College Countdown: 90FM’s Top 90 of 1996, 34 and 33

34. Paul Westerberg, Eventually

Officially, Eventually was the sophomore solo effort from former (and, improbably, future) Replacements frontman Paul Westerberg. (I actually consider All Shook Down, the final album credited to the Replacements, to be Westerberg’s solo bow, but I’m letting that go for today’s purposes.) It was also the first indication that things weren’t necessarily going to go swimmingly for the flannel-clad Twin Cities troubadour in his solo career, at least from a critical acclaim standpoint. He was regularly and rightly cited as one of the great rock ‘n’ roll songwriters of his generation throughout his tenure with The Mats, and expectations were high that he’d continue one in that vein when releasing music under his own name. I still maintain that Westerberg made about as good of a start imaginable with his first solo single, even if he’s since disavowed the song. And 14 Songs was similarly a promising start. By Eventually, it already seemed he was starting to run out of things to say, or maybe that his escape from the tension of a band, especially one that was fairly dysfunctional in even its best moments, was slackening his creativity. I remember one of my fellow DJs at the commercial station where I worked at the time asking me what I thought of “Love Untold,” the album’s lead single, his tone clearly indicating that he found it disappointing at best. I meekly answered something about liking the lyrical detail of “Checks his sleeve for his ace,” but that was all I had. There are other songs I like well enough on the album, but it was clearly flat beer, and not just when compared against the greatness that came before it. It was drab and unmemorable on its own merits.

33. Various Artists, Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks

Perhaps the only thing surprising about this tribute album is that no one thought to make it earlier. As I’ve mentioned previously, college radio deejays are uniquely susceptible to covers–nostalgia for a cultural past they very may not have personally experienced simultaneously one of the most adorable and most irritating affections of the American twentysomething–and for those who were in their undergraduate years during the mid-nineties the ditties of Schoolhouse Rock! were foundational. The educational bumpers deployed in between cartoons on ABC’s Saturday mornings were the nursery rhymes of Generation X, so it only made sense to corral a bunch of college rock bands to cover them. Thus, the likes of Pavement, Ween, Moby, Blind Melon and–best of the lot–Skee-Lo (“What’s up, cat?”) took their turns in the studio to offer up fresh interpretations of songs written by Bob Dorough and others on the original Schoolhouse Rocks! team. The results may be the definition of inessential, but it’s hard to deny that the whole endeavor is terrifically fun.

An Introduction
–90 and 89: Antichrist Superstar and Three Snakes and One Charm
–88 and 87: No Code and Unplugged
–86 and 85: Greatest Hits Live and Gilded Stars and Zealous Hearts
–84 and 83: To the Faithful Departed and God’s Good Urges
–82 and 81: Billy Breathes and Sweet F.A.
–80 and 79: The Process and Test for Echo
–78 and 77: Supersexy Swingin’ Sounds and Breathe
–76 and 75: Bob Mould and Walking Wounded
–74 and 73: It’s Martini Time and Trainspotting soundtrack
–72 and 71: Aloha Via Satellite and Fever In Fever Out
–70 and 69: Hi My Name is Jonny and One Mississippi
–68 and 67: Everything Sucks and The Aeroplane Flies High
–66 and 65: First Band on the Moon and Razorblade Suitcase
–64 and 63: Comic Book Whore and Peachfuzz
–62 and 61: All Change and Rude Awakening
–60 and 59: 12 Golden Country Greats and Songs in the Key of X
–58 and 57: Brain Candy soundtrack and Pinkerton
–56 and 55: Sublime and Count the Days
–54 and 53: Wild Mood Swings and The Cult of Ray
–52 and 51: Bringing Down the Horse and Crash
–50 and 49: No Talking, Just Head and New Adventures in Hi-Fi
–48 and 47: Lay It Down and Pogue Mahone
–46 and 45: I’m with Stupid and XTORT
–44 and 43: Tango and …finally
–42 and 41: Good Weird Feeling and Mint 400
–40 and 39: Happy Nowhere and Not Fade Away (Remembering Buddy Holly)
–38 and 37: Turn the Radio Off and Electriclarryland
–36 and 35: Naughty Little Doggie and In Blue Cave

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