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.
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
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
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.