Monday, July 9, 2012

Top 10 Music of 1987

You'd be forgiven if you're not familiar with the Top 10 strategies we have in place. In addition to backtracking year-to-year towards Y2K, I have a randomized schedule of 20th century years, cycling through the last 4 decades (give or take). So the last pre-2000 Top 10 list was 1996's - on August 10th, 2010. And the next one should be some '60s or '70s year, etc...

b/w The Model
Hey, I've talked about 1987 before! Not shocking, since it was a great year, especially because I left home & entered college in the middle there. Having lived with many of these records for 25 years, some of them seem like part of my DNA.

#10 Warehouse: Songs and Stories - Hüsker Dü

Warehouse: Songs and Stories
"Could You Be The One" from Warehouse: Songs and Stories (1987)
"Ice Cold Ice" from Warehouse: Songs and Stories (1987)

Genre - Post-Punk Power-Pop
Unofficial database -
Myspace -
Location - Minneapolis, MN

Review - Rolling Stone
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Amazon

The last hurrah for a hardcore/punk/alternative titan. I heard the single on the radio driving to school (101 KLOL). I saw & met them on this tour, at the Maceba (April 16, 1987: venue/flyer). They were my favorite band leading up to this time (January 5th, 1987). My tastes would change once I left home, but still...

The truth: too many songs, somehow thin & muddy production. It was more pop, they'd lost some edge, but it was still a new album from my top band. And it's got quite a lot of pretty decent stuff, despite the band unraveling at the seams. Here's a whole band discography round-up for the legendary history.

A quick note: pretty close to a 3-way tie (for Last!)... Some of the other major label product from 1987 that I've also enjoyed at times were the Grateful Dead's In the Dark and George Harrison's Cloud Nine. Hitsville!

#9 Berserker EP - Scratch Acid

Entire EP as YouTube playlist
"Flying Houses" from Berserker (1987)

Genre - Weird Noise-Punk
Official/Myspace -
Location - Austin, TX

Review - Mark Prindle
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Touch and Go Records

It just goes by so fast. I never got as entirely deep into this EP as the 2 previous albums, but it does finish the set. And Rey Washam! Whatta drummer extraordinaire. Production is again kinda muffled, but high fidelity was never their bag.

Reunited Scratch Acid put on the #2 Live Show of 2011. 'twas sweet!

#8 Weed Forestin' - Sebadoh (self-released cassette)

Weed Forestin'
"My Own Religion / Ride the Darker Wave" from Weed Forestin' (1987)
"Brand New Day" from Weed Forestin' (1987)

Genre - lo-fi
Official -
Myspace -
Location - Westfield, MA

Review - Prefix Mag
Download - others on Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Amazon

The first hurrah... for the soon-to-be-ex-bassist of Dinosaur Jr. And possibly of "lo-fi" as a genre (speaking of fidelity). Whole bunch of pretty amazing home-taped mess. 23 songs that set the mold for early Sebadoh – acoustic guitar, some noise, a ton of pop moves buried deep in the muck. Finishes up with the one-two knock-out of the original versions of "It's So Hard to Fall in Love" and "Brand New Love." Whoa.

Can still by the vinyl edition of the Sentridoh cassette 2012 re-issue.

Also: loobiecore.

#7 Appetite for Destruction - Guns n' Roses

Appetite for Destruction
Full album on YouTube
"It's So Easy" from Appetite for Destruction (1987)

Genre - Hard Rock
Official -
Myspace -
Location - L.A., CA

Review - Sputnik Music
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Amazon

You might have heard of this album. It's really good! Keeping some of the late-'80s L.A. glam, hardening up the rock, out-sleazing Mötley Crüe, bringing a basic understanding of punk-rock influence, and actually writing a bunch of kick-ass songs. Even a rare vinyl-only hidden bonus track, "Sweet Child O' Mine." Super-limited edition, don't sleep on this one!!

In addition... the original Robt. Wms. cover. Censored!

#6 Breaking No New Ground! EP - Bongwater

Breaking No New Ground!
"U.S.O." from Breaking No New Ground! (1987)
"4 Sticks" [live on tv] from Breaking No New Ground! (1987)

Genre - Druggy Independent Psychedelic Pop Music & Cover Tunes
Kramer official -
Location - N.Y.C., NY

Review - Trouser Press
Download - others on Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Box of Bongwater

The Beatles... Led Zeppelin... The Moody Blues? Sure, why not?! It's ½ covers, ½ originals when they were better at doing the covers. In my opinion, early Bongwater represented some of the most starkly original super-derivative music ever.

#5 The Perfect Prescription - Spacemen 3

The Perfect Prescription
Full album on YouTube
"Ecstasy Symphony" [longform video] from The Perfect Prescription (1987)

Genre - Gospel-Drones
Official/Myspace -
Location - Rugby, England

Review - Drowned in Sound
Purchase - Amazon / Fire Records

If you like that wipe-out drone-rock, get in on this action. Obviously a lot of guitars, but also some gospelly organ waves, not so much drums (them not being a very drone-y instrument). Plus a big single that was a Red Krayola cover. I'd like to know exactly when/if Lou Reed first learned about/heard "Ode to Street Hassle" and what his reaction was. All of it. I like to think I don't overuse the word, but this record is COOL, man.

I've never had the "Transparent Radiation" EP (1987), but it includes the Sun Ra-via-MC5 cover "Starship." And the pre-release single for "Walking with Jesus" (1986) had a B-side cover of "Rollercoaster" by the 13th Floor Elevators!!

#4 Songs About Fucking + "He's A Whore" single - Big Black

Songs About Fucking
Full album on YouTube
"Bad Penny" from Songs About Fucking (1987)

Genre - Industrialized Post-Punk
Wikipedia -
Location - Chicago, IL

Review - Treble Zine
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Touch and Go Records

Loud piercing guitars, pummeling bass, battering drum machine, some cool-jerk spazzing out on the mic. Way to release your grand statement shortly after announcing the break-up! Poke a finger in some eyes. I do lay responsibility with Big Black (Steve Albini) for the relentless '90s wave of topical serial killer & small-town cruelty themes in music. Also the entirety of post-wimpy Ministry’s sound. "He's A Whore" added to later editions of the full-length – awesome 7" sleeve!!

Never heard the Headache EP (also 1987), just remember the poster.

#3 Oh My Gawd!!! ... - The Flaming Lips

Oh My Gawd!!!... The Flaming Lips
"Can't Stop the Spring" from Oh My Gawd!!! (1987)
"Everything's Explodin'" from Oh My Gawd!!! (1987)

Genre - Rock 'n' Roll
Official -
Myspace -
Location - Oklahoma City, OK

Review - People Magazine
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Amazon

Purchased the next day after seeing them in early '88, from Record Exchange, excellent gatefold cover, clear vinyl, and the kinda music I was all-in for. Spindle label calls it "Prescription: Overkill" - intentional?? Also, the album title is punctuated there as Oh My Gawd, The Flaming Lips.

Once you dig the hits, the top-notch keepers are "One Million Billionth of a Millisecond on a Sunday Morning" (memories!) and "Love Yer Brain" (the message), which proved for certain... something (was going on).

"Ode to C.C. (Part 1)" includes a backwards-masked "Talk Dirty to Me" sample. C.C. [DeVille] is the guitarist for Poison. Look What the Cat Dragged In was also released in 1987. "Can't Exist" and "Thanks to You" were written & sung by drummer Richard English. I always thought it was intentional that the Led Zeppelin song "Thank You" contains the lyrics "Thanks to You" (but not the title phrase), and the Flaming Lips song reverses these.

Don't (ever) forget the big-time discography post!

Oh My Gawd!!!...

#2 Locust Abortion Technician, etc. - Butthole Surfers

Locust Abo
Locust Abortion Technician (all 33 minutes)
"Flame Grape" from A Texas Trip (1987)
"Boiled Dove" from Smack My Crack (1987)

Genre - Multi-Concept Album Psychedelia
Official -
Myspace -
Location - Austin, TX

Review - Head Heritage
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Amazon

Some people put a little too much stock in Locust, as if it was some unprecedented watershed for them Butthole Surfers. Everything since Psychic... Powerless... Another Man’s Sac (1984) had been really good, and they still released a few great albums afterwards. But it’s undoubtedly terrific, if almost short enough to be an EP. Including two versions of "Graveyard," and re-used & manipulated elements for "Hay" and "22 Going on 23" (backwards-maskedness), a chopped version of some South Asian tune, a Black Sabbath pseudo-cover ("DRAG WORMS!"), 2 back-to-back noise rumbles, 30-second guitar ordnance, and also 2 original blues and/or rock songs!! Whooo.

This year included their song from the Smack My Crack comp (which featured Einstürzende Neubauten and Swans), plus two from their own A Texas Trip (along with Daniel Johnston and Stickmen with Rayguns).

A Texas Trip

#1 Sister - Sonic Youth

The Sonick Youth
"Schizophrenia" from Sister (1987)
"Pipeline/Kill Time" from Sister (1987)

Genre - Post-No-Wave Indie-Skronk
Official -
Myspace -
Location - Manhattan, USA

Review - Treble Zine
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - from Sonic Youth

A lot of people would flip the order of my Top Two's from 1987 and from 1988 - but I will defend my decision in separate, upcoming posts. In the meantime, here’s a rare "Sanctity" promo (with audio issues)! Also, more album art controversy cover-ups: à la Richard Avedon & Disney!!