Wilson and Alroy's Record Reviews - We listen to the lousy records so you won't have to.

Year In Review: 1984

1984 was the last noteworthy year before a sudden and severe slide that almost made pop music irrelevant in the mid-80s. The year's best record was Prince's hot-selling Purple Rain, and U2 had a huge success after teaming up with producer Brian Eno. King Crimson's virtuoso 80s lineup continued to make sharp, sophisticated use of electronic gimmicks. College radio fans were cheered by REM's best album to date. Corporate rock continued as if punk had never happened; David Gilmour's About Face was a good example. And Spinal Tap manufactured what might have been the best rock parody album ever recorded - ironically, the "heavy metal" bar band Van Halen reached its commercial peak at the same time with its awful single "Jump."

But apart from that, there was an ominous amount of bad news. Madonna topped the charts with her second album, for whatever that's worth. Singles charts were dominated by MTV-friendly acts like Culture Club, Duran Duran, and Wham!. Chaka Khan recorded her strongest-selling solo album to date, but Bonnie Pointer bombed trying to fabricate danceable synth-pop. k. d. lang debuted, but hadn't yet moved beyond country music. New Wave and punk were near death, and none of the established 60s or 70s rock acts came out with a truly great record. In fact, a lousy compilation of John Lennon out-takes was one of the biggest selling rock dinosaur albums, and living fossils from Ray Charles to Leonard Cohen embarassed themselves with new material. Basically, we were all stuck listening to stuff like Bruce Springsteen's Born In The U.S.A., his biggest-selling album ever... (JA)

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