Cult of Personality (Living Colour). 40 Songs for 40 years (1990)

This was my first year of college, and my roommate arrived a school with one important piece of gear: a CD player. While the format had made its debut eight years earlier, it was just beginning to become popular with people my age.

CDs often cost twice as much as cassettes, so it was a significant commitment to change formats. Years later, I was reading the liner notes of the Wonder Stuff CD The Eight Legged Groove Machine (released in 1988) and saw this in the fine print: "ENJOY YOUR C. D (you payed enough)" (sic). And this from a record with a track called "It's Yer Money I'm After, Baby". 

But experiencing the superior convenience of my roommate's very small CD collection convinced me to make the switch. He graciously agreed to let me use his stereo, and that inaugurated more than 20 years of CD collecting.

For reasons that I don't remember, the first CD I bought was Vivid by Living Colour, largely on the strength of their hit single Cult of Personality. The song has since become something of a minor classic, although the muddled politics of the lyrics grated on me even then. That said, I liked the musicianship on the album, and I still stand by Vernon Reid's solo. 

Not long after this was released, Billy Joel evidently decided to get into the "let's make a song that lists a bunch of famous stuff from history" game and released the insipid We Didn't Start the Fire. He ditched the opening quote from Malcolm X and stripped out the politics altogether. This idea is so terrible that he rode it all the way to a #1 hit and a Grammy nomination. It's solid commercial instincts like this that convinced me to abandon any hope of making money in pop music.