The best posts just happen. They dance off your fingertips, the automatic editor works, and right before you hit publish, you have hundreds of great words, pictures, videos, and feelings that will transfer to the reader. This one isn’t like that. In fact, it’s the most belabored one I’ve ever been involved with because it concerns an era of music that should be titled “Lance’s Damn Wheel House”, Twisted Mixtape Tuesday 1990s, Part One for http://www.jenkehl.com ‘s weekly blogging dance party.
As I started researching what to write and teach you all about, I found myself with four different genres, nineteen different artists, and twenty-seven songs. Not even I, a music junkie, would read that.
For me, the music that changed my life, forever, happened between the years 1988 to 1994. Everything I like, now, I found during those years, and I still obsess over today.
Before I list a few songs and videos. I want you to know that in 1988, Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation, Pixies’ Surfer Rosa, then in 1989, Beastie Boys Paul’s Boutique and Stone Roses debut album meant a lot to me. I played all 4 records hundreds of times. They stay in my car or in heavy rotation in my computer all the time, today. All 4 albums are revolutionary in production, sound, style, guitar-playing, and prompted other bands to steal from their brilliant ideas.
The early 1990s saw music from bands with ideas and deep beliefs. Ideas like writing pro-choice on your arm, blasting the horrible sexism that permeated hair metal and rock in general, and promoting racial harmony like when Anthrax worked with Public Enemy. I miss that time. It’s dormant, now…at least the activism.
Kool Thing – Sonic Youth, the legendary indie rock band broke down, signed to a major label for their 1990 release, Goo. The best song came from bassist Kim Gordon who essentially killed the pretention of 1980s rock stars by taking a bad experience interviewing arrogant and sexist LL Cool J, and delivering a guitar blaze of smart-assness and perverse, hipster coolness. I wish Kim Gordon had married Kurt Cobain. Think of how the world had been a better place.
Personal Jesus – Depeche Mode – I didn’t “get” the 1980s electronic indie darlings until they put some guitars in the group, wrote lyrics on their 1990 album, Violater, that were both provocative and alternative, and suddenly I was an admirer of the risk taking Dave Gahan and his heroin fueled songs about alienation and gay rights, a year before Seattle happened.
Enter Sandman – Metallica – Testosterone has been the fuel of rock since Elvis and Chuck Berry. A few years before Metallica cut their hair and sucked, they put out their mainstream pop hard rock album and it rocked, with a black cover of a coiled snake and song after song of ass kicking music. When you hear the brutal rhythm section of Sandman, you know trouble’s coming and you don’t even try to stop it.
Everyone else will play these bands and I write about and play the songs of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Screaming Trees, Bikini Kill, Hole, Candlebox, and more. They changed the game in 1991 and made wool caps, bad attitudes, flannel, and smack so cool, we all couldn’t get enough. I’m going to show four videos of songs I listened to constantly and still do.
Lithium – Nirvana
Rusty Cage – Soundgarden
Rooster – Alice In Chains
Alive – Pearl Jam
Siva – Smashing Pumpkins – Gish isn’t their best album but it has Siva so it will always be a good record. The Pumpkins were doing their stuff in Chicago, well before the Seattle snobs put their records out and yet, you can see how the scenes traded influences. This is just a great song.
One – U2 – Believe it or not, the biggest band in the world with the lead singer who gets nominated for Nobel Peace Prizes was about to break up in early 1991. Achtung Baby, their excellent album, was almost abandoned due to creative conflicts within the band. One, a song Bono has written for an AIDS benefit was reworked, slowed down, and helped the four Irish dudes find their fastball, again. The lyric “Have you come here for forgiveness, have you come to raise the dead, have you come here to play Jesus to the lepers in your head”, shatters the idea that rock music is frivolous and not poetic. This is one of my favorite songs, period.
This was to hard. I’ve left out so much and these songs cover 1990 through 1992. Next week, we talk about Britpop, hip hop and Rage. Part two may put me in a mental facility.
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