San Diego Radio Sucks Quite A Bit

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Top 30 + 1 of the 1990s - #18 - Bjork / Debut

 Debut (Björk album) - Wikipedia

"Come here," Stacey said, "I want you to hear something." She pulled me into her bedroom, carefully loading up the tape player with one of those clear cassettes; probably one of the first. It was winter 1989 in Detroit, and the cold outside was no match for the play button she pressed on the deck or inside me. She was a few years younger than I was so it kinda took me by surprise that "Fucking in Rhythm and Sorrow" was what she wanted me to hear. We began clumsily pulling at each others' clothes as if we were wearing mittens. We might well have been if her bedroom hadn't been heated. Thank God her mother worked late so she could pay the bills and I could fondle her daughter and listen to her Sugarcubes tapes.

This was my introduction to the vocal styling of Iceland's only daughter. Listening to Bjork has always been a little like that afternoon in Stacey's room - exciting, a little frightening, but always pleasurable. Bjork is one of the few auteurs whose next move is as unpredictable as her last. One moment she's (presumably) sneaking into a limo during a live recording for Debut ("There's More to Life Than This"), while the next she's crooning away like Ella Fitzgerald in the harp-laden "Like Someone In Love."

While Homogenic (1997) was the album that won her a Grammy (who gives a fuck, right? still, it's nice to know that even good artists are occasionally given the thumbs-up from the status quo press (e.g., Beck)) Debut was the album that made people stand up and take notice of her individuality and diversity as an artist. It's not so much that Bjork was The Sugarcubes as much as Bjork hadn't begun to live up to her full potential before the band broke up.

If you can ever catch her MTV version of "Aeroplane" (120 Minutes Live) or the video for and alternate remix of "Big Time Sensuality", you'll see that the versions of the songs appearing on Debut are merely suggested listening arrangements. Bjork is one of the only artists who can (and did) release essentially the same album within the span of a year and not leave her fans feeling like she's just riding the remix dollar (Telegram (1996) was essentially a remix of Post (1995)).

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