Saturday, May 21, 2011

The #81 Album of All-Time in the Rock Era--"Different Light" by the Bangles

If you don't own the album, this next entry would probably be the only "surprise" in the Top 100 Albums. It has plenty of statistics to support it, but many of the so-called "experts" that come up with these lists do not include this album. That's a disservice to the public.

I've posted how the Go-Go's were the first self-contained, all-girl group to make it big in rock (or music in general for that matter). And by self-contained, I mean a group that writes their own songs, plays their own instruments, and decides their own fate. The Bangles were the second such group, and you can argue which was "better"; the two both had great success. The group's debut album is also very good and was critically acclaimed as well, but it did not make the Top 100.

The biggest strength of the album is its Track Rating*, and again that is a measure of consistency of an album, 10 being the highest rating an album can attain. Different Light has a Track Rating of 9.18, not the highest in the Top 100 but certainly up there. There is not a bad song on the album; it can be tracked through in its entirety, and few people would say there is even an "average" song on the album. Another strength is the album's airplay. Different Light features four smash hits, led by the monster hit "Walk Like an Egyptian", which is one of the Top Songs in the Rock Era*. "Manic Monday", a song written for them by Prince under the pseudonym "Christopher", was another of the singles, along with "If She Knew What She Wants" and "Walking Down Your Street". Those four singles gave the Bangles a presence on the radio for an extended time, both on popular music and Adult Contemporary stations. Since AC was beginning to take over as the most popular format at the time, millions of people were turned on to the Bangles' sound.

There's one track that wasn't a hit that is especially worth checking out--"Following" is truly one of the great "undiscovered" songs of the rock era. The title track, "Angels Don't Fall In Love", "Not Like You" and "Return Post" are also solid and display the group's great harmonies. But again, there isn't a bad song on the album and your favorites may be different than the ones I've listed.

Airplay and consumer satisfaction quite naturally lead to chart success and album sales. Different Light reached #2, spent nine weeks in the Top 10 and 82 weeks (over a year and a half) on the chart. The album has sold three million copies in the United States.

Different Light:
1. "Manic Monday" ("Christopher" (Prince))--3:06
2. "In a Different Light" (Susanna Hoffs, Vicki Peterson)--2:52
3. "Walking Down Your Street" (Louis Gutierrez, Hoffs, David Kahne)--3:04
4. "Walk Like an Egyptian" (Liam Sternberg)--3:24
5. "Standing in the Hallway" (Hoffs, Kahne, Debbi Peterson, V. Peterson)--2:56
6. "Return Post" (Hoffs, V. Peterson)--4:22
7. "If She Knew What She Wants" (Jules Shear)--3:49
8. "Let It Go" (Hoffs, D. Peterson, V. Peterson, Michael Steele)--2:32
9. "September Gurls" (Alex Chilton)--2:45
10. "Angels Don't Fall In Love" (Hoffs, V. Peterson)--3:23
11. "Following" (Steele)--3:21
12. "Not Like You" (Hoffs, Kahne, D. Peterson)--3:06

The Bangles are:

Susanna Hoffs, Vocals and guitars
Vicki Peterson: Vocals and guitars
Michael Steele: Vocals, guitars and bass
Debbi Peterson: Vocals, drums and percussion

Rusty Anderson and Barbara Chapman Harp contributed guitar work on the album, Mitchell Froom and David Kahne help out with keyboards and synthesizers and Carlos Vega added drums to the project. Other than that, it's all Bangles.

This album was recorded in the summer and autumn of 1985. David Kahne produced the album. The Engineers were Tchad Blake, David Leonard and Peggy McLeonard. Leonard also did the mixing for Different Light. The album was released in January of 1986 on Columbia Records.

Coming in at #81--Different Light by the Bangles.

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