RTR Countdown Magazine Best Albums Of ’89!

July 25, 2022
2 mins read

Here’s GARY STEEL’s “countdown” of the best albums of 1989 from the February 1990 issue of RTR Countdown. Oh-ho-ho!

10 – Heavy D And The Boyz – Big Tyme (MCA)

Rap album of the year. De La Soul was what the trend mongers wanted to hear. NWA got the armchair radical vote. But Heavy D had more bounce by the ounce. His boasting toasts were endearing, not offensive, and his steals were credited, not ripped-off. Humorous, bass-heavy, and reggae-influenced.

9 – The Front Lawn – Songs From The Front Lawn (Virgin)

Variety album of the year. Merciless jabs at inane communication articulation, eery soap operatics, and loadsa fun, ha! Fun! Away from their visual context, these tunes are minimal but marvellous. Don MacGlashan is God. Spooky, isn’t it? Good clean Kiwi smorgasboardmania!

8 – The Call – Let The Day Begin (WEA)

Christian album of the year. Rock album of the year. As American as Springsteen. More passionate than U2. Better than U2! This chargrilled beef is spiced and full of heart and soul. It’s not dumb Yankee stadium rock but it’s eminently shower-singable. If I wasn’t beyond redemption Michael Been would have been my saint. But I’m a has-Bean. Goddamn!

7 – Pop Will Eat Itself – This Is The Day, This Is The Hour, This Is This (RCA)

Comedy album of the year. A sublime and spikey poke at everything, and a cunning mixture of rap, house plops and glam geetars. What? Not now, Gary, I’m busy! This musical hybrid and its witty lyrics are connected to the creative current, a bullshit whippersnapper. Bitingly hilarious. Arf!

6 – Liza Minelli – Results (CBS)

Pet Shop Boys album of the year. A luscious, sumptuous, rare item. The PSBs’ sardonic production (and a batch of their songs) gives a true professional just the right environment to hold back on the theatrics and show up all the pretenders with a voice that doesn’t see a distinction between life and cabaret, old chum. Infallible craft.

5 – Blue Nile – Hats (Virgin)

Romantic album of the year. Crystalline, incredibly quiet but intense pop which explores and celebrates every nuance of real-life love and romance. It’s a love affair with life, whereas most pop music is the equivalent of a fast-talking fast-action one night stand.

4 – Inner City – Paradise (10 Records)

Crossover dance album of the year. Paris Grey just oozes her lazy yet wonderful voice all over this precise techno dance. The effect is like lava over ice – steamy stuff. Uneven album, but the good stuff, like ‘Good Life’ and ‘Big Fun’, bring it to the boil. Honourable mention also goes to Adeva, whose self-titled album (EMI) was more consistent, and scorching hot.

3 – Kirsty MacColl – Kite (Virgin)

Old-fashioned pop album of the year. Small, memorable, pithy, wry pop songs from what sounds like true life experiences. Droll, capable singing. A winning, warm album from a real woman in a year of production overkill.

2 – XTC – Oranges & Lemons (Virgin)

‘Life is good’ album of the year. Pop’s master-craftsmen deliver their best in yonks, an hour-long feast of very English op/rock that repays constant attention. Full of pathos, understanding, and lots of love love love, this slice of citrus is a record that affirms life’s best qualities without ramming them home in ridiculous rhetoric. A good spirit with which to enter ’90.

1 – Kate Bush – The Sensual World (EMI)

Weird album of the year. A look into the realm of sensual experience. And a listening experience in itself. Mixes up different musical styles but retains its fundamental personal slant. Eccentric but fertile. Definitely bewitching.


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Steel has been penning his pungent prose for 40 years for publications too numerous to mention, most of them consigned to the annals of history. He is Witchdoctor's Editor-In-Chief/Music and Film Editor. He has strong opinions and remains unrepentant. Steel's full bio can be found here


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