When I think of this point in time thirty years ago, just about the first thing that comes to mind is Operation Desert Storm, which officially began in mid-January and came to a close right as February did. The ground phase that ended it all was surprisingly short, just five days. On the last weekend of the month, I was in downtown Chicago, at a bridge tournament with Mark L when the announcement came over the PA that tanks were on the move. There was a lot of applause throughout the ballroom in response, though not at our table.
As for our first check-in with the nascent alternative scene for the year…while a number of these songs are awesome, I’m not feeling quite as much cumulative love this go-round as I have other times. We’ll look for things to get better later in the year, but we might as well take a peek.
28. Cocteau Twins, “Heaven or Las Vegas”
Songs are beginning to stay on the MRT chart longer on average–more and more frequently going forward, I’m getting to choose between two opportunities to write ’em up. This one was #21 back at the beginning of December and is now on the way down after a peak of #9.
27. The Pogues, “The Sunny Side of the Street”
Next time I’m in need of a pick-me-up, I may turn to this jaunty thing.
24. Inspiral Carpets, “This Is How It Feels”
I noted the silliness of the lyrics of “Commercial Rain” last time out, but the Carpets bounce back here with a thoughtful piece.
23. Drivin’ n’ Cryin’, “Fly Me Courageous”
I’d heard “Honeysuckle Blue” quite a bit on WPGU a couple of years earlier; they latched on to this one, too. Last March I’d made plans for a quick trip to the DC area to see 10K Maniacs with Greg and Katie, which obviously got postponed–these guys were scheduled to do a show in the area that weekend as well, though I doubt we would have gone.
18. The Charlatans UK, “White Shirt”
“Then” is sitting at #11 in its 15th week on, while this third single from Some Friendly is debuting.
14. Danielle Dax, “Tomorrow Never Knows”
What happens if you cover the Beatles using a Madchester backing track and female vocals? I believe it’s this.
13. The Darling Buds, “It Makes No Difference”
Two songs in a row produced by Stephen Street. A strong contender for my very favorite Buds tune. It’s close between this and #5 for best song on the chart.
12. Jellyfish, “That Is Why”
Saw Bellybutton featured at Record Service in Campustown for months on end, but never came close to pulling the trigger on a purchase. Please tell me how misguided I was. This is much better than “The King Is Half-Undressed,” which I passed over back in October.
10. They Eat Their Own, “Like a Drug”
Obscure band from LA that came and went very quickly. This is their one notable song, but it’s quite the song. I think I’ve got this CD somewhere still, no doubt courtesy of Greg.
9. The Mission UK, “Hands Across the Ocean”
These guys got their start after two of them left The Sisters of Mercy. Based on this song, I’d take them over SoM any day.
5. Lush, “Sweetness and Light”
This one slipped by me in real time–it’d take the release of “Nothing Natural” a year later for Lush to catch my attention. Started off as sort-of protegees of the Cocteau Twins but evolved a more rockin’ sound by the mid-90s, led by twin guitar attack of Miki Berenyi and Emma Anderson. Their ascent was derailed by the suicide of drummer Chris Aclund in 1996; they broke up not long after. A Top 5 90s band in my head.
4. Happy Mondays, “Kinky Afro”
They get to the chorus and I’m suddenly having flashbacks to “Lady Marmalade.” Dig it, but it’s not quite at the level of “Step On.”
3. Jesus Jones, “Right Here, Right Now”
Sounds entirely of its time–about events of its time–yet somehow I don’t consider this a dated piece. Maybe it’s the infectious, unwarranted optimism…
2. Chris Isaak, “Wicked Game”
I think Isaak’s pretty good, and I’m definitely glad he made some coin off of this song, but there are plenty others of his I like better.
1. Sting, “All This Time”
Am I the only one who didn’t consider Sting an alternative/college rock artist by this point? I hear “We’ll Be Together” on SiriusXM’s 1st Wave, and it just sounds out of place. Ditto for this perfectly fine pop song.