When I was growing up, my siblings and I had this competitive rule — if one of us bought an album by a particular artist, that person had dibs on the rest of that artist’s catalog.
That meant my oldest sister had a lock on Andy Gibb, my brother put dibs on Sting and Madonna, my other sister had first crack on stuff I don’t even remember, and I was left to my own devices with Duran Duran and Eurythmics.
By the time we entered college, that exclusivity rule started to loosen up. Our individual tastes solidified to the point where our tastes would rarely even interact. There were, however, a few instances of exchange.
My sister took to Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream, whereas I thought (and still think) the album sucks. My brother absolutely took to Sinéad O’Connor’s I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, whereas I thought it wasn’t as good as The Lion and the Cobra.
On a recent nostalgia binge at the music store, I bought a bunch of CDs I previously owned in other formats. Some of those titles are artifacts from that long-ago lockout. In other words, albums I probably wouldn’t have listened to because my siblings were "into them".
Depeche Mode, Music for the Masses
Depeche Mode, Violator
I was a broodier teenager than most back in the late ’80s, but even Music for the Masses felt way too dark for me at the time. Also, my brother would subject everyone to repeat listening of "Somebody", so I couldn’t really appreciate Depeche Mode back then.
I did get drawn in with Violator, and a friend from high school essentially shoved the album into my ears. Violator contained six great singles and four terrible fillers, but the hit appeal of the album was something my youthful ears could understand.
Fast forward 15 years. My opinion of both albums have altered. Music for the Masses sounds far more sophisticated than Violator. Although Masses didn’t have the avalanche of hits as its successor, it does feel like more thought was put into its writing and execution.
I like both albums, but Music for the Masses is the one I picked up on my binge. I’ll get Violator (again) in the future.
Prince & the Revolution, Parade
Prince was the domain of my brother, and I was glad to let him call dominion. Prince was an ubiquitous radio presence, so even if I didn’t want to be exposed to his music, I couldn’t really help it.
My interest in Parade, however, only piqued after I had listened to the self-titled debut album of Wendy & Lisa. I dug that album so much, I wondered how much influence the pair exerted on Parade. Prince is ultimately credited for the songwriting on that album, but in interviews, Wendy & Lisa said they had quite a bit of input into it.
The A-side of Parade ultimately won me over. The continuous flow of that first half appealed to the burgeoning classical musician in me. Also, those songs didn’t annoy me as much as other Prince songs of the era.
In other words, I liked what I heard. "Kiss" can be something of an irritating song, but I don’t get tired of it. And "Mountains" is one Prince’s admirably restrained singles.
Parade, however, remains the lone Prince anomaly in my collection. As admirably as I find his productivity, sometimes I think he would benefit from a stronger internal editor.
Sinéad O’Connor, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got
This album actually started as "mine", but it ended up being a favorite for my brother.
At first, everyone — not just family — thought I was weird for buying an album with a bald woman on the cover. Like most kids back then, I liked the fact I had something that felt like "my own".
Then O’Connor became a national hit with "Nothing Compares 2 U", and a little bit of that specialness got lost. Another way of saying it: "Geez, people, I was listening to her way before you all did."
I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got disappointed me. The sparse production felt like a step backward from the more rock sound of The Lion and the Cobra. And honestly? It’s such a depressing album.
That was an era of my life when I wanted to hear something more boisterous — the Sugarcubes, Throwing Muses, Midnight Oil, the Replacements. I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got had no energy.
The album was released when I was still a teenager. I like it far better now as an adult.
I still like The Lion and the Cobra more, but I don’t dismiss I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got the way I did. The incredibly personal perspective of the songs — with which my brother really identified at the time — can’t really be understood by inexperienced ears. And I certainly didn’t get it when it was first released.