College Countdown: 90FM’s Top 90 of 1989, 58 and 57


58. Fire Town, The Good Life

For most bands, getting that sweet major label deal is the dream. It’s theoretically the leap from dirty vans prone to breakdown and sleeping on the floors of new fans to tricked-out tour buses and squeaky clean Holiday Inn hotel rooms just begging to be trashed. It’s not all wonder and glory, though, a hard truth that the members of the Madison-based band Fire Town can testify to. Their 1987 debut In the Heart of the Heart Country was originally released on the little label Boat Records, but it caught the attention of the bigwigs at Atlantic, which led to a big reissue, and then their sophomore effort. The band titled that record The Good Life as sort of wry commentary on their own success. As drummer Butch Vig put it, “We’re making a living now, but we’re all very broke still. We owe the record money, and we probably will for a very long time.” That somewhat bittersweet outlook doesn’t compromise the quality of the music the band creates. The Good Life is a near-perfect collection of soaring heartland rock songs.


57. Diesel Park West, Shakespeare Alabama

If the name Diesel Park West seems a little perplexing, the band’s moniker could have even been tougher to parse, at least for anyone not familiar with their hometown sports teams. In their original incarnation, the band was named The Filberts, apparently inspired by the local soccer stadium. Maybe someone noted that the name wasn’t likely to play all that well on the other side of the pond. There’s a little tinge of Americana in the title of their debut album, after all, which borrows the name of a U.S. state and merges it with the greatest British writer of all time. The whole of Shakespeare Alabama reflects that same sort of clever cheekiness, complete with a swipe at religious piety on one of the album’s singles. Truth is, it would still sound pretty good, even if the name of the sleeve read The Filberts.

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
60 and 59

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