College Countdown: CMJ Top 40 Cuts, March 16, 1990 — 24 – 21

kate 1989

24. Kate Bush, “Love and Anger”

In 1989, When Kate Bush released The Sensual World, her sixth full-length studio album, it had been four years since she’d shimmered new music into the world. Bush was never particularly prolific or expedient, but four years was like a lifetime in the nineteen-eighties college rock scene, within which bands such as R.E.M. and the Cure made sure there was a steady stream of product for their adoring fans racing through undergraduate experiences. So when “Love and Anger,” the lead single from The Sensual World, arrived, it was like a lushly resonant decree from a grand, proudly offbeat goddess. For those who liked to keep score of such things, it was also Bush’s first effort for Columbia Records, after some sort of administrative error purportedly caused EMI America to let her contract lapse. According to Bush, “Love and Anger” had a notably difficult development process, taking around two years from initial concept to completed track. “Well, ‘Love and Anger,’ of all the songs on the album, is really the one I know the least about,” she said at the time. “I don’t really know what it’s about — it’s had so many different faces. But it was one of the first songs to be written, but one of the last songs to be finished.”

This cut was down from 15 on the previous chart.

 

boingo

23. Oingo Boingo, “When the Lights Go Out”

The Los Angeles band Oingo Boingo had an admirable run during the nineteen-eighties, but as the nineties dawned, the group increasingly seemed like an afterthought. That was largely due to lead singer Danny Elfman’s fast-rising career writing orchestral scores for films, which reached a new peak with the release of Tim Burton’s Batmanin the summer of 1989. In 1990 alone, Elfman’s music appeared in films directed by Warren Beatty, Sam Raimi, Clive Barker, and, once again, Burton. Even the title of Oingo Boingo’s 1990 album, Dark at the End of the Tunnel, seemingly alluded to the band reaching its final days, as did the truncation of the group’s name to simply “Boingo” on the cover. Although they would hang on for one more release (this time officially attributed to Boingo), there clearly wasn’t much left in the tank for the band that once invited listeners to a party primarily populated by deceased fellows. “When the Lights Go Out,” the last single from Dark at the End of the Tunnel, took a crack at capturing some of the old spooky, dance-friendly energy with its mentions of monsters and zombies.

This cut was making its debut on the chart.

 

king missile

22. King Missile, “Jesus Was Way Cool”

When this particular chart was published by CMJ, the program College Countdown was a going concern on WWSP-90FM, the station I called home. When a song called “Jesus Was Way Cool,” by a band named King Missile, popped onto the chart, it was a complete mystery to us. Shimmy Disc, King Missile’s label, didn’t service our humble broadcasting outlet. Once it became clear that the cut was going to be there for a while, the esteemed host of College Countdown went to a record store and purchased Mystical Shit, the full-length album that was home to the track. I have a strong memory of sitting in our production studio and hearing “Jesus Was Way Cool” for the first time, the small group of us assembled for the impromptu listening party buckled over in laughter. According to John S. Hall, the primary creative force behind King Missile, the understated, mildly ironic celebration of Jesus Christ came to him fairly quickly, after seeing Meryn Cadell perform some of her religiously-themed material in Toronto. “Jesus Was Way Cool” became a significant college radio hit, leading so directly to King Missile hooking up with a major label that Hall used to regularly joke, “‘Jesus’ got me signed to Atlantic Records.”

This cut was up from 33 on the previous chart.

 

south

21. The Beautiful South, “You Keep It All In”

Paul Heaton and David Hemingway were members of the veddy British pop outfit the Housemartins. When that band broke up, after the exemplary 1987 album The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death, Heaton and Hemingway formed the Beautiful South, recruiting, among others, former roading Sean Welch to fill out the lineup. Their debut album, Welcome to the Beautiful South, was released in 1989. “You Keep It All In” was the album’s second single. Irish singer Briana Corrigan appeared prominently on the single, giving an extra emotional quality to the track.

The cut was up from 29 on the previous chart.

 

I wrote about the chart we’re tracking through at the beginning of this particular Countdown. Previous entries can be found at the relevant tag.

As we go along, I’ll build a YouTube playlist of all the songs in the countdown. The hyperlinks associated with each numeric entry lead directly to the individual song on the playlist.

College Countdown: CMJ Top 40 Cuts, March 16, 1990 — 28 – 25

nin

28. Nine Inch Nails, “Head Like a Hole”

Last week, I noted that “Down in It” was the first song Trent Reznor wrote for the album Pretty Hate Machine, the debut release from his band Nine Inch Nails. “Head Like a Hole” was reportedly one of the last songs he finished, in part because he wanted input from from producer Flood, whose time in the studio with Reznor was delayed as he put the finishing touches on Depeche Mode’s Violator. It was also a comparatively easy songwriting process, according to Reznor. “I don’t remember what i was thinking about at the time, but it was pretty much about yelling at a beast without putting a face to it,” he said. “I wrote it at the last minute as a throwaway.” “Head Like a Hole” served as the second single from Pretty Hate Machine, and is generally considered the band’s first significant commercial success, just missing the Billboard Hot 100 and making a healthy appearance on the publication’s alternative singles tally.

This cut was down from 23 on the previous chart.

 

 

furs house

27. Psychedelic Furs, “House”

Some of the most devoted, longterm fans of the Psychedelic Furs were quick and firm in their dismissal of the band’s 1987 album, Midnight to Midnight and its hit single “Heartbreak Beat.” Bands often take offense at cries of “Sell out!” from the fan base, but the Psychedelic Furs basically agreed with the dismal assessment. “The last album shouldn’t even have been made,” lead singer Richard Butler said when the studio follow-up, Book of Days, was released, in 1989. “We were confused and a bit directionless, so for this album we decided the best thing would be that we just went in and played and didn’t worry about if it had a single on it — which I don’t think it does — or whatever.” Maybe Butler didn’t think there was a single, but of course the label was going to push some tracks regardless. “House” became the second single and the band’s second song to top the still fairly new Billboard Modern Rock chart.

This cut was down from 26 on the previous chart.

 

edie

26. Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall”

Oliver Stone has won the Academy Award for Best Directing twice. That’s one more than Martin Scorsese has and the same number as Steven Spielberg. The second trophy was for Born on the Fourth of July, his harrowing and powerful adaptation of Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic’s memoir of the same name. That Stone was still viewed as an important director — rather than a perpetually agitated crackpot — in one aspect of the the film that solidly dates as a 1989 release. Another clear signal is the presence of Edie Brickell, portraying a folk singer plunking out Bob Dylan cover songs in a scene in the movie. Nabbing Brickell was a coup, since she and her band New Bohemians were still basking in the afterglow a major hit with their debut single, “What I Am.” The Born on the Fourth of July soundtrack was half comprised of a score by John Williams and half dreadfully predictable oldies. The Dylan cover from Edie Brickell and New Bohemians was front and center, serving as a single to get the film some of that precious ancillary radio and MTV promotion from programmers eager to have a new song from the earthy-crunchy up-and-coming hitmakers.

This cut was up from 30 on the previous chart.

 

tmbg

25. They Might Be Giants, “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)”

When Flood, the third album from They Might Be Giants, arrived at my college radio station, it didn’t even occur to me that the song “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” was a cover. I wasn’t familiar with the Four Lads version that was a Top 10 hit in 1953, nor any of the odd little ways it dribbled into other corners of pop culture over the years. More than that, the ticklish wordplay and bounding music of “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” sounded so much like it came straight out of the TMBG songbook. Instead, it was a song guitarist John Flansburgh recalled from his childhood years, and he and John Linnell learned to play it in order to help fill out their set lists back before they had dozens of their own originals. “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” was released as the third single from Flood.

This cut was making its debut on the chart.

 

I wrote about the chart we’re tracking through at the beginning of this particular Countdown. Previous entries can be found at the relevant tag.

As we go along, I’ll build a YouTube playlist of all the songs in the countdown. The hyperlinks associated with each numeric entry lead directly to the individual song on the playlist.

College Countdown: CMJ Top 40 Cuts, March 16, 1990 — 32 – 29

fury eyes

32. The Creatures, “Fury Eyes”

Siouxsie and the Banshees were coming off of one of their biggest hits — the single “Peek-A-Boo” from the 1988 album Peepshow — when key band members Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie slipped away to a musical pseudonym they’d established a few years earlier. The Creatures’ sophomore album, Boomerang, was released in November, 1989, and “Fury Eyes” served as its second single. Based on the novel In the Eyes of Mr. Fury, the song uses a rollicking dance beat and typically oblique and archly poetic lyrics to get at themes of community intrusiveness into private lives. Although the single was following up a comfortable college radio hit — the album’s sterling lead single, “Standing There” — the band felt like “Fury Eyes” could use some punching up to make it more commercial, which led to the hiring of Pascal Gabriel to craft remixes.

This cut was making its debut on the chart.

 

loop

31. Loop, “Arc-Lite”

At the time Loop released the single “Arc-Lite,” the British band was routinely forced to testily refute a comparison to another up-and-coming alternative band. Instead of the usual culprit noting soundalike qualities — the music press — it was the band supposedly echoed band leveling the charges. It was Peter Kempfer, better known as Sonic Boom, the leader of Spacemen 3, who came straight out and said Loop was stealing his band’s sound. “Arc-Lite” officially arrived between the band’s second and third albums, and stood independent from both, though it was eventually wrapped into the third full-length, A Gilded Eternity, released in 1990. That was also Loop’s final album. The band broke up in 1991, with the inevitable reunion occurring in 2013.

This cut was making its debut on the chart.

 

psychefun

30. Psychefunkapus, “Jesus Crispies”

Psychefunkapus were park of the San Francisco punk scene in the late nineteen-eighties, playing a brand of music that mixed up mix with hard rock and even a touch of ska. The result was a little like Fishbone’s boisterousness melded with the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s bravado, and then hit doused with a Magic Shell layer of the anxious speed metal that flared up in response to the hair bands of the era. Unlikely to become true hitmakers, the band somehow got signed to Atlantic Records and released their self-titled debut in 1990. “Jesus Crispies” came from that album.

This cut was making its debut on the chart.

 

down in it

29. Nine Inch Nails, “Down in It”

Before Nine Inch Nails was considered one of the seminal acts of the nineteen-nineties, before songs became unlikely Top 40 hits, and before Trent Reznor was an Oscar-winning composer entirely deserving of the prize, there was just a band from Cleveland making caustic, confrontational dance music. “Down in It” was Nine Inch Nail’s introduction to the nation. Released as the lead single from the band’s debut album, Pretty Hate Machine, “Down in It” was, according to Reznor, directly inspired by the music of Skinny Puppy. The lyrics alluded to a recently dashed relationship, which undoubtedly fueled the intensity of Reznor’s vocals. Among the many other beginnings the track represents, “Down In It” is usually named as Reznor’s very first completed piece of songwriting. It’s a debut in every way.

This cut was down from 19 the previous week.

 

I wrote about the chart we’re tracking through at the beginning of this particular Countdown. Previous entries can be found at the relevant tag.

As we go along, I’ll build a YouTube playlist of all the songs in the countdown. The hyperlinks associated with each numeric entry lead directly to the individual song on the playlist.

College Countdown: CMJ Top 40 Cuts, March 16, 1990 — 36 – 33

girl like you

36. The Smithereens, “A Girl Like You”

As I’ve previously acknowledged, the Smithereens were the quintessential band of my college radio experience, so thoroughly in sync with the internal vibe of my station at the time I was there that some sort of invocation of them should have been worked into the daily sign-on statement. “A Girl Like You” was the lead single from 11, the band’s third full-length, and it had all the characteristics that made the Smithereens’ music irresistible to us. It was straightforward guitar rock, built around a hook stronger than carbon fiber and packed with simple, singalong lyrics. The song was originally penned for Cameron Crowe film Say Anything…, but it was dropped when Pat DiNizio, the chief songwriter for the Smithereens, scrapped with producers about potential changes. DiNizio and his bandmates could later claim so vindication. The track became the first Top 40 hit for the Smithereens, edging into the Billboard chart to peak at #38.

This cut was down from 18 the previous week.

beloved

35. The Beloved, “Hello”

Jon Marsh was a drummer of moderate success on the British music scene when, in 1983, he placed an ad. “I am Jon Marsh, founder member of the Beloved,” it read. “Should you too wish to do something gorgeous, meet me in exactly three year’s time at exactly 11am in Diana’s Diner, or site thereof, Covent Garden, London, WC2.” The gambit worked, and Marsh had some cohorts to begin making music with. Eventually, the Beloved was pared down to a duo and started crafting lithe, catchy pop songs. They’d had earlier singles, but “Hello,” appropriately, was the one that truly announced the band, coupling a chugging electronic melody with lyrics that namechecked a bevy of famed figures, including Fred Astaire and John-Paul Sartre.

This cut was making its debut on the chart.

 

fools gold

34. The Stone Roses, “Fools Gold”

“Fools Gold” became the first major U.K. hit for the Stones Roses in the U.K., pushing in to the Top 10. Initially, the band wasn’t that keen on it, though. They’d spent months working on the track, in tandem with the song “What the World is Waiting For.” The band intended “Fools Gold” to serve as the B-side, but reps from the record label intervened, insisting the musicians were misjudging which of their ways had the making of a hit. A compromise was reached, and the two songs were released together as a double A-side. Technically the songs charted together, but there was little doubt as to which cut captured music fans’ collective fancy. Sprawling to nearly ten minutes, the track wasn’t initially included on the U.S. version of the band’s self-titled debut, showing up instead as a 12-inch single. That was the format being spun when radio programmers called in their lists to CMJ in the spring of 1990.

This cut was making its debut on the chart.

 

silencer

33. The Silencers, “Razor Blades of Love”

Typing for myself, there was no way I was going to be able to resist the song “Razor Blades of Love.” The lead single from A Blues for Buddha, the second album from Scottish band the Silencers, the appeal of the cut is right there in the title. As I embraced my self-forged identity as a cynical romantic on he cusp of my twenties, the idea of romance that draws blood fit perfectly into my worldview. If that weren’t enough — and, I assure you, it was — the open passage of the song includes the lyrics “And my record player answers me/ A crying song for a fool like me.” That couplet might as well have served as the epigraph at the start of my theoretical autobiography. Maybe it still could. Surely I couldn’t have been the only swoony, dramatic soul who identified with the song so strongly. It got onto the chart somehow.

This cut was down from 25 the previous week.

 

I wrote about the chart we’re tracking through at the beginning of this particular Countdown. Previous entries can be found at the relevant tag.

As we go along, I’ll build a YouTube playlist of all the songs in the countdown. The hyperlinks associated with each numeric entry lead directly to the individual song on the playlist.

College Countdown: CMJ Top 40 Cuts, March 16, 1990 — 40 – 37

jwh

40. John Wesley Harding, “The Devil in Me”

Included on the John Wesley Harding’s debut album, Here Comes the Groom, “The Devil in Me” was the track that introduced most college radio programmers to the British singer-songwriter who would eventually find greater fame penning novels under his given name, Wesley Stace. According to the man himself, the stage name was a bulwark against embarrassment, erected on the assumption that his music career would fizzle quickly, sending him shuffling back to the comparative anonymity of academia, where he was just shy of completing a PhD in Social and Political Science. Instead, his songs made a modest but noticeable splash on alternative radio, in part due to a familiarity in his tone, which drew ready comparisons to the likes of Elvis Costello and — unavoidably, thanks to the album from which he drew his troubadour pseudonym — Bob Dylan.  “The Devil in Me” is completely characteristic of Stace’s writing: catchy, wry, and marked by a sociological astuteness.

This cut was making its debut on the chart.

 

the the

39. The The, “Jealous of Youth”

After a few years — and tremendous success — operating the band The The as essentially a solo project, Matt Johnson recruited a band again for the 1989 album Mind Bomb, recruiting no less than Johnny Marr, recently released from responsibility with the Smiths, as a guitarist. A year later, the group was still on tour and needed a little promotional boost. That led to the ep Jealous of Youth, which featured a couple covers, a live cut, and a new single. “Jealous of Youth” is vividly theatrical, opening with Johnson huffing out a spoken word portion that has a touch of Nick Cave’s menacing carnival barker persona to it. The track doesn’t stand up to the college rock classics churned out by The The over years, but it’s pretty fun, certainly a cut above most quickie discography filler.

This cut was down from 16 the previous week.

 

rave ups

38. The Rave-Ups, “Respectfully King of Rain”

By most accounts, the Rave-Ups were close to being dropped by their label, Epic Records, when they went into the studio to record their fourth album, Chance. The band had already experienced a strange ascendancy in the nineteen-eighties, going from an obscure L.A. based (and Pittsburgh-bred) band to a source of curiosity after their name appeared prominently on the binder Molly Ringwald wielded in Sixteen Candlesa character detail evidently selected by the Hollywood teen queen herself, because her sister was dating lead singer and guitarist Jimmer Podrasky. They then appeared in Pretty in Pink, so Epic understandably figured they might have a big hit in them in the manner of other college rock acts who moved through the John Hughes ecosystem. Their debut for the label, The Book of Your Regrets, underperformed, though, and the Rave-Ups were on the chopping block. Chance came out and fared better. Lead single “Respectfully King of Rain” made it into the Top 15 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart, but that wasn’t enough to satisfying Epic. The label parted ways with the Rave-Ups, The band lasted a little longer, but a break-up was in the offing. One of their last gigs brought them back to their teen pop culture roots: they were the live band at a spring dance on an episode of Beverly Hills, 90210.

This cut was down from 20 the previous week.

 

stone roses

37. Stone Roses, “I Wanna Be Adored”

As I remember it, the turn of the nineties was the era of “Madchester” bands on college radio. A flood of bands hailing from the hardscrabble Manchester area enraptured the British music press, and student programmers in the U.S. were keen to follow. The Stone Roses were arguably the first major beneficiaries of the stateside college kids’ eager attention. The single “I Wanna Be Adored,” drawn from the band’s self-titled debut, was issued to great acclaim, in 1989, and the various songs pinged around the charts for the next several months. Before long, the band was mired in nasty dust-up with their label, Silvertone, a legal battle that would prevent the release of their sophomore — and, to date, final — album by several years.

This cut was up from 39 the previous week.

 

I wrote about the chart we’re tracking through at the beginning of this particular Countdown. Previous entries can be found at the relevant tag.

As we go along, I’ll build a YouTube playlist of all the songs in the countdown. The hyperlinks associated with each numeric entry lead directly to the individual song on the playlist.

College Countdown: CMJ Top 40 Cuts, March 16, 1990 — An Introduction

Last week, we came to the conclusion of the mightiest College Countdown effort yet, a survey of the Top 250 songs from the first ten years of CMJ, the trade publication that once served student broadcasters — and maybe still does, sorta. It took over a year-and-a-half of weekly posts to count backwards from the lower reaches of the chart to the top spot.

For my next big trick, I’m going to mount an even more ambitious — or perhaps more lunatic — College Countdown undertaking, one that is so large and will take so long that I’m thinking of it as “the final Countdown.”

Right now, though, I haven’t even completely figured out how to pull that off, or at least the basic logistics of the weekly posts are currently eluding me. In part due to that, and in part out of a desire to have something of an interlude between the two massive Countdowns, I’m going to do something a little simpler to carry through to the end of the calendar year.

As I’ve noted before, my College Countdown borrows its name and basic concept from a weekly show that aired at my student radio alma mater, WWSP-90FM, roughly during the years I was a proud member of the staff. Primarily hosted by the fine fellow who would also become my cohort on the on-air movie review show I often remember in this digital space, the weekly program aired on Sunday nights and used the regularly published CMJ 40 Cuts chart to set the playlist.

For the next few weeks, I will honor my predecessor the proper way.

cmj top 40

This chart comes from the spring of 1990, which I don’t idealize quite as fervently as the same time frame one year earlier, but I look at the music that dominated our attention and still see a version of college radio from the days before Nirvana unintentionally knocked sonic diversity asunder with their runaway success. A playlist could go just about anywhere, and the tracks on this chart reflect that.

The new Countdown gets underway properly next week. In the meantime, here is the listing of all that have come before in this space:

The 90FM-WWSP charts

90FM’s Top 90 of 1989

90FM’s Top 90 of 1995

90FM’s Top 90 of 1996

The CMJ charts

The First CMJ Album Chart (from 1978)

CMJ Radio Top Cuts chart from Winter 1991

CMJ Top 50 Albums of 2001

CMJ Top 250 Songs of 1979-1989

The other charts

The Trouser Press Top 10 of 1981

KROQ-FM’s Top 40 Songs of 1987

First Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart from Fall 1988

Rockpool‘s Top 20 College Radio Albums from November 1988

The Gavin Report Top 20 Alternative Chart from October 1992

 

College Countdown: CMJ Top 250 Songs, 1979 – 1989, 1

1 tenderness

1. General Public, “Tenderness”

The Beat had just had their biggest hit in the U.K. when the breakup happened. A cover of the pop standard “Can’t Get Used to Losing You,” a song first elevated to hit status by Andy Williams, carried the ska-driven Beat all the way into the British Top 5. That success didn’t stop the erosion of their unity, a devastating turn for a group that took pride in a sterling egalitarian ethos.

“We were still trying, still kicking, but we weren’t kicking in time with each other,” guitarist and vocalist Dave Wakeling explained at the time. “The work became harder and harder for less and less.”

Wakeling and fellow vocalist Ranking Rogers departed the band, citing the pressures of a U.S. tour as the culprit in expanding the fissures already breaking the surface of the Beat. Establishing a new outfit, the pair filled out the roster with evacuees from Dexys Midnight Runners and the Specials, while also getting a special assist from Mick Jones, then recently excused from his duties with the Clash. The called the new group General Public.

“We were outside the House of Commons, and there were all these little signs on the gates saying, ‘No Admittance to the General Public,” said Wakeling. “And then, of course, they’re always referring on the telly news and documentaries to the ‘general public,’ whatever that’s supposed to mean.”

Since the new band released their first music in 1984. Wakeling added that the calendar catching up with the title of George Orwell’s most famous novel — and the rampant reintroduction of concepts like doublespeak and Big Brother — made him think of how the term “general public” was foreboding in its own way, like some benevolent dictatorship of democracy.

“Now, any name that has three different meanings has got to have something going for it,” said Wakeling.

General Public’s debut album, All the Rage, was released in January 1984. A few months later, a track called “Tenderness” was chosen to be one of its singles. Sweet at first listen, the lyrics of the song are infused with melancholy, the product of songwriting conducted on the road, away from family and other loved ones. Wakeling said he spent time chatting via CB radio with the truck drivers that were out on the highway while he traveling similar roads on a tour bus late at night.

“And the notion was that you were driving around in there in America searching for the tenderness, whereas, of course, it’s in your heart all the time,” he noted many years later. “So it’s like you’re looking in the outside world for something that can only be discovered in yourself, because love is a verb, not a noun. That was the notion of it.”

At the time “Tenderness” was released as a single, Wakeling’s assessment was even more direct, noting it was simply one of the strongest songs on the album, essentially the culmination on everything he’d worked toward in his creative efforts.

“What we’ve been trying to say in the song is very serious,” said Wakeling. “It’s been enough to make me cry on a number of occasions, but if you can say that while making it sound poppy and cheerful, then that’s really what I’ve been aiming for since we left the Beat.”

Back in the U.K., the single was a dud, stalling out in at #95 on the charts. It had a far different fate on the other side of the Atlantic, taking a place of repeated prominence on MTV, then coming into its own as a musical tastemaker.

That success might not have happened if the band had stuck with their original vision for the music video. In the U.K., the clip emphasized the forlorn attempts at escaping loneliness hidden in the lyrics, depicting Wakeling stumbling into a tryst with a female bodybuilder in a hotel distant from his wife and child. The band members thought it was dandy in its twisted, cynical depiction of life as traveling musicians. Their U.S. label, I.R.S. Records, voiced a different opinion.

“We brought it over and showed it to I.R.S.,” Wakeling told Mother Jones. “‘Good video, eh? What do you think?’ And they just stood there horrified. So we had to make another video for the American audience that makes us look very pretty. My mum thinks the American video is fantastic.”

Wakeling’s mum wasn’t the only person to hold that opinion. The video of “Tenderness” helped garner General Public their first Top 40 hit in the U.S. On the college charts, the single was a smash, and Wakeling later acknowledged it was the label execs taking their honed skills with promoting to student programming — and the money they were starting to make — and effectively transferring those strategies to the commercial end of the dial that led to the track’s success.

“If you look at the history of I.R.S., you can see there’s a certain point right about the time when ‘Tenderness’ came out — just before — where all of a sudden songs on I.R.S. were starting to enter the top 40,” Wakeling told Popdose. “And I think that they’d had enough success with the college charts and the independent charts that they could now afford to enter the Top 40 lottery game.”

Chuffed with chart success or not, General Public didn’t last long. There was only one other full-length album before Wakeling and Ranking Rogers each went on to middling solo careers. Reunions happen, though, and General Public, in some ways, had one of the stranger ones. They got back together to record a cover of the Staple Singers’ song “I’ll Take You There,” which was featured on the soundtrack to Threesome, a now-blessedly-forgotten attempt at daring cinema starring Lara Flynn Boyle, Josh Charles, and — help us all — Stephen Baldwin. Bizarrely, the cover song stands as officially the highest-charting General Public single in the U.S., outdoing “Tenderness” by five places.

 

As we go along, I’ll build a YouTube playlist of all the songs in the countdown.

The hyperlinks associated with each numeric entry lead directly to the individual song on the playlist. All images nicked from Discogs.