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1989 Pazz & Jop: New Kids on the Block

1989 Pazz & Jop: New Kids on the Block

Somewhere close by you’ll discover 1989’s money crop, the listing of 40 albums that has lengthy been the main export of the Pazz & Jop Critics’ Poll. Give it the once-over — you’ll be glad you probably did. Judiciously employed, the critics’ prime 40 will function a dandy shopper information, and never solely that, it’s acquired a hook. The obvious-in-hindsight winner and the unprecedented prime 10 inform a narrative about shifting tastes in American common music, a narrative that’s simply starting despite the fact that it’s been brewing for a decade. It’s the story of a brand new beat, a brand new sound, a brand new aesthetic. It’s the story of racial nightmares and crossover goals — of dysfunctional prejudice, resurgent Afrocentrism, cultural desegregation. And it’s additionally the story of rock and roll consuming itself after which rising from its personal leavings like some mutant bottom-feeding carp, an enormous goldfish with a yen for the solar.

I’ll inform the story as greatest I can, however I’ll inform it extra briefly than has been my customized. No, I’m not written out after the decade opus I just lately dropped hereabouts; actually, having plowed by way of the voter feedback, that are excerpted in chunks and snippets all through the complement, I really feel compelled to make clear my views on the album, which this ballot nonetheless honors amongst rock ideas and artifacts. But for some years a associated story has additionally been rising from Pazz & Jop — about consensus, or fragmentation, or pluralism. It’s grow to be more and more apparent that nobody voice can sum up the ballot with the sort of authority that was believable a decade in the past, and thus I’ve invited three further essayists to usurp my area. Voice columnist Nelson George is the most outstanding African-American rock/pop critic (and critic of African-American rock/pop); Arion Berger edited the LA Weekly music part for many of 1989; and continual nonparticipant Tom Ward joins an amazing rock critic custom by denying that he’s any such factor.

Given my area limitations, I’ll dispense with the particulars posthaste. The 16th or 17th ballot was our largest ever: 255 critics nationwide made our deadline. The P&J affirmative motion program confirmed average progress amongst African-American voters (19 to 29, close to as we will inform) and none, making an allowance for the improve in voters, amongst ladies (39 to 45). But there was a serious generational leap: spurred partially by 25-year-old Poobah (and Voice music editor) Joe Levy, we obtained ballots from nicely over 30 skilled/semiprofessional critics aged 25 or youthful. What’s extra, 12 of the youngsters’ prime 15 acts have been 25 or youthful themselves. But even with out the youth vote, the 5 under-25 artists in the prime 10 would nonetheless have completed prime 11, and that is information. Only as soon as earlier than has the ballot been so top-heavy with whippersnappers — Prince–Replacements–R.E.M.–Run-D.M.C. in 1984 — and one way or the other De La Soul–Neneh Cherry–N.W.A.–Soul II Soul–Pixies has a brisker look. It’s not simply their haircuts, both — it’s their skilled expertise, or lack of it. Run-D.M.C have been 1984’s solely newcomers, to the racks or the ballot. This yr younger artists put 4 debut albums in the prime 10. With an indie EP and album behind them, the Pixies are veterans by comparability.

Oddly sufficient, De La Soul’s three Feet High and Rising isn’t the first debut album ever to complete on prime — nor, strictly talking, the first teenaged winner. It shares each distinctions with 1977’s No. 1, recognized with its 21-year-old entrance man but in addition showcasing a memorable younger bass participant: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols. Amerindie loyalists please observe, nevertheless, that it’s the first winner not distributed by a serious label. Whether these are vital parallels, low cost ironies, some unusual amalgam of the two, or none of the above stays to be decided, with generational disagreements at the very least as intense as racial ones. Without the black vote, De La Soul nonetheless would have gained; with out the youth vote, they might have completed behind previous farts Neil Young and Lou Reed. And once I toted up a minipoll of the 26 over-40s I might determine, I used to be stunned to seek out De La Soul down in eighth place, considerably behind not simply Reed and Young however gangsta-minded dangerous boys N.W.A.

Then I assumed once more and realized that I’d handicapped De La Soul to win myself — till I performed the document a pair extra occasions and determined it was simply too slight to go all the approach, knocking it out of my very own prime 10 in the course of. I’m wondering what number of of my fellow graybeards went via one thing comparable. Very very similar to the Neville Brothers’ fourth-place Yellow Moon, which topped the 40-plus tally whereas ending 17th amongst the 25-and-unders, three Feet High and Rising is so sensible, so heat, so musical that solely a pigfucker and/or stick-in-the-mud might dislike it. These three suburban youngsters rapped with out swagger or inferrable menace; their dumb humor and unique sound have been on the market for all to listen to. But although they gained handily, they did so with the weakest basic help (the lowest points-divided-by-total-voters quotient) of any winner in P&J historical past, as a result of they have been additionally arch and obscure. Three- to four-minute music lengths appeared like pop strikes and appeared like deconstruction, the title evoked the music’s childlike rising pains however become a dick joke, the beat didn’t go on, and parents who don’t tumesce at the drop of a pattern discovered themselves having fun with the group at a distance. I imply, Yellow Moon has a groove, Jack. Let po’-boy purists complain that the manufacturing’s chilly not cool — that is essence of second-line, the rhythm of the spheres. True, I wasn’t positive it belonged on my record after it barely left my cassette case all summer time. But confronted with a awful yr, I remembered the Wild Tchoupitoulas and gave it the nod.

The massive Pazz & Jop story is clearly black artists — solely 3 times have blacks positioned even three albums in the prime 10, and this yr all of the sudden they leap to 5, including the six prime singles for good measure. But there’s extra, as a result of these darn Negroes have multiple groove, and these grooves don’t all imply the similar factor. If as soon as, to adapt a notion from Pablo Guzman, the punk groove jolted pop to its roots, by the late ’80s white rock settled for stasis because it raced by way of its forcebeats (or marched by way of its energy chords or slogged by means of its grunge or tiptoed by means of its funk lite or trotted by way of its jingle-jangle-jingle or rocked by way of its rock and roll). At the similar time, Prince and numerous Jacksons and Yo! MTV Raps have been reminding forgetful bizzers that white Americans adore it when coloured individuals sing and dance. And slowly, painfully, plenty of rock criticism’s left-leaning ex-/quasi-bohemians discovered to assume on their ft — with them, even. But they didn’t all assume to the similar beat, or agree on how a lot a beat might imply. In the ’60s we referred to as this totally different strokes for various people.

De La Soul’s rhythms have been the most dissociated in the prime 10, the Nevilles’ the steadiest. And so voters raised on TV quick-cuts discovered fact in De La Soul, which gained with the weakest basic help (the lowest total-voters-to-points quotient) in P&J historical past, whereas child boomers anchored to the huge beat since childhood held quick to the Nevilles’ line. Accustomed to rhythmic signification, black voters got here on robust for the straightforward, house-inflected world-funk of Soul II Soul’s Keep On Movin’, which besides perhaps for The Raw and the Cooked was the most meaning-free album in the prime 40, including only a patina of Afro-universalism to an affirmative groove believed to talk for itself. Cross-demographic fave Neneh Cherry put assorted rhythms in the service of various messages, and trigger célèbre N.W.A. was juiced by each mastermixer Dr. Dre and the Federal Bureau of Investigation — and got here in second with the oldest voters in addition to the youngest, a lesson in who cares about insurgent angle round right here. In the brief run, rock criticism is a enjoyable gig; as lifework, it favors hardasses.

Not that each one critics have rewired their sensoriums for future shock, or deserted literary considerations; not that the straight four-four has all of a sudden misplaced all drive or attraction. Granted, the poetic ladies who loomed giant in 1988’s music headlines took a tumble this yr, from Tracy Chapman (third to 37th, although she was fifth amongst black voters) to Michelle Shocked (sixth to 64th) to 10,000 Maniacs (29th in ’87 to 4 mentions) to the Sugarcubes (35th to at least one point out). And even when the Chapman and Shocked followups have been objectively disappointing, as one may say, I odor the fickle media on this shortfall: though it was like Kate Bush by no means went away, at 92nd Laurie Anderson will get my most-underrated nomination, and the final time the tied-for-90th Roches made such a superb album it completed 11th. Instead journalists obtained their literary four-four from the people who took out the unique copyright — for sheer information worth, previous white guys (with one lady allowed in the membership) rivaled younger black ones. Last January you might have gotten 100-1 on a hall-of-fame exacta of Neil Young, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones, and upped the odds astronomically by throwing in a secondary legend like Bonnie Raitt, Aerosmith, Don Henley, or 23-year-old P&J debut band NRBQ.

None of those data is as automated as jam addicts complain, however half of them are as boring as John Cougar Mellencamp’s or Graham Parker’s, neither of which made prime 100. So I’m proud that my fellow 40-and-overs put solely the two greatest of their prime 15: Young’s Freedom, as masterful a complete album as he’s ever made, and Reed’s New York, praised for its clunky politics because it will get over on its cannily tossed-off music. Like Tom Petty, who turned in the most plain report of his life accidentally, they proved that rhythms don’t turn into extinct and style isn’t all the time one thing you attempt for. And like the ever craftier Mekons, plus perhaps the ever tamer Replacements and conceivably the ever extra lapidary Elvis Costello (simply not, please, the terribly tortured Bob Mould or the fatally fussy XTC), additionally they demonstrated that the previous rockcrit preferrred of the good music, with a tune you’ll be able to hum and a lyric you’ll be able to put your thoughts to, will nonetheless maintain the occasional long-playing phonogram. But rock and roll future they ain’t. Rap is.

Critically talking, hiphop is the new punk, nothing much less. Not merely as a result of it put six homies plus dabblers Neneh Cherry and Quincy Jones on the album chart and three others amongst the prime six singles artists, however as a result of the youngest writers — and I don’t simply imply specialists like these at The Source, the nationwide hiphop magazine based by Harvard undergrad Jon Shecter — are behind it so passionately. For positive a basic rhythmic reorientation has been essential to its upsurge, however that’s solely the root: as has lengthy appeared inevitable to anybody with a way of how pop types evolve, rappers are lastly positioned to select up the place the Clash left off (and Bruce stays). Stressing the verbal whereas taking good care of music extra diligently than their punk counterparts, so aggressive that inventive one-upsmanship is an obsession, sharing rock’s immemorial boys-into-men egoism, and dedicated to the type of conceptual in-your-face that Nelson George thinks is overrated and most rockcrits stay for, rap has gotten critical about its enjoyable. Arion Berger could also be proper to think about its world-shaking pretensions delusory, however not many in her essential era are inclined to surrender on the dream.

A peculiar facet of rap’s new standing is that it implies spectatorship moderately than participation. Though lots of the new rap-oriented critics are African-American, extra of them are white. And although the Beastie Boys and now third Bass (who completed 50th, simply forward of Ice-T, and have been preceded from 41st by Soundgarden, Rickie Lee Jones, Beleza Tropical, the Bats, the B-52’s, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and late-’88 holdovers Guy, Bobby Brown, and Lucinda Williams) gained’t be the final white rappers of distinction, the style is not any extra more likely to be taken over by Caucasians, as we’re typically referred to as, than bebop. Formulating an Afrocentric ideology definitely gained’t be any worse for younger whites than slipping right into a Eurocentric one; in all probability it’ll be higher. But till cultural desegregation is in full impact (someday after the revolution, that’s), I foresee a bifurcated music subculture, unwieldy regardless of how important. An identical viewers construction didn’t do bebop a lot hurt. But bebop by no means had a broad-based black viewers; it was boho music, critics’ music, not often even hinting at any politics past the black self-determination of its artistic apply. In distinction, rap is activist and street-directed, and it’s already gained over as many white followers on this nation as punk (or bebop) ever did. This might get very fascinating.

In reality, it’s lots fascinating already. Boys-into-men is placing it mildly — not counting metallic (and I nonetheless don’t see why I ought to), rap is the most sexist and homophobic subgenre in the historical past of a music that’s all the time fed off male chauvinism. This excites essential concern, because it rattling properly ought to — N.W.A. can play at fucking tha police all they need, however Eazy-E has the signs of 1 sick case of brief man’s illness, and if there have been any justice Roxanne Shanté would add his jimmy to her pickle jar and begin a set. Rap’s pals in addition to foes attacked its sexism a lot on this yr’s ballot — virtually as typically as they went after Public Enemy’s a lot better publicized anti-Semitism. Both subjects — typically counterbalanced by potshots at the even viler ideology of former crit heroes Guns N’ Roses — are aired in the “Public Enemies” part, however given bifurcation, I’m struck by the digital absence of complaints about rap’s extra sweeping racial chauvinism. When in “Black to the Future,” to decide on only one instance, Def Jet tells an viewers he assumes is black, “But the enemy is not your brother/It’s that other motherfucker,” he’s articulating a wholesome solidarity whereas leaving the “other” dangerously obscure — the context disses racist whites going again to the slavers with out specifying whether or not there’s some other sort. Such complexities typically get misplaced in full-fledged political discourse and have to be almost unattainable to pin down in a couple of strains of rhyme. Hiphop critics have their work minimize out for them.

I assume it’s the hope of avoiding this work, and the ineffective guilt and whiteskin vanity it’ll certainly entail, that steers critics to position fashions like Queen Latifah and Boogie Down’s KRS-One, whose standing I take as a combined omen. Chuck Eddy is all the time too reluctant to consider that consciousness comes naturally to human beings, however he has purpose to mock rap’s “plethora of literate, well-meaning, eclectic, professional, ambitiously conceptual albums-as-artworks” — if there have been any justice, 67th-place Shanté would have topped Latifah (and I didn’t assume so at first myself). As normal, Eddy is overstating. Rappers are pretentious in a reasonably impolite means once they’re pretentious in any respect, which Tone-Loc and Young M.C. and even N.W.A. aren’t; in rap, inventive advance is as more likely to imply home results (a specialty of each Latifah and Shanté) as Malcolm X or Langston Hughes or Sun Ra (83rd, by the approach). But now that it’s attained each business and important respectability — which means acceptance in a white world that may’t be trusted to look after the music’s long-term cultural vitality — it’s a must to marvel when it’ll get eaten up. Just as a result of it’s stayed wholesome longer than any rock subgenre ever doesn’t imply it’s found the present of eternal life.

One of the failed white rap teams to return down the pike in 1989 (three mentions) has a reputation for this dilemma: Pop Will Eat Itself, a basic middlebrow-deconstructionist misprision of the sampling that underpins rap’s historic intonations and seemingly indefatigable vitality. For art-student varieties like PWEI, this excessive dependence on the previous, nevertheless irresistible, portends the music’s final doom. And certainly, it’s sure that the skilled musician’s everlasting grievance — “What will they have left to sample after they’ve put us all out of work with their thievery?” — will discover a correlative in rappers who adjudge it cool to work with a band. It’s additionally conceivable that someday in the intermediate future sampling will simply put on out — that for causes we will’t but fathom, listeners will get sick of it the approach many at the moment are sick of the straight four-four. But assuming (and praying) that the soundbite technique isn’t stymied by legalisms, I’d guess that there’s sufficient materials on the market to maintain rap going previous the intermediate future — whereupon the world could also be prepared for an additional spherical of James Brown rips. To be trustworthy, I’m not bored by them but. Of course, the proper four-four nonetheless rings my chimes too.

Rap’s “naïve” (Berger’s phrase, in a extra restricted context) assumption that it’ll overcome — affirmed rhythmically and vocally even when the phrases are as hyperreal as N.W.A.’s or Public Enemy’s — has acquired to mild up critics whose subcultural representatives are as dolorous as the Cure or the Jesus and Mary Chain and even Galaxie 500, the closest Amerindie obtained to an up-and-comer in 1989. For rock and rollers who got here up with the Sex Pistols, postpunk/storage crunch/chime constitutes a groove with the similar compelling private resonance that the Nevilles’ clean syncopations or Charlie Watts’s rock and roll essence has for his or her elders, and lots of younger critics voted for extra guitar bands than rappers. But past the Pixies, who apart from Sonic Youth are the solely Amerindie band to rise in the ballot (a lot much less enter the prime 10) since the Replacements and Hüsker Dü, these preferences tended to be native and/or private. At this level, postpunk is so huge, so numerous, and so devoid of focus or management that fastening on a guitar band is like choosing a world-beat album — lots of them sound fairly good, with extra exact selections as much as happenstance. And if not everybody in the lineup of college-radio-type 51-to-100 finishers — Jayhawks, Camper Van, Voivod, Faith No More, Syd Straw, Indigo Girls, Exene Cervenka, Stone Roses, My Bloody Valentine, Frogs, Masters of Reality, Yo La Tengo, Walkabouts, Young Fresh Fellows, Mudhoney, Smithereens, Pogues — is altogether bummed out or defeated, none could possibly be referred to as assured; the good humor that’s their model of constructive not often lasts greater than a track or two. No marvel their contemporaries spectate elsewhere.

The confidence issue cuts each methods, nevertheless. The principal purpose some critics nonetheless don’t get rap is — nicely, name it rhythmic, or cultural. Hooked as much as the straight four-four, they don’t perceive rap as music — they’ve hassle considering on their ft. But rap’s positivity places one other sort of cap on its essential consensus. Because we’re often critical and sometimes dour ourselves, critics aren’t as prepared as the common tradition shopper to purchase rose-colored glasses or comfortable ft. Drunk on romance, a rock critic will nonetheless refuse a gentle weight-reduction plan of affection songs, preferring to savor one or two. Defiance is our meat — as excessive as we knew the Sex Pistols’ rage to be, few of us have been inclined to disclaim its conviction and fact worth. And in the present day, ridiculous although most might discover the gloom of gothic or industrial, a modest pessimism is considered seemly — in a world whose salvation is unsure, musicians are allowed to combine just some smallscale epiphanies into their existential confusion, nothing grander. Hence, most of rap’s boasts and calls to motion bounce off crucial skeptics, and silliness takes De La Soul solely thus far.

But rap does no less than retain “underclass” credentials — regardless of the middle-class heroes it’s generated, and in contrast to dance music, which not often will get the similar respect although it’s fairly in style amongst poor individuals. Together with goofy-to-organic reinterpretations of Public Enemy’s deep combine, home borrowings — commonplace keyb and piano hooks, diva soul, fuzzed-out bass, looser beats — dominated rap’s musical improvement in 1989. But whereas Janet Jackson and Quincy Jones and pomo poet Madonna all brush up towards dance music good as any rapper, solely Soul II Soul and, because it occurred, Neneh Cherry got here out of the membership world. Even on the singles chart there’s a paucity of dance flukes — until you rely Digital Underground, the Oakland electrorap crew whose forthcoming album handicaps as a Pazz & Jop sureshot, they start and finish at Inner City’s 24th-place “Good Life,” which completed an important two locations forward of the plain present crossover “Pump Up the Jam” (hope it exhibits up in 1990). Instead, as if to place their imprimatur on rap’s seriousness, the critics sorted rap singles out from rap albums — of the seven in our prime 25, just one appeared on a charting LP, or longform, or no matter the synonym is today.

This is a serious omission. Most home hits are irreducibly cultish, however I nonetheless put three of the poppier ones in my prime 10, and given the probability may need gone larger (I didn’t discover out what “This Is Acid” was until six months after it imprinted itself one scorching Bronx Zoo Saturday, and I’ve but to put arms on a replica). There’s actually no query that insofar as the new rock aesthetic is rhythmic and sonic it’s occurring no less than as a lot in the golf equipment as at the intersection of Mean Street and Yo! MTV Raps. Unfortunately, that doesn’t imply J. D. Considine’s name for a brand new dance-music criticism will set off any stampedes — if rock critics distrust rap’s positivity, they really feel one thing approaching contempt for home’s. And whereas contempt usually demeans the beholder, it’s not as if the disdain is gratuitous. Hard-core dancers whose minds nonetheless perform in the daytime infer a social imaginative and prescient from the communal ecstasy (and sore tootsies?) of the dance flooring, they usually’re not simply jiving. But they’re jiving somewhat. Because if on the one hand (foot?) utopian fantasies are all the time revolutionary, on the different they’re all the time escapes. And regardless of the pomo bromide that each little escape helps breach our invisible jail partitions, this apparently unsavable world is at present providing loads of contravening proof.

The claims I’ve made for rap might sound previous to nonbelievers — I’ve rooted arduous for the stuff ever since making a Sugarhill best-of my prime album of 1981. But so far as I’m involved I’m simply studying the tea leaves. Though as regular I’ve voted for loads of rap this yr, I gotta inform ya — between the trans-stoopid “Pump Up the Jam” and the mysterious “This Is Acid,” it’s the dance data that really feel extraordinary on my singles record this yr. Too a lot of the rap breaks down into sustaining pleasures (Tone-Loc and “Fight the Power”), forbidden sojourns (2 Live Crew and “Terrordome”), and album cuts with out albums (Digital Underground and A Tribe Called Quest). What’s extra, at the prime of my album chart itself you’ll discover one thing I by no means anticipated to place there once more: three phonograms anchored to the straight four-four.

Since I’ve been misconstrued as proclaiming “the death of the album” or some such, I need to be very clear. It’s the “great album” I’ve my doubts about, and by that I don’t imply a Consistently Realized Work of Art Demonstrating Revelatory Literary Depth and Sonic Imagination. Taking totally different strokes under consideration, these will proceed to manifest themselves — for all I do know, Spike qualifies. But as I as soon as stated about nice artists, an excellent album calls for an awesome viewers, and in view of rock’s galloping fragmentation, the concept that any album can invoke a lot much less create such an viewers appears more and more chimerical. It so occurs that 1989 noticed the launch of two Consistently Realized Etc. albums tailored for the totally different people in my generational and racial fragment, who can’t in themselves represent a fantastic viewers. Never thoughts that Neil Young’s Freedom did higher with the citizens at giant than with Neil’s fellow 40-and-overs, who didn’t even discover room for The Mekons Rock ’n’ Roll of their prime 15 — these two data summed up the conventional rock sensibility, by which the want for continuity equals the eager for a gentle groove. Yes, it’s true that one merely rearticulates longstanding frustrations, confusions, and limitations whereas the different proclaims the imminent dying not simply of the nice album however of the conventional rock sensibility. That nonetheless doesn’t imply there gained’t be extra.

But it might recommend that, nice or not, they gained’t imply a lot, and right here’s the place this “death of the album” enterprise begins making sense. Put it this manner: even in common music phrases, albums are epiphenomena. What they’re actually about is persistently realized careers — nothing much less, however nothing extra. I uncovered just about the ordinary variety of gooduns in 1989, and people who discover my tastes dependable can use this annual Dean’s List as nonetheless one other shopper information. Enjoy, as a result of I did; I really like my albums, don’t hear sufficient of them. But over the previous decade I’ve stopped understanding rock historical past of their phrases. Granted, they’re such tidy artifacts that it’s attainable 100 years from now rock historical past might be written of their phrases if it’s written in any respect. Like all great-man theories, although, that historical past might be a gross distortion. Anybody with a modicum of pop sense has all the time recognized this, however in the ’80s, multiplying media in addition to galloping fragmentation have made it inescapable — whilst the handy annual assemble generated by this ballot, the album abstract might properly benefit extra disbelief than anybody ought to be requested to droop. Right, at some degree “hip-hop is the new punk” appears each statistically justifiable and poetically simply. But even in the event you assume albums imply greater than I’m prepared to say, it was a awful yr. The numbers say so —  prorated, by no means have the leaders gathered fewer complete factors. And so does the poetry.

Initially, it was a way of poetry that moved me to interrupt precedent and record a commercially unavailable merchandise as my No. 1. Pulnoc’s Live at P.S. 122 (the title handwritten on the inset card of this soundboard cassette) was the truth is my leisure longform of selection in 1989, however that was no extra my criterion this yr than it ever has been — what made the distinction was that not even Young or the Mekons sounded, nicely, nice in fairly the similar means. And when Eastern Europe exploded in December I felt as if perhaps the four-four had one thing to do with historical past in any case. More phoenix than carp, Pulnoc are an amalgam of three of Prague’s Plastic People — who began a yr after NRBQ and suffered tons greater than the street for the rock and roll life — and 4 of that seminal Czech band’s 25-ish followers. They don’t appear any extra explicitly political than Charlie Parker — I don’t perceive Czech so I’m not sure. But they mesh trancelike vocals, hypnotic hooks, draggy drones, and guitar work not unreminiscent of Neil Young all into an ineluctable four-four that would make you consider in rock and roll future but once more. I belief that their cleverly orchestrated publicity blitz will win them an official U.S. launch in 1990, and I’m betting that of their method, which is naïve in a single respect and wiser than you’ll ever be in one other, they consider in the nice album. They are contravening proof that walks and talks and performs the guitar. I’ve not the slightest doubt that typically they lengthy for escape identical to some other human beings. And obtain it too.

Top 10 Albums of 1989

1. De La Soul: three Feet High and Rising (Tommy Boy)

2. Neil Young: Freedom (Reprise)

three. Lou Reed: New York (Sire)

four. The Neville Brothers: Yellow Moon (A&M)

5. Neneh Cherry: Raw Like Sushi (Virgin)

6. N.W.A.: Straight Outta Compton (Ruthless)

7. Elvis Costello: Spike (Warner Bros.)

eight. The Mekons: The Mekons Rock ’n’ Roll (A&M)

9. Soul II Soul: Keep On Movin’ (Virgin)

10. Pixies: Doolittle (4AD/Elektra)

Top 10 Albums of 1989

1. Public Enemy: “Fight the Power” (Motown)

2. Neneh Cherry: “Buffalo Stance” (Virgin)

three. Soul II Soul: “Keep On Movin’ ” (Virgin)

four. Fine Young Cannibals: “She Drives Me Crazy” (I.R.S.)

5. Tone-Loc: “Wild Thing” (Delicious Vinyl)

6. Young M.C.: “Bust a Move” (Delicious Vinyl)

7. Madonna: “Like a Prayer” (Sire)

eight. The B-52s: “Love Shack” (Warner Bros.)

9. Tom Petty: “Free Fallin’ ” (MCA)

10. Rolling Stones: “Mixed Emotions” (Rolling Stones)

—From the February 27, 1990, difficulty


Pazz & Jop essays and outcomes may also be discovered on Robert Christgau’s website. His most up-to-date guide, Is It Still Good to Ya? Fifty Years of Rock Criticism, 1967–2017, was revealed final yr.


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