There’s no denying that “Take on Me” is one of the most memorable singles to see release during the 1980s, and it’s relatively hard to disagree with the premise that it’s one of tracks that best defines the music of the decade, but with that said, we can’t adequately express just how much great music you’ve missed if you’ve spent the last 30 years thinking of that one wonderful song as the sum total of a-ha’s catalog.
Still, if you’ve somehow never gotten around to exploring the awesomeness of a-ha beyond what you’ve heard on the radio, this is the perfect year to make up for lost time, given that it’s the 30th anniversary of the group’s debut album, Hunting High & Low.
The Grateful Dead have an unparalleled gift for creating full-fledged pop culture events out of thin air, and it’s a gift they’ve demonstrated more than once this year. You may recall how the band had fans reaching into their wallets and preordering a live album documenting concerts that hadn’t even taken place yet (we’re referring, of course, to the audio document of the “Fare Thee Well” shows), and that’s certainly impressive enough in and of itself. To really get an idea of the definition of Dead-ication, though, consider that the announcement about the impending release of 30 TRIPS AROUND THE SUN, a limited-edition 80-disc box set of 30 previously-unreleased live shows – that’s one for each year between 1965 and 1995 – with a price tag of $699.98 - resulted in the set selling out before it’s even scheduled to ship.
This week brings a pair of reissues on 180-gram vinyl which can't really said to be cut from the same musical cloth, but they'd still both likely appear on most anyone's lists of albums that best defined the sound of 1990.
Happy Mondays, Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches: In the late '80s and early '90s, if you were an Anglophile whose tastes in music were defined predominantly by what bands were on the cover of New Musical Express, then you could hardly have avoided Happy Mondays, whose grooves were all the rage at the time. Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches was neither their first album nor their last, but it remains the closest thing to a masterwork in the band's back catalog, and while it may be best recalled for its singles - their cover of John Kongos' “Step On” and their original composition “Kinky Afro” - it's a strong album through and through, hence its appearance on Q's list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever.