College Countdown: 90FM’s Top 90 of 1989, 22 and 21

brain drain
22. Ramones, Brain Drain

When the producers of the 1989 film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Pet Sematary were looking for a band to craft a theme song, they turned to some fairly unlikely suspects. Sure, The Ramones had a little bit of cinematic experience and they were already full-on punk rock legends thirteen years after the release of their groundbreaking debut album, but their music didn’t really have the creepy vibe the film was going for. Still, the resulting song became on the band’s most significant radio hits and the centerpiece to their eleventh studio album, Brain Drain. It wasn’t just cats and creepy blond-haired boys getting resurrected. Drummer Marky Ramone’s place in the band came back from the grave as he got behind the kit for the first time since leaving the band in 1983 to deal with a drinking problem. A less happy personnel shift occurred after the album’s release, though, as founding member and longtime creative driving force Dee Dee Ramone announced he was leaving the band. His first solo album, which went in a totally different direction musically, was released just a few months after Brain Drain.

alarm change
21. The Alarm, Change

When the band The Alarm decided to record their fourth studio album, they wanted to ground it in their homeland of North Wales. According to chief songwriter and lead singer Mike Peters, going to Wales to write the lyrics to the band’s prior album, 1987’s Eye of the Hurricane, motivated the even more profound embrace of where they came from for the follow up, entitled Change. As he put it, “I thought if that album was influenced lyrically by Wales, then it was time to bring the whole group home musically as well.” The album contained all the big, anthemic songs that Alarm fans expected, but as a familiar as it may have seemed, there was a chance that an inattentive record buyer could wind up with a surprise as opening guitar riffs gave way to an unexpected language. As part of their homecoming, the band recorded a second version of the album with all of the lyrics in Welsh, in part because Peters and his cohorts felt there was a real risk of the language falling into disuse and extinction. Entitled Newid–the Welsh word for “Change,” naturally–the album featured all the same songs, but in the band’s mother tongue. It wasn’t merely a stunt. In fact, Peters has the highest of aspirations, noting “Music is an international language that knows no barriers and I hope that this record, Change, and also Newid, can heal some of the scars that have been embedded deep in Wales.”

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