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

Year In Review: 1986

Another weak year overall. With rock radio still dominated by corporate sludge, increasingly the only interesting rock and roll was coming from college radio bands like REM, XTC, Robyn Hitchcock and Sonic Youth. On the other side of the rock underground, Metallica kicked heavy metal in the rut with their finest album ever. In soul and funk, though, there were some breakthroughs: Former Prince employees Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis took technofunk mainstream with a top-selling album produced for Janet Jackson. (Prince himself released another inconsistent album with flashes of brilliance.) And go go band EU prepared for their own coming stardom with a jovial, energetic live record.

In a welcome return to form, 60s pop-rock poet Paul Simon returned from a decade of irrelevance, stunning critics and delighting fans with the South Africa-influenced Graceland.

The low points were many: 70s leading lights Elton John and George Clinton both put out albums among their worst ever, while 60s stalwarts Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves and Eric Clapton appeared to be completely burned out. Cars frontman Ric Ocasek came out with an amazingly bland, uninteresting effort. Plus, three members of the Jefferson Airplane had an ill-advised reunion, and James Brown's commercial comeback was a shadow of his earlier glories.

The jazz album of the year was Stanley Jordan's Standards; the year's best Latin music album was Causas Y Azares by Silvio Rodríguez. (DBW)

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