Archives » 1990s

Something Changed 8: Is It Like Today?

Another 90s song that alludes to the Apollo programme.

World Party: Is It Like Today?

Something Changed 7: 7 Seconds

This was the first (the only?) song with lyrics sung in the language of Wolof to be a hit in the UK. It possibly helped that Neneh Cherry’s contribution to it was sung in English. N’Dour sings in three language in total as he also threw rench into the mix.

Youssou N’Dour featuring Neneh Cherry: 7 Seconds

Something Changed 6: Sleeping Satellite

Another 90s song inspired by the Apollo Programme.

It’s a pity that Tasmin Archer’s career somewhat fizzled out.

Tasmin Archer: Sleeping Satellites

Something Changed 5: Saturn 5

The organ on this has a very retro early- to mid-60s sound. Not quite appropriate for the subject matter as the rocket it was named for was a late 60s early 70s machine.

Inspiral Carpets: Saturn 5

Something Changed 4: Hello

A song packed full of cultural references from around 1990.

I especially liked the line, “Leslie Crowther, Come On Down.”

The Beloved: Hello

Something Changed 3: Something Changed

This is the song with which I would have started off this category in the best of circumstances.

It’s the lyric on this that I really like. It has that sense of contingency, of paths that might not have been taken, and in that context reminds me of Abba’s The Day Before You Came which you may remember I waxed lyrical (ahem) about some moons ago now.

It was the last single taken from Pulp’s big breakthrough album Different Class but not the least.

Pulp: Something Changed

Something Changed 2: Zombie

In the first of this category’s posts I mentioned that Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries had a distinctive voice. There was a distressed quality to it that spoke of demons in the way that Janis Joplin’s also did. O’Riordan’s childhood experiences and subsequent bipolar disorder can perhaps be discerned in her vocal performances.

(Listening to the guitar on this I think Snow Patrol may well have listened to this sort of thing.)

The Cranberries: Zombie

Something Changed 1: Linger. RIP Dolores O’Riordan

I haven’t previously had a category for 1990s music – the spur for Friday on my Mind, Reelin’ in the Years and Live it Up wasn’t there. I had been thinking of a starting point, but not this one.

I have been shocked into it by the premature demise of Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer of The Cranberries, who first entered the public consciousness in the 1990s. 46 isn’t 27 but it’s still shockingly early. O’Riordan had a distinctive voice which I shall be coming back to.

The Cranberries: Linger

Dolores Mary Eileen O’Riordan: 6/9/1971 – 15/1/2018. So it goes.

Oh, Maggie, What Did We Do?

Anyone looking for a metaphor for the parlous state of the UK today doesn’t need to go very far. They only have to look at Theresa May’s speech at the Tory Party Conference yesterday. Just about everything that could go wrong did. The prankster illustrating the lack of authority the office of Prime Minister now holds. That letter falling off the slogan in the background which says it all about how austerity has hollowed away national cohesion and expertise. The slogan itself – a blatant example of truth reversal (they’re not building the country; they’re tearing it apart; they never do anything for everyone, they act for themselves, those who fund them and the extremely well-off.) A leader struggling to overcome the problems (albeit not entirely of her own making – though she didn’t do much to prevent their coming to pass and arguably contributed to their increase) in front of her.

And what on Earth was that about the British Dream?

There isn’t a British Dream*. We don’t do that sort of thing. We’re not USian.

But the phrase reminded me irresistibly of this song written by Roger Waters and taken from Pink Floyd’s album The Final Cut, from which I filched this post’s title. And the question it poses is a good one. I can trace all the ills that befall life in the UK today to that government from the 1980s. Kow-towing to the power of money, rampant exploitation of workers, poorly paid jobs, lack of social housing, high private rents – all have their roots in those times.

There are two unfortunate references in the song’s lyric, though. “Nips” (but that of course enables the rhyme) and “England”. She did damage to a hell of a lot more than England, Roger.

Pink Floyd: The Postwar Dream

*If there is it consists of getting the better of Johnny Foreigner and despising its own working class.

Bowie

The one name suffices. In modern times you could not be referring to anyone else.

There was (sadly that tense is now appropriate) only one Bowie: David.

For many the iconic moment of their lives was Bowie placing a carefree, languid, unthinking arm round Mick Ronson’s neck on that Top of the Pops appearance while promoting Starman and thereby validating sexualities beyond that of the straight and cis.

Bowie’s first brush with the charts came with Space Oddity in 1969, regarded at the time as a bit of a novelty record, though it wasn’t his last song to tangle with SF imagery.

He hit his stride with the Hunky Dory album in 1971 – on which nearly every track is a belter – though no hits were to come from that source till Life on Mars? was released as a single in 1973. This was of course after the breakthrough, the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in 1972 and that hit with Starman. I would argue that Hunky Dory is the greater achievement. From Ziggy onwards Bowie seemed to be commercialising his talent. The string of hits that followed on from the Ziggy album, through his Aladdin Sane persona, up to Diamond Dogs perhaps bore that out.

He lost me with Young Americans, though. I’ve never been into that sort of music. There were stonkers still to come of course, when he’d changed his style a few more times, Heroes, Ashes to Ashes, Let’s Dance, China Girl, but it is the early stuff I’ll remember him for.

This is The Bewlay Brothers, from Hunky Dory of course.

David Bowie: The Bewlay Brothers

“Man is an obstacle, sad as the clown. (Oh, by jingo.)
So hold on to nothing and he won’t let you down.”

David Bowie: After All (from The Man Who Sold the World)

“I borrowed your time and I’m sorry I called.”

David, we’re not sorry you called.

David Robert Jones (“David Bowie”) 8/1/1947 – 10/1/2016. So it goes.

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