My Personal Chart, March 24, 1990
The companion Spotify playlist has all the songs discussed in the blog.
With all that is going on in our world right now I have decided to temporarily stop driving for Uber until this situation passes. This will give me more time in the short term to focus more on my music projects. As I write about my personal charts through the years some eras of personal chart data have been lost. Actually most of my 90’s charts are gone because they were saved on floppy disks that were affected by moisture or an external hard drive that fell and data was not retrievable (damn technology can be infuriating).
I have my 1989 charts on paper with the last one I can fine for Jan. 6, 1990. Here are the top 10 from that chart.
1 1 ERASURE Drama!
6 2 MICHAEL BOLTON How Am I Supposed To Live Without You
13 3 AEROSMITH Janie’s Got A Gun
4 4 TESLA Love Song (Love Will Find A Way)
10 5 THE B-52’S Roam
9 6 LINDA RONSTADT & AARON NEVILLE Don’t Know Much
15 7 ANGELA WINBUSH It’s The Real Thing
18 8 EURYTHMICS Angel
14 9 KATE BUSH Love And Anger
16 10 ELTON JOHN Sacrifice
More than half of those songs hold up. I can’t even believe Michael Bolton got up to #2! That falls hard now. Erasure’s “Drama” still sounds fantastic, a great pulsating dance record. Lyrically it is so profound for the times we are in and how a certain individual seems to act. The song starts with the lines
”One rule for us,
For you another
Do unto yourself as you see fit for your brother.
Is that not within your realm of understanding?
A fifty second capacity of mind
Later in the chorus he says “Your shame is neverending” and in the bridge “our freedom is fragile”.
The ballads by Linda Ronstadt and Elton John would also suffer in the rear view but the Eurythmics song “Angel” would still make it to #1. The head scratcher here is Angela Winbush and her new jack swing song “It’s The Real Thing”, though I did like Pebbles at the time so it certainly fits that profile. Nice to see Kate Bush in there, probably my favorite song by her.
So what to do now? I started to create new weekly charts for early 1990, beginning with 2 pieces of information I do have. They are the peak positions of the songs from that year and the final top songs of the year. Even with that my 2020 brain looks at these songs differently. One anomaly from my charts from that era is that songs tended to drop quickly after they peaked. The previous week’s #1 “I Live By The Groove” by Paul Carrack dropped to #18 and the one before that, “Woman in Chains” by Tears For Fears fell from 12-94. These days there is a more gradual drop off. For me these are always fun exercises. The number in parentheses to the left of the song is the position on this week’s chart. On the playlist any songs not on the chart are featured at the end of the playlist.
Part 6, When Alternative Becomes Mainstream and the Underground Fabulousness of the UK
Depeche Mode/Dangerous (11)/Enjoy The Silence (21)/Personal Jesus (23)
There were a number of alternative bands that saw commercial breakthroughs in 1989 and 1990. Depeche Mode had been a huge success in the UK and on the Dance and Modern Rock charts since their debut in 1981. They had Pop chart impact in 1984 with the song “People Are People”, which peaked at #13 on the Hot 100. A smattering of other songs had limited Hot 100 impact, but it was not until “Personal Jesus” that they would make the Top 40 again.
The song was released in August 1989, well in advance of their smash album “Violator” which hit the shelves on March 19, 1990. The song, which used guitar as the main instrument, was a departure from their synth-centric sound. The melody line was inescapable however, an insistent bluesy progression that is the undercurrent of the entire song. It reached the top 5 in the UK and #28 on the Hot 100. It has made the lists of greatest songs of all time in Rolling Stone (368) and Q (top 100) magazines.
The song was inspired by the Priscilla Presley book, “Elvis And Me” and speaks to the idea of a personal mentor. Remakes include a stripped-down version in 2002 by Johnny Cash, who saw it as a gospel song (a major line in the song is “Reach out and touch faith”), Marilyn Manson’s heavy metal take in 2004 and Sammy Hagar, taking it in a blues rock direction in 2013. Also, at that time it became the best-selling 12 inch single in their record company’s history.
As I was writing this I got sidetracked and listened to a podcast called “Switched On Pop” (highly recommended). There was a newer episode featuring 5 Seconds Of Summer and their new song “Wildflower”. I had heard it the prior week and was intrigued. On the episode they cited many influences, including Depeche Mode and Johnny Cash, a strange coincidence, though if you listen to my podcasts or read my blog entries, this happens to me quite often. BTW, I’m in love with “Wildflower” now.
The song “Dangerous” was the B-side of the original ‘Jesus’ single and more in line with their darker-edged electro songs. At the time it connected with me more than ‘Jesus’. The band had reached my top 40 songs of the year 4 times between 1985 and 1988, twice in the top 10 (“Shake The Disease” #7 in 85 and “Never Let Me Down Again” #9 in 88). This song, even though a B-side, got Modern Rock airplay and Dance chart action.
About a month before the album release, “Enjoy The Silence” hit the airwaves and catapulted them in the Hot 100 top 10, though it was the only time. It was also chosen as the best single of the year at the 1991 Brit Awards. The album, whose title was meant to be a joke (they conjured up the most heavy metal title they could think of), it became their first top and first million seller in the U.S. (eventually going triple platinum), and placed at #17 on Billboard’s year-end album chart. Rolling Stone also includes the album in their top 500 of all time (342).
‘Silence’ certainly had a poppier sound and like so many pop tunes, had a juxtaposition between the lyrics and melody (“words like violence, break the silence”, “words are very unnecessary
they can only do harm”). Paraphrasing a review of the album, it was described as the meeting of “pop music and something more sinister”. Funny thing about the videos for ‘Jesus’ and ‘Silence’. In the former Dave Gahan was a cowboy and, in the latter, he was a king wandering the countryside with a deck chair in hand.
The band was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year. I am a bit surprised it took that long when artists like Abba, Donna Summer and Madonna are already there. In 2019, the next band also were inducted into the hall. And the adjective sinister could also be used to describe them. The Cure released their first album in 1979 and became integral in the development of what is called Gothic Rock. This was a movement that became a large part of Modern Rock in the 80’s.
Like Depeche Mode, The Cure had been steadily building their fanbase throughout the 80’s. Each of the 7 albums released between 79-87 (except 1) did better on the UK album chart than the previous one. The May 1989 release of the album “Disintegration” continued this trend and was their international commercial breakthrough, the culmination of this decade long forward march. It went double platinum in the States, peaking at #12, and produced the Hot 100 #2 song “Lovesong” and the Modern Rock #1 “Fascination Street”. Like DM, “Lovesong” was their only top 10 on the Hot 100, though “Friday, I’m In Love” did reach the top 10 on the Pop airplay chart in 1992.
I bought this album along with the Simple Minds album “Street Fighting Years”. Both have a similar sonic quality and I went home, laid on my bed in dark, and listened to both with headphones. I will never forget that moment, a truly fantastic experience. The Simple Minds album had 5 songs reach my personal chart top 20 in 1989, including the #1 “This Is Your Land” and the #5 title track which peaked in Feb. 1990.
The Cure album starts with the stately “Plainsong”, with one reviewer’s claim that “scant few albums released in the 1980s can boast an opener as grand as ‘Plainsong’, the most breathtaking, shimmering anthem the band ever recorded.” That is followed by Pictures Of You” (12), a song based on a poem called “The Dark Power Of Ritual Pictures”. It is a sad lament but hauntingly beautiful. A certain haze covers the entire album, it is awash of synths and plucky and distorted guitar, along with Robert Smith’s aching vocal.
Again, like DM, they won a 1991 Brit Award, this for best British Group and in addition to Rolling Stone’s top 500 album list (326), “Disintegration” appears on a myriad of other best of lists. On a “South Park” episode, Kyle claims it is the best album ever, and Robert Smith lent his voice to the episode as well. “Pictures Of You” also ranks on Rolling Stone’s best song list at #283.
Going in a completely different direction, but also being a mainstream breakthrough, was the B-52’s album “Cosmic Thing”. As sad and ethereal as The Cure album was, this album is oppositely exuberant and playful, a true party record. This was a result of a hiatus where there was a healing process after member Ricky Wilson died of AIDS in 1985. His sister Cindy is one of the 2 females in the group. Along with the other, Kate Pierson, they shared lead vocals on “Topaz” (14) and “Deadbeat Club” (79) along with “Roam” which peaked at #4 on my personal chart in January. In all 6 songs from the album made my top 10.
The Athens, Georgia band had, like the 2 previous bands, been working towards this pinnacle for over a decade (the seeds of Depeche Mode started in 1977). In the early days friends and family called them deadbeats as they hung around coffee shops and did not have jobs, thus the deadbeat club is autobiographical and features real places in Athens. The shuffling ‘Topaz’ is a buoyant song about nature and an expanding universe.
We talked about Don Was and his work with Bonnie Raitt previously. He produced a number of tracks on the album, including “Love Shack” though not these. Nile Rodgers of Chic was the producer on these and 4 other songs. The album sold over 4 million copies. ‘Shack’ and “Rock Lobster”, their first Modern Rock hit in 1979, show up on the Rolling Stone Top 500 song list at #246 and #147.
Right next to ‘Topaz’ on this week’s chart is Peter Murphy’s “Cuts You Up”(15). This song ended up as the #1 Modern Rock song of the year in 1990, spending 7 weeks at #1 on that chart (and #2 on my chart). The song also received some Pop airplay, making it to #55 on The Hot 100, though it did not chart in Britain.
He is known as the Godfather of Goth because he was the leader of the band Bauhaus, one of the most influential of that genre, from 1978-83. Their first single “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” is also their most iconic, though never charted in the UK either. It was most famously featured in the movie “The Hunger” with Susan Sarandon, David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve in 1983. His Bauhaus bandmate Daniel Ash went on to form Love & Rockets who had a major pop hit in 1989 with the #4 “So Alive” (also 5 weeks at #1 at Modern Rock and 1989’s #1 of the year). Another Bauhaus member David J moved to L&R with Ash and had a Modern Rock #1 later in 1990 with “I’ll Be Your Chauffeur”.
In 2005 Murphy went on tour with guitarist Mark Thwaite, who was a longtime member of The Mission, another band from the British Goth movement. The band has had 11 albums since 1985, the last in 2016. “Deliverance” (93) was one of four singles they released in 1990 from their album “Carved In Sand” and its companion B-sides album “Grains Of Sand”. All 4 made the UK top 40, though none was a major hit. Modern Rock radio was kinder to the band in the U.S., where ‘Deliverance’ peaked at #6 and “Hands Across The Ocean” at #7. The former also reached #7 on my personal chart.
They had reached my top 10 1 other time, in 1988, with “Tower Of Strength”. That grandiose song ended up as my #1 song of the year. This is supposedly frontman Wayne Hussey’s favorite of their songs. Before he formed the Mission (in the U.S. they were known of Mission UK) he was in Dead Or Alive from 81-83 and the Sisters Of Mercy from 83-85.
Like The Mission, The Cult released their last album in 2016, their tenth. They were born out of the same Post-Punk/Goth circle but as they evolved through the late 80’s they incorporated more Hard Rock and Metal edges and saw a number of big hits on Mainstream and Modern Rock radio. “Sweet Soul Sister” (100) was their fourth single from the 1989 “Sonic Temple” which spawned the classic song “Fire Woman”, which reached #3 on my personal chart, #2 Modern Rock and #4 on Mainstream Rock.
Three of the singles were about women, the other was “Edie (Caio Baby)” a song about Edie Sedgewick who was part of Andy Warhol’s circle and died of a drug overdose in 1971. ‘Sister’ is actually about the Americanization of European culture.
The Beggars Banquet record label was the home of The Cult, Peter Murphy, Bauhaus and the next band, Flesh For Lulu. It was an independent UK label that started as a series of record stores. Though Goth was not their only direction, Lulu was in this mode as well. They definitely brought in other influences. By 89/90 they were a bit more Jangle Pop with “Every Little Word” (111) , and “Time And Space” (108), which even has some Springsteen influence.
‘Time’ saw their greatest success on radio, peaking at #9 at Modern Rock. On my personal chart their crowning moment was the song “I Go Crazy” from 1987. It had a more Alt-Dance groove. The song was featured in the John Hughes movie “Some Kind Of Wonderful” with Eric Stoltz and Lea Thompson. The soundtrack was a very Indie Rock adventure. The song was my #7 song of 1987. Sadly, band member Nick Marsh died of cancer in 2015.
The Stranglers, of all the aforementioned bands in this gothic-centric thread, has had the most successful career based on longevity. They have had 17 albums between 1977-2012 and have had 32 singles reach the UK top 50. This success did not translate to the States in any big way unfortunately. “96 Tears” (110) was a remake of the ? & The Mysterians hit from the 60’s and doesn’t veer too much from the original organ fueled melody but certainly, from a production standpoint, it sounded fresh.
The band definitely evolved their sound through the years, going from a Punk/Goth start to Art Rock, Dance Rock and then Sophisti-Pop. One of their most recognizable songs is 1982’s “Golden Brown” a harpsichord driven ballad that sounds like a waltz but is extremely hard to dance to because it has time signature changes. They scored 2 high charting songs on my personal chart with “Skin Deep”, #13 in 1985 and “Always The Sun”, #23 in 1987.
I did not really know the 10990 album “10” back then but in sampling tracks now, I want to put a bunch in current playlist rotation. This is another thing that I really enjoy about learning the history of artists, I get to discover more music. This album was produced by Roy Thomas Baker who helmed albums by The Cars, Journey and Queen among others.
So what brings us to the next artist? Well it is the organ. The band is Inspiral Carpets, who are from Manchester and were part of the burgeoning Madchester scene. Their sound of 60’s style organ and distorted guitars proved to be a hit with their first album “Life” going to #2 in the UK, while the song “This Is How It Feels” (86) went to #14 in the UK and #22 at Modern Rock. They preceded this song with 2 independent singles in 1989, “Find Out Why” and “Move”.
When Tom Hingley, their guitarist, left the band he formed Tom Hingley and the Lovers and in 2001 released an album called “Abba Are The Enemy” with the very Carpet-y “Temperamental Jimmy”. The Carpets last release was a self-titled album in 2014. As evidenced by the single “Spitfire” their sound did not change much.
The Madchester scene’s music was a mix of acid house, rave, psychedelia and 60’s pop and was fueled by the New Order owned club in Manchester, the Hacienda Club, and probably along with the drug ecstasy (now known as molly). That club was voted the Best Club/Venue of 1989 in the magazine New Music Express (NME for short). The late 80’s era was called the second summer of love in the UK.
One of the major players in the scene were the Stone Roses. While most of their debut album was in a Beatles/Bryds/late 60’s Pop vein the song “Fools Gold” (25) has a distinctive funk groove that is different from the rest. It is a groove that totally gets under your skin. The song ended up as the #1 Indie single of 1989 in the UK and was the best performer of their songs on my personal chart.
There is a drum loop in a James Brown song called “Funky Drummer” from 1969 that was what this song was built around. It comes in at 5:38 in the song. The drum part in this song is a faster version of that sequence. Like in the discussion of the Lyn Collins song, the James Brown song is oft sampled by Hip-Hop artists. Bananarama sampled “Fool’s Good” along with Primal Scream’s Loaded” and the Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil” for their summer single in 1990 “Only Your Love”.
The Stone Roses debut album is a beloved piece of work, selling 4 million copies worldwide and making many best albums of all-time lists. It was not an immediate hit when it first debuted in 1989 but at the NME awards that year, they won Artist of the Year, Best Album and Single of the Year for “Fool’s Gold”. 3 of the early single release (“Elephant Stone”, “Made Of Stone” and “I Wanna Be Adored”) were re-released in late 90 and 91 after they gained traction.
2 other Madchester artists that were part of the scene were Happy Mondays and the Charlatans. It was actually Happy Mondays that coined the term Madchester with their 1989 EP “Madchester Rave On”. The song “Hallelujah” became their first hit, reaching the top 20 in the UK. They, along with the Stone Roses, appeared on the same episode of “Top of the Pops” in late ’89. The remix version features what sounds like a Gregorian chant, something that was employed later in 1990 by the German husband-wife duo Enigma on the international smash “Sadeness, Part One”. The ‘Mondays’ won the NME award for Best Dance Record in 198 for “W.F.L.” a remix of their 1988 song “Wrote For Luck”.
The Charlatans, who would see a longer chart life In the UK than other bands of this scene, were just getting started in early 1990 with the song “Indian Rope”. They were another band on the Beggars Banquet roster and later in the year would release the album “Some Friendly” that will be discussed in a later post. They ended up being another NME awards darling.
To end this thread, I present another NME award winning band, The House of Love, who were voted the Best Band of 1988 along with the Best Single, “Destroy The Heart”. Described as neo-psychedelia, they are not from Manchester, but London. In 1990 they released their second album, which was strangely named as the first, though the first is known as the German album and the second is known as the Butterfly album. “I Don’t Know Why I Love You” (107) would be their second Modern Rock top 10, peaking at #2, after 1988’s “Christine” (#8). With the success of ‘Why’ they re-released a new version of their inaugural single from 1987 “Shine On” which ended up a top 20 UK single.
Part 5, Swinging, Styling, Dancing & Rapping, and the Sample Heard Round the World
Jane Child/Don’t Wanna Fall In Love (9)
There were a few major Pop/R&B/Dance sounds that were prevalent in the late 80’s into early 90’s music landscape. A ton of Pop music would loosely fall under the style New Jack Swing, a style that was developing around 1986. Within it you would find elements of Jazz, Funk, R&B and Rap but the main thread holding it all together was a pronounced drum beat and synthesizer.
At the time I would not have considered this song by Canadian artist Jane Child part of that trend, but I can certainly hear it now. It is all over her debut album. She does add a bit more of a rock element to it, which is more evident on the follow-up sing “Welcome To The Real World” with its screaming guitar in the intro. Child was given the ability to produce her own album and she played all the instruments except guitar.
She was a classically trained pianist and you may remember her distinctive fashion style including the nose chain and floor length braids. The song would reach #2 on the Hot 100, kept out of the #1 position by Sinead O’Connor and the hideous, “I’ll Be Your Everything” by Tommy Page, a song he co-wrote with Jordan Knight and Danny Wood of New Kids On The Block.
She is a true one hit wonder, with ‘Real World’ only reaching #49. I think her ego may have gotten in the way. She wouldn’t perform on the UK’s “Top of The Pops” because she felt it was a sellout. Her next album would chart no songs on the U.S. pop charts, only managing a minor dance chart entry with the fifth single “All I Do”.
The origins can be traced back to producer Teddy Riley in 1985 The actual term was coined in a column in the Village Voice in October of 1987. ‘New Jack’ was a reference to a ‘Johnny Come Lately’ while the addition of swing was supposedly to make a veiled connection between speakeasies and crackhouses. Riley took the moniker and refined its meaning, saying “I define the term [new jack swing] as a new kid on the block who’s swinging it.” Huh? OK.
Another production team that were integral to the explosion of the style were Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, who were responsible for the albums “Control” and “Rhythm Nation 1814” by Janet Jackson. The song “Rhythm Nation” reached #3 on my personal chart at the end of 1989. The album spawned a ridiculous 8 singles, all of which would reach the Pop airplay top 5. The last single, “State Of The World”, was not released as a single here so it at the time was ineligible to chart on the Hot 100 but it did reach the Pop airplay top 5. The album has sold over 12 million copies worldwide.
“Alright” (119) was the fourth single and would eventually peak at #46 on my chart. It has samples from 2 songs, “Do You Like It” by BT Express from 1974 and “Think (About it)”, a 1972 song by Lyn Collins. That song has an amazing distinction. It has been sampled on over 2500 songs! The most recognizable one would probably be Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock’s “It Takes Two” from 1988. The video for ‘Alright’ was an elaborate production, set in the 1930’s and featured cameo appearances by legends Cyd Charisse and Cab Calloway.
Janet Jackson’s choreographer, Paula Abdul, became a juggernaut of her own in 1989 and 1990. The former Lakers cheerleader also went back to yesteryear with her video for “Opposites Attract” (89), which paid homage to the movie “Anchors Aweigh” where Gene Kelly dances with Jerry Mouse (of the Tom & Jerry cartoon series). The video won the Grammy for best short music video. Its directors were also responsible for the iconic video for A-Ha’s “Take On Me”.
This was the fourth Hot 100 #1 from the album “Forever Your Girl”, which has the distinction of being the album that has taken the longest to reach #1 on the Billboard Album Chart (64 weeks). This was an era of massive albums and this one has gone on to sell over 18 million copies worldwide.
Abdul started with the Lakers at age 18 in 1980. That same year 14 year old Lisa Stansfield won the British competition show “Search For A Star”, a precursor to the show “Pop Idol”. Interesting that Abdul was one of the original judges on “American Idol”. Even though it seemed like she burst out of nowhere in late 89 with “All Around The World” (10), she had spent the decade leading up to this moment in time.
As a teen in the early 80’s she released a handful on singles that did not chart and in 1986 she teamed up Ian Devaney and Andy Morris to form the group Blue Zone. They had relatively minor success in the UK and had their best chart performance, ironically in the U.S. in 1988, with the song “Jackie”. That song reached #54 on the Hot 100 and #50 on my personal chart. I had forgotten about “Jackie’ and the connection to Stansfield. In listening to the song now it should have done much much better on my chart. At least top 20. It was written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly who were responsible for a large number of 80’s and 90’s hits including “Like A Virgin”.
In 1989 she went solo and was also featured on the Coldcut song “People Hold On” that reached #11 in the UK and #6 on the dance chart. ‘World’ was an international smash reaching #3 on the Hot 100 and #1 on my chart. She was compared to Teena Marie, another white female that scored well on the R&B charts. She said the song was inspired by Barry White and the spoken word intro is an homage to him. In 1997 she had a #1 dance with a remake of his 1973 hit “Never Gonna Give You Up”.
The song was co-written by her and her Blue Zone partners. On Wikipedia it is associated with a number of genres including New Jack Swing. I do not see that correlation. But to jump back on that subject again, 1990 saw the former members of the Boston R&B group New Edition come out with their own projects. Ex-member Bobby Brown had left the group in 1985 and saw huge success with a string of 6 top 10 singles in 1988-89 which really helped solidify the impact of the genre.
In early 1990 Johnny Gill (Brown’s replacement in the group) and Bell Biv Devoe (three other members) released albums and followed his success into the Pop top 10. Gill’s “Rub You The Right Way” (134) and BBD’s “Poison” (98) and “Do Me” would all hit #3 on the Hot 100 (#4, #31 and #11 respectively on my chart). Later in the year another member, Ralph Tresvant would bring his song “Sensitivity” to #4.
On the Pop-Rap side, the start of 1990 saw MC Hammer overtaking the world with “U Can’t Touch This” (148). The song reached #8 on the Hot 100, which to many would be a surprise. It did reach #1 in Pop airplay but because the song was only available as a 12 inch single that hurt its placement on the big chart. Of course, using the main melody line of Rick James’ “Super Freak” helped by giving it instant familiarity but certainly now it is iconic in its own right.
He had 3 top 10’s in 1990 with “Pray” becoming the biggest chart-wise at #2 (again using the melody of another huge hit, “When Doves Cry”). After his life as a pop star started to wane in the mid 90’s he went on to become a preacher and began a television ministry. He had been a member of a Gospel-Rap group the Holy Ghost Boys in the mid-80’s.
Another iconic rap song of the time was “The Humpty Dance” (106) by Digital Underground. This song used over 100 samples. At the time lawsuits about sampling without credit or permission were rare. That started to change by 1991. There is a drum break in an instrumental from 1969 called “Amen, Brother” by the Winstons that has been widely used in Hip Hop and Electronic Music. The drummer, Gregory Coleman was never given credit, nor did he ever make any money from its use. It has become known as the Amen Break.
The humorous song was rapped by the lead singer Shock G’s alter ego, Humpty Hump, which he employed on a number of songs. The song, which reached #11 on the Hot 100, was chosen as the #65 song of the 90’s by VH1. And before his impactful career, 2Pac was a member of the band.
Salt N Pepa released “Expression” (36) as the lead single off their third album “Black’s Magic”, in Nov. 1989. The song didn’t hit the Billboard Hot 100 until late March, around the same time the album hit, and it had already gone gold prior to that, having spent 8 weeks at #1 on the R&B chart. Though they are considered one of the best-selling Hip Hop artists of all time, their Pop chart performance for this and the 1987 breakthrough hit “Push it” are surprising (only 26 and 19 respectively).
MC Hammer lost some of his Hip Hop credibility with the dancier vibe of his breakthrough album “Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em”. He infused some of his Pop-Rap with Freestyle, a sub-genre of Dance which had become popular through the latter half of the 80’s. It originated in the Latin community in New York City in the early 80’s and one of the original hits in that style was Shannon’s “Let the Music Play”. The female trio Expose were certainly the most successful group from that movement, amassing 7 consecutive Hot 100 top 10’s with “Tell Me Why” the last, peaking at #9. It had peaked at #16 on my chart earlier in the year.
Other girl groups having early 1990 chart success from the movement were Sweet Sensation with a remake of “Love Child”, the Cover Girls “We Can’t Go Wrong” and Seduction’s “Two To Make It Right”. Both of those songs were written by David Cole, and along with Robert Clivilles, they formed and produced Seduction. Those 2 would go on to create C&C Music Factory later in the year. The Seduction song, which went to #2 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Dance chart, is one of the 2500 plus song to contain a sample from that Lyn Collins song!
Like Expose, Taylor Dayne was seeing the end of her 7 consecutive Hot 100 top 10’s in early 1990. The ballad “Love Will Lead You Back” (75), would be her sole #1 on the Hot 100 (though 5 of the 7 would reach the top 5) and “I’ll Be Your Shelter” (92), in its debut week on my chart, would go on to be her sole #1 on my personal chart. Both songs were written by superstar songwriter Diane Warren.
I appreciated the rockier edge of ‘Shelter’ and feel it was a great vehicle for her powerhouse voice. That song was originally intended for Tina Turner, who turned it down. In 1996 Dayne wrote the song “Whatever You Want” for Turner. Impressively, Dayne has sold more than 75 million records worldwide.
Part 4, The Glamorous Life of Metal and the Zep Connect
McAuley Schenker Group/Anytime (7)
1990 was nearing the end of the pop chart dominance of Hair Metal or Glam Metal as it is also termed. There was certainly a plethora of bands that fit the mold. This band was an international endeavor with vocalist Robin McAuley from Ireland, guitarist Michael Schenker from Germany (his brother Rudolf is the founder of the Scorpions and Michael was a member for a time) and other members from the U.S. and Britain. Before McAuley joined it was called the Michael Schenker Group (MSG for short LOL). I believe this is the only song from either form of the band to hit my personal chart. It was great to hear it again, I had completely forgotten about it.
Previously in 1986, McAuley was in a band called Far Corporation. This group is best known for a cover version of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven”. It went to #8 in the UK and #89 in the U.S., the only time the song hit the Hot 100 as the original was never released as a single here. Some of the other members were from Toto and the group was the brainchild of Frank Farian, a German producer who also masterminded the groups Boney M and Milli Vanilli.
While McAuley Schenker was loosely considered a supergroup, Bad English was indeed one, including members of Journey, Santana and the Babys (though there was crossover from all 3). Vocalist John Waite had a successful solo career in the mid-80’s after his stint with the Babys. Jonathan Cain was also in that group and then a member of Santana and most famously Journey. Neal Schon also had been a member of Santana before joining Journey. Another Babys ex-patriot in the band, Ricky Phillips, later joined Styx in 2003.
Their second Hot 100 ballad, “Price Of Love” (43), followed the #1 “When I See You Smile”, from the prior year, into the top 10. In all they charted 6 songs on the Hot 100 between 89-91 before the Pop Metal backlash of the early 90’s. In addition, the song “Best Of What I Got” reached #9 on the Rock chart. The bands name came from a night of playing pool, as bad english is a reference to the spin of the ball. Their success was relatively short-lived, with the last charting single the summer of 91.
The other supergroup of that time was Damn Yankees, featuring Ted Nugent, Tommy Shaw of Styx and Jack Blades of Night Ranger. Similarly, this group scored 5 songs on the Hot 100, the first of which was “Coming Of Age” (87) a straightforward upbeat Pop Metal ditty. They would follow it with the top 5 ballad “High Enough”. The band suffered the same erosion as Bad English with their follow up album and Nugent left soon after.
Shaw and Blades go on to record one more album as a duo. They both have gone back to their original bands and have had new releases in the past few years. Night Ranger fared the best with their album on my personal chart, charting 6 songs from “Don’t Let Up” including “Truth” at #4, “Somehow Someway” at #2 for 5 weeks and the title song at #1.
The next band features a member of the reality TV show that aired in 2006, “Supergroup”. That would be Sebastian Bach of Skid Row. While the band was formed in Toms River NJ, Bach is from Canada and replaced the original vocalist. I was not a fan of their first single or the top 10 follow-up “18 And Life”, but “I Remember You” reached #22 on my chart in January.
Other members of the show included Ted Nugent (again), Evan Seinfeld of Biohazard, Scott Ian of Anthrax (a true biohazard) and Jason Bonham (son of late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham). His band Bonham also peaked on my chart is February at #58 with the song “Guilty” and in Dec. 89 with “Wait For Me” at #33. Bach also won the second season of the CMT singing competition “Gone Country”. I would think you can guess the premise.
On the other side of the country, California’s Warrant released their debut album “Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich” the week after Skid Row’s debut album. The 2 bands had a similar trajectory while Warrant had better success overall, most likely because their second album came out more quickly, in Sept. 1990. Skid Row waited until June 1991 as the genre was fading. “Sometimes She Cries” (30) was the fourth single from the debut and reached #20 on the Hot 100. In the fall of 89 they went to #2 with “Heaven”, held off the top spot by that dastardly Frank Farian band, Milli Vanilli’s excruciatingly bad “Girl I’m Gonna Miss You”.
Erik Turner the guitarist, of course cited Led Zeppelin as an influenced as well as Joe Perry of Aerosmith. Jani Lane, the lead singer, like Sebastian Bach had a stint on reality TV show “Celebrity Fit Club 2” on VH1 in 2005. His bout with alcohol was chronicled on the show and in 2011 he died at the age of 47 from alcohol poisoning.
Lane worked on a soundtrack theme song with James Young of Styx and Chris Z’nuff (I can imagine the childhood taunting) of Enuff Z’nuff. That Chicago band saw some minor success with “Fly High Michelle” (90) and “New Thing”, off their debut album, only making minor dents on the rock and pop charts. Z’nuff and partner Donny Vie did not appreciate being lumped into the Glam Metal pool, they said they were more Power Pop (aka Cheap Trick) but the singles from their debut album certainly seemed to owe more to the former style. They did cover Trick’s “Everything Works If You Let It” on a covers album.
While the last 3 bands faded with the decline of the rock style as Grunge came into prominence, they all produced albums well into the 2000’s. Warrant and Enuff Z’nuff both put out albums in 2017 and 2018 (a total of 9 and 14 albums respectively since their debuts).
Another band that did not appreciate being lumped into the Hair Metal discussion was the Sacramento band Tesla. The band is named after Nikola Tesla and not the Elon Musk company. Theirs is a mix of contemporary blues with a 70’s rock swagger, think Aerosmith. In fact, if you listen to the first single from their album “The Great Radio Controversy”, “Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out)” you’ll hear that connection.
In Dec. 89 they went to #1 on my chart with “Love Song (Love Will Find A Way)” and on this week’s chart “The Way It Is” (42) was ascending and eventually went to #4. Like the bands Skid Row and Warrant, the pop sheen wore off within the next year and a half and by 1994 they had lost their contract with Geffen records.
At the same time Aerosmith were having a late 80’s resurgence that started in 1987 and would continue into the new millennium. The 1989 album “Pump” was a high point, selling over 7 million copies and spawning 4 major hits, 3 of which would make the Hot 100 top 10. On my chart they had just come off the controversial #1 “Janie’s Got A Gun” and the ballad follow-up, “What It Takes” (22), would bring them up to #2.
That song was co-written by Desmond Child (along with “F.I.N.E.” which is also referenced in “What It Takes”), a prolific songwriter. This collaboration could have been a huge catalyst in the band’s comeback. He co-wrote their comeback hit “Dude (Looks Like A Lady)” and another from that album, “Angel”. He also co-wrote a number of big hits for Bon Jovi and Cher in the 80’s, “Livin’ La Vida Loca” and others for Ricky Martin and started that hit trend with 1979 Kiss hit “I Was Made For Loving You” (certainly not an exhaustive list). Another track from the album, “Monkey On My Back” is about overcoming drug addiction, reached #17 on the Rock chart.
With another debut album in 1989, the city of Boston was seeing the ascent of the Funk Metal band Extreme. During 89 and 90 it was mostly local based, though 1 of the 4 singles, “Kid Ego”, did reach the Rock top 40. “Mutha (Don’t Want To Go to School Today)” (52) was definitely a local hit and had peaked on my chart a few weeks earlier at #37. Before the debut album the band had won the award for best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Act at the Boston Music Awards in both 1986 and 1987.
Guitarist Nuno Bettencourt has a frenetic guitar style and the guitar solo from the song ‘Play With Me”, off that album, was featured in the mall chase scene from “Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure”. He also played rhythm guitar on the single version of Janet Jackson’s “Black Cat”, one of the biggest songs of 1990.
Diving For Pearls is a melodic rock band that originated in Boston, ended up in New York, released a self-titled 1989 debut album, and saw a minor chart hit with “Gimme Your Good Lovin’”, which reached #42 on my chart in Feb. and the lower reaches of the Hot 100. Their drummer Peter Clemente had been in a band with Michael Monroe, who was the founder of the Finnish band Hanoi Rocks, a band that is credited as one of the originators of Glam Metal in the late 70’s. Later in 1990 Monroe would reach #86 on my chart with “Man With No Eyes”.
These 2 songs could have been recorded by any of number of bands of the era (definitely Bon Jovi) and might have had better fates. For a minor band, Diving For Pearls has another interesting connection. One of their guitarists, Yul Vasquez, who is also an actor with a long resume, might be remembered most from his recurring role as Bob, the Intimidating gay guy on Seinfeld. He also has been on a number of episodes of Russian Doll.
Going back to Bad English for a connection to the next artist. Mark Spiro is a songwriter and producer who wrote 5 songs for Bad English, including the follow-up to “Price of Love”, “Heaven Is A Four Letter Word”. He also was a co-writer on the bulk of the debut album by Nashville melodic rock band Giant. I would compare them more to Foreigner, Journey and later day Bad Company than Hair Metal. That makes sense since the producer of Giant’s album “Last of The Runaways”, Terry Thomas, was the producer and a principal songwriter for much of Bad Company’s late 80’s music.
Giant had 2 songs on my chart this week, “Innocent Days” (18) with a bit of an INXS meets Foreigner vibe and the ballad “I’ll See You In My Dreams” (45). Both would reach my top 10 and ‘Dreams’ would be the band’s only pop hit, going to #20 on the Hot 100. The band was formed by brothers Dann and David Huff after the Christian band White Heart they were in split up.
Dann Huff had been a session musician since the early 80’s. After the minor success of Giant he went on to continue that work and started producing a myriad of Pop, Christian and Country artists. Look on his allmusic.com profile for an extensive list of the work he has done with artists from Streisand to Amy Grant, Keith Urban, Elton John and Megadeath! He produced 2 late 90’s albums for them. The country music community has also honored him with a number of awards.
Metal stalwarts Whitesnake had an album out in 1989 called “Slip Of The Tongue” which spawned 2 top 40 hits, “Fool For Your Loving” a reworking of a 1980 song by the band and “The Deeper The Love” (50) a midtempo ballad that peaked at #28. Over the years the band has had over 40 members and really is a vehicle for frontman David Coverdale.
Coverdale’s backing band was completely different than the 1987 version that spawned the hits “Here I Go Again” (Dann Huff played on this song) and “Is It Love”. On this release his guitarist was Steve Vai (not Vie), who had worked with Frank Zappa and David Lee Roth previously. He is one of the most respected rock guitarists of the last 40 years with 15 Grammy nominations and 3 wins.
Going back to Zeppelin connections, Vai had done a live version of “Stairway To Heaven” on American Idol with Mary J. Blige and Travis Barker in 2010. In 1993 David Coverdale teamed up with Jimmy Page (another supergroup?) for the album “Coverdale-Page” and reached #1 on the rock chart with “Pride And Joy”. Another #1 rock song, “The Hurting Kind” (117) by Robert Plant is on the album “Manic Nirvana” that was released the week of this chart. It spent 6 weeks at the summit of that chart and just missed the Pop top 40’s in both the UK and the States.
Finally, a band that has no connect to Hair Metal at all. Canadian superstars Rush started out on their 1974 debut as a Blues Rock band that definitely is born out of the late 60’s sound of Led Zeppelin (the final Zep connect) and the Who, so a bit of metal in there. “Finding My Way” is indicative of this. They moved towards a progressive rock approach moving through the 70’s and added a synth element throughout the 80’s. The late 1989 album “Presto” moved again, back towards a more guitar-oriented approach. Through it all there was Neil Peart’s lyrics and complex drumming.
All in all not my favorite Rush product though. 3 songs, the initial single and the Rock #1 “Show Don’t Tell” along with the songs “Presto” and “The Pass” (94) all performed similarly on my chart. The subject matter of “The Pass” was teen suicide. Sadly, Peart died in January of brain cancer. At Drummerworld.com he was voted as the greatest drummer of all time. Conversely, he came in second on Blender Magazine’s list of 40 worst rock lyricists of all time, while Allmusic praised the writing ability.
Part 3, The Quirk, Evolution of Sound and the Birth of Indie Pop
Birdhouse In Your Soul/They Might Be Giants (5)
This American duo had formed the band in 1982 and this song and its parent album, “Flood”, saw their biggest commercial success. The album went platinum and the song reached #3 on modern rock and #6 in the UK. They have always been a quirky band, with a lot of irreverent and humorous songs and it’s easy to see how they also forayed into children’s music. This song has a carnival like quality brought about by the insistent organ line behind most of the song. The traffic sounds in the instrumental bridge pay homage to the song “Summer In The City”.
Lyrically the song is sung from the perspective of a blue nightlight (sure, why not) and are at times nonsensical. Regardless, it is quite memorable. This album and the band became a staple in our lives, mostly because of my husband, but I didn’t meet him until later that year. Yes, we are about to celebrate 30 years!
In total I charted 6 songs from the album. “Istanbul, Not Constantinople” (41) is a remake of a song by the Four Lads. The song was written in 1953 on the 500th anniversary of the fall in Constantinople. In 1930 the name was changed to Istanbul. The novelty song was a perfect fit for TMBG (abbreviation of the band name for those in the know). The main instrument in the song is an accordion. I should ask my friend Tom if his sister ever played this song (I don’t need to fill in the rest, do I?). The original by the Canadian quartet peaked at #10 on the Billboard chart in 1953.
Other charting songs for me were “Particle Man” a perfect carousel song, “Twisting”, “Lucky Ball And Chain” and “Your Rascist Friend” (I know politics bores you but I feel like a hypocrite talking to you and your racist friend). This album is chock full of accordion.
There are other quirky artists on this week’s chart. “When The Lights Go Out” (97) by Oingo Boingo, an L.A. band led by Danny Elfman. He may be better known for his work scoring films. He is an oft collaborator with Tim Burton, starting with “PeeWee’s Playhouse” in 1985. There is a joke in a “South Park” episode that criticizes Burton for using the same music in all his movies, which refers to Elfman. He has also written the themes to “Desperate Housewives” and “The Simpsons”.
The band started as a theater troupe in the early 70’s, started by Elfman’s older brother Richard. Its name was the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo. Towards the end of the 70’s Danny took over and eventually it became a rock band with the shortened name. Most of the original members left with this change. In its original conception the newquirk band was influenced by the ska revival that was happening in the UK in ’79-’80. Their sound evolved through the 80’s into a more upbeat, off kilter new wave style.
They contributed a song, “Something Isn’t Right” to the Tom Hanks film “Bachelor Party” in 1984 and saw their biggest commercial success in 1985 with the theme to “Weird Science” and the song “Dead Man’s Party”. They sang that in the Rodney Dangerfield movie “Back To School”. Another interesting tidbit about Elfman, he dated Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon in high school.
Adam Ant achieved his first success in the UK in the late 70’s and early 80’s with his band Adam & The Ants. Their main quirk were their style, which was a mix of swashbuckler fashion and American Indian makeup. There were 2 different lineups of the group. The first was snatched away and groomed by Malcom McLaren to become the core of the group Bow Wow Wow. The second was the one that achieved 7 top 10 hits between 1980-82. They had a drum heavy new wave sound, derived from what is called the Burundi Beat. There is a great article online at https://medium.com/loopandreplay/burundi-beat-the-ants-annabella-and-appropriation-258a804a2176 that goes into the history and Ant, Bow Wow Wow and manager McLaren, it’s a fascinating read.
Ant went solo in 1983 and “Room At The Top” (33) was his second pop top 20 in the U.S. He continued to work with his guitarist from the band, Marco Pirroni and they co-wrote this song with Prince protégé Andre Cymone. It and the entire “Manners And Physique” album it was culled from incorporated Prince’s Minneapolis sound that was very prevalent at the time. The song is definitely closer to pop/r&b than new wave. Pirroni also worked with Sinead O’Connor on a number of albums.
While Ant (real name Stuart Goodard) came through the punk scene of the mid 70’s (McLaren was the Sex Pistols manager before working with Ant) his music style evolved through the years. Likewise, Ian Broudie the mastermind of the Lightning Seeds, started his music career in the same punk pool. Here, in its debut week on my chart, “Pure” (95) is a pop gem with a very distinctive musical line throughout the song. It would go on to reach my top 5 and ended up as my #51 of the year. It was the first song that Broudie ever completely wrote and sung. The album “Cloudcuckooland” was essentially a solo project. It wasn’t until a few years later that a band was formed around him.
The album and really the artist’s whole output during the 90’s is a far cry from the band Big In Japan he was a part of in the late 70’s. Though the Lightning Seeds had the most impact on the Alternative chart in the U.S., it is really overall happy synth-pop music. Big In Japan only existed for less than 2 years but what is most interesting about the band is that it featured members who would go on to bigger things. Holly Johnson would become the frontman of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Budgie would join Siouxsie and the Banshees and Bill Drummond would go on to manage Echo & The Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes, plus forming the late 80’s outfit the KLF.
Though the Lightnings Seeds had a string of top 20 singles in the UK through the first half of the 90’s, they are best known there probably for their 1996 #1 “Three Lions”, which was a football (soccer) theme song for the country’s hosting of the European Championships. It was a collaboration with 2 comedians who hosted a football themed comedy program. It has re-charted with slightly different versions, 8 times on the UK singles chart!
The Big In Japan connection extends to the next artist, Ian McCulloch, as he is the founder and lead singer of the 80’s band Echo And The Bunnymen, one of the most revered alt bands of the 80’s. That band was formed in 1978 and the ‘Echo’ was allegedly a drum machine (replaced with a real drummer in 1979). The song “Faith And Healing” (103) sounds like a New Order record. McCulloch left this band in 1988 to pursue a solo career, thinking he would later return, but they found a new lead singer. He gave them the moniker, echo and the bogusmen.
And here is the thing I love most about doing my podcast and writing these posts. Hidden gems (or not so hidden) like this. In 1998 McCulloch teamed up with the Spice Girls and members of Space and Ocean Colour Scene to record the song ”(How Does It Feel To Be) On Top Of The World” as England United. It was the “official song of the England national football team” for the 1998 World Cup. Though on the charts it was eclipsed by “Three Lions ’98.
A UK band compared to Echo & The Bunnymen (at least when they first surfaced in 1985) was the Mighty Lemon Drops. They have 2 jangly guitar pop songs on this chart, “Into The Heart of Love” (31) and “Where Do We Go From Heaven” (57), both of which performed well on Alternative radio in the States. In 1987 Sire Records started a sampler series called “Just Say Yes”. There were 7 volumes between 1987-1994 (including “Just Say Yo” and “Just Say Mao”). On the first release they featured Echo and the Drops back to back.
Their initial album release “Happy Head” had a rawer edge than later albums and the first single “Like An Angel” also opens a 2014 album “Uptight” which features early recording from 1985-86. Those later albums are not available on Spotify. That first single established them as part of the C86 movement in the UK, which is credited as the birth of indie pop. A 2006 compilation called “CD86: 48 Tracks from the Birth of Indie Pop”. Both Primal Scream and Jesus and Mary Chain, discussed in the last segment, appear on this compilation as well.
Part 2, Synth-cerely Yours
Move To Move/Kon Kan (4)
Canadian synth-pop duo Kon Kan had a big international hit in 88-89 with the sample heavy song “I Beg Your Pardon”, most notably featuring Lynn Anderson’s 1972 hit “(I never Promised You A) Rose Garden”. They released the album “Move To Move” in 1989 and featured more sampling and re-working of other songs. The title track was the 4th single and the 1st not to include sampling. It would go to #1 on my chart and end up at #14 for the year. As a radio song it only managed to hit #84 on the Canadian chart. I was more drawn to the dance remix. It was re-recorded for their 3rd and final album in 1993 “Vida” and titled “Move To Move (Revisited)”
Barry Harris, one half of the duo, would go on to created the production/remix team Thunderpuss that were prolific remixers in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Probably their most famous remix is of the Whitney Houston song “It’s Not Right But It’s OK”. That version is radically different from the album version and was the one that got radio airplay, ultimately reaching #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. On their own they released a few remake singles including Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla” and David Bowie’s “Heroes”.
Kon Kan’s 2nd album had multiple producers including Martyn Phillips who also worked on The Beloved’s “Happiness” album that year. That album generated a number of UK charting singles including “Hello” (34). That song name checks a myriad of people and characters, many of whom would only be known to Brits and Aussies. Even though, it was their most successful song on modern rock radio in the US reaching #6, while in the UK it peaked at #19 and barely dented the Australian chart. Also a dance club top 5, it eventually reached #2 on my chart, a big player on WFNX in Boston.
Jon Marsh has been the only consistent member of The Beloved and in 1990 they were just a duo. Another Brit synth-pop duo Erasure had just come off possibly my favorite song by them, “Drama!”, which was discussed earlier. But the follow-up “Blue Savannah” (65) had some difficulty reaching its original #22 peak on my newly revised charts from 1990, seeming to peak at #44 on March 10. It was one of four singles to reach the top 3 in the UK, though they never reached #1. On the album side “Wild!” was the second of 4 consecutive albums to reach the summit there.
2 other songs from the album, “You Surround Me” and “Star”, both peaked in the top 15. “Star” did the best of the 4 on the US dance charts, hitting #4. The frenetic “Drama!” only reached #10. Speaking of that song again when Andy Bell sings the word guilty, a back up chant of the word can be heard. That part is performed by the band Jesus And Mary Chain who were recording in an adjacent studio. Their song “Head On” (71) would end up peaking at #17 on my chart.
The Scottish band had been having success in the UK and modern rock radio from the mid-80’s. The modern rock chart did not exist until Sept. 88 so it wasn’t until this album “Automatic” released in October 89 that they reached #2 with this song and #1 with the former “Blues From A Gun”. There have been a long list of current and former members of the band but with this album they were a duo (2 brothers and a drum machine).
I don’t think I can keep this duo thing going much longer but here’s a shot at it. The band Electronic is technically a supergroup formed by Bernard Sumner of New Order and Johnny Marr of The Smiths. They were the core of the group and had other collaborators through their history. On the song “Getting Way With It” (47) they were joined by Neil Tenant of the Pet Shop Boys, thus technically a trio for this one, but he was not a permanent member. Though Tenant was the background vocalist his voice is unmistakable. Really Sumner’s vocal is also distinctive, so it basically sounds like a collaboration between New Order and the Pet Shop Boys.
During the same period Johnny Marr was a member of the UK band The The as well. The mastermind of Matt Johnson, for many years it was a solo incarnation. Marr was a member from 1988-1994 so his staccato guitar was featured on “Jealous Of Youth” (80). Along with Johnson’s sinister vocal the song reached a peak of 16 on my chart. This and the previous song “Kingdom Of Rain” (with guest vocalist Sinead O’Connor) were not single releases in the UK but both were modern rock hits here, #7 and #16 respectively.
As for Bernard Sumner, his band new Order had a big album in 1989, “Technique”, their 1st album to hit #1 in the UK and their 1st to go gold in the US. The song “Mr. Disco” just peaked at #14 on my chart in early March, the 6th song from the album to chart, including 2 #1’s (“Dream Attack” and “Vanishing Point”) and a #2 (“Round And Round”). Recorded In Ibiza and incorporating a burgeoning dance style called Balearic beat.
The lead single from that album, “Fine Time” exemplifies the sound. For me the song “Head Like A Hole” (29) by Nine Inch Nails, even though is in industrial dance rock, has some similar elements to it. From their iconic 1st album, “Pretty Hate Machine”, if it charted for me back then did not make my top 600 (I know that sounds crazy) because that’s how much I have on paper.
Back to Scotland for the next band, Primal Scream. Founding member Bobby Gillespie was also the drummer for the Jesus And Mary Chain in the mid 80’s. Like Marr, he spent time between both bands for a time. As this band progressed through the late 80’s they veered from a jangly psychedelic sound towards a more danceable style, incorporating acid house by 1990. That resulted in the album 1991 album “Screamadelica” but was preceded by a trio of single releases.
The 1st was the song “Loaded” (96) which came about as a remix of the song “I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have” from the band’s 1989 eponymous album. In the end it mixed a spoken line from the Peter Fonda film “Wild Angels”, a seemingly slowed down line from the Emotions “I Don’t Want To Lose Your Love” and a remix from Italy of Edie Brickell’s “What I Am”, weird. Only a few aspects of the original Primal Scream song are incorporated, and mostly from the end of the song. It’s a Rolling Stone-esque riff that comes in after 3 minutes and then a prominent horn section. Really none of the vocals from the original are used from what I can tell. The song made the top 20 at modern rock and on the UK singles chart.
Part 1, Celebrity Connections and Feeling the Blues Before and After
No Myth/Michael Penn (1)
At #1 on March 24 was the breakup song “No Myth” by Michael Penn (brother of Sean), a strummy Beatlesque mid-tempo rocker with a big beat. Funny the chorus line “What if I was Heathcliff, it’s no myth” was never how I heard it. To me it was “what if I was heaved with it’s no myth”, really!? I never questioned it. He said after the fact that the lyric “maybe she’s just looking for someone to dance with” was about having sex. Makes sense.
The song surprisingly only reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 but did reach #4 on the modern rock chart. MTV I’m sure helped propel the song and he did win the video award for best new male artist. At my yearly music party which began in 1984 and with any luck with have its 37th version this summer, it was #22 for the year. He might be seen as a one hit wonder, but he did manage to reach the modern rock top 20 5 times. Further down my chart this week “This And That” sits at #43 and “Brave New World” (more Beatles influence on this one) debuts at #108.
In the last 25 years he has focused on movie scores, including “Boogie Nights”. He also had a bit part as an engineer in the movie. TV scores followed for shows like “Girls” and “Masters Of Sex”. In 1997 he married Aimee Mann who is best remembered as the lead singer of the 80’s Boston band ‘Til Tuesday.
In an article from Stylus Magazine, “No Myth” was lumped into a box along with Jude Cole’s “Baby It’s Tonight” (81), most likely his best known song, that similarly peaked on the Hot 100 at #16. The article lamented the state of pop radio (as I have done recently) saying “if you led a guitar-bass-drums combo you didn’t stand a chance in hell of scoring on Top 40 radio unless your hair needed a rabies shot (Phil Collins doesn’t count, in part because he was blessedly bald).” The article spoke highly of “No Myth” but not so much for the Jude Cole song. Regardless, that song would go on to reach my top 10 and Cole would become one of my favorite male artists of the early 90’s.
I did not know him before this single but his debut album came out in 1987. In sampling some of the songs from that I certainly would have enjoyed it. I would best compare him to Bryan Adams. The 1990 album “A View From Third Street” spawned quite a number of big songs on my chart between 90-91. He would reach my top 20 of the year 6 times in the 90’s. The producer of that album, David Tyson, won the Canada’s Juno award (their Grammy equivalent) for producer of the year in 1991 for this album.
Previous to his solo career, in the late 70’s early 80’s he worked with Moon Martin, Dave Edmunds and was a member of the UK band the Records, who had a minor hit with the song “Starry Eyes” before he was a member. Not a surprise with his good looks, he is married to Michelle Pfieffer’s younger sister Lori. The movie star connection may have led to his business partnership with Kiefer Sutherland at Ironwork Studio and Records. In addition to his production of Sutherland’s 2 albums in 2016 and 2019, he became the manager and eventually producer of the band Lifehouse in 2000.
I was looking for stuff on YouTube and stumbled upon an interview he did for a BMI series. This was the 1st comment which I thought was just beautiful and exemplifies so much of how my life is.
I found a cassette tape from when I was a very young kid, my parents used to play this cassette in the car over and over again. It was Jude Cole – View From Third Street. I’ve never forgotten any word, and remembered the mastery of this album from start to finish. I’ve kept the tape since I was 5 and just repaired it and put it in my tape deck. I sat there with headphones, my body went numb, tears rolled down my face, and I had the most overwhelming experience I’ve ever had since I’ve been alive. This cassette tape is my earliest memories of how amazing music is, and it is also a benchmark of my earliest memories of hearing and being so emotionally and psychologically altered by sound and how music really can change life. I’m so grateful for that album, Jude. We all thank you.”
Another song that I equate with “No Myth” and that also has a connection to Cole is “Black Velvet” (6) by Canadian singer-songwriter Alannah Myles that was written about Elvis Presley. This bluesy power ballad was a huge song at the time, reaching #1 on the Hot 100 and on the rock chart. It achieved overwhelming international success and was the #18 song of the year in both the UK and the US. At the 1991 music party it landed at #10.
She is probably also perceived as a one hit wonder but saw success in Canada through most of the 90’s (4 albums and 9 top 40 hits). Her father was a Canadian broadcaster and she has some minor acting credits. She has been adorned with both Grammy (Best Female Rock performance) and Juno (Album of the Year for her debut) awards. That album was produced by the aforementioned David Tyson who also co-wrote “Black Velvet”. Her second album “Rockinghorse” was also nominated for female rock performance in 1993 and was a top 10 album Canada but failed to chart in the States.
Her only other Hot 100 entry “Love Is”, which peaked at #36 later in 1990. It’s a slithering rocker that sounds great to me now (the bridge is reminiscent of another song that I can’t place). It peaked at #40 on personal chart and I’m sure it would have done better if I had heard it more. With Spotify now it’s just so easy to listen to anything at will.
Another producer nominated for a Juno award, this time for work with Celine Dion for her album “Let’s Talk About Love”, is Corey Hart. I was a big fan of his during the 80’s (it didn’t hurt that he was broodingly adorable). I’m not positive but his 1990 single “A Little Love” (46) may have been his last on my personal chart (it peaked at #2).
It was his last top 40 hit in America, reaching #37. In Canada he continued to chart through most of the decade with 1996 seeing a mini resurgence with the #2 “Black Cloud Rain”. In all he scored 29 top 40 hits in Canada. Though not an actor really, he was considered for the role of Marty McFly in in “Back To The Future”. He was sent the script but declined a screen test.
“A Little Love” is a jangly pop-rocker which had a bit of a bluesy edge. I seemed to be in a bluesy pop/rock period in early 1990. During this week 3 such songs were in my top 10 including “I Wish It Would Rain Down” (2). Though the song is certainly gospel influenced Collins said it was the closest he had ever come to a blues song. That makes total sense with Eric Clapton playing guitar. And both influences can be felt as the song commences.
The song had just spent 2 weeks at #1 on my chart and peaked at #3 on the Hot 100 the following week. It ended up as the #1 song of the year in Canada, was my #12 of the year and was #17 at my music party in 1991. The album “…But Seriously”, released in November 1989 was nominated for album of the year but lost to Quincy Jones’ “Back On The Block”. It was the best-selling album in the UK for the year. Even with the loss of album of the year, Collins did pull of a victory for Record of the Year (and Brit Award for Song of the Year) for the 1st single “Another Day In Paradise”. That song reached #8 on my chart in Dec. 89.
If you remember the music video for ‘Rain’, it featured Jeffrey Tambor as a play director in the 30’s with Collins standing in for the actor who had appendicitis. While in the end the song is scratched from the play the video portrays a fantasy of Bill Collins becoming a big star. There is a cheeky reference to Genesis and Eric Clapton is also in the video as well. It is cute and must have had a relatively big budget.
Clapton was also riding high at this time with his album “Journeyman”, also released in Nov. 89. That album, released after he became sober, was a creative uptick for him, reaching #2 in the UK and #16 in the US. Its lead single “Pretending” starts with a piano sounding very much of the era of the ‘Rain Down’ era before going into its electronic blues vibe. Surprisingly it only reached #40 on my personal chart in Dec. 89. It would fare much better now. During this week he had 2 songs on my chart “Bad Love” (24) and “No Alibis” (49) which would eventually go on to reach #1. “Bad Love” and “Pretending” both went to #1 on the rock chart. ‘Love’ won the Grammy for Best Male Rock Performance and featured Phil Collins on backing vocals and drums. It was also co-written by Mick Jones of Foreigner.
On “No Alibis” Clapton gets assists from Daryl Hall and Chaka Khan. The song is his biggest hit on my chart, ending up at #16 for the year. A great combo of simmering electronics, guitar chops and strong vocals. The song, about getting caught in a web of lies, is sort of the counterpoint to the early 1990 hit “No More Lies” by R&B artist Michel’le. That song peaked on my chart at #8 in February and had just fallen off the list the prior week. I was won over by the funk groove and chorus, even if the squeaky voiced spoken word portions are a tad annoying. A great club song.
Eric Clapton ties into the next artist, Bonnie Raitt and her song “Real Man” (3) on a blues guitarist level but also in the fact that his “Pretending” and “Real Man” were both written by Jerry Lynn Williams. This one is led by honky tonk piano (Williams on piano) which adds a perfect amount of groove to it. Add the slide guitar and harmonica with her swaggering vocal and you’ve got a sexy little ditty. This would go to #1 on my chart the following week.
This song was one of five on my chart that week from the album “Nick Of Time”. It had just won the Grammy for album of the year the month prior and I was just starting to dive deep into the album. It was no shoe-in for the Grammy and was only her 1st album to reach the top 25 but her 10th album overall (it went on to reach #1 and sell over 5 million copies). Like Clapton, she experienced substance abuse problems which she had come out of recently.
And how she came to this is pretty awesome as well. She was between labels and potentially was going to work with Prince. It didn’t gel because she was in essence just singing Prince songs. The producer for “Nick of Time” was Don Was (real name Don Edward Fagenson) of the eclectic band Was (Not Was). Remember “Walk The Dinosuar”? They met in a strange happenstance. He had lost a master tape of music that he eventually found and had to push back a recording session a day because of it. They might never have met if that had not happened. When it came to the production of her album, he let Raitt be Raitt.
If this album had not hit the zeitgeist at the right moment she may never be known as the icon she is. The record labels had written her off and she was 39, so many viewed her in a certain way. I remember being so viscerally excited when she won the Grammy (and she won all 4 she was nominated for that year).
The ballad “Cry On My Shoulder” (16) with backing vocals from David Crosby and Graham Nash eventually peaked at #1 on my chart though I don’t think it would now. It seems most songs from the era that feature that bright electric piano-y keyboard sound, so prevalent at the time, have lost their luster on me.
“I Will Not Be Denied” (37), another written by Williams would eventually reach #2 on my chart and I could see that still happening. I dig the laid back tone of this one, with just the right amount of grit. One more thing about Williams, he wrote the 1981 Delbert McClinton hit “Giving It Up For Your Love”, my #15 of that year.
“Have A Heart” (76) achieved the highest chart position on radio by hitting #3 on the AC chart. The fabulous thing I just learned (or maybe I knew 30 years ago) is that the song was featured in the film “Heart Condition”, an action comedy starring Denzel Washington and Bob Hoskins. It was panned with a zero Rotten Tomatoes rating and I’m sure I have never seen it. What it brought to mind was how adorable I thought Bob Hoskins was (sadly he died in 2014). My husband can attest that I fell in love when I saw “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”. Oh how I love the Wikipedia and Internet roger rabbit holes.
Finally “Love Letter” (110) debuted this week and reached #18 then but could do better now. Don Was said she has the best voice and Rolling Stone mag rated her as the #50 best singer and #89 best guitarist of all time. Was said they chose the songs for “Nick Of Time” based on how they sounded with her voice alone. The instrumentation and nuances came afterward.
To finish out the blues portion of our program is the song “Blues Before And After” (78) by New Jersey rockers the Smithereens. While not a blues song, Pat Dinizio “gets the blues before and after I’m with you”. The band saw success on the rock, modern rock and college radio through the mid to late 80’s but saw their mainstream peak with their 3rd album “11”, the title inspired by “Ocean’s 11” and a line from the movie Spinal Tap, “this one goes to 11”. This one reached #19 on my chart, hit #7 on the rock chart, #18 on modern rock and #94 on the Hot 100.
They also show up on this week’s chart with “Yesterday Girl” (70), a song based on the Kingsmen song “Louie Louie” and speaks of the downside of success. As for the band’s name. It comes from a Yosemite Sam line, “varmint, I’m gonna blow you to smithereens”.
The 1st single from the album, “A Girl Like You” which peaked at #16 on my chart in January, was their 1st song to reach the Billboard top 40 and was originally intended to be the title song for the iconic John Cusack movie “Say Anything”. Cameron Crowe wanted Dinizio to change lyrics because it revealed to much of the plot and he refused. Madonna was originally supposed to sing backup on the song but did not show up for the session.
So where does that lead us. To Madge of course. In 1989 the album “Like A Prayer” was massive. “Keep It Together (59) was the last single to be released (though the song “Dear Jessie” was released in Europe) and hit #8 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the dance chart. Lyrically it pertains to the importance of family, especially after her divorce from Sean Penn (Oh wait that’s Michael Penn’s bro). Influences for the song come from the Sister Sledge song “We Are Family” and “Family Affair” by Sly & The Family Stone.
In January the somewhat autobiographical song “Oh Father” went to #13 on my chart but only #20 on the Hot 100. It’s about male authoritative figures in her life, especially her father. Her mother died in 1963 at the age of 30 and the relationship with her dad went downhill after he married their housekeeper 2 years later.
2 weeks after this chart date Madonna released one of her most iconic songs, “Vogue”, which topped the charts in over 30 countries. Born out of the ball culture of the late 80’s, early 90’s that is depicted in the TV show “Pose”. The ball culture actually started out in the 20’s. The video seems to take inspiration from that time. The video won 3 awards at the MTV video music awards (direction, editing and cinematography). It became the best-selling single of 1990. A lawsuit was filed about a sample from the 1976 song “Love Break” by Salsoul Orchestra but the verdict was found in Madonna’s favor, saying it was insignificant to the song.
Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares To You (8) spent 4 weeks at #1 on the Hot 100 in April and May with “Vogue” displacing it on May 19. The song was written by Prince, who was also involved in the production of Madonna’s album “Like A Prayer”.
Originally recorded by The Family, a Prince formed band that came out of the ashes of The Time in 1985 with a male lead singer who sounds vaguely like Prince. O’Connor’s version is more elegiac and sparse. A career defining moment. She, like Madonna, won 3 MTV video awards (female, post-modern and video of the year).
Another strange connection between O’Connor and Madonna happened after the controversial appearance on SNL in 1992 when O’Connor ripped a photo of the Pope on the show. Madonna parodied it later in the season by ripping a photo of Joey Buttafuoco saying “he was the real enemy”. She also berated O’Connor in the press and the back and forth continued when Madonna released her “Sex” book and the album “Erotica”.
The song is cited in Rolling Stone as the #165 greatest song of all time. The day after Prince’s death, Apr. 22, 2016 Chris Cornell posted a link to his version of the song and a tribute to him. Sadly, just over a year later Cornell committed suicide. On Father’s Day the following year, Cornell’s daughter Toni released a version of the song, a duet with her Dad recorded before his death.