College Countdown: 90FM’s Top 90 of 1989, 42 and 41

42. Government Cheese, Three Chords, No Waiting

There are a few ways to gauge how serious a band is about truly honoring the gods of rock ‘n’ roll each and every time they step on stage. If one of the band members goes by the name Viva Las Vegas, that’s a good sign. That’s exactly the case with the band Government Cheese. They came out of Bowling Green, Kentucky with a brash, tough sound that seemed perfectly designed to cut through the the reverberating bluegrass that surrounded them and announce to everyone that sometimes powerful amps had their place too. After a pair of EPs, the band opted for a live album, perhaps figuring that was the most suitable away to capture the their ferocious energy. Entitled Three Chords, No Waiting, the record was a headlong romp through crashing songs and sweat-stained musician ship. Probably the most famous song was the thunderous “Camping on Acid,” but lest anyone get the wrong idea, the band was also sure to include a disclaimer on the packaging. The lyrics did include observations about the tent growing so large it turned into a monster. That probably should have been warning enough about the dangers of that particular outdoor pastime.

41. Bruce Cockburn, Big Circumstance

There are some performers who write about the ills of the world from a distance, and there are some who go out and see the dismay firsthand. After the release of his 1986 album World of Wonders, Bruce Cockburn decided to make sure he should be filed in the latter group. The resulting songs made their way onto his 1989 release Big Circumstance. Cockburn toured Nepal, which helped “Tibetan Side of Town” and “Understanding Nothing.” He also spent time in Germany shortly after the Chernobyl disaster, subsequently documenting his thoughts in the sing “Radium Rain.” That led some to admire the time he spent hopping from on issue to the other, although Cockburn himself thought the terminology was off. As he put it “It’s not a delicate enough process to be called hopping. Stumbling, maybe.” At least his stumbles yielding terrific results. Who else in the the music business could have spun a modest hit on the subject of deforestation?

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