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

Year In Review: 1988

In 1988 a bunch of good things happened at once: Public Enemy perfected its blend of political raps with noisy musical collage to produce their masterpiece, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. Sonic Youth could no longer be ignored, as they put across their edgy rock on the marvelous double album Daydream Nation. Folk singer Tracy Chapman showed you could sell intelligent lyrics with an honest no-frills presentation. Living Colour showed rock radio that Jimi Hendrix was not the last black rock and roller. Prince released the fruits of a spiritual rebirth, finishing a remarkable string of top-flight albums.

Despite Sonic Youth's success, most college radio acts seemed to be fading. 60s holdovers either remained quiet, or put out enagaging low-key albums: Rod Argent released a pleasantly mellow disc, while Keith Richards got back to basic, funky rock and roll. Frank Zappa showed a new sense of purpose, though: his live album Broadway The Hard Way was his most intense (and most political) release in years.

On the lamer side, Police guitarist Andy Summers released a directionless, tuneless New Age mess; Salt-N-Pepa's sophomore release was rushed and silly; Tori Amos's rock band Y Kant Tori Read was justly ignored. The year also saw an abysmal synth embarrassment from Leonard Cohen and desperately unoriginal comeback efforts from R&B vets Rick James, René Moore and Evelyn "Champagne" King.

Los Van Van's re-recording of their greatest hits, Songo, was the best of a strong year in Latin music. (DBW)

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