College Countdown: 90FM’s Top 90 of 1989, 60 and 59

60. Too Much Joy, Son of Sam I Am

Too Much Joy’s second album comes with its on description in the liner notes. It notes that “This album contains no songs about: Jack Kerouac, TV evangelists, safe sex, how dying young is dumb, Texas, or how bad drugs are. And only one road song, but that has a cool harmonica in it, so it’s OK.” Listening to their brilliantly brash, bratty songs on Son of Sam I Am it’s not all that surprising to discover that the band was happily trolling for trouble. They just wound up snagging the wrong childhood hero on their line. As with their first release, Green Eggs and Crack, the band chose a title that puts a subversive spin on the revered kid lit of Dr. Seuss. As bass player Sandy Smallens explained, “Dr. Seuss is a cultural archetype of a middle-class upbringing. Every kid loves him. As you get older, things suck and life gets harder, so we turned Dr. Seuss on its head.” Jay Blumenfield, who is emphatically noted in the album’s credits as playing “not lead guitar, not rhythm guitar, just guitar,” was more direct about their intent, saying “We’re trying to get him to sue us.” That may not have panned out, but the band did raise the litigious ire of Larry Harmon, whose protective ownership of Bozo the Clown caused him to take issue with the sample from an old Bozo record that opened the song “Clowns.”

59. Fetchin Bones, Monster

Though the songs created by the North Carolina band Fetchin Bones for their fourth album, Monster, were exemplary, it’s not the sort of music that grabs the blinder-shaped attention of Grammy voters. There was one aspect of the release that did penetrate, however, and that was the album’s striking art, which earned designer Tommy Steele a Grammy nomination for Best Recording Packaging, one of two he earned for 1989 releases as he was also honored for his effort’s on Tina Turner’s Foreign Affair release. Thing is, the crazy crash of imagery on the front cover of Monster is a perfect preview of the full, bracing sound that comes through when the needle meets the record. Teaming with Ramones and Living Colour producer Ed Stasium, Fetchin Bones sounder fiercer that ever before. Who needs trophies when you can combine sharp guitars and the powerful vocals of Hope Nicholls to completely blow the roof off the dump?

90 and 89
88 and 87
86 and 85
84 and 83
82 and 81
80 and 79
78 and 77
76 and 75
74 and 73
72 and 71
70 and 69
68 and 67
66 and 65
64 and 63
62 and 61

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