Grammy Winner: Unforgettable…-Natalie Cole
Grammy Deserver: Little Earthquakes- Tori Amos
So, Yeah… Nat King Cole… ERRR… NATALIE Cole wins a Grammy for singing a duet with her dead father… Props to you Natalie for a job well done. Backup singers everywhere applaud your accomplishments. Now smile, wave, and give your award to somebody who deserves it. Author’s Note: I realize at this point I have been a year off in my Grammy Winners, but I am far too lazy to go back and change the prior post, so I’ll fix it now. Feel free to apply the above write up to the 1991 article, the 1991 write up to the 1990 article, and forget Bonnie Raitt’s Nick of Time ever existed… I know *I* will…
Did I do something wrong?
Onward, to the REAL
I am fully aware that Tori is not everyone’s cup of tea, and for that, I recognize that this is a thoroughly self-indulgent replacement choice. I have my reasons. Most importantly, it was this album that lead me to accept that not all female singers had to be Whitney Houston clones, building a rep more on ridiculous vocal gyrations rather than insightful lyrics and a well heeled piano. Sure, there were others before Tori who revolutionized the genre of female singer songwriter, (props to Carol King & Joni Mitchell) but so much of the music was about the empowerment of women that it is difficult for a non-woman to accept. Especially a 14 year old boy. I admit, it took years of listening to this album to 'get it', and if I were to write this with my ‘It’s 1992 Time-Travel Boots’ on, I would likely have gone with REM’s Automatic for the People, which still holds up as a great rock album, but did not revolutionize the way I listen to music the way that Tori’s Little Earthquakes did. This is why I call this choice self indulgent, but still justified.
Other releases of note: Kerplunk- Green Day; Hormonally Yours- Shakespeare’s Sister; Honey’s Dead- The Jesus and Mary Chain; Apollo 18- They Might Be Giants; Check Your Head- The Beastie Boys; Wish- The Cure; It’s a Shame About Ray- The Lemonheads; Images and Words- Dream Theater; Psalm 69- Ministry; Your Arsenal- Morrissey; Gordon- Bare Naked Ladies; Welcome to Wherever You Are- INXS; Bone Machine- Tom Waits; Money- KMFDM; Broken (EP)- Nine Inch Nails; Us- Peter Gabriel; Core- Stone Temple Pilots; Automatic for the People- REM; Ignition- Offspring; Fixed (EP)- Nine Inch Nails; 40 Oz. To Freedom- Sublime
Nancy! Get ma a Grammy!
1993- If a better year for music exists, it didn’t happen in the 90’s.
Grammy Winner: The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack- Various ‘Artists’
Grammy Deserver: August and Everything After- Counting Crows
First and foremost, let me just get this out of the way. There are a handful of soundtrack albums that I hugely enjoy… The Crow, So I Married an Axe Murderer, The Wedding Singer, I’m sure there’s more, but I would never, EVER expect one of these recording to be considered for a Grammy… Even if the tracks are originals, not released elsewhere, they are still not ALBUMS, they are SOUNDTRACKS… That being said, even within the genre of soundtracks, The Bodyguard soundtrack was like a really bad dog fart… You couldn’t escape it, no matter where you went, but soon enough it had dissipated, seemingly into thin air, and no one ever spoke of it again…
Sit Ubu Sit... DUDE!! I said SIT...
Now, to explain my personal affection for 1993. It’s highly possible that my view is skewed by my INVOLVEMENT in music in 1993. This was the first year I listened to more current music than older music. The first year I laid awake at night listening to the radio. The first year I would press play on a blank cassette when I’d leave for school so I could hear the next 60 minutes of music on KROQ as soon as I got home at the end of the day. Looking back however, this WAS a damn good time to be a music fan… Grunge was at it’s peak and still going strong with the release of Pearl Jam’s Vs. album, making up for the disappointment of Nirvana’s In Utero. That’s right, I didn’t enjoy it at the time, and I still don’t now. Fire your rotted eggs at will, the wonders of Cyberspace shall protect me… In addition to Grunge rocking the socks of listeners around the globe, women everywhere began picking up guitars, and much of the music created was highly listenable… Liz Phair’s Exile In Guyville is an album everyone should have in their collection, as is Belly’s Star, and The Breeders’ Last Splash. In addition the Mazzy Star and Letters To Cleo efforts still hold up well also if you’re looking for some more 90’s nostalgia.
Wow, female empowerment is PROFITABLE!
1993 also signaled the beginning of what would follow in the wake of the Grunge wave, neo-punk. Rancid’s self titled album is the most cohesive example of this trend, and for much of the country, 1994 was the year punk stared showing up on the airwaves again, but much of this new punk was formed right here in sunny Orange County, and 1993 was the beginning of a new revolution, that to this day can still be seen in artists like Jet and Fall Out Boy. So Grunge, Punk, and ‘Chick Rock’ were all hitting their stride, while 80’s artists were still turning out good material like Tears for Fears (in the form of just Roland Orzbal) releasing Elemental, Duran Duran’s 2nd self titled effort, this one dubbed ‘The Wedding Album’, Elvis Costello teaming with a classical string quartet on his rendition of a Shakespeare classic, The Juliet Letters, and even former Beatle Paul McCartney showed he still had a good pop album in him with Off The Ground. Add in some auspicious ‘coming of age’ pieces like Radiohead’s Pablo Honey, and The Cranberries Everybody Else Is Doing It So Why Can’t We?
Anyhow, onward to the star of this show. Few recordings have held as much impact on my musical upbringing as the first Counting Crows album, August and Everything After. This album creates, perfects, and in so doing destroys an entire genre of music I like to call California Roots Rock. More mellow that it’s southern rock forefathers, and more mainstream that typical Alternative records, you could lump it into the catch all of ‘Adult Contemporary’ or ‘Adult Alternative’ but that’s not only a cop out, it defeats the purpose of boxing music into a specific genre, which is one of many beautiful things about this album. From the opening riff of the deeply hypnotic Round Here, through the reflections of home tint of Omaha, to the pop-rock flavored first single Mr. Jones you’re three songs into the whole and realize that you’re miles away from where you started. Moving forward through the recording the tone winds it’s way back closer to Round Here’s starting melancholy until track 7, Rain King, where we’re given a view of the world that’s both forlorn and at once content. The album continues in that vein until we realize by the end notes of A Murder Of One that we’re right back where we started, with the girl in the car in the parking lot convincing us to take a shot… Like no recording before it, AAEA reminds all of us twistedly depressed losers in love that we are not alone, and somehow, that’s enough to move on. So much so that unlike other songs of hurt and frustration, the tunes resonate in happy times as well as sad, as a subtle reminder of all we have gained, and everything we stand to lose if we rebuild those walls the Crows tore down… For this reason, if not a single other piece of music had been recorded in 1993, it would still have been the most important year of my life musically, and that’s worth more than a countdown spot on a list…
Other releases of note (many mentioned above): The Juliet Letters- Elvis Costello & The Brodsky Quartet; Off The Ground- Paul McCartney; Star- Belly; Pablo Honey- Radiohead; Duran Duran (The Wedding Album)- Duran Duran; Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?- The Cranberries; Songs of Faith & Devotion- Depeche Mode; Undertow- Tool; Get a Grip- Aerosmith; Porno for Pyros- Porno for Pyros; Republic- New Order; Modern Life Is Rubbish- Blur; Rancid- Rancid; Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid- Collective Soul; Exile in Guyville- Liz Phair; Elemental- Tears for Fears; Zooropa- U2; Candlebox- Candlebox; Siamese Dream- The Smashing Pumpkins; Tuesday Night Music Club- Sheryl Crow; River of Dreams- Billy Joel; Bloody Kisses- Type O Negative; Kerosene Hat- Cracker; Last Splash- The Breeders; Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell- Meatloaf; Recipe For Hate- Bad Religion; Concentration- Machines of Loving Grace; In Utero- Nirvana; Laid- James; So Tonight That I Might See- Mazzy Star; God Shuffled His Feet- Crash Test Dummies; Aurora Gory Alice- Letters To Cleo; Vs.- Pearl Jam.
So what have we learned?
- I’m lame and can’t count backward
- I like chick rock
- ‘Soundtracks’ and ‘Albums’ are NOT the same thing
- Everything worth knowing happened in 1993
- If you’re not either listening to, or DL’ing a copy of August and Everything After RIGHT NOW you are hopelessly devoid of all feelings.
Next installment forthcoming, for now I must reminisce in the warm soothing glow of 1993… I wonder if I remember the password to my Prodigy account? I may need to sign up for AOL...
OH the horror...