Monday, July 14, 2008

Set the DeLorean for 1993

I graduated from college in May of 1993. It was sort of a tough year to find a job, but I lucked out and made my own luck.

About 4 years later I was in Pensacola at my local record/CD store, and I was looking for the new Dinosaur Jr. CD. Plus, I was picking up some used stuff - they had some of The Fluid’s single CDs that came off of their 1993 release, “Purplemetalflakemusic.” I told the girl at the counter that I wanted the new Dinosaur Jr. CD (she had to get it out of the glass case for me. This was a record store that specialized in punk and alternative music, but carried everything). I stated that I hoped the new one was as good as 1993’s “Where You Been?”

She said, “Yeah, it sure would be great if we could have another year like 1993, there was a lot of good music released that year.”

I’ve been thinking about that for 12 years now. So this morning, with a cup of coffee in hand, I retreated to the basement and began rifling through all of my CDs and records to see if that was true. Sure enough, here are some examples to hold that up:

Uncle Tupelo Anodyne

The final release before these guys broke up. Enough has been written about Uncle Tupelo that I don’t really need to go into it here. This is my favorite release by them. Sure, I have songs that I like more on their other albums, but overall this is an amazing album, recorded live in the studio. It starts off with the mellow “Slate”, and then moves into the upbeat “Acuff Rose” (the dynamics of this song are especially great in live setting. I saw them in the small Maintenance Shop at Iowa State University and the instruments are all acoustic except for the bass. It’s a very raucous song, just check out this clip when Tweedy does it solo. Listen to the crowd.)

Afterwards, it kicks into some more rocking tunes before mellowing out with the title track. The entire album is fantastic. Every song is great. Definitely a good way to go out on a good note.

Afghan Whigs Gentleman

If you’re in your twenties, are into substance abuse (the legal and illegal kind) and bad relationships, do I have a record for you. Sort of a concept album about the above, including going to support group meetings to possibly meet women, this was, to me, the Afghan Whigs' transition album from Sub Pop grunge band into the soul-influenced rock band they would become and then later when Dulli would take that even further with the Twilight Singers. The lyrics here are just plain killer. Even Dulli had to get someone else to sing “My Curse” because he couldn’t sing it without breaking down crying. My favorite tunes are “What Jail Is Like” (helluva description for a relationship) and “When We Two Parted” (You’re saying that the victim never wants it to end, good, I get to dress up and play the assassin again, it’s my favorite, it’s got personality). Click on the band's name above to read a kickass review and see some videos from this album.

Dinosaur Jr.Where You Been

A lot of people rave about the earlier DJ albums with Lou Barlowe on them, like Bug. Me, I picked up some singles, but my love affair with Dinosaur Jr started with Green Mind. Then Where You Been came out and it changed everything. The whole alternative rock movement was in full swing and J Mascis and his band actually had a hit with “Start Choppin’” with its cool playful guitar riff, vocals that sounded like J had a bag of broken glass in his throat (I was actually playing a CD called Martin and Me by J Mascis at my house back in ’98 and my wife said, “This guy sounds like he belongs in a gas station, not on a CD”) and a catchy, rockin’ chorus. I think every song on here is great except for “Not the Same” which kind of has the same things I dislike about Neil Young’s “A Man Needs a Maid” – shrilly high vocals and timpani. Keep the fucking timpani out of rock music, please.

CrackerKerosene Hat

Cracker is one of those “clever” bands that I never really wanted to like, but something about what they do gels with my personality and I can’t help myself. I feel the same about the first two Oasis albums. Don’t want to like them, but don’t have a choice. It’s the music that’s making me do it, folks.

Kerosene Hat contains “Low”, which in my opinion, is just okay, and in fact, I usually change the channel on the (radio, TV, internet, etc) when it comes on. I love the title track with its goofy wordplay and downer feel, and the blues/slow tune “Take Me Down to the Infirmary” probably for the same downer feel. The cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Loser” is awesome, and “Eurotrash Girl” (hidden track #69 on the CD) is, in my opinion, an updated version of Three Dog Night’s “Never Been to Spain”. Really. Play them side-by-side and tell me you can’t see the influence there. There are also some decent mid-tempo rockers on here including “Sick of Goodbyes” and “I Want Everything”.

The FluidPurplemetalflakemusic

When Nirvana got big in 1992, it ended the era of hair metal, and pretty much all the crap metal that was going on at the time. Don’t get me wrong, I still like some metal, but there was a lot of really bad stuff coming out there in the end that if it came out today…the stupid white trash of this country would still eat it up. Okay, sorry, that was totally uncalled for. But Trixter? Firehouse? Gimme a break!

The thing I didn’t understand was a band like The Fluid should have soothed all those metal dude’s hurt feelings. Purplemetalflakemusic is the proof. This album has great heavy drumming, two guitars played through Mesa-Boogie stacks, and a kickass bass player laying down ominous low-tones. Some of the songs pulled influences from old-time rock and roll, though, with the backing “la-las” only sung by masculine men. Check out “My Kind”. The production on this album is awesome. Total WALL OF HEAVINESS coming down from the instruments.

Both “My Kind” and “7/14” are my favorites here, but the entire album has to be experienced from beginning to end to truly appreciate it. I could be wrong, though. Get the CD for the kickass purple metal flake sticker.

PrisonshakeThe Roaring Third

Okay, here’s an album that I think you have to get by importing it. Kinda “pompous rock critic” of me to bring it up, I know, but this album rules. The song “2 Sisters” was on a compilation CD I got of a whole bunch of singles released in 1993, so I sought out the album. “Hurry” off this album, is top 5 all time for me. In one line, it sorta sums up this site to me: Hate to write, love to drink, hate being drunk, love haven written. If that makes any sense to you at all I’d have no choice but to say I failed…

Only one bad song is on this album, in my opinion; “Asiento”. Too loud and noisy. Lots of good guitar interplay on these songs. Some are stonesish, but it’s definitely a rock and roll album.

Cheap TrickBudokan II

I am totally breaking the rules here. Cheap Trick at Budokan is still an album that I listen to, and it came out in 1977 when I was 9 years old. However, that album only had about half the concert on it. So in 1993, Cheap Trick released the rest as Budokan II. Both these albums pull from their first three full releases, and one song, “Can’t Hold On” was only available on their Found All the Parts EP, which is an import. At least 3 songs on here are about suicide, and I’d have to say if you want a suicide song, Cheap Trick does them the best (“Auf Wiedersehen”). These two albums have since been thrown together into the correct order they were played that night in Tokyo. I don’t have it.

Other honorable mentions:

Teenage FanclubThirteen
Rocket from the CryptCirca Now

The 1993 Playlist

7/14 – The Fluid
Gone to the Moon - Fastbacks
Start Choppin’ – Dinosaur Jr.
That was the Greatest Song – The Pooh Sticks
Hurry – Prisonshake
Last Dance with Mary Jane – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Pickin’ Flowers For – Best Kissers in the World
Chickamauga – Uncle Tupelo
Perfectly Good Guitar – John Hiatt
Gene Clark – Teenage Fanclub
Between You and Me Kid – Mudhoney
Dissident – Pearl Jam
Stadium – Monster Magnet
Ditch Digger – Rocket from the Crypt
Serve the Servants – Nirvana
Divine Hammer – The Breeders
What Jail is Like – Afghan Whigs
Missed – PJ Harvey
Don’t Tear Me Up – Mick Jagger
Auf Wiedersehen – Cheap Trick


Jez said...

Okay, I forgot to put "Reputation" by the Dwarves on the list.

Boo said...

I think that the Afghan Whigs are sorely underrated; so THANK YOU for including them on this list. Great list! I miss the good ol days; I was just telling my husband recently that I'm going to revert and wear nothing but babydoll dresses, ragged flannel shirts, holey jeans and big black army boots. Those were simpler times.

My additions to this would be:

Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream
Mazzy Star So Tonight That I Might See
Bjork Debut
Radiohead Pablo Honey

Nice post, Jez.

Jez said...

Boo - Good additions! I actually did own that Mazzy Star, but Fade Into You was the only song I really liked. I had the Smashing Pumpkins first album then didn't bother with anything thereafter. Radiohead is one of those bands that I really want to like, but just can't get into. I think they're due another listen.

As I'm writing this, I'm eating pasta with a plastic fork. Boy, do I got worry. I got worry...

Megan said...

I would add "Exile in Guyville"- Liz Phair's debut album and ultimately her best. One of my all-time favorites.

Jez said...

I did always like "6'1" off that Liz Phair album. The title of that album is kind of an answer to Urge Overkill's song, "Goodbye to Guyville". Which reminds me, I totally fucked up and didn't put Urge Overkill's "Saturation" on the list here. Great album, including the Blackie-sung "Dropout."