1987 may have been a breakthrough year for heavy metal and rap artists like Bon Jovi, Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys and Whitesnake, but the news wasn't as good for some former chart-toppers whose 1987 albums proved to be major disappointments, according to Billboard. For instance:
Who'd have guessed that the Bee Gees' "E.S.P." -- the Gibb brothers' first album in five years -- would peak at No. 96 (despite being No. 1 in a half-dozen overseas charts), or that Donna Summer's "All Systems Go" would peak at No. 122. Between them, these two disco-driven acts once had as much gold and platinum as Fort Knox.
And while Kenny Rogers might have once claimed the other half of the gold, his "I Prefer the Moonlight" peaked at No. 163, about what you'd expect for a reunion album featuring the First Edition. Having left Culture Club behind, Boy George watched his first solo effort, the nonprophetically titled "Sold," drop off the charts after peaking at No. 145. Mick Jagger, sans Stones, did a little better with his second solo effort -- "Primitive Cool" sneaked up to No. 41, but that was still 28 slots below his debut. And just this week, Stevie Wonder's six-week-old "Characters" seems to have peaked after reaching only No. 17, his first album to miss hitting the Top 5 in 15 years.
Other conspicuous failures, according to Billboard: Mr. Mister's "... Go On," peaking at No. 55 two years after the band's debut hit No. 1; Billy Joel's "Kohuept (Live in Leningrad)," peaking at No. 39 and ending his string of consecutive Top 10 albums at eight; the sound track to "Moonlighting," which MCA must have hoped could emulate the smash success of its "Miami Vice" sound track (11 weeks at No. 1), but which peaked at No. 50 (and don't even ask about Bruce Willis' solo album on Motown).
'Dancing' to the Top When Michael Jackson's "Bad" album came out in October, the only competition expected at the top of the charts was Bruce Springsteen's "Tunnel of Love," which spent a week at No. 1 and then dropped (with very little fanfare), and possibly George Michael's solo debut. But while "Bad" opened at No. 1, stayed there for six weeks and has been in the Top 3 for its entire 16-week run, for nine straight weeks now it's been kept out of the top spot by a true left-field hit, the sound track to "Dirty Dancing" (with Michael's "Faith" sneaking into the No. 2 spot). Now, "Dirty Dancing" is about to achieve a breakthrough: It's the first film to come out on videocassette (as it does today) supported by a No. 1 sound track released when the movie was still playing in theaters (in fact, it's still playing in some theaters).
Grape Expectations Claymation has given veteran drummer Buddy Miles that elusive chart success he never experienced in his stints with Electric Flag, Santana and Jimi Hendrix. Miles is the lead singer for those lovable California Raisins, whose "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" has gone a long way toward raisin consciousness around the world. You knew there would be an album, and "The California Raisins" -- featuring remakes of classic soul and Top 40 hits such as "When a Man Loves a Woman" and "Mony Mony" -- has in fact sold more than 600,000 copies since it was released six weeks ago and is rapidly approaching platinum status. With a whole new set of commercials airing in February, the Raisins may be called on to make some personal appearances. Maybe they could go out with Run-DMC on a "Raisin Hell" tour? Maybe there could be a Motown-style girl group, the Raisinettes? How about covers of "Goodness Grapecious, Grape Balls of Fire" or "The Grape Pretender"?
He's Back ... The second odd concept album of the season is "Freddy's Greatest Hits." No, not Freddie and the Dreamers, but Freddy Kruger and your worst nightmares. According to somebody's research, Freddy, star of the "Nightmare on Elm Street" horror films, has become a pop culture phenomenon with a cult following of about 5 million, mostly teens and subteens -- or, as the marketing department calls them, customers. Which is why you're about to see a flood of Freddy merchandising in the near future. But first, these "Greatest Hits," which include some obvious covers ("All I Have to Do Is Dream," "In the Midnight Hour") and some new tunes ("Dance or Else"). And, yes, Robert (Freddy) Englund does snarl and gnarl the lyrics.
Concerts Bruce Springsteen will be hitting the road with the E Street Band in the Tunnel of Love Express Tour, starting in late February and stopping in 22 cities. Prince has apparently postponed his American tour for awhile, opting instead for some Japanese yen. However, Earth, Wind and Fire are about to hit the road for the first time in six years, with a stop at Capital Centre Feb. 7. Other concerts of interest coming up include comedian Whoopi Goldberg doing her Broadway show at the Warner Feb. 24-28; Waylon Jennings bringing his one-man audio-biography "A Man Called Hoss" to the Birchmere Feb. 12 and 13 with hopes of an eventual Broadway run; and Linda Ronstadt touring Washington and just a few other cities to support her Spanish-language album, "Canciones de Mi Padre" -- she'll be at the Warner March 2 and 3 with a band featuring most of the musicians appearing on the album, which is No. 60 in the charts and moving up.