A new decade, a new dawn beckons with the Soviet Union slowly collapsing and East & West Germany formally joining to make Germany. Nelson Mandela released from prison after 27 years and Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web, the start of the biggest revolution the world would see which continues to grow and change on a daily basis, so much so that it is almost impossible to imagine life without it.
Other news remained completely standard and could be taken from pretty much every year, riots over the UK, based around the Poll Tax that was introduced this year, on April 1st, which probably should have been a clue for the government of the day. Some of the most violent riots seen in the UK, the march ending in Trafalgar Square filling news an papers for weeks after as a sense of shock at the scale of unrest took over. Other major events included Iraq invading Kuwait... The starting point of events that have cost millions of lives in the following decades, showing no signs of slowing down still. In an odd coincidence, it was on September 11th this year that President Bush threatened the use of force against Iraq, a date that we all know now.
There was one event that gripped the UK though in a way not really seen before and that was Italia 90 - the football World Cup being held in Italy. The government in the UK had discussed withdrawing the England team for fears of violence and following recent football events, the sport really was at it's lowest ebb. The official song, World In Motion by New Order got the ball rolling, football and fashion colliding. It was actually a really poor tournament, very long and dull games, very low scores - Argentina got to the final only scoring 5 times in total, but the English team had something that captured the imagination. Once into the knockouts, a last minute goal against Belgium got us through, then a famous game against Cameroon where again a last gasp goal won it. Then the semi-final. The nation watching, and one of the most famous football images ever was indelibly burned onto the conciousness of many.
The moment the tackle was made, the gesturing by Gary Lineker, the realisation that one of the most gifted players would not be in the final whatever happened to England in the rest of the game, the footage still brings goosebumps to this day. The penalty misses were bad, but the enduring image is of a man knowing his dream will never be fulfilled.
There is a film, One Night In Turin, and even if you don't like football, it is such an emotional journey, like the documentary Senna, you are dragged in, even knowing exactly what is going to come, exactly what happens, you move closer to the edge of your seat. Buy it, rent it, download it, but make sure you watch it. This is why many people fell in love with football, and the changes just around the corner in England meant it was never going to be the same again, but Gazza means we will never forget it.
Music wise the Stone Roses played Spike Island, either legendary or worst ever gig depending on your viewpoint, the Madchester bands kept pouring the sound of baggy over the nation, The Happy Mondays with Pills, Thrills and Bellyaches making it fairly clear what was a big part of this scene. The La's released their only album that manages to be in many top 5 lists, The Fall kept releasing albums and from the US Gangster Rap started to be noticed in the UK. NWA, 2 Live Crew, Ice T and more releasing materials that caused consternation among the press and music papers. Could white English kids really use the "n" and "b" words in the way that the records we started buying did? An argument that still rumbles on today. The usual suspects of Madonna and the Stock Aitken & Waterman pop were still filling the charts, but dance based acts were getting mainstream. The KLF, Adamski, Beats International were changing the airwaves, slowly but surely.
As for me, I was working in an insurance company, processing Death Claims, almost as exciting as it sounds. Gig going on a regular basis, and spending far too much time in The Aristocrat and the El Halal.
Single: Sacrifice / Healing Hands - Elton John
This was a bad period for Elton John - his earlier works, some in previous July top spots, were really good, but this is just a dull ballad.
The love song story makes the music worse somehow, quite how this would have sold the volumes required to get the number one slot I don't know. Really not a lot I can add, you may own it on a greatest hits album, I would leave it in the cover.
Album: The Essential Pavarotti - Luciano Pavarotti
Totally cashing in on the success of the World Cup as above and the theme tune to the football, this was one of a bucket load of "introduction to Opera" albums that appeared as soon as they physically could. This is no bad thing at all, opening up many people to listen to music that they may other wise dismiss as "poncy" and not give the time to. This is not a bad collection, and there really is no need to seek out this one in particular, but it has "all the hits" on it, and is a good showcase of his work.
My slight grumble (there had to be one) is that Opera is best listened to as a whole, not as a bunch of random "singles" that have been used in adverts and films. Like concept albums and those with a story and theme, some of the tracks on their own make no sense, but in the right context are amazing.
I have listened to this twice on the train, and it really does get the emotions up, get some Opera on your iPod.
It is odd to look at the world changing events of this year, and for me and many the memory is of a footballer crying. It was a different time indeed.