After the overwhelming response to last week's music piece, I thought it would be a good idea to continue. Music of course has so many genres and sub-genres that I could easily keep doing this type of column for the next few years, and we would still only be getting at the tip of the audible iceberg. I thought we could now get into music from the '90s.
Duff McKagan's column runs every Thursday on Reverb.
So in the summer of '89, I was in Chicago with Slash writing music for the upcoming GN'R record. When I write music, I like to be around other inspirational music that is new and hopefully groundbreaking. Good new music for me opens up avenues of musical thought processes that I may not have been previously exposed to. That summer, we got a cassette of the forthcoming Faith No More record Real Thing, a Masters of Reality demo from George Draculius, and a pre-release cassette of Lenny Kravitz' first record. These were new sounds at that time, and a welcome relief from the crap that was out there and available (wait, what year did Badmotorfinger come out?).
Precursors to what would be thought of as music from the '90s were bubbling up in my view. Soundgarden were playing gigs down in L.A. and had been a relatively active band since '87 or so. I met Trent Reznor backstage at a GN'R gig in '89; he told me of a record he was making, and was really enthusiastic about the direction he had stumbled upon. Raging Slab was moving music forward by perfecting, and at times improving upon, classic '70s two-guitar rock 'n' roll. Mother Love Bone was making their record then, too.
OK, now the table was being set. It was a foregone conclusion that bands like Warrant, Poison, and Brittany Fox had used up and abused their reign of substance-challenged and retarded pop-rock. Nirvana's Nevermind was credited as the record that started what has come to be known as the '90s sound and ethic--rightfully so, in my humble opinion. What bands and albums do you feel personify or qualify as the greatest of that era? Here are just a few of mine:
Nirvana, Nevermind: Borrowing and perfecting all the best from punk-rock bands before them and adding an angled angst and song-craftsmanship of their own, Nirvana simply owned it all, turning on a world full of youth who could relate.
Pearl Jam, Ten: A record that made personal politics and caring for others OK. Pearl Jam somehow fused kick-ass rock with a Seattle-ness and PC ethic.
Alice in Chains, Dirt: Fugetaboutit. Layne = cool. Jerry = genius. Sean = brilliant. Mike = badass. A timeless record.
Nine Inch Nails, Closer: Maybe one of the most musically brilliant records ever made...ever. Trent Reznor melded technology, melody, anger, tenderness, and mystique into a continuous and digestible epic. The guy somehow finds a way to constantly get better and expand his art to this day. Incredible.
Korn, self-titled: The first record by Korn was as groundbreaking as anything since Chuck Berry sang "Maybelline." Jonathan's creepy and quirky voice on top of drop C tuning took dark to a whole new level.
Marilyn Manson, Portrait of an American Family: I first saw these guys open for Danzig in '95 or so. Sure, sure, Alice Cooper did this thing in the late '60s and early '70s, but Manson and his band were straight creepy and hailed from Florida's swamplands, citing mass murderers as their influences. Dark.
Dag, Righteous: Vibe magazine hailed this band as the best R&B band of the decade. No small feat, as Dag were white boys from North Carolina. Check this record out if you get a chance.
Mark Lanegan, all solo work: If you have yet to hear any of Mark's solo records, do yourself the big favor now. The ferocity that is his voice and cracked soul will be sure to mesmerize. Trust me on this one.
Hellacopters, Supershitty to the Max!: Kick-ass dirty rock 'n' roll from Sweden that perhaps saved this brand of music from extinction.
Nashville Pussy, Let Them Eat Pussy: This Kurt Bloch-produced masterpiece shoved a middle finger up the ass of all the then-pretenders. Greasy and bloody and fun for sure.
Faith No More, The Real Thing: Enough said.
Soundgarden, Down on the Upside: This record was the culmination and pinnacle of all the talent that this group of men pushed and pulled out of each other. A band gone too soon, in my opinion. Maybe it was meant to be all along, as they may have hit a wall. We at least want more from them now...as opposed to wanting NO more!
Foo Fighters, any and all! Dave Grohl was finally able to realize his full talents as a songwriter, singer, and guitar player, and the rest of us reaped the benefit of his effort. He makes everything seem so damn simple.
Dr Dre, The Chronic: This groundbreaking record reshaped forever the face and thump of modern hip-hop.
Deftones, Adrenaline: This band has been plagued by a massive copycat syndrome, only because what they invented was so damn innovative and kick-ass.
Refused, The Shape of Punk to Come: This record still is one of the ones played most often before I, or any band I have been in, go onstage. A jaw-dropping collection of angry and varied music from a band who were simply masters of their art.
I have left out many here on purpose. Maybe some of you think my choices are crap. The beauty of music, though, is that we all find inspiration in different presentations and packages. Have fun this week. I've been having fun writing these.