If you were getting tired of the all the synths, drum machines and sterile '80s production (I hated them at the time) the tide began to turn in 1987 and was in full swing by 1988. Live Aid was huge in reviving the careers of the legacy artists and many of them had brief career revivals during this time, which usually was distinguished by bucking the synth trends and doing their own thing.
Thus, Steel Wheels was heralded as the big comeback for the Stones (despite Dirty Work being significantly better, IMO) because Dirty Work was a synth album and Steel Wheels "sounded like the Stones again." New York was heralded as the big comeback for Lou Reed because it sounded like Lou Reed again (though in contrast to Dirty Work, IMO, Mistrial actually was terrible). The same happened with a number of artists. In McCartney's case, Press Play was pretty bad and Flowers in the Dirt was better, but the earlier album was more '80s' than Flowers, too, so that played into perceptions of it being a huge career comeback.