Stop! – Jane’s Addiction

  • First Appearance: September 18, 1990
  • Weeks on the Chart: 2 (non-consecutive)
  • Album: Ritual de lo Habitual
  • Have I heard this song before (pre-listen)? No.
  • Have I actually heard this song before? No.

While “Stop!” spent just two non-consecutive weeks at the top of the chart, “Been Caught Stealing” (yes, and yes) spent an addition four weeks (also non-consecutive) at the top of the chart starting in late October through mid-December.

For an album as iconic as this one, I’m shocked that I didn’t recognize “Stop!” The flip side of that being, after hearing it, I’m not surprised that “Been Caught Stealing” was the enduring single off of this album.

These are some of the hardest albums to say anything about. It’s Jane’s Addiction. What am I going to say about it. It’s raucous scream singing with driving beats and occasionally weird funk bass influences.

I’ll Be Your Chauffeur – David J

  • First Appearance: August 18, 1990
  • Weeks on the Chart: 1
  • Album: Songs From Another Season
  • Have I heard this song before (pre-listen)? No.
  • Have I actually heard this song before? No

I’d never heard this song before, but it was a really delightful ditty with clear echoes in current Belle and Sebastian in everything from the sparse instrumentation, to the bright bright guitars.

David J, the artist, was a member of Bauhaus, making him the second artist to pop up on this list with ties to the influential band, after Peter Murphy. All of which is a long way around of saying that I need to go back and listen to Bauhaus.

The album continues on with more quiet and contemplative songs with similarly sparse orchestration. Occasionally using acoustic guitars, along with background harmonicas that feel like they’re miles away to add texture to the songs, rather than to drive them.

I could go on and on. This is a really delightful and sweet album. It feels like you’re in David J’s living room and he’s just playing some songs for you. It’s really beautiful and well with the hour it will take to listen to it.

Jealous – Gene Loves Jezebel

  • First Appearance: August 11, 1990
  • Weeks on the Chart: 2 (non-consecutive)
  • Album: Kiss of Life
  • Have I heard this song before (pre-listen)? No.
  • Have I actually heard this song before? No

This is yet another band formed by British brothers. This time, identical twins Jay and Michael Aston.

Jealous is some serious hair rock that starts with dubiously rhyming “a lot” and “a fact” within the first minute. That’s tough to come back from. This song is popcorn. It’s cotton candy. Fun to have, but without much substance. This song, with only minor editing, feels like it could have been a Weird Al genre parody, like Dare to be Stupid, or Bob.

This album bounces between genuinely good songs and songs that are so over the top that they’re hard to take seriously. It’s really strange.

The only real thing I can say about this album is that it is REALLY extra.

Joey – Concrete Blonde

  • First Appearance: July 14, 1990
  • Weeks on the Chart: 5
  • Album: Bloodletting
  • Have I heard this song before (pre-listen)? No.
  • Have I actually heard this song before? No.

This album comes on strong with heavy guitars and gothic themes in a way I didn’t really expect. The third track, Caroline, takes a turn more toward traditional 90s alternative, leaning on more Stevie Nicks vibes, and a little ‘Til Tuesday. The album even detours into a little country twang with Lullabye [sic].

Concrete Blonde has the honor of being the band from the US to be featured on the blog.

The relevant track, Joey is firmly in the final third of the album. It’s almost an 80s power ballad. My overall impression of this album is “Okay, sure.” It doesn’t feel that cohesive, it doesn’t really evoke much emotion in me past the first couple of tracks.

Way Down Now – World Party

  • First Appearance: June 9, 1990
  • Weeks on the Chart: 5
  • Album: Goodbye Jumbo
  • Have I heard this song before (pre-listen)? I think so.
  • Have I actually heard this song before? No. Not at all.

Essentially a solo project of Karl Wallinger, this makes World Party the first band from Wales on the list.

Way Down Now has the unique privilege of being the first song that I though I’d heard before but hadn’t. It’s a weird little upbeat pop anthem with almost too much rhyming and repetition. It’s catchy, and basic, but almost lacks anything to make it interesting enough to justify a five-week stint on the chart.

One maddening thing about this album is how much every other song on it sounds like some other song you know. The first track “Is it too late?” is reminiscent of “Baby Please Don’t Go” by THEM (covering Muddy Waters). “When the Rainbow Comes” sounds maddeningly like “Take On Me,” slowed down a bit, mixed with some 60s folk songs. It’s like listening to a twisted version of Girl Talk.

All that said, this album is really interesting. I jumps genres like Joss Whedon show, and does all of them competently. It makes for a really diverse, but cohesive listening experience.

Here’s Where the Story Ends – The Sundays

  • First Appearance: May 26, 1990
  • Weeks on the Chart: 1
  • Album: Reading, Writing & Arithmetic
  • Have I heard this song before (pre-listen)? No.
  • Have I actually heard this song before? Oh yes.

In my mind, The Sundays are better known for the cover of the Rolling Stones’ Wild Horses. Spotify says that this track is more popular.

I didn’t recognize the band name or the song title, but once it started it immediately triggered something. It has that jangly guitar and smooth accented vocals that would later become trademarks of bands like Camera Obscura, and lyrical flourishes reminiscent of the Decemberists.

The rest of the album shares many of the those distinct characteristics as Here’s Where the Story Ends. But unsurprisingly, none are quite as catchy as the most popular song on the album.

Enjoy the Silence – Depeche Mode

  • First Appearance: April 21, 1990
  • Weeks on the Chart: 3
  • Album: Violator
  • Have I heard this song before (pre-listen)? No.
  • Have I actually heard this song before? Yes.

Policy of Truth, another song on this album sat at #1 for one week starting June 2nd, but Personal Jesus is by far the most well-known track. And this still the most enjoyable.

Enjoy the Silence, much like Here’s Where The Story Ends is a song I’ve heard many times, but never associated the song with that title. The popular tracks are certainly more fun than the less popular ones, but those have a darker, more goth quality to them that has matched the dreariness of the the last few weeks in Boston.

I don’t have much else to say about Depeche Mode. What can I say that hasn’t already been said by other people? They’re good but kinda a downer.

Metropolis – The Church

  • First Appearance: April 14, 1990
  • Weeks on the Chart: 1
  • Album: Gold Afternoon Fix
  • Have I heard this song before (pre-listen)? No.
  • Have I actually heard this song before? No.

This is another band on the list that I was totally unfamiliar with. For The Church, a psychedelic/goth rock band out of Sydney, it was less surprising than The Psychedelic Furs or Jesus and Mary Chain. This isn’t exactly my wheel-house.

Metropolis is a lot more mainstream than the rest of the album. Significantly more upbeat, brighter guitars, and less brooding than the bulk of their songs on Gold Afternoon Fix. It’s enjoyable, but a bit subdued.

I actually had to take a break mid-album. It was very gloomy and dark, and listening to it in the middle of a cold, nasty, and windy storm in New England with sheets of rain coming down was too much. I needed music that would contrast the deluge, rather than compliment it.

Blue Sky Mine – Midnight Oil

  • First Appearance: April 7, 1990
  • Weeks on the Chart: 1
  • Album: Blue Sky Mining
  • Have I heard this song before (pre-listen)? No.
  • Have I actually heard this song before? No.

Midnight Oil had two songs from Blue Sky Mining on the chart, Blue Sky Mine, and Forgotten Years. Each was on the chart for one week, and each was the week following a Sinéad O’Connor song. They’re probably best known for their late 80s hit Beds are Burning.

I burst out laughing at the start of Blue Sky Mine, which starts with a neat guitar riff, gets a late-80s synth layered on top, and then is all drowned out by some harmonica playing that makes Blues Traveler seem low energy.

The album as a whole is pretty enjoyable. Some of the songs are a bit more rollicking and it was a fun listen. It’s not going to change lives, and I’m not compelled to go further into their catalog, but I don’t regret the time I spent with it.

I feel like Forgotten Years should have been a longer lasting song than it was, but for the utterly weird synth break.

Midnight Oil was an Australian band, and make the most prominent use of synths of any album featured here so far.

The lead singer, Peter Garrett served in the Australian government for nine years, including as a Member of Parliament and as Minister for Environmental Protection and School Education.

Nothing Compares 2 U – Sinéad O’Connor

  • First Appearance: March 31, 1990
  • Weeks on the Chart: 1
  • Album: I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got
  • Have I heard this song before (pre-listen)? Yes
  • Have I actually heard this song before? Yes.

This was the first of two songs from this album to make it to the list. The second is “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” which also popped up for one week starting May 12.

My enduring memory of Sinéad O’Connor will always be watching Michael Ian Black talk about seeing her tear up a picture of the Pope on shows like I Love the 90s. Of course I’ve heard the song, and remember the music video, but the main memory is of other people remembering her.

This album feels a little all over the place. There are some tracks with very traditional Irish influence, others that are backed by crunchy guitars and have very traditional pop vocals. All-in-all it feels a little anodyne. Nothing really elicits an emotion from me, which is honestly a little disappointing. I expected more from something which such a cultural impact.

There has yet to be an American band or artist featured on this blog, and the first appearance of one isn’t until July 14, 1990.