Rewind: Music from 10, 20, and 30 Years Ago This Month

  • Publish Date: August 24, 2010
  • Comments: ↓ 6 user comments

As we did in June and July, we look back at key albums released 10, 20, and 30 years ago this month. This month, we remember August 2000, August 1990, and August 1980.

Albums from August 2000

Image

Key Release:
The Mirror Conspiracy 76
by Thievery Corporation

In a month lacking any truly notable releases, the slick Mirror Conspiracy stands out for representing the peak of a band's career and, perhaps, of an entire genre. The second album for the Washington D.C. duo offers pleasant downtempo grooves that reference trip-hop, acid jazz, Brazilian bossa nova, and French pop. Ten years later, it's still hard to walk into a clothing store, trendy restaurant, or cocktail lounge and not hear a track from this album.

"Mirror Conspiracy is the perfect soundtrack for those who aspire to the elegantly roguish, Vespa-riding, Italian-soft-porn-loving international set."

-- Rolling Stone

Other Albums Released in August 2000
Artist Album Metascore Users
Dave Alvin Public Domain: Songs From the Wild Land828.0
As the title suggests, each song on this Americana covers album from the former Blasters leader is in the public domain
ChicaneBehind the Sun509.7
Critics were bored by this collection of unambitious club tracks, but it did spawn the hit Bryan Adams-voiced single "Don't Give Up"
Graham CoxonThe Golden D568.5
The talented Blur guitarist's low-fi second solo outing wasn't his finest moment, with many tracks sounding like unfinished demos
The Dandy Warhols Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia809.8
One of the Dandies' best albums (though not a commercial hit in the States), Thirteen Tales includes the ubiquitous "Bohemian Like You"
De La SoulArt Official Intelligence (Mosaic Thump)759.6
The rap legends intended Thump to be the first of a trio of albums, but the third disc never came
ElasticaThe Menace698.6
The second and final studio album for the now-defunct U.K. band lacked any hit singles along the lines of their early "Connection" and "Stutter," though it does feature guest appearances by Damon Albarn and Mark E. Smith, as well as a cover photo taken by M.I.A.
A Guy Called Gerald Essence76n/a
The drum and bass pioneer tried his hand at real songs for the first time, enlisting guest vocalists such as Lamb's Lou Rhodes and Deee-Lite's Lady Miss Kier.
John Wesley Harding The Confessions of St. Ace778.2
The prolific singer-songwriter received mostly positive reviews for this witty and catchy collection
Wyclef Jean The Ecleftic 2 Sides II a Book679.3
A decade before he ventured into politics, the former Fugees leader released his second solo album, which included guest appearances by Mary J. Blige and Kenny Rogers
MonacoMonaco729.5
New Order bassist Peter Hook's most successful side project, Monaco sounded almost eerily like his other band at times, thanks to frontman David Potts' Bernard Sumner-esque vocals; if you can find a copy of this second and final album (which can be tricky), it's worth a listen
MorcheebaFragments of Freedom625.0
The band's third album found them abandoning their trip-hop sound for a more pop-oriented approach, to the disappointment of most critics
MudvayneL.D. 50n/an/a
Though the face-painted Illinois nu-metal band's debut album was released in August, it didn't reach its sales peak until the following year
RancidRancid [2000]789.5
The punk band adopted a harder sound for this fifth album after exploring other genres on the more ambitious Life Won't Wait
Shellac1000 Hurtsn/a n/a
The widely-praised Shellac Record #11 (actually, their third album) would be the Steve Albini-led trio's final LP for seven years, until they returned with Excellent Italian Greyhound
SparksBalls599.5
The Mael brothers' electronics-heavy 18th album was a critical and commercial failure
Spring Heel JackDisappeared7110.0
The drum and bass duo took a more cinematic approach to this, one of their best-reviewed albums; the result is a lot more varied than contemporary drum and bass works
Dar Williams The Green World65n/a
Though overproduced and, at times, on the bland side, the folkie's fourth album continued to showcase her winning way with lyrics

Albums from August 1990

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Key Release:
Mama Said Knock You Out
by LL Cool J

Go ahead and call it a comeback. Though he'd been there for years, LL Cool J experienced his first major disappointment in 1989 when his third album, Walking with a Panther, sold fewer than half as many copies as its predecessor, and the rapper was criticized by fans as a sellout. His response was a knockout indeed. A massive hit in every way, the harder-edged Mama Said Knock You Out routinely appears on lists of the greatest rap albums of all time, thanks to LL's stellar lyrics and stand-out production by Marley Marl.

"This isn't groundbreaking like Nation of Millions, but it shouldn't be pigeonholed as a terrific rap record. It's an exceptionally consistent and entertaining record, period, on a par with Goo or Freedom or Rock 'n' Roll or maybe even Sign 'O' the Times."

-- Robert Christgau, Consumer Guide (Grade: A)

More Reviews: All Music Guide (5/5), Entertainment Weekly (B), The New York Times, Trouser Press
Other Albums Released in August 1990
Artist Album Reviews
Alice In ChainsFacelift AMG, MA, TP
The band's hit debut album was one of the first records from the Seattle grunge scene to reach a wide audience, though it took a while to catch on
Bad BrainsThe Youth Are Getting Restless AMG, SP, TP
Recorded at a 1987 Amsterdam show, this lauded live album gives tracks from the group's first three albums a harder edge, more punk than reggae
Garth BrooksNo Fences AMG, EW
One of the best-selling albums of all time, No Fences topped the country-music charts for 23 straight weeks and sold over 17 million copies
CodeineFrigid Stars LP AMG, SP, TP
The New York slowcore trio's first album was first released on a German label; Sub Pop eventually signed the band and re-released it in 1991
ConsolidatedThe Myth Of Rock AMG, TP
This is the first LP for the socially-minded industrial rap band (fortunately, a short-lived genre)
Deee-LiteWorld Clique AMG, EW, PM, SL
If you have even a passing familiarity with dance music artists Deee-Lite, it is because of this debut album's infectious hit single, "Groove Is in the Heart"
Duran DuranLiberty AMG, EW, TP
Quite possibly the band's worst album (and that's saying something, considering their output over the past decade), the disjointed Liberty was so poorly received that Duran Duran didn't bother touring in support of it
ExtremeExtreme II: Pornograffitti AMG, EW, SP
The hard rock band's second (and best-selling) album is best known for its hit ballad "More Than Words"
Jane's AddictionRitual De Lo Habitual AMG, EW, LAT, NYT, RS, ST, TP
Panned by many reviewers upon its release, Ritual eventually came to be seen as one of the better alternative rock albums of its time, and thanks to hit singles like "Been Caught Stealing" and "Stop!", it was the band's best-selling LP, though they broke up soon thereafter
The LemonheadsLovey AMG, EW, TP
Though Lovey was the major-label debut for Evan Dando & co., the band would achieve greater fame with its 1992 follow-up, It's a Shame About Ray
Living ColourTime's Up AMG, EW, RC, SP, TP
The hard-rocking alternative band's Grammy-winning second LP wasn't a huge hit like its predecessor Vivid, but critics generally praised the varied album, which included the Bad Brains-aping title track and guest appearances by Little Richard and Queen Latifah
PixiesBossanova AMG, BL, EW, MM, RC, RS, SP, TP
The Black Francis-dominated Bossanova is frequently considered to be the Pixies' weakest album, though it's far from a bad album; among the many strong tracks are "Dig for Fire" and "Velouria"
PrinceGraffiti Bridge AMG, EW, RC, RS, TP
The soundtrack to the film of the same name, Graffiti Bridge includes songs written and recorded by Prince with various lineups (and guests such as The Time and Mavis Staples) throughout the 1980s but never before released; despite this scattershot nature, the album was mostly a critical success, though the movie was not
Too $hortShort Dog's in the House AMG, TP
The raunchy rapper's sixth LP included a collaboration with Ice Cube and single "The Ghetto"
Vanilla IceTo The Extreme AMG, EW, RC, SP, TP
So ... this happened. The major label debut for the rapper born Robert Van Winkle actually first surfaced on an independent label in 1989, but it was this SBK release that sold over 11 million copies (the most ever for a hip hop album at that time), thanks mainly to the sadly unforgettable hit single "Ice Ice Baby"
Yo La TengoFakebook AMG, TP
About as good as a covers album can be, Fakebook finds the Hoboken band expertly reinventing songs by Daniel Johnston, The Kinks, Cat Stevens, The Scene Is Now, and even Yo La Tengo

Key to review sources: AMG = All Music Guide; BBC = BBC Music; BC = Blogcritics; BL = Blender; CMJ = CMJ, EW = Entertainment Weekly; LAT = Los Angeles Times; MA = Metal Archives; MM = Melody Maker; NME = New Musical Express; NYT = New York Times; P4K = Pitchfork; PM = PopMatters; RC = Robert Christgau; RS = Rolling Stone; SL = Slant Magazine; SP = Sputnikmusic; ST = Stylus; TP = Trouser Press; TR = Treble

Albums from August 1980

Image

Key Release:
Killing Joke
by Killing Joke

Cold, heavy, angsty, and primal, the post-punk band's highly influential debut blended rock and metal in a way that foreshadowed industrial bands to come later in the decade, mixing sometimes harsh and distorted vocals with almost danceable beats, electronics, and precise guitar work. An underground hit, it would inspire everyone from Metallica (who covered one of its songs) to Ministry to Nirvana. A remastered 2005 re-release added the single "Change" (absent from the original U.K. release) and four alternate versions of album tracks.

"Before Steve Albini and Al Jourgensen made it hip, the cold metallic throb of Killing Joke was exciting and fresh."

-- Bradley Torreano, All Music Guide (4.5/5)

More Reviews: Sputnikmusic, Trouser Press
Other Albums Released in August 1980
Artist Album Reviews
The B-52's Wild Planet AMG, RC, TP
Produced by Rhett Davies, the quirky band's second LP included the staple "Private Idaho"
Pat Benatar Crimes of Passion AMG
The singer's most commercially successful album included "Hit Me With Your Best Shot"
Captain Beefheart and the Magic BandDoc at the Radar Station AMG, LAT, NYT, RC, TP
The innovative artist's penultimate studio album was perhaps the best record from his late-period career
The Cars Panorama AMG, RC, TP
A weaker outing than the band's first two albums, Panorama included the single "Touch and Go"
The Cure Boys Don't Cry AMG, RC, RS, SP, TP
The repackaged American release of The Cure's UK debut Three Imaginary Boys is far superior to that album, thanks to the addition of singles like ""Jumping Someone Else's Train," "Killing an Arab," and the title track
MadnessAbsolutely AMG, RC, TP
A big hit in the UK, Absolutely featured the classic single "Baggy Trousers"
Van Morrison Common One AMG, RC
An ambitious, jazz-oriented record, Common One included a pair of 15-minute tracks
Pointer SistersSpecial Things AMG
The R&B group's 1980 album included the hit single "He's So Shy"
Paul Simon One-Trick Pony AMG, RC
Though the songs -- including the hit "Late in the Evening" -- mostly come from Simon's film of the same name, this isn't a soundtrack; the versions here are different
Siouxsie and the Banshees Kaleidoscope AMG, TP
The band's third album -- a more melodic, varied, and electronics-heavy record compared to their prior releases -- was their first to feature drummer Budgie, and was the first of three records to feature former Magazine member John McGeoch on guitar (supplemented by the Sex Pistols' Steve Jones on several tracks).
UB40Signing Off AMG, RC, TP
Misleading title aside, Signing Off was the first of many hit albums for the English reggae band
VariousXanadu Original Soundtrack AMG
Basically a split album between Electric Light Orchestra and Olivia Newton-John, this blockbuster soundtrack to the poorly-received 1980 roller-skating fantasy also featured The Tubes and Gene Kelley and spawned hit singles "Magic," "I'm Alive," and the title cut
YesDrama AMG, P4K
An anomaly in the prog-rock band's canon, Drama was recorded without lead vocalist Jon Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman; replacing them, oddly enough, were members of The Buggles (fresh from their hit "Video Killed the Radio Star") and the result was a minor New Wave hit in the U.K. and a flop in the U.S.

Key to review sources: AMG = All Music Guide; BBC = BBC Music; BC = Blogcritics; BL = Blender; CMJ = CMJ, EW = Entertainment Weekly; LAT = Los Angeles Times; MA = Metal Archives; MM = Melody Maker; NME = New Musical Express; NYT = New York Times; P4K = Pitchfork; PM = PopMatters; RC = Robert Christgau; RS = Rolling Stone; SL = Slant Magazine; SP = Sputnikmusic; ST = Stylus; TP = Trouser Press; TR = Treble

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Comments (6)

  • Ned B  

    i love ll cool j, but jane's addiction should be the pick in that section. 'ritual' is just a brilliant album (especially three days).

  • Tony  

    This is a pretty good feature. You could also call it "Remember this record? Well holy sh*t, you're old." That's how I feel now.

  • A.C.  

    Good to see Killing Joke get noticed. Their music was groundbreaking at the time. They still put out good records.

  • brandon  

    It really feels like metacritic is bending over backwards for ostensibly new content. This isn't, of course, anything but old content repackaged with what can only marginally be considered a concept. Boo. Go back to old metacritic.

  • James R.  

    Tough choice for 1990... both "Ritual De Lo Habitual" and" Bossanova" are great albums, with the former seeming like the more obvious choice given it has a single to compete with "Mama Said Knock You Out" (referring to "Been Caught Stealing" of course.) I agree with the August 1980 key release - Killing Joke's self-titled debut is a great album and arguably more influential than the other two real competitors ("Boys Don't Cry", "Doc At The Radar Station" whose releases would be overshadowed by future (The Cure would release Seventeen Seconds later that year) and past ("Trout Mask Replica" anyone?) releases respectively.

    Also, kudos on mentioning the perennially overlooked "Frigid Stars" on your list. I love that album to pieces.

  • Mitch Tough  

    Xanadu rocks.

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