College Countdown: 90FM’s Top 90 of 1989, 76 and 75

zevon city
76. Warren Zevon, Transverse City

It was a major comeback for Warren Zevon when he released Sentimental Hygiene in 1987. His first album in five years, the release found Zevon addressing his own recent troubles, most notably with drug addiction. It was filled with his trademark dark sensibility, and the highly personal nature of it made it his finest record in years. For the follow up, Zevon turned his attention outward, and, if it’s possible, got even darker. Transverse City is a concept album about a society falling apart. Inspired by the work of science fiction author William Gibson, Zevon’s song cycle takes a dire view of humanity’s path, envisioning a world being consumed by its own technology and industry. Zevon clearly wanted a sound as big as his ideas so he recruited a batch of famous friends to help him out, including Jerry Garcia, David Gilmour and Neil Young. All that congeniality didn’t improve his attitude, however, which is a good thing. The finished product benefits from all that surliness.

75. Transvision Vamp, Velveteen

Sometimes it’s all about the attitude. Transvision Vamp first asserted themselves on the college charts with their 1988 debut album Pop Art, led by the band’s cover of the Holly and the Italians song “Tell That Girl To Shut Up.” The band opted for all originals on the follow-up, Velveteen, all the finger-waving sass is still firmly in place. A lot of that comes from lead singer Wendy James. She comes across like a bottle-blond pin-up ready to take part in a bar fight, or at least instigate one. Of course, having a lead singer with model looks helps in getting attention for the group, and the band captured the attention of the press in their British homeland with a constancy that undoubtedly helped in their march to the top of the U.K. album charts. The didn’t make a similar charge to the top in the U.S. but they got enough love from 90FM DJs to make a respectable showing on our chart.

90 and 89
88 and 87
86 and 85
84 and 83
82 and 81
80 and 79
78 and 77

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