Archive for 1990

More – Sisters of Mercy

  • First Appearance: December 15, 1990
  • Weeks on the Chart: 5
  • Album: Vision Thing
  • Have I heard this song before (pre-listen)? No.
  • Have I actually heard this song before? No.

This is the last album of 1990, the first of 1991, and the weirdest intro track of the year. It’s like if Metallica and Devo had a baby.

They are very much a goth rock band. The song Ribbons is a heavy beat, with the phrases, “Flowers on the razor wire,” “incoming,” and “walk on in” repeated at regular intervals. It is precisely as strange as it sounds.

This is another one of those albums that seems like a parody of the genre now, but was likely a little less absurd when it came out. Songs like Detonation Boulevard, and Ribbons are so over the top that they’re a little hard to take seriously.

In a lot of ways this seems like a fitting album to close out 1990. It’s overly serious, dark, and sounds like a lot of things that came before it. In a lot of ways 1990 was still the 80s for music.

The song that charter, More, is actually a bit more chill and listenable. But it’s fair to say it was a bit of a relief when the album was over and I could move to 1991, which holds the promise of Achtung Baby, Out of Time, and Nevermind, among others.

Merry Go Round – The Replacements

  • First Appearance: October 13, 1990
  • Weeks on the Chart: 4 (non-consecutive)
  • Album: All Shook Down
  • Have I heard this song before (pre-listen)? No.
  • Have I actually heard this song before? No.

This was the last studio album from The Replacements, and this was their last single. I expected to have heard it before, but I also assume there’s a reason it was their last single off of their last album. It was clearly The Replacements: fun, relentless, pop, but it wasn’t the magic of some of their other singles that have persisted.

Unsurprisingly this album seems a little more mature and thoughtful than some of the Replacements’ work that you may be more familiar with. And if you’re wondering how I can write much more about The Replacements’ last album than one of The Cure’s most popular it’s because I’m enjoying this a lot more. Other reasons include: much more ink has been spilled about The Cure’s Ritual de lo Habitual than All Shook Down; and, I can’t imagine anyone has ever listened to The Cure and thought, “I want to start a band just like this one,” meanwhile The Replacements have likely influenced a lot more work.

The title track, All Shook Down, is a really sweet and quiet song, with what sounds like a recorder in the background. Meanwhile, Torture is a sweet little foot tapping love song, despite what the title would imply.

This is definitely a strong reminder to re-listen to their catalogue. Such a delight.

Never Enough – The Cure

  • First Appearance: September 29, 1990
  • Weeks on the Chart: 2
  • Album: Mixed Up
  • Have I heard this song before (pre-listen)? Yes.
  • Have I actually heard this song before? Yes.

This is an album The Cure. It sounds exactly like you’d expect an album by The Cure to sound.

Suicide Blonde – INXS

  • First Appearance: September 22, 1990
  • Weeks on the Chart: 1
  • Album: X
  • Have I heard this song before (pre-listen)? No.
  • Have I actually heard this song before? Yes, of course I have.

I’m not sure how many times I’ve heard this song without having any idea what the lyrics were. Apparently a lot of times, because this song is instantly recognizable, but I had no idea what it was before I hit play.

I was really hoping to put a nail in the 80s, but INXS still being on the list and with The Cure being the next up, it looks like I have some time to go.

All that said, there’s something timeless about INXS, their little yelps of joy, and timelessly 80s aesthetic that you can’t be mad at. They are absolutely and 100% only ever themselves.

Every Beat Of The Heart – The Railway Children

  • First Appearance: September 8, 1990
  • Weeks on the Chart: 1
  • Album: Native Place
  • Have I heard this song before (pre-listen)? No.
  • Have I actually heard this song before? No.

This song leads off the album on which it appears. It is also probably the most aggressively 80s song we’ve heard so far. Which I guess kind of caps off my observation that 1990s was still the 80s musically.

It features heavy use of simple synth lines, and just feels very 80s. Music Stop, the album’s second song feels like it’s trying to be a dance hit, but is just far too slow.

Wikipedia classifies this band as New Wave, which is fair. And if I’m seeming laconic, it’s because this falls into that area where I’m not wildly excited about this album, nor do I viciously hate it. It just happens to feel like a lot of other British Pop from the 80s.

Stop! – Jane’s Addiction

  • First Appearance: September 1, 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.