Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Musical Jounrey

1991...a whopping 19 years ago! Holy shit!

My freshman year in college at Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College) in good ol' Westminster, Maryland, where I learned the joys of Mickey's Big Mouth Malt Beverage...where I attended 1 more class in my spring semester than I skipped...where I witnessed the true flammability of grain alcohol, and the even greater LACK of flame retardedness of a cheap comforter when said flaming grain is spilled upon it...where I met the legendary Coop and Posty...ah, the memories...I digress...


Scott Norwood misses wide right and the Giants beat the Bills 20-19 in SuperBowl XXV (25, for the slightly slower readers out there).

The Gulf War breaks out and ends.

Rodney King is beaten like a red-headed step child by some "fine" members of the LAPD, and the incident is recorded and broadcast all over the news.

The Soviet Union collapses.

Magic Johnson tells the world that he's HIV positive...on the Arsenio Hall Show.

The Twins top the Braves in a remarkable 7th game of the World Series...featuring 2 teams that finished dead-last in their respective divisions the year prior.

The whole Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill harassment debacle...wasn't something mentioned during one of the hearings about a pube on a Coke can, or did I imagine that?!?!?!?

The Silence of the Lambs cleans up at the Oscar's...Best Picture, Anthony Hopkins wins Best Actor, and Jodie Foster wins Best Actress.

And then there was the music...which is the focus of this blog...Sweet Christ, what a year for music!

Grunge EXPLODED into the mainstream, while Glam Rock went the way of Aqua Net hairspray.

NWA, Devo, Jane's Addiction, The Replacements, Talk Talk, and everyone's favorite - Wang Chung - all disbanded.

Lollapalooza - the brain-child of Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell - rocked the faces off of hundreds of thousands of angst-ridden teens and tweens across the USofA...and served as Jane's Addiction's farewell tour (well, farewell tour for the time being).

Jesus Jones told us what it was like "Right Here, Right Now", and Christina Amphlett of the Divinyls told us that she didn't want anyone else, and that when she thought about (you) she touched herself.

Marc Cohen told us an amazing tale about seeing the ghost of Elvis while he was "Walking In Memphis".

Primus was Sailing the Seas of Cheese, and Les Claypool and his A-fucking-mazing bass lines wailed while telling us that "Jerry Was A Race Car Driver" and all about "Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers".

Material Issue told us that "Valerie Loves Me", Too Much Joy's "Crush Story" told us that the foolishness of an all-encompassing passion was better than love, and Roxette took us on a "Joyride".

R.E.M.'s seventh studio album, Out of Time, took them from being an underground, cool-kid band to the mainstream, with the band incorporating a little bit of a country feel into their music. "Losing My Religion" was all over the radio, and the video was featured on MTV for what seemed to be once an hour, EVERY hour. R.E.M. kept their "edginess", so to speak, by not touring at all to support the album. Quick sidenote, my favorite R.E.M. song, "Country Feedback" is on this one...track 10...highly recommend a a matter of fact, I'm loading it up on my iPod as I type.

KLF grooved us with "3am Eternal", and Enigma incorporated Gregorian vocals into their seductively catchy "Sadeness", which certainly served as "mood music" in bedrooms, dorm rooms, or back seats of cars throughout the civilized world...not that yours truly would know anything about that (wink, wink).

Rush rolled the bones, School of Fish told us about "Three Strange Days", and Seal told us that the only way we'll survive is if we get a little bit "Crazy".

Naughty By Nature told us about "O.P.P", and Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch hit us with "Good Vibrations".

Anthrax attached us with Killer B's, and had their biggest hit ever with their remake of Public Enemy's "Bring The Noise".

L.A. Guns held on to the last fleeting moments of Glam Rock with their release of Hollywood Vampires, which featured the super-catchy and super-glam "Kiss My Love Goodbye".

Color Me Badd wanted to Sex You Up, and the Spin Doctor's had A Pocket Full of Kryptonite and their smash "Two Princes".

BoyzIIMen schooled us in "Motownphilly", Mariah Carey's 2nd studio album Emotions was all over the charts, and PM Dawn put a new spin on hip-hop with their smash "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss".

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers sailed Into The Great Wide Open, and Ozzy Osbourne lamented as only he can for "No More Tears".

Matthew Sweet sang of his "Girlfriend", Big Audio Dynamite gave us annoyingly catchy tunes on The Globe, and Toad the Wet Sprocket's Fear gave us another airplay monopoly with "All I Want" and "Walk on the Ocean"...IMO, it's too bad the best song on the album, "Hold Her Down", never got the airplay it deserved.

One of the best live bands I've ever seen - straight out of Stourbridge in West Midlands, England with their dual bass guitarists - Ned's Atomic Dustbin - blew this blogger away with their debut album God Fodder, featuring "Kill Your Television", "Throwing Things", and one of my all-time fav's, "Grey Cell Green".

Two hip-hop acts put out their debut albums...Cypress Hill (Cypress Hill) and 2Pac (2Pacalypse Now).

Metallica. The Black Album. Some call it their "sell-out" album since it sold over 20 million copies across the world and is their best-selling album ever. Fuck the dickweeds that say that, it's a masterpiece.

Guns'N'Roses hit us not once, but twice with Use Your Illusion I & II.

U2 transcended their sound with their amazing piece of work, Achtung Baby. A new sound, a new direction for the band that had become the biggest act in the world. It left many speechless, many angry, and many more confused. Quite simply, it knocked my socks off...the alt-electronic-industrial fusion was surreal...and it worked. Bono became "The Fly", and he, Adam, Larry, and The Edge embraced rock-stardom during the Zoo TV tour that supported this, their 7th studio album. My blog, my opinion...this is one of the greatest albums of all time...certainly for my generation.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers released Blood Sugar Sex Magik, the band's springboard effort into the mainstream. "Give It Away", "Suck My Kiss", "Breaking the Girl", and "Under The Bridge" dominated alt rock radio airwaves, and the videos were featured prominently on MTV. Again, my blog = my opinion...this one NARROWLY beats out Mother's Milk as RHCP's best album ever.

An alt rock band out of Chicago, Illinois snuck onto the scene with their debut Gish...that band, of course, being The Smashing Pumpkins. From the first beats of the first song, "I Am One", this band had me hooked. The highlight of this album for me is the epic third track, "Rhinoceros"...this was certainly played many-a-night the summer of '91 in the wee hours of the morning while folks were winding down from over-indulgence of one form or another.

And all of this lead to one thing. One subplot in the story of alt rock. A subplot, though, that defined Generation X. Grunge. The music was pure, unadulterated, non-corporate, angst. Alt-punk-metal-indie rock all mashed together in a beautifully dark, sludgy, crunching soliloquy. Distorted, fuzzy, feedback-ridden songs of social withdraw, apathy, emotional or spiritual imprisonment, and the yearning to break free...

It crashed the party HARD with a simple 4-chord progression of a tune written to mimic the stylings of The Pixies (an AMAZING band from Boston formed in the mid-80's by Frank Black - or Black Francis, whichever you prefer -, Kim Deal, Joey Santiago, and David Lovering), and a music video featuring cheerleaders in black dresses sporting the Circle-A anarchist symbol on them...of course I'm talking about Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit", from their second studio album, Nevermind. The song changed music. It pissed on the make-up, big-hair, and spandex of Glam Rock. It gave a big ol' middle finger to the status quo. For Christsakes, it made plaid a fashion statement!!!!

Grunge. Nirava's Nevermind. Pearl Jam's debut Ten, their best album of all, spawning such classics as "Even Flow", "Black", "Alive", "Jeremy", and "Porch". Soundgarden's Badmotorfinger (the band's THIRD studio album), which gave us "Jesus Christ Pose", "Rusty Cage", and the drop-D laced "Outshined". Even a joint effort by members of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog (a one-album collaboration to pay tribute to the late Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone, whom Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament were members of prior to Pearl Jam) achieved success with an often under-appreciated, yet brilliant work...their self-titled Temple of the Dog.

I'm sure I left out some of your highlights in the world of music circa 1991. That's fine. Blog about it yourself. I hope I threw some in here that you may have to dust off and put back into rotation, or find on iTunes.

Regardless, 1991 was a significant year for the world, and a PIVOTAL year for music, especially on the modern alt rock scene. I hope you enjoyed my reminiscing and my musical journey back...

See you on the next blog.

Peace, I'm outta here!

I'd be an ass not to put this out there...the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere was DEVASTATED by an earthquake yesterday. I know everyone's watching what they spend...but do what's right - give SOMETHING to the American Red Cross for the Haiti relief fund ( or by texting HAITI to 90999 (it's legit and on the Red Cross web page), or give to Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti organization (


  1. Awesome post, awesome year. I've been having a hard time convincing my father-in-law how the music of that era changed so many things and shaped so many people. I'd have him read this if he weren't offended by bad words. Glad for the Pixies and Public Enemy references.

  2. Thanks! Hope the bad words don't offend too many folks...I free-flow write, so sometimes the foul-mouthed a-hole I am slips through! Keep on reading!