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.
Before 2002, I tried to be a cheerleader for everything I heard and liked. It was a philosophy I carried with me from 1992, when an editor at the Hunter College student newspaper told me it’s not cool to trash unknown artists. Why kick underdogs when they’re down?
That changed a decade later when I worked at Waterloo Records. During my shifts, I was subjected to music I would never willingly listen to and, in many cases, would never wish to hear again.
I come across as incredibly cranky in my 2005 review of Franz Ferdinand’s self-titled debut album. It’s because I stopped being a cheerleader. I no longer cared if you were an underdog — if you play music that raises my ire, I would not spare it from you.
Franz Ferdinand had initially raised that ire, but the album’s songs were too catchy to stay angry for long. At the same time, the acclaim showered on it rang hollow for me. It was good, certainly, but prize-winning?
My ambivalence shows in the review. I try hard to justify to myself why I ultimately liked the album, but I also resisted following the hive mind of critical thought at the time.
It’s little surprise the album would exit my collection in exchange for cash. I have, however, missed listening to “Michael”, and it was that sense of nostalgia that allowed me to welcome it back into the fold.
Time hasn’t really softened my opinion of it, however. If anything, it makes my ambivalence even clearer. It’s a good album, and a generation of music fans will consider it a cultural flash point. I can’t count myself among that number.
Rewind takes a look at past Musicwhore.org reviews to see how they hold up today. The albums featured on Rewind were part of my collection, then sold for cash only to be reacquired later.
Kronos Quartet with Mahsa and Marjan Vadat, Placeless, March 22
This album is already available on streaming services, which means I’ve had a chance to listen to it. Unfortunately for Kronos and the Vadats, the new Solange album has also monopolized my attention.
Henryk Górecki, Symphony No. 3 (Beth Gibbons, Krzysztov Penderecki, Polish National Radio Symphony), March 29
I don’t know about this one. Portished has never been a band I could internalize, and while I like Górecki’s third symphony, its reputation has become a bit outsize. I’m wondering how Penderecki got roped into it.
Emerson String Quartet and Evgeny Kissin, The New York Concert, April 12
The works on this program are tamer than what I normally pursue, but I like both the Emerson and Kissin.
Björk, Vespertine: A Pop Album as an Opera (Nationaltheater Mannheim), April 12
I’m willing to give this one a chance, if only because Vespertine is one of the few Björk albums I no longer own. I couldn’t get into it when it came out, so I welcome a chance to hear it in another context.
Jack Ingram, Ridin’ High … Again, April 26
I’ve been wondering what’s up with Jack Ingram. I stopped following him when he decided to make friends with country radio, but he left that behind at the end of his Big Machine contract. His 2016 album, Midnight Motel, is breezy and off-the-cuff, so I’m curious to hear what’s next.
NUMBER GIRL, OMOIDE IN MY HEAD 1 ~BEST & B-SIDES~, May 1
More time has passed since NUMBER GIRL’s break-up than the band was ever together, and a large portion of the band’s discography is out of print. So on the heels of their reunion tour, this collection of singles and b-sides gets reissued for a generation who missed out the first time.
TRON is not a good movie, but it’s one of my favorites.
For most of my adult life, I credited the video game for fostering that affection. I could never get past the third level, but it didn’t stop me from dropping quarters into the machine when I could.
I’ve watched TRON a number of times in the past few years, the most recent a television broadcast. The movie looks great, its art direction forward-thinking enough to overcome the dated computer graphics. The actors do their best with the dialogue, but the story from 1982 has a naivety that pales next to the future that came after it.
For all its faults, TRON holds a tight grip on my imagination. I never really examined why till my mom unearthed a vinyl record: The Story of TRON.
Before VCRs and the home theaters it would spawn, Disney understood not all families could make a night at the movie theater, so it released condensed version of its movies on record with narrators describing the action between snatches of dialogue and music from the soundtrack.
I desperately wanted to see TRON in a theater, but my parents wouldn’t budge until it played on a second run at a theater on base. So it was some months after the movie’s opening that I got to see it on the big screen. Well, kinda — I forgot my glasses, so most everything was a smudge.
Until that day, I had to content myself with The Story of TRON. That might have ultimately ruined the movie for me.
I played the record after more than 30 years and actually enjoyed hearing most of the story shaved of its cruft. In a way, listening to The Story of TRON is actually better than watching the movie.
And I think I may have realized that when I finally got to see the movie. I had hoped for a life-altering experience similar to Star Wars. It didn’t happen. TRON fell off my radar as I got older, and I wouldn’t really develop fondness for the movie till I saw it again as an adult.
At that point, I had to rib my younger self for falling for the onslaught of marketing at the time, but I had completely forgotten how The Story of TRON fueled much of that anticipation.
When I moved out of my parents’ house in 1997, I took my record collection with me, but The Story of TRON was left behind, then subsequently forgotten for 22 years.
It’s back in the collection again, its role in influencing my life full acknowledged.
Onitsuka Chihiro, Syndrome (Premium Edition), March 20
Aside from a poster and a photo book, this premium edition of Syndrome also includes a second disc of the entire album without vocals. Karaoke! It’s also housed in an LP-sized jacket. I say, just stick a vinyl version of the album in that jacket!
Weezer, Weezer (The Teal Album), March 8
I’m usually ambivalent about Weezer, but this album is actually fun. It’s been available on streaming services for a while now.
Gang of Four, Happy Now, March 29
I might check this out when it’s released, but I have to admit I haven’t even listened to Complicit yet. The band’s previous album, What Happens Next, was one of the last I downloaded from eMusic before I canceled my subscription.
Idlewild, Interview Music, April 5 (UK)
Idlewild dropped off my radar right around the middle of the last decade, so I’m not sure if they’ve got successively safer with each album or if they reverted back to the brashness of Hope Is Important.
The Drums, Brutalism, April 5
I think I’m still following the Drums because Jonny Pierce synthesizes post-punk in a way more sophisticated than Interpol, the Killers or the Strokes ever did.
Massive Attack, Mezzanine (Deluxe Edition), April 19 (UK)
I picked this album up from the thrift store in 2018. I like it, but enough to drop money on a deluxe edition?
BBMak, TBD, April 26
Don’t judge. I’ll be in London when this album comes out. HMV will probably be shuttered by that time.
… And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Madonna, March 5
I missed out on the 2013 reissue of this album, so I’ve already placed my pre-order.
Mikami Chisako, I AM Ready!, March 6
I won’t lie — I would rather see fra-foa’s Chuu no Fuchi reissued on vinyl, but I AM Ready! was enjoyable. Maybe enjoyable enough to get on vinyl?
Utada Hikaru, “Face My Fears”, March 6
I’m getting this less for the new song and more for the English version of “Chikai”, going by the title “Don’t Think Twice”. “Chikai” is probably the most rhythmically confounding song Utada has written.