A decade ago, I wrote a series of entries ranking my favorite albums from 1985 to 2004. My collection has expanded greatly since then, particularly in the last five years. So I wanted to see what has changed in 10 years.
I had discovered so much music in 1987 that at the time, I thought 1988 was a dud by comparison. Over the years, I’ve discovered that is not the case. The Favorite 10 doesn’t change from the original list, but look at that expanded list.
- In Tua Nua, The Long Acre
- Midnight Oil, Diesel and Dust
- Kronos Quartet, Winter Was Hard
- The Sugarcubes, Life’s Too Good
- Enya, Watermark
- Tracy Chapman, Tracy Chapman
- Living Colour, Vivid
- Duran Duran, Big Thing
- Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation
- The Dead Milkmen, Beelzebubba
Other favorites from the year:
- Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods
- John Adams, Nixon in China
- Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, Savvy Show Stoppers
- Camper Van Beethoven, Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart
- Sarah McLachlan, Touch
- Erasure, The Innocents
- Sade, Stronger Than Pride
- The Pogues, If I Should Fall from Grace with God
- The Waterboys, Fisherman’s Blues
- The Godfathers, Birth, School, Work, Death
- Camouflage, Voices & Images
- Ambitious Lovers, Greed
- Iron Path, Iron Path
- Toni Childs, Union
- R.E.M., Green
- Throwing Muses, House Tornado
- Pixies, Surfer Rosa
- N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton
- Information Society, Information Society
- Ofra Haza, Shaday
- The Smiths, Rank
- Lucinda Williams, Lucinda Williams
I guess I really limited the expanded list 10 years ago so I wouldn’t have to do so much writing. The Pogues, the Waterboys, the Godfathers, Ambitious Lovers, Ofra Haza, the Smiths and Lucinda Williams would not have appeared on that list — I’ve discovered those albums only in the last 6 years.
Tags: ambitious lovers, camouflage, camper van beethoven, duran duran, enya, erasure, favorite edition, in tua nua, information society, iron path, john adams, kronos quartet, living colour, lucinda williams, midnight oil, n.w.a., ofra haza, pixies, r.e.m., rewind, sade, sarah mclachlan, shadowy men on a shadowy planet, sonic youth, stephen sondheim, the dead milkmen, the godfathers, the pogues, the smiths, the sugarcubes, the waterboys, throwing muses, toni childs, tracy chapman
One of my favorite albums of the late ’80s is The Long Acre by In Tua Nua. At the time, I was frustrated by the band’s lack of press in the U.S. If they were mentioned at all, it was in passing.
U2 starts a vanity label! (Oh, and there’s In Tua Nua on the roster.) Sinéad O’Connor wrote her first songs as a teenager! (Oh, and there’s In Tua Nua who co-wrote the single.)
So in 1988, I read an article about the Waterboys in Pulse magazine, and it mentioned In Tua Nua’s former violinist Steve Wickham had joined the band. That alone got me interested in Fisherman’s Blues, but since these were the days when radio or record store listening stations were the only way to preview music, I had to calculate how badly I wanted to hear this music.
And it turns out … not that much, really.
I left the album on the shelf and thought little about it till recently.
Much like Tracy Chapman’s Crossroads, I would encounter Fisherman’s Blues as I hunted the used vinyl bins for other albums. Each encounter would scratch that decade’s old itch of curiosity. I eventually bought the album on CD before becoming enamored enough to grab an old vinyl copy.
I do know one thing — I wouldn’t have appreciated the album had I bought it when it first came out.
I hadn’t yet gotten my schooling in traditional Celtic music, and I would have found Mike Scott’s voice grating. And I don’t know if I would have found may way back to the album if it confounded me on first impression.
Bands such as Clannad and Capercaillie skew closer to the traditional side of their Celtic/popular fusion. The Waterboys are a rock band first. Wickham’s violin lines pull the band’s songs toward the past, but they never lose their footing in the present.
Teenaged me would have lost patience with the album’s longer tracks, but older me appreciates their length. The cover of Van Morrison’s “Sweet Thing” quotes the Beatles’ “Blackbird”, a spontaneous moment that works well. “And Bang on the Ear” needs all seven minutes to get through its story.
The bonus tracks on the CD expand on the Celtic influence, but the fewer tracks on the original vinyl pressing give it clarity.
Upon its release, reaction to the album was divided — the Celtic direction confused some listeners and pleased others. I fall into the latter camp, but I had a lot of help to get me there.
Tags: catching up, the waterboys