In 1989, When Kate Bush released The Sensual World, her sixth full-length studio album, it had been four years since she’d shimmered new music into the world. Bush was never particularly prolific or expedient, but four years was like a lifetime in the nineteen-eighties college rock scene, within which bands such as R.E.M. and the Cure made sure there was a steady stream of product for their adoring fans racing through undergraduate experiences. So when “Love and Anger,” the lead single from The Sensual World, arrived, it was like a lushly resonant decree from a grand, proudly offbeat goddess. For those who liked to keep score of such things, it was also Bush’s first effort for Columbia Records, after some sort of administrative error purportedly caused EMI America to let her contract lapse. According to Bush, “Love and Anger” had a notably difficult development process, taking around two years from initial concept to completed track. “Well, ‘Love and Anger,’ of all the songs on the album, is really the one I know the least about,” she said at the time. “I don’t really know what it’s about — it’s had so many different faces. But it was one of the first songs to be written, but one of the last songs to be finished.”
This cut was down from 15 on the previous chart.
The Los Angeles band Oingo Boingo had an admirable run during the nineteen-eighties, but as the nineties dawned, the group increasingly seemed like an afterthought. That was largely due to lead singer Danny Elfman’s fast-rising career writing orchestral scores for films, which reached a new peak with the release of Tim Burton’s Batman, in the summer of 1989. In 1990 alone, Elfman’s music appeared in films directed by Warren Beatty, Sam Raimi, Clive Barker, and, once again, Burton. Even the title of Oingo Boingo’s 1990 album, Dark at the End of the Tunnel, seemingly alluded to the band reaching its final days, as did the truncation of the group’s name to simply “Boingo” on the cover. Although they would hang on for one more release (this time officially attributed to Boingo), there clearly wasn’t much left in the tank for the band that once invited listeners to a party primarily populated by deceased fellows. “When the Lights Go Out,” the last single from Dark at the End of the Tunnel, took a crack at capturing some of the old spooky, dance-friendly energy with its mentions of monsters and zombies.
This cut was making its debut on the chart.
When this particular chart was published by CMJ, the program College Countdown was a going concern on WWSP-90FM, the station I called home. When a song called “Jesus Was Way Cool,” by a band named King Missile, popped onto the chart, it was a complete mystery to us. Shimmy Disc, King Missile’s label, didn’t service our humble broadcasting outlet. Once it became clear that the cut was going to be there for a while, the esteemed host of College Countdown went to a record store and purchased Mystical Shit, the full-length album that was home to the track. I have a strong memory of sitting in our production studio and hearing “Jesus Was Way Cool” for the first time, the small group of us assembled for the impromptu listening party buckled over in laughter. According to John S. Hall, the primary creative force behind King Missile, the understated, mildly ironic celebration of Jesus Christ came to him fairly quickly, after seeing Meryn Cadell perform some of her religiously-themed material in Toronto. “Jesus Was Way Cool” became a significant college radio hit, leading so directly to King Missile hooking up with a major label that Hall used to regularly joke, “‘Jesus’ got me signed to Atlantic Records.”
This cut was up from 33 on the previous chart.
Paul Heaton and David Hemingway were members of the veddy British pop outfit the Housemartins. When that band broke up, after the exemplary 1987 album The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death, Heaton and Hemingway formed the Beautiful South, recruiting, among others, former roading Sean Welch to fill out the lineup. Their debut album, Welcome to the Beautiful South, was released in 1989. “You Keep It All In” was the album’s second single. Irish singer Briana Corrigan appeared prominently on the single, giving an extra emotional quality to the track.
The cut was up from 29 on the previous chart.
As we go along, I’ll build a YouTube playlist of all the songs in the countdown. The hyperlinks associated with each numeric entry lead directly to the individual song on the playlist.