Tag: 1991

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.

Tad – 8 Way Santa

ARTIST: Tad                                   220px-Tad_8_Way_Santa_Alternate

TITLE: 8-Way Santa

YEAR RELEASED: 1991

CHART ACTION: Hell, no.

SINGLES: Jinx, Jack Pepsi

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No, sadly.

LINEUP: Tad Doyle, Kurt Danielson, Gary Thorstensen, Steve Wied

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Tad and Butch Vig unleash holy hell.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Thick, fat riffs. Vocals that will (for the most part) scare your grandmother. Surprisingly complex musicianship underneath the clatter. This may be the grungiest album in all of the Seattle scene. 220px-Tad_8_Way_Santa

Surprisingly, there are a couple of tracks where Tad Doyle actually sings instead of yowls. But that’s neither here nor there. Most every song has a huge riff that carries through the song, and surprisingly hooks enough for you to have the tracks embedded in your brain.

The album kind of winds down into a couple of the quieter tracks., but still with a great guitar tone and melody. Butch Vig does great work letting Tad be Tad. Essential grunge here.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: It was a good thing Sub Pop had the points from the Nirvana album, since Tad was involved in two suits. First, the original cover (of the long-haired guy cupping his ol’ lady’s breast) was a photo the band found at a yard sale, and the couple didn’t appreciate it.

Then, the fantastic track “Jack Pepsi” was a single, but the cover parodied the famous Pepsi logo. Pepsi did the ol’ cease and desist.jackpepsi

Oh, and the title is a reference to a type of LSD blotter.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Demos, b-sides, and outtakes. They all are just as heavy.

GRADE: A+:  This may be another ‘homer’ call, but it encapsulates grunge before it all went strictly commercial.

The Magnetic Fields – Distant Plastic Trees / The Wayward Bus

ARTIST: The Magnetic Fields                                 220px-Distant_Plastic_Trees

TITLE:  The Wayward Bus / Distant Plastic Trees

YEAR RELEASED: 1992 / 1991

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: 100,000 Fireflies

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Gosh no

LINEUP: Stephin Merritt, Susan Anway, Sam Davol, Clauda Gonson, Johny Blood

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First two albums from Stephin Merritt’s long term project (re-released by Merge soon after and combined on one CD) show Merritt’s baroque chops and intriguing style. 220px-The_Wayward_Bus

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: What’s more punk rock than an album on a ‘punk rock’ label that has little or no electric guitars, plenty of ornate orchestration, and intricate melodies and harmonies? When Merge snapped up Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields, they declared that they weren’t just a ‘punk’ label (not that they ever really were) but a ‘great music’ label.

Those coming in late to the Magnetic Fields will notice that Merritt’s doomy baritone isn’t extant here – Susan Anway takes the vocals and complements the songs quite well. Merritt plays almost all of the instruments himself and shows that he’s quite accomplished.

The first album (Distant Plastic Trees) has some songs that aren’t quite up to the caliber, but it also contains the all-timer “100,000 Fireflies” that Superchunk later covered. These two records are charming, beguiling, and totally Magnetic Fields.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: These two records were the only ones Anway sang for Merritt.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No – two records in one though, and the second one are tracks 1-10 (so it’s backwards, as it were).

GRADE: A-:  These albums have their charm and some great, intricate songs.