30 Years Later: Was 1988 The Greatest Year In Music?

Sep 24, 2018
Originally published on September 25, 2018 12:40 pm

It's 1988. A gallon of gas is about 90 cents. Movie tickets average $3.50 a flick. And while you were at the movies, chances are you caught Rain Man, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Big or Beetlejuice. On television, Miami Vice was still going strong, as St. Elsewhere was ending. In August, Yo! MTV Raps debuted.

Musically, your Walkman collection of cassettes game is strong. You're holding a new album by this new Philly hip-hop duo, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, and a few new releases by The Jungle Brothers, Eric B & Rakim, and some new band called N.W.A. was about to make history. New Jack Swing was in full effect, and while you were bummed about Bobby Brown leaving New Edition, you'd wind up playing side one of his solo sophomore release, Bobby, over and over.

It seemed like college radio was the only place on the dial you were discovering new indie records like Daydream Nation by Sonic Youth, Bug by Dinosaur Jr., and Jamboree by Beat Happening, and The Pixies exploded on the scene. Two debuts came out in 1988 that couldn't be more musically different, but had long lasting influence: Living Colour's Vivid, and Tracy Chapman's self-titled debut. Rap legends Public Enemy released It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, and other albums that came out in 1988 that have stood the test of time included the debut from the super group Traveling Wilburys, Jane's Addiction's Nothing's Shocking and k.d. lang's Shadowland.

Listen to our Spotify playlist of some the most enduring and endearing music from 1988.

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