My 1991. Three fantastic Irish singles ranked as follows:
1 A House – Endless Art (Bingo EP 12″)
2 Would Be’s – My Radio Sound’s Different In The Dark
3 The Frank and Walters – Walter’s Trip (EP1 12″)
I also saw some brilliant gigs:
Whipping Boy (a few times in The Underground)
Would Be’s in The Baggot Inn with The Sultans of Ping FC
A House and The Frank and Walters in McGonagles
Curve in McGonagles and a signing session in Comet beforehand
Pixies – Point
Wedding Present – SFX
Dinosaur Jr, Carter USM, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Therapy?, Blur – all in McGonagles
Feile 91 – Ride, The Farm, The La’s, The Mock Turtles, Black Francis, Happy Mondays
The vast majority of the songs here have already been discussed in the following reviews:
Now That’s What I Call Music 19: Source featuring Candi Staton – You Got The Love, Oleta Adams – Get Here, Enigma – Sadeness Part 1.
The Hits Album: Crystal Waters – Gypsy Woman, Kenny Thomas – Thinking About Your Love.
Now Dance ’91: Right Said Fred – I’m Too Sexy, Heavy D and The Boyz – Now That We’ve Found Love, DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince – Summertime, Cathy Dennis – Touch Me (All Night Long), Incognito featuring Jocelyn Brown – Always There, Young Disciples – Apparently Nothin’, Omar – There’s Nothing Like This, Quartz featuring Dinah Carroll – It’s Too Late.
Smash Hits 1991: Extreme – More Than Words, Amy Grant – Baby Baby.
The Greatest Hits Of ’91: The Waterboys – The Whole Of The Moon.
Now That’s What I Call Music 20: James – Sit Down, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Sailing On The Seven Seas, Pet Shop Boys – Where The Streets Have No Name (I Can’t Take My Eyes Off You), Erasure – Love To Hate You, Salt ‘N’ Pepa – Let’s Talk About Sex, PM Dawn – Set Adrift On Memory Bliss, U2 – The Fly, Roxette – Joyride, Scorpions – Winds Of Change, Julian Lennon – Saltwater, Jason Donovan – Any Dream Will Do, Monty Python – Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, Vic Reeves and The Wonder Stuff – Dizzy.
Now That’s What I Call Music 21: Brian May – Driven By You.
Now That’s What I Call Music 1991: The Wonder Stuff – The Size Of A Cow, Mike and The Mechanics – Word Of Mouth.
Hats off to Ashley Abram for the opening track – Queen’s The Show Must Go On. In the light of Freddie Mercury’s death, many compilations showcasing this period tend to use Bohemian Rhapsody (re-released 9 December 1991) – including the 1991 10th Anniversary set. The Show Must Go On was released on 14 October, just six weeks before Freddie said his last goodbyes. The intention was to promote the new compilation Greatest Hits II while the lyrics focus on cryptic allusions, metaphors and other figures of speech, making it somewhat difficult to understand. In the end, we get a sense of determination, the furious desire to live (“I have to find the will to carry on with the show”) in spite of vanishing strength (“inside my heart is breaking”) The video consisted of a montage of clips from earlier Queen videos – spanning the previous 10 years. This, along with the manner of the song’s lyrics, continued to fuel long-running media reports that Mercury was seriously ill, although it was still officially denied that anything was seriously wrong.
Tag vs Tig: either way it’s a playground game that involves three or more players chasing other players in an attempt to “tag” or touch them, usually with their hands. Usually when a person is tagged, the tagger says, “Tag, you’re it”. By 1991, I’d outgrown the game – but while queuing outside Dublin’s McGonagles to get into the Blur gig, I saw teenagers in baggy jeans playing it. Leisure taken to a new level. There’s No Other Way had been released a few months earlier – just before the hysteria of the National Stadium Morrissey show – and ploughed and infectious groove with its beat ‘n’ tambourine. Immaculately produced by Stephen Street, it reached #8 in the UK charts, and by the time the band played Dublin, another single (the disowned Bang) and an endearing debut LP were in my collection. However the band’s popularity was already waning and they would remain under the radar until the release Girls & Boys in 1994. During that three year spell, Blur would release their best work – the Popscene 45 and the great lost Britpop LP Modern Life Is Rubbish – along with several smashing B-sides. “Bang goes another year.”
Rave on: the seeds of K-Klass were sown when Carl Thomas and Andrew Williams formed Interstate and supporting 808 State on their 1988 tour. After seeing them in Chester and the next week at the Hacienda, Russ Morgan and Paul Roberts spent the night partying with them before going back to Andrew’s gaff to look at his studio equipment. All four of them began recording as K-Klass and dropped their demo tape into Eastern Bloc. They were signed on the spot and put out the Wildlife EP in 1990. A move to Deconstruction followed within 12 months and Rhythm Is A Mystery became a hit at the second attempt – it’s original release on Creed (12,000 copies sold) was enough to get them the big transfer and #3 on the national chart. A testimonial: “When you have 18 years, you still believe in many, many things: Love, peace, justice…When I go back to 1993, I bring back my memories and see the diference along the years. So sorry, but times are changin’. This is the beautiful power of music: you can go back to your memories and feels it still fresh. Anyway, this is a essential house track in any collection, where all instruments and Bobbi Depasois vocal make a perfect combination.” (V Kubrick)
After the Temple Of Lowe Men tour, Neil Finn took a break from Crowded House and started to record some songs with his older brother and former Split Enz bandmate Tim Finn. The original intention was to include these tracks for a Finn Brothers album. Once these sessions were complete, Neil teamed back up with Crowded House members Nick Seymour and Paul Hester to write and record the band’s third album. However Capitol Records rejected most of the new Crowded House songs, so Neil asked Tim if the band could use some of the new Finn Brothers songs. Tim agreed, on condition that he would join the band, although he has since claimed he meant this as a joke. In any case, the group that returned to the studio included Tim as a full band member. The end result, Woodface, is the first of two classic Crowded House albums (the other being Together Alone). However, Fall At Your Feet (included here) is the only solo Neil tune, a stellar pop moment. “This song is longing in it’s deepest form. The words are magic, a symphony of seduction and wanting. If I ever heard a song that would make and man or woman melt, this is it. Beautiful. Utterly beautiful.” (Marian Main)
“These four blokes thrash around with their loud guitars and what-not and manage to make lots of gloriously groovy pop songs. . . They’re clearly not very pleasant young men, but they’ve made a fine LP.” (Smash Hits)
That was 1988 and The Eight Legged Groove Machine. I first heard The Wonder Stuff on the Dave Fanning show. He played Give, Give, Give Me More, More, More and A Wish Away on successive nights. On my next trip to Dublin it was mine, £7.99 from the Virgin Megastore. The second record Hup was just as good, and a memorable – venue bursting at the seams – gig at the SFX followed. And we got two brilliant standalone singles before and after Hup: Who Wants To Be The Disco King? and Circle Square. 1991’s Never Loved Elvis was their most dense album; less immediate but once hooked, totally memorable: Mission Drive, Sleep Alone, Here Comes Everyone – all gutsy harmonies and riffs for the ever-growing moshpit. The Size Of A Cow is endlessly addictive – their biggest earner.
“A glorious musical mélange, an inspired melding of synth pop soar, 2-Tone yore, and glam rock roar, the anthemic chorus to the fore with a fist-in-the-air punch that shouts out for more.” (Dave Thompson)
“One definite redeeming number from Sugar Tax. . . glam-styled beats underpinning a giddy, playful romp that showed McCluskey still hadn’t lost his touch entirely.” (Ned Raggett)
“The 21st greatest song of 1991.” (MTV Europe)
“Somewhat unconvincing.” (A Pop Fan’s Dream)
In the past couple of years I’ve started to re-appraise the 1990s work of Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark. My vinyl copy of Sugar Tax was played twice in 1991 and promptly filed for 25 years. Out it came last Christmas and its hidden depths – the plaintive Apollo XI, the re-work of Neon Lights, the stately All That Glitters. And never has an earworm sounded so good – the rocking boat shanty Sailing On The Seven Seas with its wise words “People try to drag us down, so we learn to swim before we drown!”
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Sailing On The Seven Seas
Queen – The Show Must Go On
Blur – There’s No Other Way
The Wonder Stuff – The Size Of A Cow
Lest we forget
Crowded House – Fall At Your Feet
Missing tracks and other thoughts
I’ve said it before, this is a difficult year to anthologise. But Now That’s What I Call Music 1991: The Millennium Series does a good job. A fantastic opening tune which then leads into a couple of re-booted oldies (The Whole Of The Moon and Sit Down) before a synth pop double (PSB on their seventh succesive trip and then Erasure) plus a superb and lengthy dance sequence taking in R&B, hip hop and some crucial club sounds. CD2 leads with guitars – only faltering once (solution: move Sit Down and drop in Rozalla’s Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)) – with Oleta Adams’ Get Here ushering in a dreamy closing montage. There’s seems to be more of a reliance on the second half of the year while the worst selling Now volume in the entire series gets short shrift with just three inclusions – although it was the spring release so predominately consisted of late 1990 singles. Wish list: Urban Soul – Alright and Sophia Lawrence – Love’s Unkind. Repeat again: check out Awesome!! and Awesome!! 2 for more great 1991 memories.
Although it’s not perfect, I think this Millennium volume > 10th Anniversary. There are 24 overlapping tracks – Source featuring Candi Staton, Oleta Adams, Enigma, James, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Erasure, Salt ‘N’ Pepa, PM Dawn, Roxette, Scorpions, Julian Lennon, Jason Donovan, Monty Python, Vic Reeves and The Wonder Stuff, Right Said Fred, Heavy D and The Boyz, DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, Cathy Dennis, Crystal Waters, Kenny Thomas, Amy Grant, The Waterboys, The Wonder Stuff, Mike and The Mechanics. There were just two regular Now albums released in 1991 and 16 of their tracks are featured on the Millennium entry while Brian May’s Driven By You was on 1992’s Now 21. The Hits series just gets two slots compared to four on Now That’s What I Call Music 1991. Elsewhere there’s a whopping eight selections from Now Dance ’91.
There were 17 number ones in 1991. We get four while the 10th Anniversary set had six. Thankfully U2 are represented with The Fly, the compelling first 45 from Achtung Baby. #1s sorely missed: Iron Maiden – Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter, The KLF’s 3AM Eternal. Licensing Bryan Adams would also have been a coup. Other notable omissions: Seal’s Crazy, Massive Attack’s Unfinished Sympathy, Oceanic’s Insanity, The Prodigy’s Charly, The KLF’s Last Train To Trancentral. It was the year that punk broke: Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit + Pearl Jam – Alive also played their part while who can forget the four utterly fantastic albums from Creation: Primal Scream – Screamadelica, Teenage Fanclub – Bandwagonesque, My Bloody Valentine – Loveless, Saint Etienne – Foxbase Alpha. Surely one representative from this quartet could have been included?