For Part Two of this incredibly popular series, where memories are tested and taste is questioned, we focus on more albums released in the year 1990. Remember, this isn't a list of favorites--though some are here--but a list of stuff that came out that year. It's ranked, of course, in order of crucial human importance. Or randomly, as many of us are familiar. After all, why should the alphabet or record sales constantly determine things? Why not just roll the dice and see where things land?The Geto Boys--The Geto Boys: The greatest album ever made? While it's heartwarming that Bushwick Bill consults with his psychiatrist (paving the way for Ron Artest), it isn't much consolation for those slain by this self-described "lunatic." A fantastic, wonderful album for anyone who loves profanity!
24) Ride--Nowhere: I was surprised to learn that this debut album by the ultimate shoegazers (My Bloody Valentine are in a different division) was looked upon so highly. Good for them. Now it's time to rediscover the album that got a critical beating (Carnival Of Light) and see how that sounds in "Modern Day America."Primus--Frizzle Fry: Though I never cared for these guys one bit, it never stopped them from selling a ton of records. I'd suggest that my disliking them actually helped them, since musicians I like almost always sell fewer records than their nearest competitor. Maybe my taste is lousy? Nah, that can't be it.
22) The House of Love--The House Of Love: Perhaps to prove they could be as annoying as Peter Gabriel, The House of Love named their first two albums The House Of Love. In order to avoid confusion, fans refer to this album as either "Fontana" for the label it was released on, or as "Butterfly" for the cover. Me? I have an advance cassette with no artwork, so I know it as the album with "Someone's Got To Love You" on it.Unrest--Kustom Karnal Blackxploitation: There was a short period of time when these folks got rave reviews everywhere. I had a tape of some stuff and it was OK, I guess. But hardly the stuff that gets me excited enough to stay awake for the entire album.
20) The La's--The La's: The La's only album features "There She Goes," the song that's been used in more commercials than Modern English's "I Melt With You." Somehow, this album has been issued several times with bonus tracks (including imports), featuring songs that are not named "There She Goes." The list of "former members" of this group is also out of control.Pantera--Cowboys From Hell: Though technically the band's fifth album, this is where Pantera become Pantera. Featuring the late "Dimebag" Darrell (then known as "Diamond Darrell") on guitar and Phil (Snow In San) Anselmo on vocals playing something Wikipedia calls "groove-metal," Cowboys From Hell is not your average alt.country album or your average album from people residing in hell.
18) Codeine--Frigid Stars: With a name like Codeine, you know it has to be slow! Slo-core, one of the weirdest ideas to ever gain interest among listeners who were awake, was the brainchild of musicians who didn't feel much like exerting the energy usually expected out of a live band. By playing ridiculously slow and turning that into the hook, slo-core bands could play while relaxing on the floor or in their favorite chair. Pity the audience who had to watch them in a club without seats.Mark Lanegan--The Winding Sheet: Already discussed here for one reason or another, the singer of the Screaming Trees made a solo album that was pretty much better than anything his band had done to this point. Superstardom never beckoned. He still disappears whenever it suits him. How does he make a living? Rich friends? I dunno. But all his solo albums are worth checking out.
16) Mazzy Star--She Hangs Brightly: Another for the slo-core crowd. David Roback was once in Rain Parade, Clay Allison and Opal before Kendra Smith took off and Hope Sandoval came in, making them the quietest band not only on record but in interviews. No matter how I cranked the tape recorder, the hum of the phone line was louder than both of them. Thankfully, they answered in one to two word answers, so I was able to write stuff down. "Yes" and "No" make for fascinating answers, especially when the questions asked about their personal histories and creative processes. For example, how do I write this blog? NO!Alice In Chains--Facelift: AIC were unusually composed for a band that was part of a still developing scene. "Man In The Box" is perhaps the greatest song ever written about Spalding Gray and "We Die Young" is singer Layne Staley announcing his intent. Guitarist Jerry Cantrell has stuck around to make very cool solo albums. Someone had to. The Charlatans U.K.--Some Friendly: Of the many bands Britain sends our way every year, Charlatans U.K. were one of those who had to add a "U.K." to their name since there was already a band in San Francisco with the same name. Charlatans Jr. might have been a cooler move, but it looks like they've won the fight after all, since the U.S. band hasn't been heard from since the 1960s. According to my understanding, they recorded for Kama Sutra, so that's gotta count for something.
12) The Cramps--Stay Sick!: Though it was arguable that the Cramps were past their prime period, it didn't mean they were past putting out cool little records that only a handful of people would buy.Pussy Galore--Historia De Le Musica Rock: "Revolution Summer" was either an improvement or a "sell-out." It lacked profanity (does anyone know the words?) and you could almost hum it. Elsewhere on the album, it sounds like they're trying to fix something that's broken. Not sure if it ever gets fixed.
10) Rosanne Cash--Interiors: For some odd reason, this was the Rosanne Cash album that got all the great reviews and landed in the top ten of many critics polls. It's not like her work before or after is worse.Wilson Phillips--Wilson Phillips: Before Glen Ballard would go on to craft and co-write songs for Alanis Morissette, he spent time doing the same for future Newlywed Game-Reality TV star Carnie Wilson (if you can actually be a star with TV shows on the Game Show Network), her sister Wendy Wilson and friend Chynna Phillips. I'm sure Brian Wilson and John and Michelle Phillips were proud.
8) Ultra Vivid Scene--Joy 1967-1990: Once upon a time, Kurt Ralske was considered to be the one-man-band who would be what Trent Reznor became (i.e someone who sold records). His atmospheric coolness matched with his lyrical obsessions with the kinds of things that self-centered teenagers usually enjoy suggested he would be pinned up on bedroom walls throughout America. This was his second album. Despite the title and his lack of commercial success, he lived to make more.Royal Trux--Twin Infinitives: A double album that is either a waste of time or pure genius, depending on how much you paid for it, Twin Infinitives is an album I decided to give to a friend rather than move it to a new location. However, its artwork is amazingly attractive and has the look of something you would want to own on vinyl. What does it sound like? YES!
6) Cowboy Junkies--The Caution Horses: In response to all the crazy over-productions of the 1980s, Cowboy Junkies decided to save money and record quickly and cheaply. Like the aforementioned Codeine and Mazzy Star, CJ didn't feel like getting out of their chairs either. Slowing down Lou Reed and Hank Williams nearly made sense!Traveling Wilburys--Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3: Who says the Baby Boom generation refused to get old? Nothing quite says I'm a fan of old people music more than this dream vacation for those who can't get enough of Ringo Starr and His All-Starrs. I mean, seriously, can't people buy old blues albums or something?
4) INXS--X: Never my band, INXS named their album X after the Los Angeles band who didn't return the favor and call their album INXS. I remember Michael Hutchence once had a lot of hair and was once alive. Times change.Teenage Fanclub--A Catholic Education: I remember when these guys were going to be the next great indie band. Then I heard the album and found three songs. Huh?
2) The Replacements--All Shook Down: So many Replacements fans hate this album. Or at least don't care for it. But I think it's lovely. What it lacks in firepower, it makes up for helping fellow sufferers get to sleep. For some perverse reason, it's one of my most played albums in their catalog.Mariah Carey--Mariah Carey: One of the most important albums of the modern music world! She helped teach the world to sing by using as many notes as she could throw into her over-emotive state. What Bright Eyes is to "Emo," Carey is to mainstream music lovers (arguably, the greatest oxymoron ever!) Who hasn't wanted to tell Mariah Carey and the execs at Columbia Records exactly what they think? YES!
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