College Countdown: 90FM’s Top 90 of 1996, 20 and 19


20. Various Artists, Supercop soundtrack

Yeah, I don’t really get this one. While I’ve acknowledged that well-built compilations hold a special sway over college radio deejays who may be otherwise confronted with the dauntingly unfamiliar across the new music rotation shelves, I have an exceedingly hard time figuring out why the fairly slapdash soundtrack to a 1996 Jackie Chan action flick (which was actually the third installment in franchise, originally released in 1992 in Hong Kong) got so many spins. Sure, there are a couple amusing covers on there, but it’s mostly a incoherent mix of limp alternative rock and lazy rap, the latter of which are liberally sprinkled with the sort of language that got a prohibitory red dot affixed to the track listing on station copies. Maybe it was a result of affection for Chan, who was certainly at his most endearing at this point, as he improbably made headway in the American movie market. Seriously, though, who at the station was playing this stuff?


19. Screaming Trees, Dust

Screaming Trees was not a band I expected to endure, much less get a tantalizing taste of mainstream success. When I arrived at the station, there were a couple Screaming Trees albums already in the C Stacks, the part of the library reserved for the most obscure artists, and there was more to come. These were good albums, but also typical of their label, SST Records, meaning they were loud, a little angry and had a devout lack of polish. There were other things that I played on the radio thinking, ‘This is the sort of thing that should appeal to listeners of classic rock radio,’ but I don’t think that ever happened with those Screaming Trees albums. Then they did indeed crossover, landing a deal with Epic Records and putting out albums that preserved their crunching sound but also had production that emphasized the hooky sharpness of the songwriting. “Nearly Lost You,” which showed up first on the Singles soundtrack before anchoring the band’s album Sweet Oblivion, became one of those songs even more ubiquitous than its official chart rankings suggested. And just like that, the pressure was on for the follow-up. By most accounts, the Washington-based band gave up on at least one take on their next record before recruiting producer George Drakoulias, probably best known for his signature work with the Black Crowes. The resulting album, Dust, was a little more downbeat, still clearly a tough-minded rock record, but also opting for some slinkier, more downbeat material, closer to the most interesting stuff that would later be part of lead singer Mark Lanegan’s solo career. As was the case with a lot of the survivors of the grunge movement, Screaming Trees didn’t last much longer than their first release after the trend peaked. After a couple years touring behind Dust, the band went on hiatus before officially calling it quits in 2000. This is usually the part of the write-up where I add a note about the inevitable reunion, but that hasn’t happened with Screaming Trees. Indeed, Lanegan stays busy enough with other projects–from his solo work to Queens of the Stone to collaborations former Belle & Sebastian singer Isobel Campbell to the Gutter Twins–that its plausible he’ll never make room in his schedule to revisit this particular slice of his past.

Previously…
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
–34 and 33: Eventually and Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks
–32 and 31: Beautiful Girls soundtrack and Strat’s Got Your Tongue
–30 and 29: Upstroke for the Downfolk and Set the Twilight Reeling
–28 and 27: Born on a Pirate Ship and The Golden Age
–26 and 25: Ænima and Dead Man Walking soundtrack
–24 and 23: Victor and Songs for Pele
–22 and 21: Down on the Upside and Music for Our Mother Ocean

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