But the real excitement was in hip hop: acts as varied as Queen Latifah and Young MC made solid debuts, while Boogie Down Productions took an uncompromising stance against rap crossover. And Philly's DJ Jazzy Jeff And The Fresh Prince outshined them all with a terrific - alternately spectacular and hilarious - party record.
Not much came from Brit rock, but XTC released yet another excellent disc, and popsters Squeeze capped the eighties with a charming, if commercially unsuccessful, release.
The year's biggest disappointment was Prince's lightweight Batman, but in truth there were a lot of awful records. A bunch of 60s rockers had lousy years: Paul McCartney, Pete Townshend, Jackson Browne, and most of Yes.
George Clinton cranked out a boring protege album, Isley cousin Chris Jasper had no ideas on his solo effort, and comedian Eddie Murphy pushed his luck with a second music disc. Three soul divas - Patti LaBelle, Diana Ross, and Aretha Franklin - all fought the technology, and the technology won.
Latin album of the year was Juan Luis Guerra's Ojalá Que Llueva Café. (DBW)