I’m in the middle of finals week right now, hoping to have grades submitted by Wednesday or Thursday. I wouldn’t call this my favorite semester ever–prep has been more of a slog than usual, for one thing–but I’m hopeful of better things in the spring.
Thirty years ago I was about to go through my first round of final exams as a real-life professor. I’m sure I’d learned a lot over the course of the previous four months, though there can be no doubt multiple missteps were made along the way. I’d be teaching the lower-level courses–college algebra and elementary stats–over and over in the coming years, so one hopes I scaled the learning curves for those classes quickly. The upper-level ones, though–introduction to mathematical proof and calculus-based probability–wouldn’t come my way again for a long time (roughly twenty years for the former, maybe ten for the latter).
Modern rock was still more elusive on the radio in my world at this point than I wanted, so a few of the songs below are (unfortunately) brand new.
30. Sunscreem, “Love U More”
I do remember hearing this one at the time, but don’t think I ever knew the name of the band. Hard not to get in a better mood listening to it, that’s for sure. Was this a groundbreaking track in a way, helping tear down the boundary between techno and alterntive?
29. Mudhoney, “Suck You Dry”
Not the first time this song has been mentioned here. (Go ahead, click the link–it’s a good post, about the University of Kentucky’s true college radio station.) Influential as they were on the grunge scene, they’ve not grown on me over the years.
27. Shawn Colvin, “Round of Blues”
Another veteran track on the blog, appearing at least twice before. Can’t pass up another opportunity to hype my fave Colvin song, though.
24. Blind Melon, “Tones of Home”
How did I not know that “No Rain” wasn’t the first song featured from Blind Melon? I’m hearing a little Perry Ferrell in Shannon Hoon’s vocals here, which isn’t a compliment.
17. Thomas Dolby, “Eastern Bloc”
Dolby references “Europa and the Pirate Twins” throughout, and the beat is straight from “I Want Candy.” I hope that sounds appealing, because the execution of the concept is flawless.
16. Supreme Love Gods, “Souled Out”
Band out of Fresno that broke up after their one and only album. Ironic, then, that the standout line on “Souled Out” is “We are all together.” Based on the one song, I wouldn’t have minded hearing more from them.
15. Paul Weller, “Uh Huh Oh Yeh”
Weller will turn 65 next year, still cranking out albums to this day. This soulful opening cut from his self-titled solo debut does feel a bit like a declaration of independence, kicking out the style yet not bringing back the jam.
10. Lemonheads, “Mrs. Robinson”
The original is an inner-circle Hall of Fame song, of course. Evan Dando and company play it pretty straight and still come up with a cover that isn’t pointless in the slightest.
8. Dada, “Dizz Knee Land”
This was moderately clever the first few times I heard it; eventually it wore out its welcome with me.
7. R.E.M. “Ignoreland”
“I know that this is vitriol/No solution, spleen-venting/But I feel better for having screamed/Don’t you?” The angriest, most overtly political song they ever did?
6. Neneh Cherry, “Trout”
Two in a row with Stipe hanging around at the mic–he helped with the lyrics, as well. Interesting as this is, it was impossible to re-capture the magic of “Buffalo Stance.”
4. Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, “Not Sleeping Around”
The big moment in the States for NAD, as they’re steaming toward #1 on this chart. Like it, but I’m hearing a lot of the waning Madchester influence. I do know I’ll have this song in mind the next time I’m in an outdoor aviary at the zoo.
3. Peter Gabriel, “Steam”
I don’t know–this sure seems to be not much more than a hybrid of “Sledgehammer” and “Big Time”–and not as fresh as either.
2. The Sundays, “Love”
I didn’t get into Blind the way I did Reading, Writing,and Arithmetic, but that’s not because Harriet Wheeler’s voice is any less appealing. We’ll have my favorite cut from this second album next time.
1. Soul Asylum, “Somebody to Shove”
Sometimes it all comes together, even on a band’s sixth album. I like “Black Gold” and “Runaway Train” a lot, but they’re no match for the ferocity and intensity of “Somebody to Shove.” It hasn’t been often that the best song on the chart is sitting at #1–that’s the case this time, though.