Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rewind: Top Songs of 1991

By definition, every grouping of songs I have covered in 2011 (1966, 1971, 1976, 1981 and 1986 to date) is celebrating a round number anniversary. Despite this, the 1991 releases are the only ones I have seen widely revisited this year. Chief among these are Pearl Jam's Ten and Nirvana's Nevermind, which have both been celebrated with documentaries and deluxe reissues. I think the special notice paid to the 1991 vintage is both a function of how highly regarded  these releases are and the relatively "down" years some of the other groupings (notably 1976) have represented.

But I think it also ultimately has to do with the fact that a 20th anniversary is an effective demarcation point between recent and old and therefore worthy of special attention. As I listen to the songs below, I can't quite reconcile how fresh they still sound with how old they actually are. When these songs were new in 1991, I was listening to tracks from 1971 (then 20 years old) on the "oldies" station. Are Ice Cube and My Bloody Valentine now playing on an AM radio somewhere?

This is a deep list, but not a very top heavy one for me. I love B.A.D.'s "Rush" because it is plays like a last great Clash pop song (Strummer's solo output, while very good, never really sounded like the band). Ice Cube's screed against his former bandmates is controversial (and uncomfortable after Easy-E's early death), but I've always enjoyed it's sampling of "Dazz" and raw anger up there with 2Pac's "Hit 'em Up". Overall it's a strong rap showing (and Public Enemy just missed the list) -- this was the launch of a great era in rap that ran through most of the 90's.

Top 10 Songs of 1991
  1. "Rush" / Big Audio Dynamite / The Globe
    "And of all my friends / you've been the best to me"
  2. "No Vaseline" / Ice Cube / Death Certificate
    "Light 'em up / burn 'em up / flame on / 'til that jheri curl is gone"
  3. "Alive" / Pearl Jam / Ten
    " 'Is something wrong?' she said / of course there is"
  4. "Foot of Pride" / Bob Dylan / The Bootleg Series
    "But he drinks / and drinks can be fixed"
  5. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" / Nirvana / Nevermind
    "With the lights out / it's less dangerous"
  6. "I Only Said" / My Bloody Valentine / Loveless
    <instrumental> (well, not really, but effectively)
  7. "Nitty Gritty" / KMD / Mr. Hood 
    "I smacked a man / 'cause he tried to serve a plate of ham"
  8. "Mysterious Ways" / U2 / Achtung Baby
    "If you want to kiss the sky / better learn how to kneel"
  9. "Loaded" / Primal Scream / Screamadelica
    "Oh yeah!"
  10. "My Mind's Playing Tricks On Me" / Geto Boys / We Can't Be Stopped
    "My hands were all bloody from punchin' on the concrete"

No comments:

Post a Comment