Wednesday, March 29, 2017

40 From 40: 1991

1991 is remembered these days as Nirvana's year and that of the alternative impinging on the mainstream, maybe brought about by the 1991: The Year Punk Broke documentary. Pop, the narrative went at the time, was in trouble, and Bryan Adams' sixteen weeks at number one proved it, beaten into retreat by not just loud, occasionally pedal-abusing guitar bands but also the commercial march of hip-hop, the last knocking of baggy and the chemtrails of rave culture that brought a dance music overhaul with it. Break free of the shackles of bad metal, you have nothing to lose but your make-up and backcomb etc. Obviously reality is far more slippery than myth. Nevermind was certainly seen as a way forward but it didn't reach Billboard number one until January 1992 or make the UK top ten until a month later (its all-time peak came in 2011!) The chart end didn't know what to do with itself, which would become more evident in 1992 but for now meant Color Me Badd, the Cher revival, a full welter of hits from adverts, Jason Donovan's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat barrage and the march of the megamixes. Even so, some kind of alternative sea change was evident in the biggest names, U2 retreating to a safe distance from what they'd been doing at the end of the 80s with Achtung Baby and Michael Jackson taking club sounds to heart on Dangerous. Simply Red colonised the sales list with Stars and Seal became an unlikely future soul pin-up, while acid jazz awoke in the corner. The KLF thought up 'stadium house' and then watched their obscure notions become actually huge. Rap threatened common decency as Ice Cube and Ice-T reinforced the path that Public Enemy were still building. And all this too, one song (the third here) short on Spotify but for a rounded appraisal of the year as we'd present it we couldn't really leave it out:

Del Tha Funky Homosapien - Mistadobalina
Saint Etienne - Nothing Can Stop Us
Pizzicato Five - Twiggy Twiggy
The Field Mice - Missing The Moon
The Future Sound Of London - Papua New Guinea
Young Disciples - Apparently Nothin'
A Tribe Called Quest - Check The Rhime
Electronic - Get The Message
Chapterhouse - Pearl
Flowered Up - It's On
Kitchens Of Distinction - Drive That Fast
Blur - Slow Down
My Bloody Valentine - Only Shallow
Senseless Things - Easy To Smile
World Of Twist - Sons Of The Stage
Mudhoney - Let It Slide
Ned's Atomic Dustbin - Kill Your Television(EDIT: this was a single in 1990, wasn't it? Ah, too late now)
The Jesus Lizard - Nub
Pixies - Alec Eiffel
Superchunk - Seed Toss
Manic Street Preachers - You Love Us (Heavenly Version)
Hole - Garbadge Man
Nirvana - Drain You
Throwing Muses - Counting Backwards
PJ Harvey - Dress
Public Enemy - Shut 'Em Down
808 State - In Yer Face
Stereolab - Super-Electric
Talk Talk - Ascension Day
Massive Attack - Five Man Army
Kirsty MacColl - Walking Down Madison
Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine - After The Watershed (Early Learning The Hard Way)
The Sugarcubes - Hit
A House - Endless Art
Billy Bragg - Accident Waiting To Happen
Teenage Fanclub - The Concept
R.E.M. - Country Feedback
Primal Scream - Primal Scream - Higher Than The Sun (A Dub Symphony In Two Parts)
Mercury Rev - Car Wash Hair
Slint - Good Morning, Captain

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