Tag Archives: 1989

9 of the best – sounds of 1989

As we enter the season of best-of lists, I have found myself looking back at 1989. Which songs feel 30 years old and which beg the question: has it really been 30 years? I give you my favourite nine sounds of 1989, in no particular order…

The Stone Roses – I Am The Resurrection

The Blue Nile ‎- The Downtown Lights

The Cure – Lullaby

Kate Bush – This Woman’s Work

Beastie Boys ‎- Egg Man

Pixies – Debaser

Lenny Kravitz – Sittin’ On Top Of The World

Lil Louis ‎- French Kiss

Soul II Soul – Back To Life

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Honourable mentions also go to: 808 State for ‘Pacific State 202‘; Happy Mondays for ‘Hallelujah‘, Pixies for ‘Hey; The Stone Roses for ‘Fools Gold‘, ‘I Wanna Be Adored‘ and ‘She Bangs The Drums’; Faith No More for ‘Epic‘; De La Soul for ‘Me Myself And I’; The KLF for ‘3 A.M Eternal (Pure Trance 2)‘; and Frankie Knuckles for ‘Tears’.

 

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The Blue Nile ‎- The Downtown Lights (1989)

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Before this blog leaves the 1980s, I think midweek is a good time to mention The Blue Nile. In 1989. the Scottish band released the critically acclaimed long player Hats and somehow connected the neon of the 1980s with all dream pop that followed. ‘The Downtown Lights’ is one of the album’s prime cuts. Enjoy frontman Paul Buchanan singing about the romance of that time.

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Beastie Boys ‎- Egg Man (1989)

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I am not about tomorrow, so I double down today. De La Soul were not the only outfit pushing hip hop into new territories in 1989. It was the year that Beastie Boys ‎released their highly influential album Paul’s Boutique. John Lennon sang about being the Egg Man in ‘I Am The Walrus’, but the Beastie Boys’ reference had no pretensions. After leaving Def Jam, they spent part of their advance from Capitol Records causing a stir in the Mondrian hotel, L.A. While not recording, they lobbed eggs from the hotel’s rooftop at folks below. ‘Egg Man’ is soup of samples, including the Curtis Mayfield ‘Superfly’ intro, but it was Ad-Rock, Mike D and MCA’s love for Public Enemy that drew me. Both ‘You’re Gonna Get Yours’ and ‘Bring The Noise’ feature before before the track fades out with samples from the themes of Psycho and Jaws. Genius. Have a great week.

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De La Soul ‎- Eye Know (1989)

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Good morning folks. De La Soul established themselves as the “Hippies of Hip-Hop” with the release of 3 Feet High And Rising in 1988. The following year the band conquered the global charts with the single ‘Eye Know’ and that unexpected, but welcome sample of Steely Dan’s ‘Peg’. Hip hop would no know boundaries again.

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The Stone Roses ‎- Fools Gold (1989)

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I started the week with The Rolling Stones; I end it with The Stone Roses. 30 years old this week, ‘Fools Gold’ is as iconic as the ‘Funky Drummer’ break that it is looped around. The band’s guitarist John Squire was in Eastern Bloc Records in Manchester when he heard the potential in Clyde Stubblefield’s drum work for James Brown. The title and vocals of the track were inspired by the Humphrey Bogart movie The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre. The production was heavily influenced by the Dust Brothers-produced Young MC track ‘Know How’. Whereas the bongo-fuelled madness is pure Madchester. The single was originally released by Silvertone Records as a double A-side with ‘What the World Is Waiting For’, but there was only one ‘Fools Gold’. Have a great weekend.

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Pixies ‎- Wave Of Mutilation (UK Surf) (1989)

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I saw the Pixies at Ally Pally on Friday night. Black Francis can still kick it, helped by a selection of classic tunes. ‘Wave Of Mutilation’ caught my ear. The original version featured on the LP Doolittle, but the band also cut a better slowed-down “UK Surf” version as a B-side to one of their bigger hits, ‘Here Comes Your Man’. ‘Wave Of Mutilation’ is the only song I know about Japanese men killing themselves by driving off piers because they’d failed in business. This was the 1980s. Have a great week.

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The KLF – 3 A.M. Eternal (Pure Trance 2) (1989)

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After the success of their underground dancefloor hit ‘What Time Is Love?’, Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty continued to explore acid house with the second single in their Pure Trance series. ‘3 A.M. Eternal’ would subsequently be remixed and updated to play to the stadium crowds that the Kopyright Liberation Front (aka The KLF) could draw by 1990/91. This is the 1989 original. Have a great week.

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Jillian Mendez – Don’t Know What You’re Missin (Sin Club Dub) (1989)

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Saint Etienne’s ‘Western Wind’ / ‘Tankerville’ was remixed by Glyn “Bigga” Bush & Richard “DJ Dick” Whittingham (aka Original Rockers). They had made their name on the UK dance floors with their 1991/1992 house releases ‘Push Push’ and ‘Breathless’. The latter heavily sampled the classic Sin Club Dub of Jillian Mendez’s ‘Don’t Know What You’re Missin’ and its monster piano hook.

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Biz Markie – Just A Friend (1989)

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Good morning! Some old school hip hop yousall. It’s not PC, the vocals are all over the place, but the humour’s there and so is that Freddie Scott sample. Biz Markie in 1989…

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The Wedding Present – Kennedy (1989)

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Formed from the ashes of Lost Pandas, The Wedding Present were founded in Leeds in 1985. For me, their best work was in 1989 with the release of their long player Bizarro. At its heart is ‘Kennedy’, the work of singer/songwriter David Gedge. It was the same year that The Stone Roses released their eponymous and revered debut. The drumming of the Weddoes’ Simon Smith was surely influenced by the artistry of Reni. Have a great week.

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Lil Louis ‎- French Kiss (1989)

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This record defined the dancefloor in 1989. The creation of Chicago house producer Marvin (Lil) Louis Burns, ‘French Kiss’ was raw, unrelenting and a little bit rude. The zeitgeist – a perfect example of how the constant repetition of the right loop will eventually let your mind slip away.

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The Cure – Lullaby (1989)

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From the gated drums of Phil Collins to the oh-so-very fat snare sound The Cure’s Boris Williams on ‘Lullaby’. The drums may have been all 1980s, but this is a track that sounds as it was produced in another decade. Well it was 1989, which saw the release of the band’s much-loved album ‘Disintegration’.

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Sweet Exorcist – Testone (1989)

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Released on Warp Records a year before LFO’s self-titled banger, ‘Testone’ might not have been quite the touchpaper that its successor was, but it certainly had the heritage. Sweet Exorcist was a collaboration between Cabaret Voltaire’s Richard H. Kirk and Richard Barratt (aka DJ Parrot)… ah, the sound of early techno: Atari bleeps, snappy hi-hats and deep base. And what’s more, Jarvis Cocker directed the video.

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Pixies – Hey (1989)

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Pixies released their underground rock blueprint Doolittle in 1989. Buried in its eclectic B-side was ‘Hey’. It has everything you would want from a Pixies track: Black Francis’s arresting start; the longing lyrics; the groovy bass guitar; and that siren solo from Joey Santiago. “We’re chaaaiiiined.”

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Philip Glass – Metamorphosis One (1989)

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Inspired by Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, Philip Glass composed and performed an oeuvre of piano music in 1988 that he then pressed and released as his Solo Piano album a year later. The opening track ‘Metamorphosis One’ drifts in and out of superlatives.

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