College Countdown: 90FM’s Top 90 of 1989, 82 and 81

black hold
82. The Black Sorrows, Hold on to Me

1989 was a good time to embrace American roots music and get some airplay on college radio. It lends authenticity, you see, even if–actually, maybe especially if–the band absolutely requires an airplane to get from their homeland to the heartland. Australia’s The Black Sorrows became a hot band on their own shores by embracing the sounds of Marvin Gaye, Elvis Presley and New Orleans zydeco music. There may be a lot of looking to the past on their album Hold on to Me, but lead singer Joe Camilleri also had the present in mind when he crafted the album. As he put it, “I’m trying to take traditional music somewhere new. I think I’ve reached a point where I can call it my own.” It’s quite a boast, but the band’s sound backs him up.


concrete free
81. Concrete Blonde, Free

Concrete Blonde never really needed help raising the volume of their songs, so the addition of bassist Alan Bloch to make the band an officially a quartet for their second outing shouldn’t be interpreted as something done to bolster the intensity of the music. One cursory listen to lead singer Johnette Napolitano’s searing efforts makes it clear than she carries all the intensity any band could need in her strong, tough vocal cords, especially when she’d belting out politically potent lyrics. Further insight to the band’s views can be gleaned from the old Leon Russell quote included in the liner notes: “I’m certainly not going to be a politician and change it; in or out of the system. I’m going to sing my songs, because that’s what I do. Some Oriental philosopher, Tao, once said that people who want to be political leaders are the least qualified to do it…and that’s true. The people who really are qualified won’t mess with it. So we always get second best.”

90 and 89
88 and 87
86 and 85
84 and 83

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