College Countdown: First Billboard Top 20 Modern Rock Tracks, Fall 1988, 6 and 5

6. “Intoxication” by Shriekback
Dave Allen was the bassist for Gang of Four, a band that fully understood the value of a killer rhythm section. He left the band after the release of their sophomore effort, Solid Gold, and formed Shriekback with Barry Andrews, who was previously the fourth member of XTC. By the time 1988 rolled around, Allen had given up on the group and departed. In the absence of his former compatriot’s fierce, propulsive basslines, Andrews apparently decided to accelerate the band’s gradual evolution to a commercially polished, club-friendly outfit. Nothing like KC and the Sunshine Band cover, seemingly devoid of irony, to establish intent of unabashed revelry to the assembled listenership. The album was produced by Richard James Burgess, another sign that the group was hungry for a hit, given that he had a reputation for presiding over British chart smashes that were as hard and slick as a Jolly Rancher. “Intoxication” was the first single from the resulting album, Go Bang! We may very well have played the track at the radio station that fall (calling a song “Intoxication” is a good way to get college kids to play it), but I’ll admit that I barely remember this song.

5. “Tumblin’ Down” by Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers
I’m sure that many people thought that Conscious Party. was the debut release from Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers. The hype machine was in overdrive that summer for the eldest son of deceased reggae legend Bob Marley, even helping lead single “Tomorrow People” cross over (if only just barely) into the Billboard Top 40. Some of the novelty had already worn off by the fall, but modern rock radio was clearly still buying into the notion that this was a second-generation titan in the making. The second single, “Tumblin’ Down,” is the one the really bears the marks of the album’s producers, Christ Frantz and Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads, a band then in its death throes. It’s the other band that occupied the time of Frantz and Weymouth that can be heard echoing on “Tumblin’ Down,” though. The song has some of the same light, lithe electronic rhythmic embellishments that characterized Tom Tom Club’s biggest hit, “Genius of Love.” Ziggy Marley never achieved the same level of success that he had ever so briefly in 1988, but he persisted in music and entertainment, sometimes turning up in the strangest of places.

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”
12 and 11: “Up There and Down There” and “Christine”
10 and 9: “What’s On Your Mind (Pure Energy)” and “What’s the Matter Here”
8 and 7: “Wild Wild West” and “All That Money Wants”

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