Our “Top 100 Big Tunes of the 90’s” continues this week right up until Jan 6. As we have shown so far we’ve compiled a pretty amazing list of songs but you can imagine how many great ones didn’t make the cut. So I’m still using Matt Tracks to cheat a little bit by offering tunes that didn’t quite make it but are still songs from the 90’s you should hear….in my little old opinion.
Helmet formed in the late 80’s and even though their commercial success peaked when they collaborated with House of Pain on the “Judgment Night” soundtrack around ’93, they left a large rock and roll imprint on bands like System of a Down, and Nine Inch Nails. Listen to Helmet!
In our ongoing list of the “Top 100 Big Tunes of the 90’s” I talk a little bit about the Madchester music scene which described a group of bands who were emerging from the Manchester music scene eventually laying the groundwork for bands like The Verve and Oasis. One of those early influential bands was The Stone Roses who had early success but went away pretty quickly for a variety of reasons; some blame it on their indifference towards media and promotion others say it was because of the 5 year gap between albums….I’m sure it all played a role. Whatever the case they were a very important piece of the music that came after them and made a lot of people happy last year announcing a 2012 reunion.
I’ve talked about Jeff Buckley many times before but you can never get enough of his music and voice. He died at the young age of 30 and is perhaps best remembered for his cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, but before his death (and based on his own music) he was being called the next Dylan or the next Springsteen. I understand that they are just words and just someone’s opinions but I think it gives a tiny glimpse into how revered he was after just one album…… and what might have been.
Let’s talk some Paisley Underground. This was the label given to a group of artists in the mid 80’s who were making music in Los Angeles mixing elements of psychedelic music, folk rock, and rock with an emphasis on vocal harmonies that channeled bands like The Byrds and The Beach Boys meets The Velvet Underground. The Bangles were actually the most notable band to emerge from that scene but one of the most interesting was Mazzy Star best know for this tune and who has very recently released their first single in 15 years.
The 1989 Jungle Brothers album “Done by the Forces of Nature” really hasn’t really gotten the credit it deserves. Some call it one of the most influential hip hop albums of all time while others have never heard of it… or the group. The Jungle Brothers were making a style of hip hop that fused elements of jazz long before the mainstream success of De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest or Digable Planets, and not for nuttin’ this was one of the first hip hop albums I ever owned!!
Moneygrabber – Fitz and the Tantrums (2010)
Fitz and the Tantrums released their first EP in 2009 and were quickly snapped up by the California based independent record label Dangerbird Records, home to The Dears, Hot Hot Heat and The Silversun Pickups. Things have been moving pretty fast for this band who literally in two years have gone from practicing in their living room to jamming Live From Daryl’s House (the priceless and usually f**king brilliant monthly webcast Daryl Hall of Hall and Oates fame does with his favorite bands), AND they have already passed perhaps one of the toughest initiations a band could face early in their career; surviving a tour with Flogging Molly. Here’s the thing. Flogging Molly is an Irish punk band from LA who come form the same school as The Pogues and The Dropkick Murphy’s. An intense scene at live shows that consists of A LOT of people who want to get shit faced and party like it’s St Patrick’s day at CBGB’s in 1978.
Fitz and the Tantrums are a funk and soul band. To escape from that tour without stitches or a musical STD, and from what I can find with only positive reviews, I have to assume that this band can more than hold their own. I am waiting for their next trip to Canada to see what they’ve got for myself ,but I’m already digging the music. Check out the track Moneygrabber.
Angel Dance – Robert Plant, Band of Joy (2010)
At the risk of sending bad vibes into the universe that might hinder the ability of the musical Gods to make this happen, Led Zeppelin are probably not going to reunite and we have to deal with it. Besides, even IF Robert Plant decided to give in, it is still without the greatest rock drummer ever, John Bonham. Yes, I understand the closest thing possible would be for his son Jason to fill, and yes, I understand that is what they did for the one off gig in 2007, and yes, I understand that is the only way for the reunion to happen. But it wouldn’t be the same, not without John Bonham.
What we need to start doing is appreciate the music Robert Plant continues to make while he is on some kind of personal journey exploring the roots of his own musical history; the album he made with Allison Krauss called Raising Sand is a perfect album and perhaps helped bring the art of great songwriting back and closer to the mainstream when it ruled the Grammy’s back in 2009 (which hopefully is a step in the right direction to remind young aspiring musicians that auto tune and a drive-thru window song written by 8 other people is no the ONLY way to make music). He has been nominated for another two Grammy awards this year for his latest musical adventure, which is the revived Band of Joy, the band which he and John Bonham were in together pre-Led Zeppelin. The track to get you started is actually a Los Lobos cover called Angel Dance, by Robert Plant and his Band of Joy.
Dance Little Sister – Terence Trent D’Arby (1988)
Sananda Maitreya is the new name of Terence Trent D’Arby, who said that the name change was officially recognized by the state in 2001, but officially recognized by his spirit in 1995. His story is one of those that proves no matter how talented you are, if you don’t please the gatekeepers of the industry, your star can fade pretty quickly. After the massive 1987 success he had with the album “Introducing the Hardline according to Terence Trent D’arby” Rolling Stone Published a list calling Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles the BEST album since 1967. Terence felt like telling the press his album was better than that one, and he started to leave a bad taste in the mouth of some media. That bad taste trickled down to his record company, who had to put out any fires he was starting. Then, for his next album when he wanted to focus on making music that pleased his need to be an artist, his label wasn’t supportive. Neither were the critics and he gradually disappeared from the spotlight. It’s the chicken and the egg question: was it that there were actually no hits on the album or did he rub too many people the wrong way, which caused him to get less of the support that could have turned the singles into hits? Who knows? What I do know is that he was and is a rare talent, and not many people can sing like Terence…I mean, Sananda.
Grace - Jeff Buckley (1994)
In 1989 a new coffee shop in NYC’s East Village called Sin-e turned into a pretty trendy place for the arts community. It also contained a kind of living tribute to a musician by the name of Tim Buckley, who was one of those artist that other artists loved, but his lack of commercial success kept him relatively unknown. He was only 28 years old when he died in 1075, but left nine albums, and a reputation that made him a sort of underground legend (Patti Smith calls him her favorite songwriter).
Fast forward 14 years later and people were starting to take notice of Tim’s son’s unbelievable resemblance, both visually and musically, and the legend of Jeff Buckley began to grow. At one point there was a line of limousines parked out front of Sin-e because of all the musicians and record label executives showing up to check out Tim Buckley’s, kid who served coffee there, until he jumped on stage to perform. In the early days of his career people would say “Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and now Jeff Buckley”, but in 1997, after just one album, Jeff drown in Tennessee. He outlived his father by only two years, drying at the age of 30. Now Jeff’s own legend continues to get bigger and bigger, and his only full studio album is one that should be part of your collection. Try the title track Grace.
Flavor of the Month - Black Sheep (1991)
In the late 80’s/early 90’s there was a music collective known as Native Tongues, which was taking a different approach to what, up to that point, Hip Hop sounded like. The collective included De La Soul, The Jungle Brothers and a Tribe Called Quest, who were bringing a more laid back style with positive lyrics, infusing jazz vibed beats and also kicking open the doors of experimenting more freely with the choice of songs to sample. It wasn’t a rare thing to see all of these artists performing on each other’s albums or touring together. It actually almost became an exclusive thing. Another early group that came from the Native Tongues school and is usually associated with that scene and made what is considered one of the most underrated hip hop albums of all time is Black Sheep.
The album you should own: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
The track: Flavor of the Month