College Countdown: First Billboard Top 20 Modern Rock Tracks, Fall 1988, 12 and 11

12. “Up There Down There” by Patti Smith
It was a big deal when Patti Smith released the album Dream of Life in 1988. It had been almost ten years since the last album that bore her name and Smith had spent the interim living a life of domestic serenity in the suburbs of Michigan with her husband, Fred “Sonic” Smith, and their two children together. She had gone from a seismic force practically reinventing rock ‘n’ roll with the sheer passion of her vocals and the jagged anger of her songwriting to a brilliant phantom who largely sat out the decade when New Wave and then Hair Metal supplanted the fiery punk scene that she helped define. Even in the flush of excitement over her return, I don’t think anyone considered the new Smith music truly on par with her classic albums from the nineteen-seventies, but it was still exciting to have her back. It was the album’s lead single, “People Have the Power” that made the greatest impact (and it’s endured as a pretty handy anthem.) “Up There Down There” was the third and final single from the album, bearing Smith’s trademark force. Dream of Life wound up as a fairly brief return as it would be another eight years before Smith’s next release, the spectacular, elegiacal Gone Again, which was arguably her true return to form.

11. “Christine” by The House of Love
The U.K. band The House of Love released their self-titled debut album in 1988 after having some modest success in their homeland with a couple of singles the prior year. “Christine,” a chiming, soaring, plaintively yearning song was both the lead track and lead single from the album. While it seemed like the very sort of thing that careened wildly up the British charts, the band was denied their first charting single there, settling for the attention they got from college radio and other modern rock stations statewide. At the time, it seemed there was always a need for British pop of crystalline perfection and the track filled the niche nicely. In direct opposition to the glistening clarity of their sound, the band was enduring an especially tumultuous time in their attempts to record music and keep the record labels happy, going through a dizzying number of changes, including significant line-up shifts, as they released songs at a fairly prolific clip the next few years. That didn’t mean, however, that they couldn’t still kick out the occasional amazing single during that span. Like a lot of bands from the era, they went through full-scale dissolution only to indulge in a practically inevitable reunion years and years later.

An Introduction
20 and 19: “All I Wanted” and “Don’t Walk Away”
18 and 17: “Back on the Breadline” and “Motorcrash”
16 and 15: “Dumb Things” and “Don’t Go”
14 and 13: “Liar Liar” and “High Time”

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