The 1991 Brit Awards were the 11th edition of the biggest UK pop ceremony and took place on 10 February at London’s Dominion Theatre. The accompanying album contained 29 tracks and was third in the series after The Awards 1989 and The Awards 1990.
The opening track is from the Best British Male, Elton John. Sacrifice was his first solo #1; he had previously reached the top in 1976 with Kiki Kee and Don’t Go Breaking My Heart. Sinéad O’Connor’s Nothing Compares To U was written by Prince and became a worldwide success. She won Best International Female. Fellow nominee Whitney Houston’s tight R&B of I’m Your Baby Tonight became her first single since late 1988 while Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 won Best British Album for George Michael and was a worthy successor to Faith. The magnificent Praying For Time is included here and proof that you have a hit without a promotional video. Meanwhile The Beautiful South’s caustic A Little Time won the Best Video award. Scenes included a fighting couple, a trashed house, plenty of flour and feathers, and a teddy bear’s head impaled on a kitchen knife.
Soundtrack time: The Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody was the best selling single of 1990. It features in the soppy but loveable Ghost. Roxette’s epic It Must Have Been Love got a big push from being included in Pretty Woman while Jon Bon Jovi’s overblown Blaze Of Glory was appropriate for Young Guns II. But the year belonged to David Lynch – for both the large and small screen. Wild At Heart was superb; Sailor [Nicolas Cage] and Lulu [Laura Dern] as two lovers on the run from her domineering mother. It won the Palme d’Or and Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game was perfectly pitched as a brooding, sorrowful ballad. And then there was Twin Peaks. My favourite television programme of all time. Angelo Badalalamenti was involved again and created a magnificent soundtrack accompaniment. Lynch provided the lyrics for Falling while Julee Cruise gave it her best dream pop vocal. Out of this world.
Prince was also at the movies in 1990. The Graffiti Bridge was his follow-up to Batman with the album being his first misstep since 1978’s For You. Thieves In The Temple was one its few memorable tracks. The Purple One was nominated for Best International Male but lost out to Michael Hutchence. I like Suicide Blonde marginally more than I did last week [when listening to and writing the review for Now That’s What I Call Music 18]. Elsewhere there’s Wilson Phillips [those ladies with famous parents] and Hold On with its close harmony style. Janet Jackson’s hard rock statement Black Cat is equally impressive; one of seven US top 5 hits pulled from the groundbreaking Rhythm Nation 1814.
Disc 2: We have the LP version of Groove Is In The Heart which includes a rap from Q-Tip and bass from Bootsy Collins. Both were omitted from the 7″ [known as the Peanut Butter Mix] and the single reached #2 in the UK charts. In actual fact it had sold the same number of copies as The Joker [Steve Miller Band]. However it was relegated to second place due to a rule which stated that dealt with any ties over chart positions due to equal sales: the single with sales that had increased most from the previous week would prevail over the other. The overriding factors which led to the ruling being implemented was that The Joker had been one position lower in the chart the previous week than Groove Is in The Heart. Therefore The Joker was therefore deemed to be the bigger-selling of the two. Following the controversy and complaints from Deee-Lite’s record company, WEA, the rule was scrapped and joint positions were once again allowed. Unfortunately The Joker spent a second week at #1 and thereafter hammered Groove Is in the Heart in sales. They also didn’t win the Best International Newcomer award.
1990 was the year of Boomania. Doin’ The Do is included here and Betty won Best British Newcomer. Beats International were also nominated in this category having delivered one of the year’s biggest selling dance hits in Dub Be Good To Me. Meanwhile Youth’s work with Blue Pearl on Naked In The Rain saw him get a nomination for Best Producer. In the Best British Female category we had Caron Wheeler who decided to fly solo from Soul II Soul. The laid back Livin’ In The Light was a top 20 hit. Also in the frame was Dusty Springfield who pulled off the album of her career in Reputation. She was truly the queen of blue-eyed soul and the title track showcases a fantastic vocal performance. Lisa Stansfield was the eventual winner; Live Together was another example of immaculately-sung pop. Also included is Neneh Cherry [Best International Female category] with her fiery cover of Cole Porter’s I’ve Got You Under My Skin.
“Son, I’m 30,
I only went with your mother ’cause she’s dirty”.
The indie dance shuffle peaked in 1990. The compilers have acknowledged by including The LA’s seminal There She Goes. They’re joined by fellow Best British Newcomer nominees the Happy Mondays and Kinky Afro. Shaun Ryder wearing a donkey jacket on Top Of The Pops. The day trip to Dublin and the maroon hoodie with flares. The buzz when Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches hit the turntable for the first time. Forever entwined with The Stone Roses whose underrated One Love slots in afterwards. Released five weeks after Spike Island. The music video featured band performing outdoors, with fires blazing in the background and it’s that slightly longer edit [running to 3:50] that’s on this album.
Time to cut some rug with The Cure. The new and improved Close To Me was a treat for jazzy norks and the Closet Mix was a scaled-down version of what had appeared on the surprisingly great Mixed Up LP. “If I had your faith” – does it refer to confidence / trust or The Cure album of the same name? Another mid-1980s track that saw a remix was Bronski Beat’s Smalltown Boy. Here it’s credited to Jimmy Somerville and it’s a faithful remodel. Both Jimmy and Robert were nominated for Best British Male while The Cure ended up with the Best British Group accolade at the expense of Talk Talk. The latter’s Natural History retrospective was plugged by a reissue of Life’s What You Make It. Finally 1989’s Cosmic Thing continued to rack up steady sales for The B-52s ensuring that the party stayed out of bounds all year long. While they failed to win Best International Group, the video for Love Shack won Best Group Video at the MTV Awards and was named as Rolling Stone’s best single of 1989.
“People get sick, they play the wrong games.
Ya know, it can ruin your name!
Crashers gettin’ bombed. (Who’s to blame?)
Can you pull it back in line?
Can you salvage it in time?” .
Julee Cruise – Falling
Chris Isaak – Wicked Game
The Stone Roses – One Love
George Michael – Praying For Time
Lest we forget
Jimmy Somerville – Smalltown Boy (1991 Remix)