JoJo’s Corner: December 1990
1990 is drawing to a close and, as promised, here’s my list of events and records I considered notable over the past year. Probably the most idiotic trend in the past year has been that of “remix albums.” Milli Vanilli, Paula Abdul, Technotronic, Bobby Brown, New Kids on the Block and The Cure have put out remix albums this year. I have to wonder why anyone would want to buy a tape with even longer versions of the same horrible songs. Haven’t these jerks been formatted into the ground already? Evidently not.
There are two reasons for this glut. In the old days, when a band didn’t have any new material and wanted to stay in the public eye or had to fulfill record company obligations, they had two choices: Either release a greatest hits collection or a lame live album. The difference today is that Paula, New Kids and Milli’s never wrote any of their material, to begin with, and, as a result, have even less control over their careers than bands of say, five years ago. They’re capitalist tools packaged and marketed with the sole intention of separating mall rats from their parent’s greenbacks. Of course, you could say the same thing about KISS, for example, but at least they decided to wear ridiculous makeup and platform boots themselves. It was only after they started thinking of themselves as legitimate musicians and not a variety act that they became truly worthless.
A concurrent rationale is pure commercialism. Why should a record label bother writing and paying to produce new material when they can simply repackage the old stuff and sell it again to anyone stupid enough to buy it? All you have to do is look at Milli Vanilli. When they started bitching six months ago about wanting to sing on the next record, Frank Farian did the only sensible thing. He hired a few more ringers and released a remix album so he could cash in on the craze while he could. I mean did anyone believe the Milli’s were hired by Frank Farian because they were great singers and not because they looked cute in videos? I say let ‘em keep their damn Grammys. Everyone knows it’s a bullshit award the industry gives itself for selling lots of products. It has no bearing on reality outside of that. Only in the peculiar world of the Grammys is Milli Vanilli more talented than Neneh Cherry and Jethro Tull a better heavy metal band than Metallica.
One good point of 1990 is that the old diggers put out some great albums. Releases from Neil Young and Little Feat almost compensated for bloated box sets from Led Zeppelin and Elton John as well as live albums from Phil Collins and incarnations of Pink Floyd. Steve Earle kept on sluggin’ and Public Enemy hasn’t slowed down. The Smithereens put out their best album in years and John Doe and Exene respectively kept X-heads aquiver with excellent solo releases.
Anyway, I promised you lists so here it goes. My other favorite albums of the year:
Primus – Frizzle Fry
Ice Cube: AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted
Jane’s Addiction: Ritual De Lo Habitual
King’s X: Faith Hope Love
Sonic Youth: Goo
William S. Burroughs: Dead City Radio
The Pogues: Hell’s Ditch
Sound In Time: (cassette)
Truce: Systematic Slaves (cassette)
Bad Yodelers: I Wonder (CD)
Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings (CBS)
Masters of Reality: Self-Titled (Delicious Vinyl)
Green River: Dry As A Bone/Rehab Doll (Sub Pop)
The Rutles: Self Titled (Rhino)
Extreme/Alice In Chains (Speedway)
Sabbath on ‘90 (Speedway)
Jane’s Addiction/Primus (Fairgrounds)
Celebrity Skin (Speedway and Pompadour)
John Doe/Kim Rogers/Boxcar Kids (Bar and Grill)
That’s all for now, see you next year with a column from Los Angeles on the X reunion concert.