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$25 GUIDE

Six Final Choices for '87 Listening

December 06, 1987|ROBERT HILBURN

The year's final installment of Calendar's guide to building a solid album collection on a $25 a month budget stretches all the way from the socially conscious sounds of England's Housemartins to Christmas cheer assembled by producer Jimmy Iovine.

November

The Housemartins' "The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death" (Elektra)--In their second LP, songwriters Paul Heaton and Stan Cullimore offer much of the lyric invention and enticing melodic sensibilities of Squeeze's Difford and Tilbrook, packing both wit and bite in their looks at human foibles and conceits.

Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper's "Bo Day Shus!!!" (Enigma)--Highlighted by the left-field college radio hit of the year ("Elvis Is Everywhere," a glorious sendup and salute to the Presley legend), this album mixes broadside humor with sly observation for one of the wildest assaults on the American psyche since Hunter Thompson's days on the campaign trail.

Victoria Williams' "Happy Come Home" (Geffen)--Some friends argue that Williams' sweet, endearing tales about life's quiet moments and understated truths are a bit too precious, but I find them . . . sweet and endearing.

December

"A Very Special Christmas" (A&M)--Because this 15-song collection lacks a single, unifying vision, it doesn't replace Phil Spector's mid-'60s jewel with Darlene Love (and others) as the best Christmas package of the rock era. But the "Special Christmas"--whose parade of stars includes Madonna, U2 and Run-D.M.C.--may well be the runner-up.

Husker Du's "Warehouse: Songs and Stories" (Warner Bros.)--Better late than never. This album slipped by in January, partially because I didn't want to deal with another two-record set by the Minneapolis band. That was a mistake. Prince may have weakened "Sign 'O' the Times" by burying one disc's worth of great material in a two-record set, but "Warehouse" justifies the length; one of the most dramatic bursts of post-punk creativity since "London Calling."

Robbie Robertson's "Robbie Robertson" (Geffen)--There are moments in Robertson's first solo album when you wish his voice was stronger and his songwriting instincts were more straightforward, but the highlights are spectacular: a classy and accomplished examination of the human condition that reasserts the unfaltering taste of his Band years.

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