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1991 top albums

May 14, 2012

Top 10, 1991

(Dec. 1996 thoughts: I’ll stand by the top six here with no problem, even though I know Hitchcock and Costello diehard fans aren’t as fond of these records. Schmitt’s major-label debut remains my pick as best record of the 90s. What the hell is Guns N Roses doing here?

1. Adam Schmitt, WORLD SO BRIGHT

I’m already putting this in my top 20 of all-time, and it may go higher as time goes on. A perfect blend of balls-out rockers (”Dead End,” ”My Killer”), great lyrical turns (”River Black,” ”Elizabeth Einstein,” ”Can’t Get You On My Mind”) and terrif melodies (”Lost,” ”World So Bright”). I’ve been waiting for Lindsey Buckingham to follow up GO INSANE for seven years. After listening to Adam Schmitt, I’m not nearly as impatient for Lindsey. And it helps that I met him.

2. Elvis Costello, MIGHTY LIKE A ROSE

No, I don’t put Elvis high on my list all the time. I hated GOODBYE CRUEL WORLD, and still think SPIKE is a lot more tired than it ought to be. But this is a nice combination of Beach Boys and oddball sounds and nice ballads and a throwaway (”Playboy to a Man”) that I like as much as anything on the record. Nice to have you back, Elvis. Now ashcan the attitude, OK?

3. Robyn Hitchcock, PERSPEX ISLAND

He’s a little too cozy with R.E.M. for me to feel completely comfortable, but I know they aren’t too big an influence when he still write lines like ”I was born with trousers on.” Sure, ”So You Think You’re In Love” was a pick to click that everybody jumped on, but why didn’t more college kids start playing ”Ultra Unbelievable Love”? Too busy digging on ”Shiny Happy People,” I guess.

4. Graham Parker, STRUCK BY LIGHTNING

Completing the great English trifecta. This is something I can see myself listening to in a few years and enjoying even more. It has a nice leisurely pace, but that helps him get in everything he has to say without rushing.

5. Prince, DIAMONDS AND PEARLS

After hearing ”Gett Off,” I was expecting a Glam Slam (hee hee hee), but this wasn’t as instantly classic in my book as SIGN O THE TIMES, and it doesn’t even have as many solid songs as GRAFITTI BRIDGE (although I liked that more than most people). Maybe he’ll tour and revive this album.

6. Nirvana, NEVERMIND

This one really stuck with me, too — when I put it back on after not listening to it for a month or so, I was still humming along at all the right places. They’re probably my early favorite for best new band.

7. Guns N’ Roses, USE YOUR ILLUSION II

This was the better of the two, and the one I’ve gone back to more often. They took some chances, and they paid off. I refuse to believe that these guys will be as revered in 10 or 15 years as Aerosmith or Led Zeppelin are now — they’re not breaking new ground, they’re rehashing the old — but it’s an entertaining listen, and captures the moment.

8. THE REMBRANDTS

It’s really easy to say something is `Beatle-esque,’ because that term covers such a wide area. In this case, when I say Beatle-esque, I’m referring to their great melodies and nice tight harmonies. Nice acoustic guitar, and ”That’s Just the Way It Is” is one fantastic tune.

9. R.E.M, OUT OF TIME

These guys had been boring the crap out of me, not that I ever thought they were the next biggest thing anyway. But at worst, I found this not offensive, and at best I was humming it for days. ”Losing My Religion,” as unhip as it probably is to say this now, is probably their best song ever.

10. Dread Zeppelin, 5,000,000

To some people, they’re a one-joke band. If that’s the case, I’m madly in love with the joke. Their take on ”When the Levee Breaks” re-invents the song for me. I know the Zeppelin catalog will run out before too long, but for now I’m content to listen and be thoroughly entertained.

Other great records: Extreme’s PORNOGRAFFITI II; Chris Stamey’s FIREWORKS; J.W. Harding’s THE NAME ABOVE THE TITLE; WOODFACE by Crowded House; Crenshaw’s LIFE’S TOO SHORT; and the La’s. If I’d been compelled to go back to them as much as I was compelled to go back to these others, they’d be on the list.

Some great boxes came out this year. I love the Phil Spector box (I can’t believe I waited five years for the damn thing, then only listened to the Christmas CD the first two months after buying it). I want Ronnie Spector or Darlene Love to come live in my house and sing.

Aerosmith’s PANDORA’S BOX was really tasty, and the Monkees’ LISTEN TO THE BAND was fun. I even got around to Dylan (can’t wait for Vol. 4-6 or whatever) and the Allmans’ DREAMS (Duane was great, and the band went totally in the toilet after BROTHERS & SISTERS).

Great singles:

”2 Legit 2 Quit,” Hammer

”Walking in Memphis,” Marc Cohn

”I Touch Myself,” Divinyls

”Unbelievable,” EMF

”Into the Great Wide Open,” Tom Petty

”O.P.P.,” Naughty By Nature

”Rush Rush,” Paula Abdul

”More Than Words,” Extreme

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