Saleswise U2's The Joshua Tree was a big deal, though really it wasn't a career highpoint; derivative pop-metal from Guns N' Roses also made a huge splash. College acts REM and Midnight Oil continued to build an audience. XTC put out a thoroughly enjoyable 60s tribute under a pseudonym, while Sonic Youth just kept getting better.
Funk and hip hop acts alike took the year off, leaving the charts open for the likes of the Beastie Boys, though Earth Wind & Fire had a welcome return to form. And smooth R&B singer Àngela Winbush had more success than ever after ending her partnership with René Moore.
Prince's profligate productivity resulted in some blunders, including two weak jazz/funk records released under the name of Madhouse. Trouble Funk ran into trouble trading in its distinctive go-go sound for mainstream soul/funk, while 70s funksters Tower Of Power likewise lost their individuality on an overproduced reunion, while June Pointer's solo outing was so mechanically produced it sounds like a practical joke. And 60s rockers had an abysmal year: The Kinks pumped out a lackluster live release; Dave Mason slipped into synth excess; a reconstituted Black Sabbath stumbled badly; Mick Jagger released his second solo album to a solid lack of acclaim, while pal David Bowie's release was among his worst ever. You had to wonder whether those former giants had finally and completely burned out.
Best Latin album: Irakere's Bailando Así. (DBW)