Tag Archives: 1987

9 of the best – sounds of 1987

Another bank holiday and some recent nostalgia about Public Enemy…  it doesn’t take much for me to start curating. These are my favourite sounds of 1987, in no particular order (save a desire to kick off with ‘Bring The Noise’!).

Public Enemy – Bring The Noise

Chris Rea – Josephine (La Version Française)

Phuture – Acid Tracks

Prince – If I Was Your Girlfriend

U2 – Where The Streets Have No Name

Eric B. And Rakim – I Know You Got Soul

Rhythim Is Rhythim – Strings of Life

New Order – True Faith

Fleetwood Mac – Big Love

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Honourable mentions also go to: Ce Ce Rogers for ‘Someday‘; Frankie Knuckles & Jamie Principle for ‘Your Love’; The Cure for ‘Just Like Heaven’; Sugarcubes for ‘Birthday’; R.E.M. ‎for ‘Its The End Of The World As We Know It’; Aztec Camera for ‘Somewhere In My Heart‘; INXS for ‘Need You Tonight‘; Deacon Blue ‎for ‘Dignity‘; Depeche Mode for ‘Behind The Wheel‘ and ‘Never Let Me Down Again’; Stone Roses for ‘Sally Cinnamon‘; Terence Trent D’Arby for ‘Sign Your Name‘; U2 for ‘With Or Without You’; Eric B. And Rakim for ‘Paid In Full‘ and ‘I Ain’t No Joke‘, Public Enemy ‎for ‘Rebel Without A Pause‘; Prince for ‘Sign O’ The Times’; and Pet Shop Boys ‘What Have I Done To Deserve This?‘.

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Aztec Camera – Somewhere In My Heart (1987)

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I wasn’t all Samuel-cool in 1987. To prove the point, let’s switch from Public Enemy to Aztec Camera. I bloody loved this song – and to these ears, ‘Somewhere In My Heart’ still delivers the perfect 1980s pop sound. It features on Love, the band’s third studio album.

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Public Enemy ‎- Rebel Without A Pause (1987)

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In the late autumn of 1987, I experienced a concert forever etched on my mind. I went with a friend to see LL Cool J, Public Enemy and Erik B & Rakim at the Hammersmith Odeon. It is a memory that no one can rob from me – a visual and aural bombardment. I could go on about the chutzpah of Cool James and the sound of Erik B & Rakim, but even those memories fade compared to the sight of Chuck D and Flavor Flav flanked by its crew, Security of the First World (or the S1Ws), all dressed in paramilitary kit and armed with simulation Uzis. ‘Rebel Without A Pause’ had been released as the B-side to their preceding single, ‘You Gonna Get Yours/Mi Uzi Weighs A Ton’. The song would be one of the many highlights their album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, released the following year. The album would open with an introduction from the MC Dave Pearce from that night: “Hammersmith Odeon are you ready for the Def Jam Tour? Let me hear you make some noise!” The event became immortal.

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Nitzer Ebb ‎- Join In The Chant (1987)

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Formed in Essex when friends Douglas McCarthy (vocals) and Bon Harris (drums and programming) were just 15, Nitzer Ebb was doing EDM while fellow Essex boy Liam Howlett was still breakdancing. Nitzer Ebb enjoyed a number of club hits on Mute Records, but none more impactful than ‘Join In The Chant’, which became a set standard in London’s Balearic beat and acid house venues. The song originally featured on their 1987 album That Total Age, but would find its zenith with a remix by pop producer Phil Harding.

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Deacon Blue ‎- Dignity (1987)

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Despite reference to Steely Dan in their name, Glaswegian Deacon Blue’s influences were clearly closer to home. Their first album Raintown, draws from the mid 1980s influence of Paddy McAloon. Like the work of Prefab Sprout, the lead single off the album, ‘Dignity’, is a slice of clever pop that still manages to reflect working class values.

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Depeche Mode ‎- Behind The Wheel (1987)

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In 1987, Depeche Mode created a larger sound, were about to embark on a mammoth world tour, would break through in America and document that success in the classic live album 101. I remember putting the needle on the vinyl and hearing the live versions of ‘Pimpf’ and ‘Behind The Wheel’ for the first time; that initial wall of sound would not be matched gain until ‘Airbag’ opened OK Computer nearly a decade later. ‘Behind The Wheel’ kicked off Side Two of the ambitiously named LP Music for the Masses.

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J.V.C. F.O.R.C.E. – Strong Island (1987)

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It’s Tuesday, the week’s started and let’s get on it. Well, in truth, I wasn’t any cooler when delivering my lines back in the day. However, my teenage self WAS listening to J.V.C. F.O.R.C.E. in 1987. Long Islanders AJ Rok, B-Luv and DJ Curt Cazal had the great idea of sampling of Freda Payne and the very current Public Enemy to concoct ‘Strong Island’. Justified by Virtue of Creativity For Obvious Reasons Concerning Entertainment… indeed.

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Pet Shop Boys – What Have I Done To Deserve This? (1987)

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One of my guilty pleasures today… what have you done to deserve this? This duet with Dusty Springfield featured on the Pet Shop Boys 1987 long player Actually, with that album cover.

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Sterling Void & Paris Brightledge ‎– It’s All Right (1987)

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One of the original Chicago house-music labels, D.J. International Records releases included Joe Smooth’s ‘Promised Land’, Fast Eddie’s “Acid Thunder’ and Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk’s ‘Love Can’t Turn Around’. In 1987, Sterling Void’s Duane Pelt released this soulful house track with Paris Brightledge on vocals. Uplifting, groovy and dated, this was late 1980s’ houseland.

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The Cult – Love Removal Machine (1987)

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The Cult’s 1987 album Electric may not have been as exceptional as its predecessor, but it did something that Love had not achieved; it broke America. The album’s calling card ‘Love Removal Machine’ said it all. Listen and think Steppenwolf, AC/DC or Led Zeppelin. At the hands of Rick Rubin, Billy Duffy and Ian Astbury has shed their successful post-punk goth sound for the wider appeal of pure, unadulterated rock. Have a great week.

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Al Jarreau – Moonlighting (1987)

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al-jarreau

It’s a buttery start to the week for I’ve just learned that Al Jarreau died yesterday. His canon of work that so seamlessly bridged pop, jazz funk and R&B, is largely lost on me; mainly because it so seamlessly bridged pop, jazz funk and R&B. However, after much of his most celebrated recordings has passed, he wrote and recorded this Nile Rodgers-produced tune for a TV series that left an indelible feelgood mark on my memory. R.I.P.

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Fleetwood Mac – Big Love (1987)

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fleetwood-mac-1987

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Eric B & Rakim – I Ain’t No Joke (1987)

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Eric B & Rakim 1987

Eric Barrier and William Griffin (Rakim) benefitted from both having the talent and being in the right place at the right time. Vivien’s Goldman’s video depicts what being a hip-hop artist in 1987 New York City actually meant. According to the director, Flavor Flav ended up scene-stealing because he was always about and that’s just what he did. Despite the extended family, Rakim shows the self-belief that have made listeners consider him to be the G.O.A.T. ‘I Ain’t No Joke’ was the second single from Eric B. & Rakim’s classic album Paid In Full. 1-2-3, “You could get a smack for this”. Pure nostalgia. Have a great week.

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Eric B. And Rakim ‎- I Know You Got Soul (1987)

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Eric B & Rakim

“It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you/Without a strong rhyme, to step to”. Those immortal words are from the pioneering MC Rakim, and occur immediately after Eric B’s brilliant drum sample spot from Funkadelic’s ‘You’ll Like It Too’. In 1987, ‘I Know You Got Soul’ would have a huge impact; its use of George Clinton and JB-associated samples would become the default artistic path for hip hop artists. And by naming the track after Bobby Byrd’s classic funk workout, which they sample throughout, these guys were lighting the way. The following year, the inferior M|A|R|R|S derivative ‘Pump Up the Volume’ and Norman Cook (Double Trouble) remix would take the dance floors by storm.

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Phuture – Acid Tracks (1987)

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Nathaniel Pierre Jones

The original aciiid house sound, bubbling with a 303 synthesiser bassline. By 1985, it was evident that Roland has failed in creating a synth to rival the Fender bass guitar. The lack of an English language instruction manual had not helped. So, DJ Pierre was able to walk into a Chicago thrift store and pick up a secondhand one for just $50. Together with Earle Smith and Nathaniel Jones, he formed Phuture and created a new subgenre of house music with the legendary ‘Acid Tracks’.

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