College Countdown: First Billboard Top 20 Modern Rock Tracks, Fall 1988, 20 and 19

20. “All I Wanted” by In Tua Nua
I have only the vaguest recollections of this song being played at my college radio station in the fall of 1988, and believe me when I maintain that an awful lot of my recreational time that fall was spent with a fellow who would have been especially partial to a band led by a pretty Irish singer. The song is certainly lodged deep in my brain, though, so it was probably getting some spins from us back then. Even at the time, In Tua Nua was probably best known for their tangential musical associations: and they once had fifteen-year-old Sinead O’Connor record a song with them and they were one of the first bands signed by U2 to Mother Records, the vanity label Island set up presumably to help keep their burgeoning Irish superstars happy enough so they wouldn’t jump ship to one of the far bigger labels. Neither association lasted particularly long. O’Connor was deemed too young to be a regular member of the band, and Island discarded the band in relatively short order. They were picked up quickly enough by Virgin Records, which put out both of their full-length releases. “All I Wanted” came from the sophomore effort, The Long Acre, produced by Don Dixon, then a highly coveted knob-spinner thanks to his notable turns presiding over acclaimed released by R.E.M. and The Smithereens.

19. “Don’t Walk Away” by Toni Childs
Now this song I remember, although it’s entirely possible I was the only one playing it at my college station. It was, however, a mainstay of the old WMAD-FM in Madison, which influenced me significantly in the months before I got my own access to a transmitter (and I noted in a recent One for Friday post). Slickly produced and notably big in its sound, I’m not sure exactly how much appeal it held for college kids, but it was precisely the sort of the studio engineered edginess that commercial programmers were happy to embrace. While it may sound like it, that’s not a knock. Childs had a big, distinctive voice that was rife with rafter-rattling character. As I recall, there was nothing else on her debut album Union that matched the sharpness of this single, but she certainly came across as uniquely formidable, even at a time when labels were just beginning the scramble to sign and aggressively promote notable female singer-songwriters in the wake of the surprising early success of the likes of Melissa Etheridge and Tracy Chapman. In fact, the accomplishments of those two, both of whom also released their respective debuts in the same year, may have helped overshadow Childs. She produced one more album for A&M three years later before switching to DGC for a single release in the mid-nineties. Then it was almost fifteen years before another record made the rounds.

An Introduction

10 thoughts on “College Countdown: First Billboard Top 20 Modern Rock Tracks, Fall 1988, 20 and 19

  1. Nice topic. Fall of 1988 I was in this weird post punk, metal, college stage of music interest. Can we expect to see some Bodeans, Smithereens, R.E.M. Violent Femmes, 10,000 Maniacs or firehose later on this list?

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