Tag: 1988

My Bloody Valentine – Isn’t Anything

ARTIST: My Bloody Valentine 

TITLE: Isn’t Anything


CHART ACTION:  #61 UK, #1 UK Indie

SINGLES: Feed Me With Your Kiss (#2 UK Indie), Soft as Snow (But Warm Inside)


LINEUP: Kevin Shields, Billinda Butcher, Colm Ó Cíosóig, Deb Googe

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After a few years of mucking about, My Bloody Valentine signs to Creation and gets carte blanche after their first single for the label was a hit.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Beating the indie bushes, moving from noisy pop to C-86 jangle, My Bloody Valentine were developing their revolutionary sound all the while. Creation signed them and they released “You Made Me Realise”, a landmark of guitar layers, feedback, and hazy production that kickstarted shoegaze.

When it came time for the album, Creation Records said, “more of the weird stuff”. And so, the My Bloody Valentine sound emerged. Taking notes from the Jesus and Mary Chain, and adding even more dissonance, MBV became unique among all shoegaze and UK indie rock.

Basically, it’s distortion, layers and layers of guitar and guitar riffs that are usually bent or used a slide or something out of the ordinary. Meanwhile the vocals had nice melodies, and harmonies, but they were mixed in the back. Sometimes so far back it was hard to hear the words.

The effect was a collage of noise that was noticeable even in the quietest songs. But in tracks like “All I Need”, “Feed Me With Your Kiss”, and “Sueisfine”, the music moves, the noise envelops, and the concept of song is altered.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Unlike later MBV albums, this was recorded in two weeks in Wales.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: They had a noisy instrumental single appended to some US copies and later releases.

 GRADE: A-: Obviously not for everyone. It’s a landmark though in UK indie rock as it kicked off shoegaze and introduced layered guitar noise as an instrument in of itself.

The Feelies – Only Life

ARTIST: The Feelies Feeliesonlylife

TITLE: Only Life



SINGLES: Away (#6 Modern Rock)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: They cover What Goes On by the VU

LINEUP: Glenn Mercer, Bill Million, Stan Demeski, Brenda Sauter, Dave Weckerman

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A major label record, but the Feelies don’t really change up anything. And that’s just peachy.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The band’s biggest influence was the Velvet Underground, and the title track definitely is of a piece of later-period VU with Glenn Mercer’s voice having a definite Lou Reed vibe. They also cover “What Goes On” by Reed and company as the album ender, so the VU is a big part of this album.

Not everything specifically apes the Velvets. Many tracks are back to the gentle jangly strumming plus guitar solo of The Good Earth, with more emphasis on song than on mode. (The guitar solos are the secret weapon – not really distorted but not exactly clean, either). Tracks like “For Awhile” and “The Undertow” show some growth in songcraft, while maintaining their signature sound. They also use secondary percussionist Dave Weckerman to great effect on many tracks.

One thing about the Feelies is that they’re consistent. Their first three albums deliver exactly what the listener expects.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The title track is used as the theme of a podcast by the Harvard Business Review.


 GRADE A-: Solid album that solidified the Feelies’ place in college and alternative rock.

They Might Be Giants – Lincoln

ARTIST: They Might Be Giants TheyMightBeGiants-Lincoln

TITLE: Lincoln



SINGLES: Ana Ng (#11 Alternative), They’ll Need a Crane, Purple Toupee

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Kiss Me Son of God, Santa’s Beard, The World’s Address

LINEUP: John Flansburgh, John Linnell

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A few excellent singles turns more heads and boots them another level in popularity.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: As silly and fun as their songs are, They Might Be Giants understand pop music, hooks, and arrangements. They also understand moods and motifs. This is quite evident as you go through Lincoln, where each song is a stand-alone tribute or pastiche.

That can be risky if you don’t quite hit the marks, and on a few tracks TMBGs are off a bit, but then you have tracks like the singles, the other songs listed above, and weirdness like “Cage & Aquarium” and “Shoehorn with Teeth”. The use of a long conversation in “Snowball in Hell” is also effective. But a few tracks just don’t stand up.

Yet, this is a record you can just put on and enjoy the eclectic silliness.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Most of the weird sounds are from keyboards or drum programs.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a whole whole bunch of stuff in the Australian version.

GRADE A-: If you’re not feeling a certain song – just skip ahead and you’ll find a winner.

Jane’s Addiction – Nothing’s Shocking

ARTIST: Jane’s Addiction 220px-Nothing's_Shocking_(Jane's_Addiction_album_-_cover_art)

TITLE: Nothing’s Shocking



SINGLES: Jane Says (#6 Alternative), Mountain Song, Had a Dad, Ocean Size (#36 Alternative)


LINEUP: Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro, Eric Avery, Stephen Perkins. Flea, Angelo Moore and Christopher Dowd played horns on a track.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Major label debut announces Jane’s Addiction as a force to be reckoned with in the scene.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: At the time, this record was a revelation. An LA band who eschewed glam and hair and posing, and was more concerned with art and statements. The band rocked, with guitarist Dave Navarro creating inventive riffs and solos and bassist Eric Avery melodic anchor. Meanwhile, frontman and lyricist Perry Farrell was spinning unique tales with his intense, high-pitched vocals.

The power of songs like “Ocean Size”, “Mountain Song” and “Had a Dad” almost overwhelm the listener but the band and Farrell pulls back at the right time. Tracks like “Ted, Just Admit It” (about Ted Bundy) may seem pretentious at first but they’re not. Only a couple track seem a bit forced (“Idiots Rule” for one).

“Jane Says”, the big ‘hit’ from the record, was overplayed, and still is, and it’s nowhere near the best song on the record. That’s not a detraction, as there’s so so much depth here.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The seeds of discord were planted here. Farrell wanted sole royalties for the lyrics, and a ¼ share for the music. That caused strife that almost broke up the band before the record was started, and lingered.


 GRADE A: A solid, genre-bending record that set the course for hard rock, alternative rock, and nu-metal in the 90’s, for better or worse.

Throwing Muses – House Tornado

ARTIST: Throwing Muses              220px-HouseTornadoUSA

TITLE: House Tornado



SINGLES: Saving Grace, The River


LINEUP: Kristin Hersh, Tanya Donnelly, Leslie Langston, David Narcizo

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second 4AD release by the band is fuzzy and unfocused, and suffers from ‘songs sound the same’ syndrome..

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After a fairly acclaimed debut (not streaming) and two EPs (also not streaming), the second release by Throwing Muses seems to suffer from several maladies. 220px-HouseTornado

There doesn’t seem to be energy, the songs sound the same, the production is muddy, and the songs don’t have pops or energy. Maybe it’s just me, but I tried and tried but couldn’t get into it. It just seems like it’s there, and doesn’t spur one to keep listening.

Of the entire TM catalog, this may be one to skip.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This was the first record on Sire (it was on 4AD elsewhere).

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: The 4AD version has an EP appended. 

GRADE C: It’s just boring, and alt-rock at that time shouldn’t be boring. The production probably has something to do with this, too. EXILED.

Die Kreuzen – Century Days

ARTIST: Die Kreuzen               220px-Die_Kreuzen_-_Century_Days

TITLE:  Century Days




OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: That’s a negative

LINEUP: Keith Brammer, Brian Egeness, Dan Kubinski, Erik Tunison. Help from Tim Cole and Peter Balistrieri

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Die Kreuzen slows it down. Dan Kubinski doesn’t scream as much. Eh.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Die Kreuzen had good notices and a decent live show, but it seemed never to really get over on a record. On this third full-length, vocal shredder Dan Kubinski slows down and actually sings some songs, and the band reduces the tempo away from being mostly hardfastrules.

Somehow, though, that didn’t improve the proceedings. It seems turgid and bloated at times, and the production from Butch Vig doesn’t do the band any favors (though the band is also credited with co-producing, so he may have just made sure the tape was rolling properly…) By the time “Halloween” comes on to liven up the place a bit, it’s too late.

Whatever the wags were saying, and how good the press WAS in the day, I’m not hearing it. So I’m off the Die Kreuzen train after exiling this.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They released their last record in 1991, but have reunited for shows. Why wouldn’t they?


GRADE: C: I may be missing something, but I’m just not feeling this. They seem to be running in place on this one.

The Jungle Brothers – Straight Out the Jungle

ARTIST: The Jungle Brothers                     Straightoutthejungle

TITLE: Straight Out the Jungle



SINGLES: I’ll House You (#16 Rap, #28 Dance, #22 UK), Jimbrowski, Because I Got Like That (#98 UK), On the Run, Straight Out the Jungle, Black Is Black (#72 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Hip-Hop historians eat this up.

LINEUP: Afrika Baby Bam, Mike Gee, Sammy B. Q-Tip adds some raps.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: One of the first Native Tongues hip-hop records, and it’s full of word play and different styles that were unique to the movement.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Playful samples, unique rhythms, and smart, catchy rhymes – the Jungle Brothers debut was one of the first “Native Tongues” records out there. It holds up today, and is just a great listen from start to finish.

Innovations like using house music as a base, incorporating jazz, dropping in odd found sounds, echoes and other production tricks that helped to accent their clever wordplay and overall atmosphere make this a fun and interesting listen. It’s accessible enough for casual hip-hop fans and may make some converts on the way.

As with most innovators, they didn’t become a big hit but made the way for much bigger hip-hop acts like De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Afrika Bam-Bam’s stage name is a tribute to Afrika Bambaattaa

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A bonus track was added in 1990. 

GRADE: A+:  They’re trailblazers, and this is a great start to explore Native Tongues, and it may make you a hip-hop fan before you know it.

Scrawl – He’s Drunk

ARTIST: Scrawl                  scrawlhesdrunk

TITLE: He’s Drunk




OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I sincerely doubt it, but they cover Rocky Top

LINEUP: Marcy Mays, Sue Harsche, Carolyn O’Leary

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album for the Ohio trio, this time on Rough Trade, ups the key components, but still is a somewhat acquired taste.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The production is better, the songs are better, the playing is better, and they seem to have a little sense of humor (“Let It All Hang Out”). So this is an improvement for Scrawl.

While they toured constantly, their comfort in the studio still isn’t quite there, and that leaves to some tentative harmonies, and a few times where it seems they’re not quite sure of what’s to come next. Even though they were at Paisley Park for the recording, it still was a low budget affair and sometimes shows it.

Scrawl was becoming an important female voice in alternative and punk circles – which was sorely needed in 1988. It’s just not fully evident on record.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Rough Trade was going through some cash problems, and by 1990 this was out of print due to their bankruptcy.


GRADE: B-: A better effort and one that points toward their reputation as the premier female band of the late 80’s.

Rapeman – Two Nuns and a Pack Mule

ARTIST: Rapeman               220px-twonunsandapackmule

TITLE:  Two Nuns and a Pack Mule



SINGLES: Hatee Chinee

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: They cover ZZ Top’s Just Got Paid

LINEUP: Steve Albini, David Wm. Sims, Rey Washam

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT:  Post Big Black Albini noise patrol uses Scratch Acid’s rhythm section for good (or evil).

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After Steve Albini shut down Big Black, he focused more on his production work, but still had the itch to record and play. Thus, this band was formed with two former members of Scratch Acid.

This full-length LP shows the promise of the group, and also its limitations. Albini uses many of the same sounds and similar subject matter to Big Black, but with a real drummer instead of a machine, and just one guitarist, it’s sonically different. The noise at times overpowers the songs, and the shock of Albini’s characters also may overwhelm some listeners. buddeprapeman-jpeg

Sims’ bass goes into overdrive and works well with Washam. When this group gets going, they play well together despite the limitations of some of the material. All in all, this was just a stop-gap for everyone.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The title of the group comes from a Japanese comic book character that was produced for about five years.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: It’s released with the EP Budd, which only the title track is worthwhile.

GRADE: B: Some good Albini sounds and rage, but it’s sometimes too clattery for its own good.

The Lemonheads – Creator

ARTIST: The Lemonheads                              lemonheads-creator-cover

TITLE:  Creator





LINEUP: Ben Deily, Evan Dando, Jesse Peretz, John Strohm

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT:  More pop, less punk from the Boston group which was splintering as they recorded it.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This is Ben Deily’s record, he wrote eight of the original 13 tracks. Evan Dando only contributed three, and sang the two covers (Kiss’ “Plaster Caster” and a Charlie Manson tune – yep, they did “Your Home Is Where You’re Happy).

It takes a little bit to hear a Lemonheads record where Dando’s lazy voice isn’t out front, replaced by Deily’s tight gruff growl, but Deily’s songs, while punky in genesis, are definitely poppier than their earlier work. There’s still some punky elements, like Dando’s “Clang Bang Clang”, but there’s more of a sense of melody here. The production doesn’t do them any justice, though – some cuts seem muddy and have an odd mix.

Featuring John Strohm of the Blake Babies on drums (!), Creator was going to be their last record until a tour of Europe beckoned. In reality, they would have been a footnote at most had they split up after this album.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Deily and Dando sang on the songs they wrote, and didn’t sound like they collaborated much on each other’s songs.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Two bonus tracks from a later tour of the Netherlands featuring songs from their next album. So why are they on here?

GRADE: B-: I like it better than I used to, but it’s kind of a record for fans only.