Home > A Life in Vinyl > A Life in Vinyl – 1989

A Life in Vinyl – 1989

March 14th, 2023 Leave a comment Go to comments


What a bitter-sweet year 1989 was: throughout the year, I was in love, which is nice. Alas, it was unrequited, which is decidedly not nice. Worse, it was in the “friends-zone”. But it was a beautiful, profound friendship, which is nice… It was also a year of parties, more deep friendships, lots of cinema (the bonus track pays tribute to a great year for movies), and political engagement in the struggle against apartheid. It was a wonderful year, despite or perhaps because of the pain of the friend-zone, and so the memories of the music of the year is intense, too.

Nobody can accuse 1989 of having been a fantastic year for mainstream pop music — though it was great for certain subcultures. But some terrible things happened, including Tina Turner’s The Best, with the worst excess led by the intolerable Jive Bunny hits.

At the time, I used to DJ at houseparties, executing carefully judged sequences which would guide and ride the mood of the guests. Sometimes the host would demand Jive Bunny, and would answer my excuse that I did not own this platter of iniquity by recourse to his own record collection. I would like to claim that my hitherto happily boogying audience resolutely sat down in revolt against the evil Bunny, but the fuckers would actually dance extra-hard to it. To this day, the strains of In The Mood and Jailhouse Rock can awaken a homicidal rage in me.

Still, all a good DJ should want is a full dancefloor, and Jive Bunny kept the party going. I’d follow that crap with The Gypsy Kings (a sure-fire winner at these parties), and then find the way back to the better things. I still love Black Box’s Italo-disco megahit Ride On Time (despite all the ethical problems surrounding it), and I said it then and I say it now: Pump Up The Jam is a stone-cold slice-of-genius dance classic.

But I don’t include those tracks in this mix. Still, the songs represented here all were frequent guests on my turntable that year, alongside all the 1970s soul records I bought at the time in superb second-hand record shops I had found.

One album I bought on the day of its local release was Fine Young Cannibals’ The Raw And The Cooked, the long-awaited follow-up to their fine 1985 debut album. Oddly, I soon grew tired of the two big hits on the album, Good Thing and She Drives Me Crazy. It was only in recent years that I have come to appreciate those songs again.

South African music features on three tracks. One of these was an international hit, The Art of Noise’s collaboration with the legendary Mahlathini and The Mahotella Queens (the title, Yebo!, simply means “Yes”). Special Star by the multiracial Mango Groove pays tribute to the pennywhistle legend Spokes Mashiane; the song really ought to have been a global hit. It’s Only Me by Rush Hour is rather more obscure. Rush Hour were big on the jazz club circuit, and though their one LP was quite marvellous, the group was soon forgotten. I love the keyboard solo on the featured track.

This mix closes with Wet Wet Wet’s Sweet Surrender. I’ve long argued that the Scottish group is rather underrated. Sweet Surrender is a lovely song, but it has a special meaning for me. The story takes us a few weeks into 1990. I was at my regular club on a Saturday afternoon (the matinee jazz sessions were a great tradition) when a remix of Sweet Surrender was playing. Suddenly the DJ interrupted the song to announce to loud cheers the news that the next day, Nelson Mandela would be released. Oh, I remember, apartheid’s sweet surrender!

As always, CD-R length, home-struggled covers, illustrated PDF, PW in comments. All previous Life in Vinyl mixes, going back to 1977, are still available

1. Traveling Wilburys – Handle With Care
2. Marc Almond & Gene Pitney – Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart
3. Fine Young Cannibals – Good Thing
4. Edie Brickell & New Bohemians – What I Am
5. Simply Red – You’ve Got It
6. Natalie Cole – Miss You Like Crazy
7. Diane Schuur – Louisiana Sunday Afternoon
8. Najee – Personality
9. Rush Hour – It’s Only Me
10. Malcolm McLaren feat. Lisa Marie – Something’s Jumping In My Shirt
11. Art Of Noise feat. Mahlathini and The Mahotella Queens – Yebo!
12. Mango Groove – Special Star
13. Swing Out Sister – You On My Mind
14. Soul II Soul – Back To Life
15. De La Soul – Me, Myself And I
16. Tracy Chapman – Freedom Now
17. Chris Isaak – Wicked Game
18. Wet Wet Wet – Sweet Surrender
Bonus Track:
Harry Connick Jr. – It Had To Be You


More A Life In Vinyl
More Mix-CD-Rs

Categories: A Life in Vinyl Tags:
  1. amdwhah
    March 14th, 2023 at 08:05 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  1. No trackbacks yet.