August 19, 1991: Every Heartbeat

(Pictured: Amy Grant, 1992.)

August 19, 1991, was a Monday. In the Soviet Union, President Mikhail Gorbachev is placed under house arrest by a group of KGB conspirators. Within a week, Soviet republics will begin to declare their independence; Gorbachev will resign as president on Christmas Day, and the Soviet Union will cease to exist. In the United States, Hurricane Bob makes landfall in southern New England. Six people are killed in Connecticut, and some locations on Cape Cod report wind gusts up to 125 MPH. Damage estimates will range up to $1.7 billion. In the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, riots break out after a Guyanese boy is struck and killed by a car containing a prominent Hasidic Jewish leader. In Gurnee, Illinois, the village board holds its regular meeting, disposing of all business in 57 minutes, and state inspectors visit the sewage treatment plant in Orting, Washington. Sports Illustrated features golfer John Daly on its cover, reporting on his out-of-nowhere victory in the PGA Championship one week before. For the second time this month, Steffi Graf regains the top spot in world ranking among female tennis players from Monica Seles.

The Los Angeles Times reports that singer Billy Preston was arrested yesterday on sex charges involving a 16-year-old boy; he will be sentenced to drug rehab and house arrest. Judas Priest plays Toronto and Phish plays Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Bob Dylan plays Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and Primus plays Portland, Oregon. Guns n’ Roses plays Copenhagen, Denmark, and George Thorogood plays suburban Indianapolis.

On the Billboard Hot 100, “Everything I Do (I Do It for You)” by Bryan Adams is #1 for the fourth straight week; “Every Heartbeat” by Amy Grant is #2. There’s precious little movement in the Top 40. “Good Vibrations” by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch makes the biggest move, from #35 to #25; “My Name Is Not Susan” by Whitney Houston moves from #36 to #29. The highest debut within the Top 40 belongs to Huey Lewis and the News: “It Hit Me Like a Hammer” is at #35. Bonnie Raitt’s “Something to Talk About” is new at #39.

Perspective From the Present: I have been told that in radio music research, 90s music doesn’t test as well with listeners as 70s and 80s music does, even among those who grew up in the 90s. That doesn’t mean there were no good singles on the radio, however. There are several on this chart. Two of them are “The Motown Song” by Rod Stewart and “Everybody Plays the Fool” by Aaron Neville. Both of them were far different on the singles than they were on their respective albums: On Rod’s album Vagabond Heart,”The Motown Song” name-checks the Temptations and brings them aboard for backup vocals, then buries them in the mix. (The single, which is also the version used on the video, is much, much better.) The album version of “Everybody Plays the Fool” is a limp momentum killer on the radio, while the 45/video version is remixed to amp up the energy, and makes it a much better record.

Also remaining really good and/or essential after all these years: “Hard to Handle” by the Black Crowes, “Learning to Fly” by Tom Petty, “Walking in Memphis” and “Silver Thunderbird” by Marc Cohn, and “Losing My Religion” by REM. Largely forgotten but still remaining pretty good: “Power of Love”/”Love Power” by Luther Vandross.

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