Month: August 2019

Tad – Inhaler

ARTIST: Tad 220px-Tad_Inhaler

TITLE: Inhaler

YEAR RELEASED: 1993

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Leafy Incline

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Grease Box

LINEUP: Tad Doyle, Kurt Danielson, Gary Thorstensen, Josh Sinder

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: This may be the ultimate heavy grunge record. Hooks and heft. It didn’t sell. Damnit.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Long regarded as the heaviest band in the grunge scene (Tad Doyle’s weight notwithstanding – he as a big boy), Tad’s major label debut was a record that should have propelled them into the territory of Helmet in terms of recognition and sales.

It wasn’t meant to be.

While their previous record was an A+ due to attitude and spirit, this album rates as highly.  The material is consistent, there are actually hooks, huge riffage, more actual singing (not that I don’t mind Tad’s yowl), and plenty of material that could have been on some radio station’s playlist (it’s 1993, a lot of stuff got on there) or on Headbanger’s Ball (“Luminol” anyone?)

J. Mascis’ production reins in the sound a bit, and focuses the band into a consistent sonic palette. It’s still heavy and fun, though, and catchy. Just didn’t make it. Damn it all.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Grease Box” was used during the credits of an Edward Furlong movie.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE A+: This isn’t a ‘homer’ call. It’s bonafide one of the best 90’s records, and one of the heaviest and riffiest.

Sublime – Playlist Your Way

ARTIST: Sublime     R-5261319-1388976697-2044.jpeg

TITLE: Playlist Your Way

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Date Rape, What I Got (#1 Modern, #11 Mainstream, #71 UK), Santeria (#3 Modern), Wrong Way (#3 Modern), Doin’ Time (#87 US, #11 Modern)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Caress Me Down

LINEUP: Brad Nowell, Eric Wilson, Bud Gaugh. Marshall Goodman played on early tracks.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: One of the best distillations of Sublime.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Sublime had moments of goodness and greatness surrounded by puerile and immature tracks, skits, and what not. They didn’t really have a purge button, yet. So this may be the best collection for the novice.

This has all of the hits and best songs from Sublime and 40 oz. to Freedom (skipping Robbin’ the Hood for some reason, but that’s not much of a loss except for one track). It’s their high points in one package, where Brad Nowell’s songs are tight and propulsive and the band is focused and cooks.

Missing “Saw Red” (with Gwen Stefani), it’s not a perfect collection, but it’s better than the others around (which are sparse or too huge with rarities, etc.) It shows a band maturing into their own, ready to take the leap, which sadly didn’t happen.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Paul Leary of the Butthole Surfers produced a great chunk of their last album.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE A-: Just think of the potential after these songs, and realize that heroin sucks.

 

No Doubt – No Doubt

ARTIST: No Doubt  220px-NoDoubtCover

TITLE: No Doubt

YEAR RELEASED: 1992

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Trapped in a Box

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: There are none

LINEUP: Gwen Stefani, Eric Stefani, Tom Dumont, Tony Kanal, Adrian Young, Eric Carpenter, Don Hammerstedt, Alex Henderson

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A for-the-most-part pure ska record that was ignored by almost everyone, even in the ska community.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: When this album crept out in 1992, a ska revival wasn’t mainstream, and angry young dudes dominated radio. So this record featuring mostly ska with pop and punk influences was released, no one except diehard fans bought it.

Gwen Stefani’s brother Eric is the main musical engine behind the early No Doubt. He wrote or co-wrote all of the songs and was the arranger and musical mind. The record is rather all over the place, and even in some songs there are dramatic shifts in style and tone.

It’s not really remarkable, except for Gwen’s vocals. Even without the best material, or arrangements, she stands out from the rest of the group. But her strong presence can’t really overcome some of the mediocrity. However, songs like “Big City Train” and “Let’s Get Back” show the real potential of the band.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This record sold 30,000, and Interscope didn’t pay for a video or a tour.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE B-: Some good moments, and some meh moments. If you slept on them in 1992, don’t worry – they really didn’t warrant attention.

 

Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels – Rev Up: The Best of Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels

ARTIST: Mitch Ryder  ryder

TITLE: Rev Up: the Best of Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Jenny Take a Ride (#10 US, #33 UK), Little Latin Lupe Lu (#17 US), Break Out (#62 US), Takin’ All I Can Get (#100 US), Devil with a Blue Dress On (#4 US), Sock It To Me Baby (#6 US), Too Many Fish in the Sea (#24 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: They cover Shake a Tail Feather

LINEUP: Mitch Ryder, John Badanjek, Mark Manko, Joe Kubert, Jim McCarty, Jim McAllister. For one track, the Wheels were actually Booker T. & the MGs.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Fun!

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This compilation grabs 18 classic Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels tracks (and two from the later incarnation as just Detroit, which I’ll review at a later date), and there’s a party in every track. Whether it’s a deeper cut, or a known single, Ryder puts everything into his vocals, and the band cooks.

In less than three years, Ryder and the Wheels cemented their place in rock and soul’s pantheon, taking cues from the soul music emanating from Detroit and adding some gravelly rock and roll to it. It swings, it parties, it’s fun.

And isn’t fun the whole point?

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The ride ended when Ryder went solo on the advice of Bob Crewe (of Four Seasons fame) and saddled him with goopy stuff to sing.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE A: FUN!

Coldplay – X & Y

ARTIST: Coldplay 220px-Coldplay_X&Y.svg

TITLE: X&Y

YEAR RELEASED: 2005

CHART ACTION: #1 US, #1 UK

SINGLES: Speed of Sound (#8 US, #2 UK), Fix You (#59 US, #4 UK), Talk (#86 US, #10 UK), The Hardest Part

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nah

LINEUP: Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman, Will Champion

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A grandiose album that has a lot of boring parts, which makes it seem less of a grandiose statement.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Coldplay was a really big deal by the time they released this record. This was a universal hit everywhere and it seemed most every country had this album at the top of the charts. (Damn Hungary and Japan had it at #13 and #103 (!) respectively.

The sound is big, huge, electronic, layered, and…mopey. A few tracks, despite the huge sound, are lifeless and just sit there. They did a good job in picking the songs for singles that would work on the radio for sure as the deep cuts are the ones that are inert.

The record does reveal more charms on further listens, but the issue still is that it’s dull at times, and Coldplay’s reputation as dull and mopey begins to form now.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This album sold 737,000 copies in its first week of release. Over six times their previous albums first-week sales.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: In Japan, and there was a tour edition too.

GRADE B-: It’s got some good parts and some charm, but man it’s just dull at times.

Stone Temple Pilots – Core

ARTIST: Stone Temple Pilots 220px-Stonetemplepilotscore

TITLE: Core

YEAR RELEASED: 1992

CHART ACTION: #3 US, #27 UK

SINGLES: Sex Type Thing (#23 Mainstream, #55 UK), Dead & Bloated, Crackerman, Plush (#9 Alternative, #1 Mainstream, #23 UK), Creep (#12 Alternative, #2 Mainstream)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Wicked Garden

LINEUP: Scott Weiland, Dean DeLeo, Robert DeLeo, Eric Kretz

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Hard rock (not really grunge, fight me) debut is rather clunky and meatheaded.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The debut record from the Stone Temple Pilots was more hard rock than most 1992 releases – it was more in the vein of a turgid Guns ‘n” Roses – but it really wasn’t grunge in that there wasn’t a lot of punk influence.

Turgid is the name. “Dead and Bloated” was the lead track, and it’s apt. Except for a few select tracks, they live in the mid-tempo sludge with angsty and / or sexist lyrics. “Sex Type Thing” was defended to the hilt as Scott Weiland playing a character, but…it’s too personal and close to home to be an effective character piece.

“Creep”, while a big hit, is the worst offender. It doesn’t GO anywhere. I always flipped it off the radio back in the day, and it hasn’t improved with age.

STP wasn’t really part of the grunge scene, and this album isn’t exciting or subversive at all. Yawn.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They opened for Henry Rollins at their first gig in San Diego.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Demos and live cuts in a huge package.

 GRADE C: The 90’s ‘revolution’ ran aground right as it began when it embraced this record.

The Human League – Reproduction

ARTIST: The Human League 220px-Human-League-Reproduction

TITLE: Reproduction

YEAR RELEASED: 1979

CHART ACTION: #34 UK

SINGLES: Empire State Human (#62)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: They cover You Lost That Loving Feeling

LINEUP: Maryn Ware, Ian Craig Marsh, Philip Oakey.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Electropop synth group releases tentative album featuring their synthy doodling.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After a couple of years of noodling around as The Future, The Human League changed their name, recorded a single and then their first record as a trio. The goal was to expand electronic pop to the charts while remaining experimental.

Sure, Jan.

While “Empire State Human” was kind of successful, the rest of the record seemed lacking in hooks, or excitement, or really any experimentation that wasn’t already out there in the world. The lyrics are also daft and too arty.

Blah in the first degree except for a couple of high notes on a few tracks.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They released a single before this (“Being Boiled / Circus of Death”) and re-recorded the latter for this album.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. The first single, a B-side, and a quite boring instrumental EP.

GRADE C: If you’re into non-poppy electropop, be my guest.

Talking Heads – Remain in Light

ARTIST: Talking Heads 220px-TalkingHeadsRemaininLight

TITLE: Remain in Light

YEAR RELEASED: 1980

CHART ACTION: #19 US, #21 UK

SINGLES: Once in a Lifetime (#103 US, #14 UK), Houses in Motion (#50 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On), Crosseyed and Painless

LINEUP: David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth, Chris Franz, Brian Eno, Nona Hendryx, Adrian Belew, Robert Palmer, session percussion and horns.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Never standing still, Talking Heads move into a groove-based rhythmic sound with plenty of room for experimentation and production tricks.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Crafting the songs from jams, adding crucial elements like Nona Hendryx’ backing vocals and Adrian Belew’s out-there guitar, Talking Heads overcame David Byrne’s writers block and created a forward-thinking album that is still far beyond what many bands have done.

Using African music and rhythm as an inspiration, the Heads dove in to create an outwardly rhythmic and inwardly introspective album. Many songs feature element upon element of sound, yet the rhythm is always forward. There also couldn’t be two different grooves and sounds than “Crosseyed and Painless” and “The Overload” (a homage to Joy Division, even though no one in the band had heard them before), and they exist here on the same record by the same band.

The last part of the album seems to run out of steam, probably thanks to the joyous first part, yet it’s a crucial album in music because of its emphasis and inspiration.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: There were plenty of disputes between Byrne and the band, and Eno and some of the band related to credits and production.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A few outtakes.

GRADE A: Bona-fide classics and lots of grooves to get lost in.

Eminem – The Slim Shady LP

ARTIST: Eminem 220px-Eminem_-_The_Slim_Shady_LP_CD_cover

TITLE: The Slim Shady LP

YEAR RELEASED: 1999

CHART ACTION: #2 US, #10 UK

SINGLES: My Name Is (#36 US, #18 R&B, #37 Alternative, #10 Rap, #2 UK), Role Model (#111 Rap),  Guilty Conscience (#56 R&B, #5 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: 97 Bonnie & Clyde

LINEUP: Eminem, Dr. Dre, Bass Brothers, Mel-Man

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Eminem’s major debut establishes his Slim Shady persona to the masses.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Eminem had released an album and an EP to crickets (or worse) in Detroit, but thanks to participating in a battle in LA, his EP found his way to Interscope records, and to Dr. Dre. The rest…history.

This record is uncompromising, raw, brutal at times, and like nothing in the hip-hop world. Instead of glorifying his lifestyle, Eminem tells another tale – tells it how it is living in trailer park squalor working low wage jobs and just trying to scrape by and exaggerating it at times.

While Slim Shady is a character, inhabiting a cartoony world of outrageousness. There’s definitely some lyrics and themes that haven’t aged well (and didn’t go over well then), and “97 Bonnie & Clyde” is just chilling. But his flow is superb and the beats are on point. Despite the lyrics, it’s a great sounding record – just overly long.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: There were several lawsuits about this album, including his mother and a school bully.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Two bonus editions with different versions and mixes.

 GRADE B+: Just a bit long, and a bit over the top.

AC/DC – Let There Be Rock

ARTIST: AC / DC  220px-ACDC-LetThereBeRock

TITLE: Let There Be Rock

YEAR RELEASED: 1977

CHART ACTION: #154 US, #17 UK

SINGLES: Dog Eat Dog, Let There Be Rock, Whole Lotta Rosie (#68 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Go Down, Problem Child, Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be

LINEUP: Bon Scott, Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Mark Evans, Phil Rudd

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: AC / DC’s best early album gives them a UK fan base.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After Atlantic refused to release Dirty Deeds, AC/DC went back to the studio, determined to give the world an album that no one could resist, without compromise. They succeeded.

From the opening notes “Go Down” to the end of “Whole Lotta Rosie”, the boys cranked out a loud and fierce record that illustrated all of the high points of the band. Bon Scott’s leering vocals are on point, Malcolm and Angus Young burn out riffs and guitar magic, and Phil Rudd’s drums give everyone a unwavering platform. In the midst of the beginnings of punk, the rise of disco, and the decline of glam and prog, AC/DC delivered uncompromising, ugly rock-and-roll. Let_There_Be_Rock

Of the eight tracks, nearly every single one is recognizable as an AC/DC staple. For a band that’s gone on as long as they have, that’s praise indeed.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Soon after the release, Cliff Williams replaced Mark Evans as bassist.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Kinda – Atlantic replaced “Crabsody in Blue” with “Problem Child” from Dirty Deeds. That’s an A+ replacement.

 GRADE A: An essential Bon Scott AC/DC recording. Play loud, of course.