
116. Hollywood Boulevard by Big Audio Dynamite
117. Take Me Home Tonight by Eddie Money (with Ronnie Spector)
118. Two Of Hearts by Stacey Q.
119. Always The Sun by The Stranglers'
120. Real Wild Child (Wild One) by Iggy Pop
121. Dear God by XTC

November 1986: 
122. Smoking Gun by Robert Cray
123. Right Next Door (Because Of Me) by Robert Cray
124. The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades by Timbuk 3
125. Thunder Road [Live] by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
126. Jersey Girl [Live] by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
127. Luka by Suzanne Vega
128. No Sleep Til Brooklyn by The Beastie Boys
129. (You've Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) by The Beastie Boys
130. Superstition [Live] by Stevie Ray Vaughan
131. Willie The Wimp [Live] by Stevie Ray Vaughan
132. Notorious by Duran Duran
133. Behind The Mask by Eric Clapton

December 1986:
134. Push It by Salt-N-Pepa
135. This Love Will Last by Chris Issak

Previous In This Series: Friday Flashback 1966

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