The year before Nirvana's 'Nevermind' changed the way music sounded wasn't nearly as pivotal. Alternative rock was still mostly considered cult music in 1990, even though more commercial-minded artists graduated from left-of-the-dial college radio to more mainstream modern-rock stations. It was also still a wide-open playground, where everyone from gloomy goth god Peter Murphy to noise-rock Scots the Jesus & Mary Chain hung out together.

  • Peter Murphy, 'Cuts You Up'

    While his former Bauhaus bandmates scored a Top 5 pop hit in 'So Alive' the year before with their new group Love and Rockets, singer Murphy still played a goth cult hero. 'Cuts You Up' is his only modern rock No. 1, staying there for seven weeks.

  • World Party, 'Way Down Now'

    Karl Wallinger used to be a member of the Waterboys, but he had a whole lot more fun leading his own band, World Party, especially on the great 'Goodbye Jumbo' album. 'Way Down Now' is the second single from the LP and its only No. 1.

  • Sisters of Mercy, 'More'

    Here's more British goth rock from the late '80s carried over to the early '90s -- which seemed to be a thing in the first part of the decade. Sisters of Mercy managed to place only a couple of songs on the modern-rock chart. But 'More' was a monster, staying at the top for five weeks.

  • Concrete Blonde, 'Joey'

    This occasionally brooding Los Angeles band, led by the big-voiced Johnette Napolitano, managed to get some airplay in the late '80s and early '90s with their radio-ready indie rock. The hooky 'Joey' is their only No.1  hit.

  • The Replacements, 'Merry Go Round'

    By the time the great Replacements started getting some airplay, they were pretty much broken up. Their last album, 'All Shook Down,' is basically frontman Paul Westerberg's solo debut. The first single stayed at No. 1 for four weeks.

  • Jane's Addiction, 'Been Caught Stealing'

    Jane's Addiction got weird for most of their second album, 'Ritual de lo Habitual,' stretching artsy songs to eight or more minutes (one even drags on for more than 10 minutes). 'Been Caught Stealing' is one of the record's more conventional cuts.

  • Psychedelic Furs, 'House'

    Psychedelic Furs were one of the few post-punk groups from a decade earlier that still cranked out hits in 1990. In fact, they were on a modern-rock roll when 'House' hit No. 1 at the start of the year, staying there for three weeks.

  • Depeche Mode, 'Enjoy the Silence'

    After a decade of making records that picked up more and more fans along the way, Depeche Mode finally came close to conquering the world with their 1990 album, the terrific 'Violator.' 'Enjoy the Silence' is the group's first No. 1 modern-rock song.

  • The Cure, 'Never Enough'

    Between 1989's 'Disintegration' and 1992's 'Wish,' the Cure released an album called 'Mixed Up,' a collection of mostly remixed older hits. 'Never Enough' is one of the new songs on the album. And like all things Cure during the era, it was a huge hit.

  • The Jesus & Mary Chain, 'Blues From a Gun'

    Modern rock in 1990 started with this typically fuzzy Jesus & Mary Chain song from their third album at the top of the chart and all over the radio. 'Blues From a Gun' was their only song to reach the No. 1 spot at modern rock.