The top 25 songs of 1987 featured massively popular performers (George Michael, Bon Jovi) and even more acts that subsequently disappeared (Robbie Nevil, Gregory Abbott, Billy Vera and the Beaters). In the summer of that year, Heart (“Alone”), Bob Seger (“Shakedown”), and a Los Lobos cover of a Ritchie Valens song all held the #1 spot. Whitney Houston released her second album in June. Def Leppard released Hysteria on August 3, and Michael Jackson released Bad on August 31. Madonna was in the midst of a music tour to support her movie (?) Who’s That Girl.
But those headlines do not begin to tell the story of 1987. It was a year that saw that saw hugely influential bands like Husker Du and The Smiths break up in spectacularly public fashion. Conversely, here in Washington DC, a guy from Minor Threat and a couple of guys from Rites of Spring formed a new band called Fugazi. And U2 were catapulted from mid-level fame to super-stardom with the release of The Joshua Tree, which would cause many people listening to their local top 40 stations to wonder what else they might be missing on college radio.
For this trip back to 1987 we’re going to focus on three albums. Three albums by then-unknown bands that would have a massive imprint on both popular and alternative music for years, and went largely unnoticed by most listeners only to be rediscovered later.