My 1989 – part two (July – December)

This is a continuation of my personal musical story, as actually requested by a couple of people! This look back at the second half of 1989 is a follow-up to my previous similarly self-indulgent articles about the first half of that year, as well as the first and second parts of 1988.

You can also go back to read about my even more formative years as a music fan here. It is highly unlikely that this will be followed up with articles about 1990, unless my arm is properly twisted!

While reading this, feel free to listen to the Spotify playlist at the bottom of this article. But back to the half-way point in 1989 as this blog reaches 150 posts…


A quick aside first. Paul McCartney’s Flowers In The Dirt had been released the previous month, but I was in a temporary, fairly brief phase of ignoring The Beatles, who were (it’s strange to remember) really not cool at all at this stage, especially Macca of course. So I didn’t acquire that until March 1993.

This downturn in my Beatles love-in can also be seen in the fact that I didn’t buy any of their albums on CD until August 1992 (Revolver), despite them all first being issued in this format in 1987. I completed the full set with Yellow Submarine in October 1996.

Anyway, back to what I actually did get up to in the second half of 1989. I was back in Upminster for the summer holidays, having just completed my first year at The University Of Sheffield, meaning I was regularly exploring the record shops of Essex and London, often in the company of my best mate Kris.

My first acquisition of the month was Sonic Youth’s 1985 second full-length album Bad Moon Rising for £6.99 from Trumps in Hornchurch, somewhere I have absolutely no recollection of. Those were the days when a small place like Hornchurch could sustain a record shop.

This remains one of my favourites of theirs, not least for the inclusion of Death Valley ’69 featuring Lydia Lunch.

Later that same week, I made a tape of Iggy Pop’s Instinct album (having bought it on cassette and then decided to offload it, I think), not one of his finest records. It is quite hard hitting, featuring Sex PistolsSteve Jones on guitar. In fact, it was named in Kerrang!’s 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums Of All Time list in 2007.

I was also in Romford that week, when a trip to Boots (!) brought a pair of CDs by The Cure in 1980’s compilation of early recordings Boys Don’t Cry and 1985’s excellent The Head On The Door, each for a bargain £5.99.

Pixies ticket (not mine!)

On the Friday I headed into London to meet up with my university friend Phil for a Pixies gig at the Kilburn National, with a double whammy of great support from Pere Ubu and first Miracle Legion.

I didn’t really know of the first band before that night, but they were promoting their excellent Me And Mr. Ray album from that year which I eventually picked up in 1991.

I certainly knew of Pere Ubu before the gig, but I didn’t have any of their CDs at that point, which was soon rectified, as I rapidly acquired all of their challenging back catalogue. I must have had some stuff on tape that I no longer own, perhaps including the classic debut The Modern Dance which I originally bought as a limited cassette re-release (issued in 1988) before getting as a quite Costly Disc in November 1991.

I was back in Hornchurch the following week, buying Wire’s 1987 The Ideal Copy album on CD, from Trumps for £6.99.

My tour of Essex towns visiting record stores continued when I picked up a couple of CD singles from Parrot Records in Basildon, in the shape of the 3” Trouble Me by 10,000 Maniacs (including one track that featured Billy Bragg) and The Shamen’s You, Me & Everything.

The middle Saturday of the month brought a trip up to London, no doubt in the company of Kris. I bought at least a couple of CDs on that occasion, one from Virgin and the other from HMV. There could have been more, but I don’t keep records of any that I no longer own.

The two I bought are both excellent – the combined Surfer Rosa and Come On Pilgrim by Pixies, and Sleeper – A Retrospective by The Creepers, Marc Riley’s very-mid-80’s-indie band after he left The Fall.

Another Essex town, another CD acquisition as a few days later I returned from Woolworths in Southend with The Fall’s compilation Hip Priest And Kamerads, which includes album cuts, live versions and singles from their time on Kamera Records in the early 1980’s.

I was back up in London towards the end of that week, acquiring yet another CD single in the shape of At War by politicised janglers McCarthy, for just £1.99 from Rhythm Records in Camden. This had one remixed track from that year’s The Enraged Will Inherit The Earth and three other great tunes.

At War ep by McCarthy

I taped a Happy MondaysPeel session off the radio which included versions of two songs off 1988’s Bummed and one from the debut, as well as returning to Romford for New Order’s excellent Technique album released earlier that year, which I managed to find in Woolworths for just £5.99.

I cannot recall now why I was in Canterbury at the end of the month (possibly a family trip?), but while I was there I was busily topping up my CD collection even further, especially from Richards Records.

I got a fabulous compilation of Zimbabweans The Four Brothers, as well as Earache RecordsGrind Crusher compendium of what I knew then as hardcore, but is perhaps better described as grindcore – featuring the likes of Napalm Death, Heresy and Bolt Thrower.

I also got three Pere Ubu albums for £6 each – numbers three to five, originally from 1979 through 1982. So the month ended on a busy, productive note.

Relistening to them for the first time in a few years shows they have not diminished at all in their extreme oddness, but they retain their sheer joy. 1982’s Song Of The Bailing Man, for example, features the oddball Use Of A Dog with great use of trumpet that you can hear in the Spotify playlist accompanying this article, as well as the truly strange Petrified:


August was another busy musical month, although it was gig-free. These were of course the long pre-internet days, when it was only possible to buy gig tickets from record stores, the venue themselves or perhaps some kind of mail order, so planning for gigs out of term-time was tricky.

The first day of the month saw The Shamen’s acid-y mini-album Phorward land on my doormat from Heliotrope Records.

I taped a couple of Peel sessions, from The Shamen and Birdland, as well as visiting the library to record Penguin Cafe Orchestra’s When In Rome…, a live album from 1988.

I must have decided to try PCO out due to their claimed similarities to the minimalist likes of Philip Glass and Michael Nyman, though I never liked them enough to explore any further at all. My favourite on the album is what turns out to be apparently their most famous song, Telephone And Rubber Band originally from 1981’s eponymous second album, but the record as a whole is rather ‘meh’.

The tape is rounded out by seven cuts from the 1982 EG Records compilation First Edition, courtesy of Kris, including tracks by Brian Eno and Phil Manzanera, with the highlight being R.A.F., a 1978 Eno b-side.

The Shamen’s session caught them in peak psych /acid mode with the likes of Transcendental and the repeated “can you pass the acid test?” from Phorward.

I was back in Camden early in August, returning with Sonic Youth’s third album EVOL from Vinyl Experience, while I recorded another Peel session, this time by Pere Ubu (intriguingly their only one for the veteran DJ).

Strangely, this only featured one number from the recent Cloudland album, and two from 1988’s The Tenement Year (including a kooky version of We Have The Technology).

The CD of EVOL for some reason lists the tracks in a totally different order on the back cover and, as was common for the times, included a bonus track in the form of a cover of Kim Fowley’s Bubblegum, originally the b-side to Starpower.

Vinyl Experience in Camden (with Wreckless Eric)

Closing LP track Expressway To Yr. Skull (aka Madonna, Sean And Me or The Crucifixion Of Sean Penn) is perhaps the best thing on the disc, the perfect SY amalgamation of tune, guitar frenzy and atonality.

I bought Wire’s second album Chairs Missing from 1978 on CD and received a variety of Peel and Janice Long sessions by The Fall on a tape from Kris.

Peel featured once again when I returned from Romford’s HMV with three The Peel Sessions ep’s on CD for just 99p each – Billy Bragg, The Damned and Napalm Death.

The Bragg one is an all-time classic from 1983 which includes A13, Trunk Road To The Sea, his remake of (Get Your Kicks On) Route 66 re-set in Essex, one of my very, very favourite recordings of his.

That was clearly a very busy Saturday as I was also in Camden, picking up more Sonic Youth and Wire albums – 1987’s Sister from the former, and Wire’s compilation On Returning (1977-1979), notable mainly for including the essential 12XU, alongside selections from their first three albums, only one of which I owned on CD at the time.

More radio sessions by The Fall came my way on tape from Kris a few days later – Peel, David Jensen and Richard Skinner – and I also received Dinosaur Jr’s classic Bug album from Cordelia Records, another long-lost mail order firm.

I recorded a Peel session by Band Of Susans, sadly not the 1988 one that featured a cover of Gang Of Four’s I Found That Essence Rare, but one promoting that year’s (very good) Love Agenda, although it did kick off with a version of Wire’s Too Late from Chairs Missing.

After getting hold of Cocteau TwinsHead Over Heels/Sunburst And Snowblind from 1983 on CD, I was back in London on another Saturday, buying Pere Ubu’s current album Cloudland from Virgin on Oxford Street.

We (presuming I was with Kris) also went to Camden, where I bought two CD singles by Spacemen 3, Revolution from Vinyl Experience for £3.99 and Hypnotized/Just To See You Smile from the Electric Ballroom (a venue I didn’t actually attend for a gig until seeing Elastica there in February 1994) for only £2.50.

On this trip to Camden I also started my collection of industrial music (much of which I offloaded a few years later) with Einstürzende Neubauten’s 80-83 Strategies Against Architecture compilation for £7.50 from a record fair. This is noisy, weird, experimental stuff.

The last musical acquisition of the month was Drop, 1987’s very psych debut album by The Shamen, one of a few I seem to have had bought on my behalf by my university friend Adrian, more of whom later.


The first day of the month saw a trip up to London, from where I returned with The Four BrothersBros album from 1989 on CD, as well as a pair of bootleg tapes from Sheffield gigs I had attended. One was Pixies from the Octagon Centre in May of this year, and the other was Throwing Muses and The Sundays from The Leadmill in February.

It was at this point that I seem to have stopped buying bootleg tapes of gigs I had attended.

I received My Bloody Valentine’s Isn’t Anything on CD from Cordelia Records, before another trip up to Oxford Street later that week. I came back with a couple of CDs from Virgin on Oxford Street, for £6.99 each.

These were McCarthy’s The Enraged Will Inherit The Earth and Playing With Fire by Spacemen 3, both of which came out in this year.

I visited Nottingham for the first time early in September, visiting my friend Adrian, with the highlight of the trip obviously being a visit to the famous Selectadisc shops, although the only purchase from there I still own is Wire lead singer Colin Newman’s Commercial Suicide from 1986. I’m sure I must have bought more than one CD from there though.

It’s still a very decent album, with Colin’s Israeli wife-to-be Malka Spigel heavily featured on vocals on 2-Sixes.

Back cover of Colin Newman‘s Commercial Suicide

However, I did get some more back catalogue CDs from Virgin by two bands I was very actively buying up this year – Pere Ubu’s The Tenement Year from 1988 (their first since reforming after breaking up in 1982), and A Bell Is A Cup … Until It Is Struck by Wire, also first issued in 1988.

We also visited Record Collector in Sheffield, and I snapped up Wire’s latest album It’s Beginning To And Back Again for a bargain £6.99.

The day before heading back to Sheffield for the start of a new university year, I made one more CD purchase while back in Essex, this time getting hold of Dinosaur Jr’s classic cover of The Cure’s Just Like Heaven as a CD single from Our Price in Basildon.

I returned to Sheffield in the middle of September, moving into a shared house with my friends (then and now), Phil and John. This was a fairly unloved terrace house on Freedom Road in Walkley, which had some benefits such as being just round the corner from a cheap supermarket (with discounted cakes near closing time!) and a bus route into town, as well as being pretty walkable to the university.

Our basement in Walkley

However, it also came with a basement full of junk, which I seem to recall we got a few quid for clearing out or sorting through – this is a vague memory as we certainly weren’t transporting broken chairs and things to the tip!

It was also home to some mice, which I was most susceptible to as my bedroom was the old living room on the ground floor. The (unused) front door opened into my room, with access to the house being down a passage alongside my room and then into the kitchen which was the other side of the stairs from my room.

The other memorable things about that house were having a spare single bedroom on the first floor as our living room, meaning we watched the TV sitting on a bed; and that our landlord looked a ‘lot’ like Pere Ubu’s lead singer David Thomas!

I was in the swing of buying music as soon as I was back in student-land, getting a second-hand copy of The Gun Club’s Mother Juno for £4 from Record Collector.

This album was produced by Robin Guthrie from Cocteau Twins and includes The Breaking Hands that had hit the lower reaches of John Peel’s Festive Fifty in 1987, my introduction to the band.

Leadmill tape

I got a special tape from The Leadmill, entitled Beats Vol 1, in my second week back, which I think was a promotional freebie. This featured the likes of Pere Ubu, The Wedding Present and The Shamen, so was a welcome acquisition.

My CD collection made a rapid return to Nottingham for a few days, as I bought four CDs from Selectadisc over a three-day period, including R.E.M.’s 1988 album Green and Treasure by Cocteau Twins from 1984. I think these were all purchases via Adrian, rather than visits in person, though I’m not 100% sure.

The other two were both Billy Bragg releases – third album Talking With The Taxman About Poetry from 1987 (that I already had on tape from my sister’s vinyl copy), and a US import of the Help Save The Youth Of America E.P. from the same year that was mainly live and alternate versions of songs I already owned.

Help Save The Youth Of America by Billy Bragg

My last acquisition of the month was a copy of Matt Johnson from The The’s solo debut album Burning Blue Soul from 1981, courtesy of Kris, something I’ve never got around to replacing with a CD.


October began on a Sunday, so I couldn’t buy anything new until the second day of the month, which I of course did, in the shape of The Sugarcubes’ patchy second album Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week!, for £9.99 from Roulette Records, and The Wedding Present’s classic Kennedy single for £3.99 from Our Price.

Amongst the b-sides on the latter is a suitably rambunctious cover of Tom JonesIt’s Not Unusual.

The Sugarcubes was probably the first time I was properly exposed to the infamous music press ‘build ‘em up and then knock ‘em down’ approach, much noted by bands. However, their sophomore LP just doesn’t have as many good songs as the first one, with a particular mid-album lull of poorer songs such as Nail, Bee and Dear Plastic.

They also suffered from the music press turning on Einar Örn, whose vocal contributions were more noticeable on this record. I think there was a misconception that they were a normal indie pop band with a cute singer, whereas they were really something much jazzier and more experimental underneath the pop sheen.

Next up was the Radio One compilation of tracks cut for that station by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, for £6.75 from Rare & Racy on Devonshire Street.

Rare & Racy in Sheffield

I bought The Jesus And Mary Chain’s third album Automatic on the day of release from Record Collector and headed back to the late 60’s for Another View by The Velvet Underground, a 1986 compilation of outtakes. This was a fairly rare chance to actually hear the Velvets back then as their own material was much harder to get hold of than it is these days.

I received a C90 of Peel Sessions by Echo & The Bunnymen in the post from Kris, with the mailman also bringing me a US compilation CD of songs by The Shamen, What’s Going Down?, which my rabid love for the band at this time had me forking out £12.99 for from Eastern Bloc Mail Order.

It was finally time for my first gig back in Sheffield towards the end of the month, and first in more than four months (!), as I (unusually) went solo to the Lower Refectory at the university to see the then-hot Birdland for just £4.


Sadly, the band were no real match for their influences and are perhaps best remembered for their blonde pudding bowl haircuts.

I returned from the gig with a live vinyl album given away on the night (cleverly entitled Live), which included covers of songs by Television and Patti Smith.

I no longer own the vinyl, but I did record it before offloading the album, and listening back to it thirty years later reveals there’s no real need for me to snap up any of their material.

There were also two presumably fairly underwhelming support acts in Irish punk band Thee Amazing Colossal Men and local outfit The Happening Men, as I recall little of them.

Record Collector yielded a couple more CDs towards the end of the month as I bought Colorblind James Experience’s The Peel Sessions ep (with versions of two songs from this year’s Why Should I Stand Up? and two non-album tunes) and 13 Songs by Fugazi, a compilation of their eponymous and Margin Walker ep’s that I bought due to absolutely loving Waiting Room¸ presumably having heard it on John Peel.

There was time for a couple more gigs at the end of the month, firstly for my second experience of The Wedding Present live, this time supported by the forgotten Greenhouse at Sheffield Polytechnic, in the company of housemate John amongst others.

Two days later, John and I (and someone called Simon who’d also been at the Weddoes, whom sadly I don’t remember) went to see Inspiral Carpets at the Lower Refectory, who were still to release their debut album. They were supported by a Mancunian band called Asia Fields.

I woke up the morning after this show to a tape in the post from Kris that included three Peel sessions by The Fall and one from Blue Orchids, the band formed by Martin Bramah on quitting The Fall. A nice way to end the month.


November was a much quieter month musically – perhaps I was busy studying? Or possibly I was acquiring tapes and CDs that I no longer own. However, one thing I was doing was attending pyjama jump, a Sheffield tradition where students cross-dressed in night attire and got drunk. I think there may have been a charitable element to the evening also.

In our kitchen, on my way out to Pyjama Jump

I made a tape of Sonic Youth’s Master-Dik ep from 1987, which includes a cover of RamonesBeat On The Brat and a wild version of The BeatlesTicket To Ride.

Also on this cassette is New Order’s Run 2 12” and We’ve Got A Fuzzbox And We’re Gonna Use It!!’s Rules & Regulations ep, with all of these being borrowed from Phil.

Finally, the tape is rounded out with a couple of remixes of The SugarcubesRegina and the Showroom Dummies 12” by Kraftwerk, thanks to John.

I went with Phil and John to see Colorblind James Experience at The Limit on West Street, as they promoted their not-as-good-as-the-debut second album.

A couple of days later I returned from Rare & Racy with the essential Substance compilation by Joy Division, with the evening bringing a recording of John Peel’s fiftieth birthday show featuring The House Of Love, The Wedding Present and The Fall that I copied off Phil’s tape of the show off Radio 1 from the end of August.

This was a live gig at Subterania, a venue I attended only once, to see Kiwis The Clean with Kris in April 1990. Fifty seemed really old back then – the age I turn on my next birthday, which is a fairly sobering thought.

My tape of John Peel‘s 50th birthday party

HoL closed with a cover of The Velvet Underground’s I Can’t Stand It, before the Weddoes took over, giving a shout out to Status Quo, 25 years in the music business” during the guitar wig-out for Kennedy.

The Fall opened with the classic Mere Pseud Mag Ed from my favourite LP of theirs, 1982’s Hex Enduction Hour, with the seven-song set broadcast also including 1980 single Fiery Jack and a cover of big Peel fave Gene Vincent’s Race With The Devil, with MES claiming they had “learned this especially for John’s birthday”, complete with marvellously slurred vocals.

Peel closed the show saying, “nothing could have meant more to me than tonight… The only ambition I have left that’s unfulfilled is to play for Liverpool. I realise that at 50 I’m probably too old to play for them now but I might get a run out for some of the London clubs.”

I got another CD through Selectadisc and Adrian later this month – Mudhoney’s excellent six-song Superfuzz Bigmuff ep.

At this time, I was regularly watching SNUB TV on BBC Two which started in 1989, showing videos, clips and interviews from the indie scene. I often found myself on a Thursday evening trotting to the phone box at the end of the road to phone my parents back in Upminster to ask them to videotape that night’s show, as they had recently acquired a VCR – though I’m not sure they ever really used it! And yes, we didn’t have a telephone in our house.

I later bought the VHS tape SNUB TV Vol.1 that included The Fall, Pixies and Wire, amongst many others. This is a show that is long overdue a DVD retrospective, something that apparently came close a few years ago.

Also on TV this month was the famous episode of Top Of The Pops that featured both Happy Mondays doing Hallelujah (with Kirsty MacColl) and The Stone RosesFools Gold. Not as iconic for me as many of my contemporaries, but still pretty startling in the days when bands like these were rarely seen on TOTP.


Following on from this TV appearance, I went to see the Mondays at the university’s Octagon Centre, with Phil and John. £5 also brought us a performance by MC Buzz B.

As previously mentioned, I was no big Mondays fan, and this gig didn’t change things dramatically, although I later went on to buy their first two albums on CD.

I got an early Christmas gift off Adrian early in the month in the form of The Wedding Present’s still wonderful Bizarro album on CD that includes Brassneck and Kennedy, both also released as singles, as well as Take Me!, another classic, but one perhaps better heard in its Peel session version.

Marquee on Charing Cross Road

By the middle of December I was back home in Upminster, meaning I was able to head up to London for a gig with Kris. We went to see The Blue Aeroplanes supported by The Wolfhounds at the Marquee on Charing Cross Road, where it was located between 1988 and its final closure in 1996. It is now a Wetherspoon pub.

£4.50 was well spent on this gig, with the Blue Aeros in between albums, having most recently released the Friendloverplane compilation in 1988, with major label debut Swagger not ready for another two months. I went on to see them another four times, and would happily fork out for them once more, even now.

I’d already seen The Wolfhounds this year, supporting My Bloody Valentine (see part one of my 1989 overview here). They had released the Bright And Guilty album in February and the Blown Away mini-album just eight months later.

Fon Records bag

The next day I was in Romford, returning with the Boiled Beef & Rotting Teeth ep by Mudhoney from yet another shop, Hi Tension Records, which includes the all-time classic Touch Me I’m Sick.

I made a speedy out-of-term return to Sheffield with Kris as The Fall were playing The Leadmill, backed by The Sandmen. We stayed at my house in Walkley, also visiting some record shops of course.

I bought McCarthy’s I Am A Wallet on CD from Fon (later to become Warp) and The Psychedelic Furs’ recently-released Book Of Days from Roulette.

Back in Essex, I bought Luxuria’s Unanswerable Lust from Trumps in Hornchurch for £6.99, their unsurprisingly rather Magazine-like debut album from 1988. This was rather unusual for the fact that its booklet was made from slightly crinkly brown paper.

I got another early Christmas present as Kris gave me Felt’s wonderful Gold Mine Trash compilation of early 1980’s recordings.

Late December of course brought John Peel’s Festive Fifty on the radio, yielding five cassettes worth of the countdown and session highlights from the likes of Mudhoney, Nomeansno, The Wedding Present, The Four Brothers, Robert Lloyd & the New Four Seasons, Liverpool’s Walkingseeds, 808 State and Amayenge from Zambia.

The first part of the countdown brings a reminder that this was the early days of the rather ludicrous fraggle scene, as Snuff and Senseless Things both feature.

I went on to buy CD by both of these bands, including the former’s Snuffsaidbutgorblimeyguvstonemeifhedidntthrowawobblerchachachachachachacha- chachachachayouregoinghomeinacosmicambience album and some singles by the latter, though I know longer own any of these.

Sadly, hearing The Family Cat’s Tom Verlaine (#48) wasn’t as much of a nostalgia treat I thought it would be, but Galaxie 500’s cover of Jonathan Richman’s Don’t Let Our Youth Go To Waste (#41) remains sublime.

It’s a real sign of the times to hear regular references to other DJ’s playing music “on compact disc”, as well as promos for the station’s new FM frequencies.

The second night featured some treats in the form of Swerve by Dub Sex, the sole entrant in this year’s chart by The Fall (Dead Beat Descendant), some De La Soul and the rather forgotten Convenience by Bob.

There was also the always entertaining occurrence of Peel playing the wrong Pixies track before correcting himself. The Bostonians were one of four acts to feature five times apiece in this year’s countdown as no single band dominated the chart. The others were The Wedding Present, Inspiral Carpets and The Stone Roses.

A more surprising entry was Jesus Jones with Info Freako at #32, a record that Peel had never previously played on the radio. Perhaps a little too obvious for him, but still a song I enjoy.

Festive Fifty 1989 tapes

The third part of the Festive Fifty was broadcast on Boxing Day, with Peel’s kids accompanying him to the studio, and getting suitably bored fairly rapidly!

The Stone Roses featured for the first time, with Peel saying “I’m slightly mystified by the great appeal of The Stone Roses. He followed this by stating that Birdland, up next, were “much more my saucer of rat poison that I must say”.

The Field Mice’s marvellous Sensitive prompted him to claim “I’m tempted to say that that’s the first Sarah record to get into the Festive Fifty, but I say that without any research whatsoever”, which was indeed true. Amazingly, only three Sarah records ever reached the Festive Fifty.

The next night brought the chart from 20 up to 11, including the always-forget-how-fantastic-it-is Brassneck by The Weddoes and the second appearance of the less well-remembered Pale Saints at #11 with Sight Of You, covered by Ride for a 1990 Peel session.

Very unusually for the time, two tracks featured in consecutive years, as The Wedding Present’s Take Me! came in at #14, having reached #4 in its Peel session version (then called Take Me I’m Yours) in 1988. Meanwhile, Happy MondaysW.F.L. was at #4, with the original version hitting #48 a year earlier.

The final part of the Festive Fifty included the pre-hit version of Sit Down by James and the rather ludicrously over-long I Am The Resurrection by The Stone Roses.

The House Of Love illustrated that sometimes timing is everything. Their I Don’t Know Why I Love You at #10 had (just) failed to reach the Top 40 singles chart in November, but would surely have been a top ten smash just five years later in the wake of Britpop.

The top three tunes were apparently separated by just six points (with three points being awarded for each person selecting a tune at #1, two for #2 and one for #3), meaning it was a very close-run thing between three truly excellent records.

In the end, The SundaysCan’t Be Sure just pipped Kennedy by The Wedding Present and PixiesDebaser.

That Christmas Day itself doesn’t seem to have provided me with any CDs, which is surprising. However, a trip up to London on the day after Boxing Day was very productive.

HMV on Oxford Street presented me with Throwing MusesHunkpapa from January of this year, and Velvets drummer Maureen Tucker’s naïf, minimalist and often atonal Life In Exile After Abdication, also from 1989, each for £6.99.

Mo‘s Spam Again and Work both celebrate the downtrodden and underpaid, while Chase features most of Sonic Youth but is a rather unnecessary mess. Lou Reed, Jad Fair and Daniel Johnston all also appear on the album, which includes a cover of the VelvetsPale Blue Eyes and a touching tribute to Andy (Warhol).

Advert for Vinyl Experience on Hanway Street

We (presuming I was with Kris, as seems likely) also visited Vinyl Experience on Hanway Street, round the back of the Virgin Megastore. I got a couple of compilation albums from there.

Short Circuit – Live At The Electric Circus featured two very early Fall songs, as well as Joy Division and Buzzcocks.

The other was ‘Til Things Are Brighter …, subtitled A Tribute To Johnny Cash, which was my first proper introduction to the ‘man in black’. I bought this largely due to it featuring the likes of Marc Riley, Michelle Shocked and The TriffidsDavid McComb.

This raised money for the Terence Higgins Trust, at a time when Cash seemed terminally unhip, pre-Rick Rubin rehabilitation.

Here’s The Mekons doing Folsom Prison Blues from the compilation:

The year ended (almost) with my first football match since April as I returned to Roots Hall (no doubt with Ian) to see Southend United beaten 2-1 by Exeter City in a Fourth Division fixture. Both sides went on to be promoted at the end of the campaign, the Grecians as champions.

I’m not sure what I did on New Year’s Eve to welcome in 1990, but I suspect I was in front of the TV set, as I have discovered that BBC Two was showing Eighties, described in Radio Times as “a rock review of the decade with highlights from the most outstanding performances on BBC television over the past ten years.”

So here ends my 1980’s!

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The vast majority of the photos in this article have been shamelessly stolen from myriad online sources. Apologies to anyone responsible for the originals.


Below is a playlist of some of the songs and artists referenced in this article, both great and so-so.

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