Monday, July 31, 1989

Del Amitri Waking Hours released this month

Waking Hours

Del Amitri

Released: July 1989

Charted in UK: February 24, 1990

Charted in US: April 7, 1990

Peak: 95 US, 6 UK, 66 CN, 8 AU

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.3 UK

Genre: adult alternative rock


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Kiss This Thing Goodbye (7/89, 33a US, 35 CB, 28 RR, 17 AR, 13 MR, 43 UK, 30 CN, 28 AU)
  2. Opposite View
  3. Move Away Jimmy Blue (6/16/90, 36 UK)
  4. Stone Cold Sober (9/89, 90 UK, 50 AU)
  5. You’re Gone
  6. When I Want You
  7. This Side of the Morning
  8. Empty
  9. Hatful of Rain
  10. Nothing Ever Happens (1/13/90, 11 UK, 46 AU)

Total Running Time: 45:43

The Players:

  • Justin Currie (vodals, bass, guitar)
  • Iain Harvie (guitar)
  • Mick Slaven (guitar)
  • Andy Alston (keyboards)
  • Paul Tyagi (drums)


3.894 out of 5.00 (average of 18 ratings)

Quotable: “A delightful blend of left-field guitar-orientated melodies and intelligent poetic lyrics” – Alan De Pellette, Times of London

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Having made an album in 1985 that, while critically praised, disappeared commercially, Del Amitri took four years to emerge with their second effort. Perhaps because they retained only two members and that “the post-punk influence of the first…[album] leads it to be so radically different in sound to the rest of their output,” WK “many Del Amitri fans consider Waking Hours to be the band’s first ‘real’ album.” WK That’s fine with Currie, who says “‘I’d really like it to be perceived as a new band; we even thought of changing the name.’” CF

In any event, “Waking Hours arguably represents Del Amitri’s first ‘mature’ record, and was certainly the first to bring them any mainstream success.” WK “With a delightful blend of left-field guitar-orientated melodies and intelligent poetic lyrics,” ADWaking Hours showcases the rejuvenated” CF “razor-sharp” PC “songwriting talent of Justin Currie” CF “and Harvie’s swamp-thing guitar style.” PC “This time, the critics flocked in droves, and the public started to take notice.” SS

“Owing more now to REM and Mellencamp than to Orange Juice or XTC, Del Amitri's American experience has clearly left a strong impression on them.” RT “Dropping their edgy quirkiness, Justin Currie and the boys…refashioned their sound, and quickly established themselves as a rock band with heart.” SS “The band are all flowing guitars, accordions and hammond organ – very American in derivation, but sweetly inflected through that Scot-pop sensibility.” SP “Hip, clever and faithful to the great guitar past all at the same time.” SPWaking Hours…is likely to find a welcome in the record collection of anybody who has ever liked Lennon and McCartney, Bob Dylan, Gerry Rafferty, The Waterboys, Prefab Sprout, Hothouse Flowers or Diesel Park West.” SP

“While there isn’t anything strikingly innovative about Del Amitri, the sheer panache with which they go about their work deserves to see them breaking into the essential listening category.” SP It is “an exercise in melodic, mid-temp guitar rock, leavened with folk and country… [and] more heartland fare than nouvelle cuisine.” MR “The songs are simpler and invariably the strength turns out to be in the arrangements, for example Opposite View, Empty or You’re Gone.” RT

“Their sense of melody, however, and of humour, has thankfully remained intact as the charmingly light-hearted first single, Kiss This Thing Goodbye, will testify: ‘And all those times when our lips were kissing/ our tongues were telling lies.’ In When I Want You, they have the perfect follow-up too.” RT

Waking Hours featured…new guitarist Mick Slaven and keyboard player Andy Alston…[although] Slaven left the band before the album had even been released. He was replaced by David Cummings, who appears on the album’s front cover despite not having played on it. It would also be the last record for drummer Paul Tyagi, who was replaced by Brian McDermott.” WK

Ultimately, the band is really “based around the one-man nucleus of singer-songwriter Justin Currie.” SP His “lyrics are sophisticated enough to stand repeated visits…and brave enough to sustain a level of despair rather than rock bravado.” SP His “annoying tendency to fall back on the occasional unnecessarily obvious hookline (‘Stone cold sober, looking for bottles of love’) may blunt some of the early enthusiasm, [but the band’s] ability to absorb a wide range of musical influences as they carve their own growing niche suggests the second coming for Del Amitri will be a rather more long-term affair.” RT

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First posted 2/5/2009; last updated 9/5/2021.

Saturday, July 22, 1989

50 years ago: Billie Holiday charted with “Strange Fruit”

Strange Fruit

Billie Holiday

Writer(s): Abel Meeropol aka Lewis Allan (see lyrics here)

First Charted: July 22, 1939

Peak: 16 US, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Nothing guarantees a hit more than a Jewish schoolteacher’s poem about lynching, right? Abel Meeropol (aka Lewis Allan) was a liberal activist who taught English in the Bronx. JA He was disturbed and inspired by a photograph of a lynching and wrote a poem in 1937 TM which, two years later, became Billie Holiday’s “most influential recording.” NRR Time magazine named it the song of the century, citing how it “is complicated in a unique way — such beautiful humanity in such a shameful topic.” TM “You can feel her anguish” TM as she paints the “devastating image” TM of “strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.” The lyrics “are still some of the most powerful ever commited to vinyl.” LW Holiday said, “When I sing it, it affects me so much I get sick; it takes all the strength out of me.” LW

Meeropol showed it to Holiday at New York’s CafĂ© Society nightclub, where she had already become “a revered jazz singer of some experience.” LW As she said to bandleader and trumpeter Frankie Newton, “Some guy’s brought me a hell of a damn song.” TC

However, it “was a huge leap from the kind of unrequited love songs she was more used to” LW and, not surprisingly, Columbia – her record company – balked at releasing it. She went to Milt Gabler, who ran a record shop and independent jazz label called Commodore, to record the song with Newton. TC Radio banned the now “historic jazz classic” as too controversial. PM-216 “On the first night she performed it, the room was plunged into darkness but for a tiny spot that lit her face. The bar was closed and waiters were ordered to remain still.” TC Jack Schiffman reported that after she performed it at the Apollo, there was “a moment of oppressively heavy silence and then a kind of rustling sound I had never heard before. It was the sound of almost 2000 people sighing.’” TC

The song has been covered by a diverse array of artists including Tori Amos, Tony Bennett, Jeff Buckley, Nina Simone, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Sting, UB40, and Cassandra Wilson. Diana Ross sang it in Lady Sings the Blues, the 1972 Billie Holiday biopic.


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First posted 7/22/2012; last updated 11/24/2022.

Saturday, July 8, 1989

John Mellencamp “Jackie Brown” charted

Jackie Brown

John (Cougar) Mellencamp

Writer(s): John Mellencamp (see lyrics here)

Released: July 1989

First Charted: July 8, 1989

Peak: 48 US, 45 CB, 31 AC, 82 CW, 20 AR, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1.3 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Big Daddy was the fifth consecutive top-ten album for John Mellencamp. It was his sixth consecutive million seller, although one could see Mellencamp’s commercial appeal starting to wane slightly as the previous four albums had all been multi-platinum releases propelled by at least two top ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100. “Pop Singer,” the lead single from Big Daddy, peaked at #15 and the follow-up, “Jackie Brown,” didn’t even reach the top 40.

While it wasn’t a big hit, Mellencamp said it “might be one of the best songs I ever wrote.” SF It also became a fan favorite SF and signalled the direction Mellencamp would go with his music in the 21st century – mellower, more acoustic-based, music which weighed heavily on social commentary.

The titular character “is a destitute man who will never escape poverty.” SF It crafts “images of the hardships faced by those living in poverty” WK while also reflecting on the harsh view some take toward the poor. One lyric says, “Who gives a damn about Jackie Brown? Just another lazy man who couldn’t take what was his.”

Mellencamp told Rolling Stone that he wrote the song about “me disguised as a poor guy - not as a guy that had been successful and pretty much lost everything, which in my mind I had, because I’d lost my daughters.” SF He was referring to his failed second marriage to Victoria Granucci, who had recently left their home in Indiana and took their daughters with her. SF


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First posted 6/15/2023.