Tag: 1991

The Jesus Lizard – Goat

ARTIST: The Jesus Lizard 

TITLE: Goat

YEAR RELEASED: 1991

CHART ACTION:  None

SINGLES: Mouthbreather

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Then Comes Dudley, Nub

LINEUP: David Dow, Duane Denison, David Wm Sims, Mac McNeilly

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Texans transplanted to Chicago collaborate with Steve Albini on a loud and noisy magnum opus.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Careening out of the gate with the menacing “Then Comes Dudley” (whatever that’s about), the intricate “Mouthbreather” (about a friend of Albini’s who housesit), and the slide guitar opus “Nub” (about someone who lost an appendage while hanging out of the window of a car), Jesus Lizard’s second album is frenetic, loud, dark and brilliant.

Those three songs start the commotion, as it were. And it just goes from there: songs about prison love, a take on the Aristocrats, being locked up, and whatever the hell “Monkey Trick” is about (David Yow doesn’t know and he wrote the lyrics).

This album’s not for everyone. It’s not for many people, really. But If you can unlock it, you’ll dig it. Crank it!

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The house-sitting friend from “Mouthbreather” was Brett Walford, the drummer for Slint and the original drummer for the Breeders.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with B-sides and live cuts.

 GRADE: A: A tremendous record from 1991, showing that not all great alternative records were grungy.

My Bloody Valentine – Gilder / Tremolo

ARTIST: My Bloody Valentine

TITLE: Gilder / Tremolo

YEAR RELEASED: 1990; 1991

CHART ACTION:  Glider : #2 UK, Tremolo: #1 UK

SINGLES: Soon (#41 UK), To Here Knows When (#29 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No

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

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Two Eps released between albums that prepped the sound that My Bloody Valentine was going to unleash on the world, and introduced Kevin Shields’ unique tremolo guitar technique.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Glider and Tremolo were apt names for these two Eps (yeah, breaking the rules a bit but they fit together nicely). During the tour and after their first album, Kevin Shields had fully developed his tremolo-guitar technique, where he plays chords while manipulating his tremolo bar, and has a lot of vibrato in his guitar effect as well. The result is, as some put it, a ‘glide’.

The effect is quite noticeable on the track “Glider” where it does sound like the record is warped. The tracks really dig into the tremolo effect, and mostly punt the vocals back to where they’re a melodic hint in the back of the mix, while the guitars move back and forth between channels, and in your ears. “To Here Knows When” made the Top 30 in the UK without any semblance of a traditional song structure, just guitar noise in front of ethereal vocals by Billinda Butcher.They also experimented with drones and raga sounds as well.

These Eps were an agreed to stopgap by the band and Creation Records as it was taking forever to record their next album. It whetted everyone’s appetite and launched even more shoegaze acts in the UK. 

NOTES & MINUTIAE: At this time Shields became immersed in the sound and production of the band. Tremolo was supposed to be seven songs, but three instrumentals were added as codas to the tracks so it fit in the definition of a 12” single or EP

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: There were stand alone singles as well as these Eps, and “Soon” and “Glider” were re-mixed for a 12” version.

 GRADE: B+: A couple cuts don’t quite make the grade but these are important Eps in MBV’s development.

Green Day – Kerplunk!

ARTIST: Green Day 220px-Green_Day_-_Kerplunk_cover

TITLE: Kerplunk!

YEAR RELEASED: 1991

CHART ACTION:  None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: They re-recorded Welcome to Paradise for their major label debut.

LINEUP: Billy Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, Tre Cool. Johnathan Kiffmeyer played on the EP that was appended as a bonus.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Dookie before Dookie.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: From the first notes of “2000 Light Years Away”, and on through the record (except for one jokey cut), the last indie record for Green Day sounds almost exactly like their major label debut, especially in sound and songs. The mixture of power pop and punk is pretty much complete here.

In fact, the punkier and faster recording of “Welcome to Paradise” on this album (the only song that crossed over) may be better than the more sweet and polished version on Dookie. New drummer Tre Cool is an added bonus, as he’s a solid and imaginative drummer.

This record is punkier than what will follow, and poppier than their previous records. Had just a few tracks been better songs (and / or that joke cut left for box sets or B-sides), it probably could have been the best record of their career. As it is, it’s pretty damn good.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This sold 10,000 copies on the first day of release, and 50,000 within a few months. That’ll get the majors talking.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, their Sweet Children EP (named after the first incarnation of the band) that had their previous drummer playing on it.

GRADE A-: Power pop punk hit the sweet spot.

Massive Attack – Blue Lines

ARTIST: Massive Attack 220px-MassiveAttackBlueLines

TITLE: Blue Lines

YEAR RELEASED: 1991

CHART ACTION:  #13 UK

SINGLES: Daydreaming (#81 UK), Unfinished Symphony (#13 UK), Safe from Harm (#35 Dance, #25 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: They covered Be Thankful for What You Got

LINEUP: Robert Del Naja, Grantley Marshall, Andrew Vowles. Shara Nelson, Tricky, Horace Andy, Neneh Cherry, Claude Williams, and Mikey Taylor contributed vocals.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Bristol (UK) DJs form a collective, and happen to ‘invent’ trip-hop after they finally got to the studio.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Breaking out of the ‘sound system’ culture (that also produced Soul II Soul), Massive Attack emerged from the Wild Bunch, and after some prodding got to the studio to record this album. Oh, and they rather much came up with a new genre when it came out.

“Trip Hop” is a mash up of hip-hop, soul and funk, samples, electronica and dub, and is more for chilling out and vibing to than dancing. The vocalists they use, like Shara Nelson and rapper Tricky, add excellent coloring to the tracks. This record is one you just put on and let flow over your mind and body.

The only issue is a nice, but un-revelatory cover of William DeVaughn’s classic “Be Thankful for What You Got”. It doesn’t seem to propel the album forward, as the other tracks around it do. That’s kind of a minor quibble.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They recorded some of this at Neneh Cherry’s house.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE A: With just one small stumble, this is not only a seminal record but tremendous to boot.

Ned’s Atomic Dustbin – God Fodder

ARTIST: Ned’s Atomic Dustbin 220px-Ned's_Atomic_Dustbin-God_Fodder

TITLE: God Fodder

YEAR RELEASED: 1991

CHART ACTION: #91 US, #4 UK

SINGLES: Kill Your Television (#53 UK), Until You Find Out (#51 UK), Happy (#11 Modern, #16 UK), Trust (#21 UK), Grey Cell Green (#24 Modern)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Less Than Useful, Selfish

LINEUP: John Penney, Gareth ‘Rat’ Pring, Alex Griffin, Matt Cheslin, Dan Worton

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: UK band with two bassists take the late 80’s shoegaze and post punk sound and make it more melodic and driving,

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After touring with the Wonder Stuff, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin recorded a couple of singles that turned heads at Sony, and in 1991, their debut record was released in the UK (and then in the US). It made them stars in the UK, and somewhat popular among the alternative crowd over here, and for good reason.

The two bassists add a texture that the UK sound at that time didn’t have – as one bassist played harmonies working with the shoegazey-style guitar and the other was a traditional bass attack along with the drums. They utilized tempo changes, hooky melodies, and pedal effects to create a unique sound that did fit in with the times.

For the most part, the songs are diverse and inviting, but a few tracks sound same-same and that kind of drags it down a little. However, this is a fine debut and brings one back to 1991, in the midst of grunge and shoegaze and on the cusp of Brit pop.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Their independent record company released the first two singles and other tracks on an EP that the band didn’t authorize.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE A-: At the time, it was a refreshing sound and interesting instrumentation. It still sounds decently fresh today thanks to the music’s unique qualities.

Blur – Leisure

ARTIST: Blur                                      220px-LeisureUK

TITLE: Leisure

YEAR RELEASED: 1991

CHART ACTION: #7 UK

SINGLES: She’s So High (#48 UK), There’s No Other Way (#82 US, #5 Alternative, #8 UK), Bang (#24 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Sing

LINEUP: Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James, Dave Rowntree

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A dour shoegaze album which didn’t win a lot of hearts and minds outside the singles.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Bands don’t always start off well. Blur is a great example of that.

Despite charting well and having a couple of hit singles, most of the record was turgid and boring. Yeah, Blur was boring – and they really sounded like any other shoegaze band except for a few moments of inspiration, and sometimes a boring track would have a minute where it seemed OK but then went right back to minor-chord turgidness. When they did wake up, they sounded like the Stone Roses’ little brothers.

This is about the last thing you need from Blur if you’re in an exploratory mode. Yeah, a few songs are OK but as the record goes on, you want to escape the minor key mud.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Sing” was on the Trainspotting soundtrack.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Some different running orders in the US and Japan.

 GRADE C: They got a hit, but they knew they needed a re-think.

Kyuss – Wretch

ARTIST: Kyuss                   220px-Kyuss_Wretch

TITLE: Wretch

YEAR RELEASED: 1991

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Well, Josh Homme fans MAYBE

LINEUP: John Garcia, Josh Homme, Brant Bjork, Nick Oliveri. Chris Cockrell played bass on two cuts.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut album from stoner desert metal band has a few good riffs but a flat production.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There’s some decent riffs here and there in this debut album from Kyuss. Coming out of the desert in California, the band was tight and had some power behind them, but a flat production did them in.

John Garcia’s vocals are distinctive and rise above the stoner sludge put down by Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri. Some of the tempos are faster than the normal stoner rock drones, yet the faster ones aren’t as effective as the down tempo ones. The drop tuning guitars sound better slower.

Better things would be in store for Kyuss, but this is a completist record for fans only.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Originally, the band was called Katzenjammer, then Sons of Kyuss.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: C+: Eh.

Mudhoney – Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge

ARTIST: Mudhoney                        220px-Mudhoney_Every_Good_Boy_Deserves_Fudge

TITLE: Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge

YEAR RELEASED: 1991

CHART ACTION: #34 UK

SINGLES: Let It Slide (#60 UK),

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not unless you were a grunge head.

LINEUP: Mark Arm, Steve Turner, Matt Lukin, Dan Peters.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Perhaps Mudhoney’s finest album moment, when they wrote the most consistently without diverting into slovenly noisy weirdness.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Of any of the Sub Pop bands from the era, the word ‘grunge’ fits best with Mudhoney’s guitar sound in the early days, especially on “Let It Slide” from this album.

Here, Mudhoney focused on the album as a whole and wrote several tracks that are among the best of the era, with a track like “Into the Drink” featuring a great riff, the right attitude, and enough hooks to keep it in your mind.

Mark Arm’s vocals aren’t all just shouting here (he almost croons on “Good Enough”), and while there’s still some too-long meditations, overall it’s a punchy record that stands up even now.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: EGBDF – the treble clef mnemonic – actually is “Every Good Boy Deserves Favour”, but I like fudge better.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: A-: Probably the most consistent Mudhoney album, and one of the better grunge albums on Sub Pop.

I Love You – I Love You

ARTIST: I Love You                            R-1746023-1323621424.jpeg

TITLE: I Love You

YEAR RELEASED: 1991

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Hang Straight Up

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: None

LINEUP: Jeff Nolan, Chris Palmer, Tom Sweet, Mike Kossler

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Psychedelic tinged rock band’s debut sounds great, but is a victim of wrong time / wrong place.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: With some heavy duty guitar riffs, a varied arsenal of songs that add psychedelic touches and interesting changes, and a decent amount of hooks, there should have been no stopping I Love You’s debut from climbing the charts.

Except the time, and place (and the fact the name of the band probably wasn’t such a wise idea…)

Their sound wasn’t grunge, punk, or hair metal – mostly straight rock-and-roll that would have fit in ten years before or after. Even with a killer single “Hang Straight Up” which got them on some TV shows and MTV, the record didn’t sell and now…good luck googling it.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They evolved out a band called the Sinful Pigeons.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-: A good-to-great rock record that’s kind of lost to time. Not streaming, either.

Spin Doctors – Pocket Full of Kryptonite

ARTIST: Spin Doctors              220px-Spindocs_pocket_kryptonite

TITLE: Pocket Full of Kryptonite

YEAR RELEASED: 1991

CHART ACTION: #3 US, #2 UK

SINGLES: Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong (#17 US, #2 Mainstream, #23 UK), Two Princes (#7 US, #2 Mainstream, #3 UK), Jimmy Olsen’s Blues (#78, #8 Mainstream, #40 UK), What Time Is It (#26 Mainstream, #56 UK), How Could You Want Him (#102, #28 Mainstream)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: A lot of people bought this, but I doubt if many of those could recognize the filler

LINEUP: Chris Barron, Eric Schenkman, Mark White, Aaron Comess. John Popper makes an appearance.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Benign jam band hits it big, and backlash ensues almost immediately.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Spin Doctors were definitely a jam band – live they could noodle on and on and on, but some of their material worked as shorter rock /pop songs (sort of a jam band lite). Some of their material doesn’t work so much in this milieu, though, as they’re mainly sketches of songs meant for jamming over.

The personality of the group comes from lead singer Chris Barron, a happy sounding pothead, though bassist Mark White adds some elements of funk and soul to the mostly generic jam band riffs and solos.

Several songs start with similar riffs or drum lines, so much that it takes a little bit to recognize the actual song, which probably added to the burnout factor of casual fans. If this album had been a modest seller and not take over MTV, it may be remembered more fondly.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They had released a live album before this. It’s not streaming but many of the tracks wound up on their next live album anyway.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, several editions (Europe, anniversary, etc).

GRADE: B-: It (and they) have a bad rap, but the album’s just OK with just a few standouts, and a lot of same-same or song skeletons.