My prior exposure to Big Country, I’m sorry to say, was when Girl Talk mashed up “In a Big Country” with “Whoomp! (There It Is)”. I rather like how Scottish this album is without being crossover about it.
eX-Girl, “The crown of Dr. Keroninstan”
The vinyl reissue of Kero! Kero! Kero! prompted Kirilola to bring eX-Girl back from Planet Kero. I have to admit some degree of envy when the band announced its return to SXSW.
I grew up listening to some really awful Hawaiian music, pumped mostly into elevators and department stores. I picked up this self-titled debut at the thrift store, curious to see why it gets such breathless accolades in Hawaii media. I’m hoping someone emerges as the Astor Piazzola for Hawaiian music, and Hapa has so far come closest.
Robert Palmer, Pressure Drop
Palmer continues the funk workout of Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, augmenting it with explorations into other genres, notably the reggae of the title track.
The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Time Out
It’s unfortunate when a single track from an album overshadows the rest of it. For the longest time, I’ve avoided Time Out because of “Take Five.” How silly of me. “Blue Rondo a la Turk” is damn awesome.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It’s Blitz
It’s not the nuclear blast of Fever to Tell, but it’s still a good listen.
August 26, 2016 for the CD. I would have bought the cassette version around the time of its original release.
What is the memory you most associate with this title?
My bus commute from home to the University of Hawaii. It usually took the length of the album to finish.
What was happening in your life when it was released?
I would have been taking summer classes at UH at the time. I actually deferred my entry to college from fall 1990 to winter 1991 because I was burned out by my senior year in high school. My mom also had gone through heart surgery, so she needed help to recuperate. The summer session of 1991 was my way to catch up.
What was happening in your life when you bought it?
I had bought Toni Childs’ debut album and liked it enough to get this second album, probably right when it was released in 1991. I didn’t like it enough to get it on CD till I spotted it at Lifelong Thrift Store, where I bought it for $0.10 during the monthly CD sale.
I wanted to go college on the Mainland like my friends, but my parents couldn’t afford it. I got over my disappointment fast enough when I started my music classes. I also started my first job that year, working at the circulation desk of the A/V center in the undergraduate library. In short, I was taking those first few steps into adulthood.
I would later discover how much in tuition my parents were paying — let’s say, significantly less than the years of Catholic private school leading up to it — and I’ve been thankful ever since for never acquiring student debt.
What do you think of it now?
It took me a few spins to warm up to House of Hope, but Union is definitely the better album.
The music on House of Hope takes a darker turn, and when I rediscovered the album in 2016, the contrast with Union struck me.
I even questioned how I had grown to like the album in the first place. However much I liked taking more responsibility for my life in 1991, it was under a cloud of heartbreak. One of those friends who went to the Mainland for college was the first person with whom I fell in love.
I’m sure I was in a more receptive state of mind for an album that dark.
I bought this album back in high school, before I had any inkling of how to listen to jazz. I didn’t understand it and sold it for cash. Now that I’ve had rudimentary schooling in jazz, I picked it up again at the library book sale. I get it now.
Johnny Cash, American Recordings
I remember the accolades heaped upon this album at the time of its release, but I hadn’t gotten into country music yet. So I had no interest in Johnny Cash. Now that I know more about his life and music, I see what all the fuss was about.
This album was listed in the book 1,000 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. I found a copy of it at the thrift store. I liked it enough.
PJ Harvey, Rid of Me
To Bring You My Love gets the highest praise among PJ Harvey’s albums, but I couldn’t get into it. I much prefer Rid of Me.
Pop Will Eat Itself, This Is the Day … This Is the Hour … This Is This!
This album got good reviews in all the magazines I read as a teenager, but I hesitated on getting it. I would eventually find a ratty vinyl copy selling for cheap decades later. Teenaged self should have been the one to take that plunge.
Sly and the Family Stone, Stand!
Too many tracks on this album have been licensed to sell products, but somehow, that doesn’t seem to diminish them. Or maybe we’re just more chill about music licensing these days.
Tom Tom Club, Tom Tom Club
I totally forgot that “Wordy Rappinghood” was a Tom Tom Club track. I dug that track so much as a kid, I annoyed everyone around me by singing it.
Weezer, Weezer (Teal Album)
The meticulousness this covers album takes in reproducing the originals is ridiculous and admirable.