Best tunes of 1992: #12 Lush “For love”

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Having reached my teen years growing up in a small town, wheels became an absolute necessity. I didn’t get my driver’s license until 1992, much later than my other friends, and only because I wanted to beat the implementation of graduated licensing in Ontario, Canada (those from the province of a certain age will know of what I speak). But even after getting my license, there was always the hurdle of convincing my parents to loan me their vehicle for the evening.

Luckily, we had a few friends in our group that had their own car or had no similar difficulties in borrowing one from their parents, and one of these was our friend Tim. Even when he went off to university, he had no problem getting his father’s keys whenever he was back in town for a visit. And though we appreciated being able to get anywhere within driving distance on most nights, it didn’t stop us poking fun at the malfunctioning climate controls or the fact that the fuel gauge was perennially on empty. We never did run out of gas, to everyone’s surprise, and Tim always ended the night by putting $2-3 in the tank to keep the needle just above the red mark.

Of course, there was always great tunes pumping out of the factory-installed speakers on those evenings out on the town. Tim seemed to have a new mix in the cassette deck every single time and though we always jokingly slagged him for his tastes, I was always discovering new bands this way. Which brings us to our song at the number twelve spot on my best tunes of 1992 list.

It was either late November or early December in 1992. It was most definitely a cold evening because I remember Tim having to rub away a small window in the frost that had accumulated on the inside of the windshield. He was back for the weekend from Waterloo university and we were getting into his car after taking in the late showing of “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” at the Whitby cineplex theatre. The heater didn’t seem to be doing anything to warm our bones but thankfully, the stereo was working and as he pulled out of his parking spot, Lush’s “For love” came bursting forth.

I would later learn that this was the second single to be released off “Spooky”, the London-based quartet’s first proper LP of new material. For this one, the band had enlisted Cocteau Twin’s Robin Guthrie to produce, much as he had on two of their previous EPs. Fans of his band might recognize his influence on the work here, lots of light bounces and sun reflections and haze rather than the noisy guitars of Lush’s shoegazing contemporaries. There was plenty of time for that later.

“For love” is still one of my favourite Lush tracks and not just because it was my first. Just listen to that bass line bopping back and forth like a slinky and those ringing and jangling guitars, sounding like chimes and bells dancing in the wind. And yeah, the dual harmonizing female vocals by Miki Berenyi and Emma Anderson, all breathy and breathless, voices sounding almost like they are singing through flutes. It could be the memory creeping in every time I listen to it but I always get the tingling feeling of a light frost and the twinkling and tinkling of icicles shaking off of fir trees. Beautiful.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1992 list, click here.

Vinyl love: Gene “Olympian”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Gene
Album Title: Olympian
Year released: 1995
Year reissued: 2015
Details: 20th anniversary limited edition, gatefold, 180 gram, blue vinyl

The skinny: Back when Gene’s debut album, “Olympian”, was released in 1995, they were being hailed by the British press as the next coming of The Smiths. Of course, they weren’t the first band to have bestowed upon them this dubious and weighty comparison, but in Gene’s case, they not only had the jangly guitars but also a secret weapon in Martin Rossiter, whose vocals rang very similar to those of Morrissey. Close comparison or no, I loved “Olympian”, as did a host of others, and it sold very well. Unfortunately, Gene’s fortunes were tied to that of Britpop’s popularity, like many other bands at the time, and when it waned, so did Gene’s listenership, and their latter albums didn’t sell nearly as well. Nevertheless, when I saw this 20th anniversary pressing on blue vinyl by Demon Records online, I knew I had to have it. And yes, it sounds as lively and fun as it did back then.

Standout track: “Haunted by you”

Best tunes of 1992: #13 Suzanne Vega “Blood makes noise”

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My introduction to American singer/songwriter Suzanne Vega came via a remix of her track “Tom’s diner” back when I was in high school. I won’t tarry long on that particular song lest we run the risk of it getting tangled in all of our heads. But if you so wish it, the song appeared at the twenty-seven spot on my Best tunes of 1990 list and you can read more about it in that post I wrote three years ago.

I wasn’t the only one introduced to Vega in 1990. As I wrote previously, that remix opened the doors to all sorts of new fans and perhaps was the impetus behind the change in direction we heard on her 1992 album, “99.9F°”. I remember not really being phased when I first heard it but then again, I had not yet gotten into her earlier, more folky stuff, save for perhaps being vaguely familiar with “Luka” from the radio. My friend Tim brought the CD over to my place one night, though I’m not sure what we were doing that evening (maybe playing Risk), and I asked him to leave it with me because the sound reminded me of “Pretty hate machine”, an album with which I was quite obsessed at the time.

Number one hit single, “Blood makes noise”, was particularly, jaw-droppingly good. Chains clanking, drums thumping, bass heavy and insistent, demanding insular attention, while Vega chants and incants alongside the tribal rhythms.

“I’d like to help you doctor
Yes I really really would
But the din in my head
It’s too much and it’s no good”

It’s two minutes of racket, an uproar on the dance floor, frenzy and ecstasy. Indeed, this din is not too much, nay, it’s really, really good.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1992 list, click here.