- 22 May 01
Dermot Stokes' 1989
The last year of the 1980’s was, like the decade itself, unconclusive and retrospective. The most depressing manifestation was the plethora of ‘sampled’ club mix singles cannibalising dance hits of the past.
Given the backward-looking ethos of the year, it’s hardly surprising that the most notable feature of ’89’s collection was the re-emergence of a wardful of elder statesmen, all of whom produced records that stood up well when measured against their golden years – Lou Reed’s ‘New York’, Neil Young’s ‘Freedom’, Bob Dylan’s ‘Oh Mercy’, Roy Orbison’s ‘Mystery Girl’, (posthumously) and The Rolling Stones ‘Steel Wheels’.
But among them all, the highest accolade must surely be reserved for Van Morrison, whose output through the 1980s was of an unswervingly high quality, and whose conviction and commitment to his muse stands as a shining example of how a musician can confront his or her maturity. 1989’s ‘Avalon Sunset’ was merely the latest in a long line of excellence.
Revivals are re-issues were also an important feature of the year. At this stage there can be no excuse for not having a solid roots collection of country, blues, rock’n’roll and whatever you’re having yourself, as the vaults are combed with vigour for the forgotten or long-unavoidable nuggets they house.
Particular favourites this year include ‘The Essential Elvis’, ‘Radio 1’ by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Radiators’ immortal ‘Ghostown’, Roy Orbison’s ‘The Singles Collection’, Lou Reed’s ‘Retro’, Stiff Little Fingers ‘Inflammable Material’ and The Band’s ‘To Kingdom Come’.
Terence Trent D’Arby got difficult and adventurous with his concept album, and the voters in my parish have a deep soft spot for the Pixies. But interesting records like Cowboy Junkies’ ‘The Trinity Session’ represented more retrospection – re-inventing the wheel, albeit in an exquisite new shape …
- Film & TV
- 16 May 22