The anthem of summer ’89 was Soul II Soul’s Back To Life. In the sleeve notes for this 1989 Millennium edition, Jo Payton states “Dance music took a big step towards chart domination in 1989.” Their singles were lifted from the optimistically titled Club Classics Volume 1. Meanwhile after five years of uninterrupted success, compilation albums ended up being placed in their own chart from January 1989. Ashley Abram attributes this to “pressure from US companies on their UK counterparts i.e. Warner/Sony as they couldn’t understand why their superstars were being kept off the top by Now!”
Check out these reviews of mine for more discussion on the following tunes:
Now That’s What I Call Music 14: Fine Young Cannibals – She Drives Me Crazy, Marc Almond and Gene Pitney – Something’s Gotten Of My Heart, Roy Orbison – You Got It, Status Quo – Burning Bridges (On And Off And On Again), Inner City – Good Life, Paula Abdul – Straight Up, Erasure – Stop!, Simple Minds – Belfast Child, Sam Brown – Stop.
The Hits Album 10: Mike and The Mechanics – The Living Years.
Now That’s What I Call Music 15: INXS – Mystify, Kirsty MacColl – Days, Roxette – The Look, Soul II Soul featuring Caron Wheeler – Back To Life (However Do You Want Me), Neneh Cherry – Manchild, Pet Shop Boys – It’s Alright, Holly Johnson – Americanos.
Smash Hits Party ’89: Bobby Brown – My Prerogative.
Monster Hits: Cher – If I Could Turn Back Time, Kaoma – Lambada.
Now That’s What I Call Music 16: Tears For Fears – Sowing The Seeds Of Love, Debbie Harry – I Want That Man, Belinda Carlisle – Leave A Light On, Technotronic featuring Felly – Pump Up The Jam, Sydney Youngblood – If Only I Could, Tina Turner – The Best, De La Soul – Eye Know, Richard Marx – Right Here Waiting, Living In A Box – Room In My Heart.
Now That’s What I Call Music 1989: Phil Collins – Another Day In Paradise, Electronic – Getting Away With It, Kylie Minogue – Hand On Your Heart.
“This is Rain Parade at ease after the storm. This is Dream Syndicate going through a recurring nightmare. This is an aural Bic Mac laced with psychedelic dill. This comes from Manchester and is made by people who think Levenshulme is a suburb of San Francisco. This is The Byrds after they’ve flown the coop. This is living proof that acid is good for you. This is quite good. Just.
There are plenty of people who would differ about this. Take the chap who, after chomping a hit of LSD-impregnated graph paper at a party last weekend, solemnly told me that this eponymous album was “The greatest record ever made”. There again he thought he was having a conversation with Bugs Bunny at the time and I definitely don’t have a tail.
There is, it must be admitted, something that elevates The Stone Roses above simple retro-guitar blasts. Maybe it’s the humour. You can’t fail to clock the latter – it’s apparent straight after the first song is ushered in by a noise which sounds like a dozen fish-heads being digested. The guitars reach for the clouds while Ian, with Beelzebub’s bloodshot eye staring out of his naval, moans “I don’t have to sell my soul / He’s already in me / I wanna be adored”. The Stone Roses are not modest.
It’s not all choppy riffola though, unfortunately. There are tunes, for example, Waterfall, where the band try so studiously to be blissed out that they are as inviting as a bathtub of purple jelly left over from the S*x*I*s. The latter’s coda of backwards noises merely reinforces the feeling that The Stone Roses are occasionally stuck in a time and mindwarp.
Even so, despite the fact that they cant be bothered or can’t afford to explore the possibilities for psychic disintegration made available by new technology, there is still something charming about The Stone Roses – their complete obnoxiousness. Anybody who can rhyme “imbecile” with “feel” and do a cover of Scarborough Fair and change the lyrics to “Tear me apart and boil my bones / And her breast till she’s lost her throne / My aim is true and my message is clear / It’s curtains for you Elizabeth my dear” can’t be all bad. (7)” (Jack Barron)
This underwhelming review of The Stone Roses’ debut album made for interesting reading in late 1989. After building steady momentum throughout the summer, the band exploded that November. In paint. Kevin Cummins’ famous NME photo shoot was followed by an appearance on Top Of The Pops performing Fools Good. In tow were the Happy Mondays and Hallelujah. Let’s go back a few months to when the trajectory commenced:
18 March: Made Of Stone makes a brief one week chart appearance at a lowly #90.
29 July: She Bangs The Drums is released. Vital statistics 36 – 44 – 70.
23 November: Fools Gold on Top Of The Pops. Peaks at #8.
30 December: The reissue revival starts with Sally Cinnamon, originally released in 1987 as the band’s second single. On the Revolver label, it peaks at #46.
3 March: We’re into 1990 with Elephant Stone, a refugee from the autumn of 1988 and also included on the cassette and CD of the album. This time its zenith is #8.
17 March: Another crack for Made Of Stone. It enters the chart at #20.
31 March: The singles are coming thick and fast. The reissued She Bangs The Drums goes in at #34 but falls afterwards.
27 May: The Stone Roses play Spike Island. You had to be there.
14 July: It was the time of Prince concerts in Cork, Beat On The Street in Waterford and a new single. The euphoric One Love debuts at the heady heights of #4.
The album initially charted on 13 May 1989. Its journey was somewhat lacklustre with four separate chart runs between then and the end of September. The opening position of #32 was as good as it got. Top Of The Pops changed everything. During the first week of December, The Stone Roses re-entered the album charts for a 48 week sojourn that attained a very respectable #19 in February 1990. The indie charts in Ireland during that period saw both them and the Happy Mondays take the top two positions with the then 15 months old Bummed enjoying a revival on foot of the loved-up Madchester Rave On EP. The new chapter for Sean Ryder & Co would commence in March with the launch of Step On, a terminally groovy cover of a little known John Kongas number from 1971. But more about that in my review of the 1990 edition which you can read about on 6 January 2018.
Feets, don’t fail me now. During the 1989 – 1991 era (my Baggy Years), I wore Doc Marten boots everyday. Regulation black were the original of the species, 8 hole too slight, 14 hole too much of an effort. So I settled for a perfect 10 ’cause we all love our love in different sizes. By October, I had a second pair: ox blood. I chose to break them in on the day of The Sugarcubes’ concert at the SFX, a most memorable gig with Life’s Too Good played in its entirety. People were still getting to grips with Here Today, Tomorrow, Next Week. Funds were low so we had to walk back to Dartmouth Square. About 100 yards into the journey, the Docs started to cut me. By the time I got to Ranelagh there was real blood. Around the same time – across the water in Chester – an old friend Hector was busy moshing to The Wedding Present performing Take Me on the Bizarro tour. His shoe came off mid-song and could not be located afterwards. “Orange slices and that Fall LP”
“Sitting by the radio waiting to push Record on New Year’s Eve. Spare C90 and Hot Press inlay card at the ready!” (Anam)
When Love Comes To Town remains one of my least favourite U2 songs. During the Lovetown Tour concerts, it would be played, usually along with Angel of Harlem and the equally derivative Love Rescue Me, in an encore featuring B. B. and his band. It’s a great pity that the far superior All I Want Is You didn’t get the nod. The tour is still remembered fondly, especially the four dates at Dublin’s Point Depot. The band playing every night as if it was their last.
“Such a brilliant night, my radio reception was annoyingly imperfect as I recall, so little bursts of static here and there, so slightly frustrating, but still what a night! The anticipation was off the charts, must have been electric being there in person.”(Caledonia)
“I was explaining to people the other night, but I might’ve got it a bit wrong – this is just the end of something for U2. And that’s what we’re playing these concerts – and we’re throwing a party for ourselves and you. It’s no big deal, it’s just – we have to go away and … and dream it all up again.” (Bono, 30 December 1989)
“Politician granny with your high ideals, have you no idea how the majority feels?”
The good old days of Atlantic 252. Long wave. Requests, so many. Beaming out of our kitchen and my sister’s bedroom. It launched on Friday 1 September 1989 and the first song played was Sowing The Seeds Of Love. The music video was directed by Jim Blashfield, and won two awards at the MTV Music Video Awards: Best Breakthrough Video and Best Special Effects. It was also nominated in the Best Group Video and Best Postmodern Video categories. The B-side Tears Roll Down is an early, mostly instrumental version of Laid So Low (Tears Roll Down) which was released as a single in 1992 to promote Tears Roll Down (Greatest Hits 82-92). Which brings me to Tears Laid Low (A Tears For Fears Alter Collection), one of my most cherished and rarest CDs. It’s a selection of B-sides limited to 200 copies and was part of the Tears Roll Down promotional campaign. Back to The Seeds Of Love; it’s an epic pop-rock production that’s a cross between Spirit Of Eden and Sgt Pepper. The songs are lengthy, melancholy and beautifully sung. Love the gospel feel. Can’t wait for the super deluxe edition which is due in 2019.
March 1989 was a frantic time. I was busy studying (or panicking) for my mock Leaving Cert. Arriving towards the end of the madness was Depeche Mode’s 101, a live album and documentary chronicling the closing leg of the band’s Music for the Masses Tour and the final show at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena (18 June 1988). The 101st performance. And a documentary not a concert film so the full show does not exist on tape – only in the memories of those who were lucky enough to be there. Ultimately, the film focused on what Depeche Mode considered to be their primary strength – live performance – as well as capturing the spirit of their fan base.Notably, 101 prominently features a group of young fans travelling across America as winners of a “be-in-a-Depeche Mode-movie-contest,” which culminates at the Rose Bowl stadium. By August, I was getting my Leaving Cert results and the band were starting a new chapter, the guitar stomp of Personal Jesus.
“It’s a song about being a Jesus for somebody else, someone to give you hope and care. It’s about how Elvis Presley was her man and her mentor and how often that happens in love relationships; how everybody’s heart is like a god in some way, and that’s not a very balanced view of someone, is it?” (Martin Gore)
1989 was the year when the Pet Shop Boys revitalised the careers of both Liza Minnelli and Dusty Springfield. The Cabaret star began with a cover of Losing My Mind, originally written by Stephen Sondheim for the 1971 musical Follies. Assisting Neil and Chris was Julian Mendelsohn. The Pet Shop Boys demo version of Losing My Mindwas later remixed and released as a B-side to Jealously. This demo contains a scream that Minnelli opted not to include on her release. The subsequent album Results is a pop classic. There are covers of Twist in My Sobriety (Tanita Tikaram), Love Pains (Yvonne Elliman) and two from the producers, Rent and Tonight Is Forever. The bridge to If There Was Love features Minnelli reciting Sonnet 94 by William Shakespeare: “They that have power to hurt”. But the true highlight is the stunning So Sorry, I Said.
“The last few seconds – where she has a quick intake of breath and smiles pathetically in a ‘I still love him and I know I shouldn’t but what can you do’ sort of a way – contain the best acting I’ve ever seen from a pop star” (Into The Pop Void)
Meanwhile Dusty’s confidence had been boosted by the success and universal acclaim that followed What Have I Done To Deserve This? In February 1989, she released Nothing Has Been Proved which would play over the closing credits of the film Scandal, an account of the Profumo Affair. According to Neil Tennant, film producer Stephen Woolley liked the idea of having the song performed by someone who was already well-known at the time (1963). The music video shows Springfield in the studio along with a Christine Keeler lookalike being interviewed with camera flash bulbs going off. Along with these come short reels from the film starring Joanne Whalley, John Hurt, Ian McKellen, Britt Ekland, and Bridget Fonda as well as original news footage from 1963. The Boys play journalists interviewing Christine. We also get an orchestral arrangement by Angelo Badalamenti and a soprano saxophone solo by Courtney Pine while Marshall Jefferson provided a dance mix for the 12″. The LP Reputation would follow in June ’90. High: Occupy Your Mind.
“In the House, a resignation, guilty faces everyone,
Christine’s fallen out with Lucky, Johnny’s got a gun,
Please, Please Me’s number one.”
The Stone Roses – Fools Gold
Depeche Mode – Personal Jesus
Tears For Fears – Sowing The Seeds Of Love
Kylie Minogue – Hand On Your Heart
Lest we forget
Dusty Springfield – Nothing Has Been Proved
Missing tracks and other thoughts
The Millennium Series 1989 is another strong performer, the third in succession. The opening ex-Genesis pairing of Phil Collins and Mike and The Mechanics is a clever ploy and eases in the strong female 1-2 punch of Cher and Tina Turner. Then there’s a brilliant sequence that starts with INXS’ Mystify and runs through Sowing The Seeds Of Love and Getting Away With It before the 1960s nostalgia of Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart, Nothing Has Been Proved and Days. More ladies to the fore with Roxette, Kylie, Debbie and Belinda all dropping crackers. CD2 is more club-focused and there’s a knowing house bridge between It’s Alright and Good Life. Elsewhere the crucial R&B cuts of Straight Up and My Prerogative are both here along with Eye Know (lifted from the hip hop LP of ’89). The endless Belfast Child ushers in a show-stopping slow set of Stop – Right Here Waiting – Room In My Heart. The circular walk around the dancefloor. Endless, endless.
You could say this one is on a par with Now’s 10th Anniversary entry for the year. There are 20 overlapping tracks – Fine Young Cannibals, Roy Orbison, Inner City, Paula Abdul, Erasure, Sam Brown, Mike and The Mechanics, Tina Turner, Roxette, Soul II Soul, Bobby Brown, Tears For Fears, Debbie Harry, Belinda Carlisle, Technotronic featuring Felly, Sydney Youngblood, Richard Marx, Phil Collins, Electronic, Kylie Minogue. There were three regular Now albums released in 1989 and 25 of their tracks are featured on the Millennium entry. The Hits Album franchise gets less of a look in here – just three songs compared to seven on Now That’s What I Call Music 1989. Key omission: Losing My Mind.
There were 18 chart toppers on the UK charts during 1989. We get four whereas the 10th Anniversary team had seven. Both Ride And Time and All Around The World would have enhanced disc 2. And a couple of more SAW numbers such as Sonia’s You’ll Never Stop Me Loving You and Jason Donovan’s Sealed With A Kiss or When You Come Back To Me (a #2, his Christmas tune due to one line about “armfuls of presents”). Novelties that rock: I still lament the disappearance of Jive Bunny’s Let’s Party and Andy Stewart’s Donald Where’s Your Troosers? (1989). More absentees – slow: The Bangles – Eternal Flame, Natalie Cole’s Miss You Like Crazy, The Beautiful South’s Song For Whoever. Fast: The Wedding Present – Kennedy, Transvision Vamp – Baby I Don’t Care, Fuzzbox – Pink Sunshine or International Rescue, Darling Buds – Hit The Ground. And if you’re feeling sinister, throw on Morrissey’s Ouija Board, Ouija Board. “S-T-E-V-E-N”
And that’s all from me for 2017. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.