College Countdown: 90FM’s Top 90 of 1989, 88 and 87

88. The Wonder Stuff, Hup

Popping out albums at the same rapid tempo as much of the music that fills those releases, the U.K. band The Wonder Stuff unleashed their second effort on American audiences in the fall of 1989. Entitled Hup the album is a collection of boisterous, bounceable songs, the sort of thing that can leave a person breathless just from listening to it. Like many of their Britpop brethren, the band exulted in pop culture and incorporated that love directly into their own work. Several songs on the album referenced specific gags from the BBC series The Young Ones, and the album cover sports the most famous image from the 1902 French film Le Voyage dans le lune. That could have easily seemed a little pushy and self-indulgent, as if the band were trying to prove that they read and watched all the right things. Instead it seemed genuine, just a bunch of lads having fun with their shared references. It didn’t hurt that it was in the service of creating some pretty fantastic new pop culture.


87. The Pixies, Doolittle

The name Charles Thompson IV is on the title of canary yellow Cadillac because of the album Doolittle. The Pixies frontman better known as Black Francis used his first real royalty check to purchase that luxury automobile, and the runaway success of the band’s second album, at least on the rarefied airwaves of college radio, must have helped to flesh out the number on that little slip of paper. As one of the first and only American bands signed to the ultracool British label 4AD, the Boston quartet’s bona fides were established even before the buzzsaw brilliance of their records started taking over playlists. Doolittle took them to a whole new level as they incorporated a surprisingly tunefulness with their trademark abrasion, a shift signaled by the lead single “Monkey Gone to Heaven,” and really driven home by its follow-up, the gorgeous, chiming “Here Comes Your Man.”

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