Fifteen Reasons Why 1990 Was A Great Year For Music
- Public Enemy, Fear Of A Black Planet
- Rosanne Cash, Interiors
- Yo La Tengo, Fakebook
- Lisa Stansfield, Affection
- Pet Shop Boys, Behavior
- Brian Eno/John Cale, Wrong Way Up
- Lou Reed/John Cale, Songs For Drella
- LL Cool J, Mama Said Knock You Out
- A Tribe Called Quest, People's Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm
- Pixies, Bossanova
- Madonna, The Immaculate Collection
- Red Hot & Blue: Tribute To Cole Porter
- Queen Latifah, All Hail The Queen
- Nick Lowe, Party Of One
- Sonic Youth, Goo
Not sure why but my current-listening stack of CDs this week seems to favor what I was listening to in the late eighties and early nineties.
In 1990, Robert Christgau turned me on to hip-hop. If protest music assumed folk-music forms in the sixties, Public Enemy transplanted it to white-hot noise-rap in the eighties. LL Cool J, still just twenty-two, was already an old-school legend with several records under his belt. The jazzy and positivist A Tribe Called Quest thumbed their noses at gangsta rap. And the Queen Latifah record bristles with feminist no-nonsense and humor.
Rosanne Cash and Rodney Crowell split and she made the darkest break-up record I have ever heard. (Don't put it on late at night). Lou Reed and John Cale recorded a touching tribute to former friend and producer Andy Warhol. Both the Lisa Stansfield album and the Madonna compilation are gorgeous, intelligent dance-pop (a feeble and derogatory term that insults their quality). New Order notwithstanding, my favorite techno-pop songwriters Pet Shop Boys made a sonically punchy record thanks to guitars and Johnny Marr.
Brain Eno returned with his first batch of "songs" since 1977's classic Before And After Science. (His next song-oriented album, made fifteen years later, is being released today). Yo La Tengo dug up a handful of warm acoustic covers from their vast LP collections. And Sonic Youth followed up Daydream Nation by going major-label and delivering a perfectly good (and noisy) record that included a sweet, unironic tribute to Karen Carpenter.