Here's how the Times' Class of '88 fared during the past 12 months:
BIG PIG: The Aussie band with a striking lead singer and unique approach (half of the octet plays drums) failed to capitalize on the groundwork laid by its "Bonk" album and impressive shows. The group is preparing to record a second album.
TRACY CHAPMAN: Failed to sweep the Grammys as expected (although she won three, including the best new artist award), but she's back in the Top 10 with her "Crossroads" album and continues to be the touchstone for the new social consciousness and singer-songwriter aesthetic, though the critical response to the new album has been mixed.
COWBOY JUNKIES: An unlikely hit of late '88: The Canadian band's first U.S.-released album, recorded at a cost of just $250, topped the Times' critics poll for the year and went on to sell more than 500,000 copies. The Junkies' low-key, sultry blues- and country-based songs continued to seduce through increasingly confident live performances and expanded repertoire. A follow-up album is due in March.
HOTHOUSE FLOWERS: Transcended comparisons with Dublin homeboys U2 through a return U.S. tour showing increased stage command and focus in its inspiring, roiling gospel-rock sound. Currently preparing to record a second album.
HOUSE OF FREAKS: The electric-guitar-and-drums duo of Bryan Harvey and Johnny Hott followed their bracing debut with the "Tantilla" album and tour opening for the Bangles, but didn't make much impact. But there's plenty of promise in the new "All My Friends" EP.
JANE'S ADDICTION: "Nothing's Shocking," the Warner Bros. debut of Perry Farrell and crew, got better reviews than sales. Still, the band's whirlpoolish, demon-laden, psychodrama-metal could very well be the noise of the '90s.
THE PRIMITIVES: The Blondie-meets-Jesus-and-Mary-Chain quartet proved a d-u-l-l live act in its Roxy debut. The band trips again live on Saturday at Bogart's.
SHINEHEAD: The Jamaican-born New Yorker's reggae 'n' rap mix never found much of an audience and was overshadowed by that of Boogie Down Productions' more gripping KRS-One.
MICHELLE SHOCKED: The Texas troubadour seemed in a rut with solo shows that were all the same down to every "offhand" comment, political statement and sly wink. But her new "Captain Swing" album, though off to a slow start sales-wise, bursts through by making the commentary subtle in favor of giddy, colorful blues and swing styles.
SUGARCUBES: "Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week," the second album from the pride of Iceland, drew mixed reaction. It isn't as breathtakingly striking as the debut but still furthers the group's strange darkness-behind-the-light imagery and sound, and showcases the magnificent voice of Bjork Gudmundsdotter.