I am still trying to come to terms with this. Mainly because it still seems so fresh in my memory. It was the 1990s, the decade which was supposed to lead us into moon colonisation, hover boots and more, the boom of the 80s was over, Thatcherism was dead, the Gulf war and the end of the Cold War dominated the news. Was there a New World Order embracing us? The Soviet Union was dissolved as the age of communism came to an end. Eastern Europe was born and the changing political landscape included space for hope and possibility (before the heavy weight of capitalism and corruption took over). The music scene changed dramatically. Out with the 80s overindulgence, out with big hair, out with pomp and out with overly long guitar solos. The new sounds were smart, tight and cynical. The best description of U2s Actung Baby! called it the sound of the Joshua Tree being cut down with a chainsaw. Music sounded exciting again and I turned 13. My teenage self was born.
This being the era of cassette tapes (CDs were still out of my price range) we spent a lot of time working out if the tape player was chewing the tape at the start of ‘Actung Baby!’ distortion, anger and sirens exploded into our heads and I wasn’t sure if I was ready for the laughing gas or indeed what was next but I liked it. The album is as fresh as ever, my heart still breaks at ‘One’, I love the cynical lyrics, (“in my dreams I was drowning sorrows, but my sorrows they learned to swim”, “it’s no secret that a conscience can sometimes be a pest”) I love that the hit single from the album is tucked away in track 7, a hangover from the days of 2 sides to albums. I can’t understand how this was made 20 years ago. 20 years…
I’ve just realised that Nirvana’s Nevermind and Pearl Jam’s Ten albums were released in 1991 as well. Which is good for my memory because in my memory the early 90s were really all about the cheesy sounds that emerged from 2 Unlimited and Culture Beat.It turns out I was wrong. There really was good music around back then.
Anyway seeing as we are in a crazy era of digital times head to this playlist and bathe in some quality moments from 1991. That’s marginally cheaper and more legal than copying the album and sending it to you all. (maybe the lack of product era we are in isn’t so bad after all…)