In 1990 I was very much still an avid Smash Hits Magazine reader. I think I even got the sticker book. A quick check of the UK charts archive website tells me that in August 1990, when my album of the year for this blog was released,the number one single was “Turtle Power” by Partners In Kryme. Closely followed by “Tom’s Diner” by D.N.A featuring Suzanne Vega.
The front cover of the magazine that week featured English rappy pop singer Betty Boo and the headline “Donnie Wahlberg. Is he really leaving New Kids?!” (It turns out no. No he wasn’t.) And At Home with Primal Scream. So I was starting to get exposed to other kinds of music other than just pop even if I probably paid far less attention and just thought “who are these hairy scruffbags?” I remember first reading about Blur in Smash Hits around this time, in an interview which asked Damon Albarn why he had chosen to give his band a name which sounded like someone being sick. He replied that to him it didn’t sound like that, and sounded more like a burp. Consider yourselves informed Smash Hits readers. There’s music also if you’re inclined in that way.
To further cement where truly my ears were turned that year, the two records I definitely remember buying with pocket money on vinyl and tape respectively were the Dick Tracy movie soundtrack dressed up as Madonna album, “I’m Breathless” and “Step By Step” by New Kids On The Block. I refused to accept that songs that catchy were meant to be only for girls. My 12 year old friends did not agree.
So now we come to the album which makes the 1990 slot in this continuing saga of year by year favourites. I of course got into this album retrospectively during my musical awakening in 1992. Same friend’s influence, borrowed from his sister after seeing Jane’s Addiction perform “Been Caught Stealing” on the BBC 2 showing of The Late Show episode No Nirvana. Even then when I was actively soaking up as much music as I could that was even slightly linked with the grunge and alternative rock sound, it still took me a while to fully get into “Ritual De Lo Habitual”. Side 1 was fairly easy. The first 5 songs culminating in “Been Caught Stealing” were the shortest and most straight forward and poppy. They were banked straight away. I’d never heard anyone who sounded like Perry Farrell. His voice sounded like it shouldn’t work as it was worlds away from a conventional rock voice. But of course that was just my inexperienced ears having the cobwebs blown out of them and I loved it.
Then Side 2 starts and it all changes. The songs get long, they slow down, they space out. “Three Days” is nearly 11 minutes long. That might as well have been three days long to me at the time! It wasn’t that I disliked it. It just took me a while. “Three Days” and “Classic Girl” are probably my favourite songs on the album now. It took 13 years for them to make a follow up and although “Strays” is ok, by then I was less bothered about a new Jane’s Addiction record. But “Ritual..” will always be one of my favourite albums because aside from it being a great record, it just sums up the feeling for me of my appetite for new music being almost impossible to satisfy and hearing things I had never heard the like of before, for the first time.
This playlist chooses to include “Stop”. It’s just got the beans.