Ranking #1 albums, U.K. edition: 1991

I spend time musing over the Poppy Bush Interzone — what about the John Major Interzone? What about these terrifying words: “Sting’s best solo album”?

Notes:

Trevor Horn’s last gobsmacking production, Seal takes the singer-songwriter ethos and updates it for the Massive Attack era. What a use of space. Thomas Inskeep: “This album soars, not just on its string arrangements (courtesy of Horn’s Art of Noise colleague Anne Dudley), but on the sense of uplift Horn gives it.”

At a Marist Brothers high school in Miami, 2 Live Crew and Jesus Jones were the Bud and vodka we mixed. My crew loved Jesus Jones’ Doubt — we saw the Jones at the long gone Cameo Theater on the night of our first day of senior year. Loud show, too — only Consolidated/Meat Beat Manifesto, enjoyed a month earlier, threatened our eardrums this insistently. Addled by an idea of futurity Jesus Jones couldn’t realize because college had forced me to reckon with an unfamiliar present, I bought the follow-up Perverse; it was akin to visiting a friend whose chatter no longer amuses but your anticipation depends on a promissory note written last year.  No one cares or remembers, but Perverse has the honor of being the first album recorded into a computer, thanks to help from the Roland W-30 sampler. Decently heavy tracks like “Your Crusade” meant nothing in a world where Nine Inch Nails had proffered headier delights a couple months earlier. And when Mike Edwards recorded pretty tunes it didn’t matter because who wanted prettiness from Jesus Jones?

As for Spartacus, well, some buddies and I in our high school drama club really got off on “Groovy Train” for inside-joke reasons too awkward to explain. I had the same reaction to The Farm’s breakthrough as I did to Blur’s debut Leisure, purchased at the same time: forces contained but no talent — yet — to exorcise them.

I know little enough about classical music to comment on Essential Pavarotti II.

These albums were new to me:

Love Hurts: “Love and Understanding” was the requisite hit; it vanished after its pre-Soundscan peak in the top twenty. I remembered as an unusual bombastic track, the sort of thing a singer at the peak of her popularity records, newly empowered; to my ears it summons Madonna’s “Dear Jessie” on an arena scale. I mean, she recorded “A World Without Heroes”! You know the one — the KISS track for their concept album co-written by, cough, Lou Reed. Her version connects the dots between Paul Stanley and Michael Bolton. “Save Up All Your Tears” is empty bombast. The rest

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: I love Biblical lore, an admission which surprises fellow non-believers. I plowed through Thomas Mann’s Joseph and His Brothers tetralogy ready to read another four volumes about manna, Gideon and his trumpet, the Witch of Endor, and David dancing nude in the Temple. Jason Donovan does not even suggest “Jason Donovan”: if he reads at all, it’s contracts, and the thirteen minutes I suffered are fine in a theater nerd way, or, to put it in term he’d understand, are fine in a singing-on-a-S-A-W album way.

Auberge: A pastoral album? An early ’70s Van Morrison album? A Saint Etienne album with Van Morrison values?

Meh

The Farm – Spartacus
Cher – Love Hurts
Dire Straits – On Every Street
Simply Red – Stars
Genesis – We Can’t Dance
Jason Donovan/London cast – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Sound, Solid

Jesus Jones – Doubt
Enya – Shepherd Moons
Oleta Adams – Circle of One
Enigma – MCMXC a.D.
Bryan Adams – Waking Up the Neighbours
Guns ‘N Roses – Use Your Illusion II
Chris Rea – Auberge
Sting – The Soul Cages
Paul Young – From Time to Time – The Singles Collection
Metallica – Metallica
Queen – Innuendo

Good to Great

R.E.M. – Out of Time
Seal – Seal
Erasure – Chorus
Michael Jackson – Dangerous
Eurythmics – Greatest Hits
Queen – Greatest Hits II

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