Today marks the second day of my favorite albums from 1990. Here we go again.
Mariah Carey – Mariah Carey (1990). Welcome to the age of the mega-selling diva. Mariah Carey marks the next diva in this lineage that began with Whitney Houston. Mariah’s debut album followed Whitney’s game plan to a tee, with some excellently soaring singles such as my favorite “Vision of Love.” While Whitney reinvented and transcended the term diva, Mariah remained planted in the pop realm, which might be why Mariah never topped Whitney’s reputation.
MC Hammer – Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em (1990). Okay! I know! Hammer created bubblegum rap. But, to me, that’s the beauty and genius of the man. He insidiously made rap more palatable to the suburban masses which led to rap taking over white America.
Megadeth – Rust in Peace (1990). Just as the whole metal thing was turning into a parody, Megadeth makes a last-gasp effort to inject some much needed vitality into the genre. This album represents Megadeth’s very best recording as guitarist Dave Mustaine’s songwriting was focused and his playing was concise and focused.
Neil Young – Ragged Glory (1990). Every time we all are ready to write off Neil Young, his releases an album that simply blows you away. Here, he reunites with Crazy Horse, his muddy-sounding rock side, as they anticipate the influence of their classic fuzz-based sound on all the grunge bands that are bubbling in the underground. This album proved just how vital an artist Young could be.
Pixies – Bossanova (1990). After all the craziness in the aftermath of Doolittle, you kind of expected a letdown from the Pixies. And, back in 1990, Bossanova seemed to be just that. However, after letting it marinate for 30 years, this album is not the let down it seemed to be at the time. Sure, we did not get any songs from Kim Deal, as she now had her own band, The Breeders, on the side for her creative outlet. Still, the band executed these Black Francis songs with conviction and precision. Although this album is considered to be the band’s weakest album of their original lineup, this is still a high quality slice of alt.rock that will soon become the sound of Nineties rock.
Sinéad O’Connor – I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got (1990). O’Connor proved she was a mega-talent on this album. She hit all the right notes throughout. To this day, the highlight is her stripped down version of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” a song that was released in 1986 by a post-Time Prince band called The Family. The video for this song is iconic in that it is predominantly a close up of O’Connor’s expressive face singing the song with all the simple emotion of her version. And, the rest of the album is just as compelling. I know that some still harbor ill feelings about her SNL performance where she ripped up a photo of the Pope, but, as we learned a decade later, she was right. It’s time we rediscover her brilliance as an artist.
Sonic Youth – Goo (1990). Sonic Youth was a darling of those of us “in the know” as far back as the mid-Eighties. They were an uncompromising band of noise rockers who had a penchant for putting that noise over some great melodies. Well, on this album, the band played up the melodies and toned down the noise and were rewarded with a hit album. Folks, this is the album in which the rest of the world just caught up with the underground.
The Black Crowes – Shake Your Moneymaker (1990). If you remember 1990, many people were pining for a sound in rock music that hearkened back to the salad days of the boogie rock of the early Seventies, like the Faces, Rod Stewart and Aerosmith. In the void steps The Black Crowes who reminded all of us of that era, adding a touch of Southern Rock to their sound. Of course, The Crowes caught on with Gen X post-modern rockers and allowed the aging Boomers to reenact their youth. Who knew that this band would develop into one helluva rock band with their very own unique sound that transcended this album. Still, this is the album that put them on the map.
The La’s – The La’s (1990). May I present to you the band in which I consider to be the first Britpop band. At the time, The La’s had a unique take on power pop, which had been mostly an American take on the original British Invasion sound. Yet, there was something different in the lyrics on this album, a more British-centric set of tales and attitude which made the so distinct. Oh, and you think you have never heard of this band? Uh, everyone has heard “There She Goes.” The song seems to be required to be added to the soundtrack of every movie released since 1995. Still, I never tire of hearing it.
And, that, my friends, wraps up 1990. That means I have covered 689 albums on my list, which means that I have 30 years to cram into 311 albums. I told you that I was biased. Oh well! What’s a brother to do? Peace.