Wednesday, March 30, 2016

REACT TO: Sound Opinions + Velocities in Music 1991 (+Retro Favorites)

Sound Opinions Podcast Show 538 about 1991

Velocities in Music Podcast Link

So I started this entry with the intent of just reacting to these 2 podcasts analysis and praise of Grunge and the new music coming out/buzzing in 1991. Which of course it now being 2016, it has been 25 years, for what that is worth.

I guess I can say a few things about grunge and that period of time.

I was never all that into it, save for a few songs and albums I suppose, especially at-that-time when it was happening. In 1991 I was amidst the process of getting into Classic Rock. Led Zeppelin, Boston, Derek and the Dominoes/Eric Clapton Journey, Jimi Hendrix and a lot of others. Crosby, Stills Nash and Young, Steve Miller Band. And of course after Zeppelin, Rush (and Pink Floyd, although I became much more into them a couple of years later).

And while I did love that stuff I was being introduced to, all those bands were older. I couldn't help but worry or yearn for there to be a band who was new, modern, etc that I was into; even close to my age.

But the modern music I was hearing was grunge and the "college" (or "alternative," alternative to what?) rock. I basically felt it wasn't doing that much for me, especially compared to the Classic Rock I heard on KQRS for example.

It really was not until discovering Dream Theater 4 years later (although I heard "Pull Me Under" just the next year or 2 I recall), that I finally found a new, younger, modern band who I latched on to. And I guess I always saw Dream Theater as the band to combat all the grunge and alternative (college) rock bands being shoved down mine and everyone else's ears.

But I guess the guys in Velocities in Music made a good point about what Grunge and the music from 1991 and that period did to influence so many bands later. Some good, some not so good. But I suppose what I call and love in being the "college prog" stuff of the 2000's and 2010's likely owe something to the grunge bands to an extent (although they also owe a lot more to the classic rock and progressive rock bands of the 70's especially, still).

So what I decided to do in-reaction to these podcasts and thinking about 1991, is to revisit the Retro Favorite Albums from 1991 just to look at the albums I consider the best or at least good from 1991 below. And I'll admit, I did include some of the grunge and alternative (college) rock bands in that some of their music I do like, especially more now, than back then.

As far the Retro Favorite Albums, I would like to do more of these again, eventually trying to post an entry from every Calendar year. But not doing them in chronological order. And while I didn't exactly do what I meant, I can foresee including albums in there, but maybe based on reputation or just knowing-of but not knowing a ton about it. A blurb may just include the simple," it's an album I don't know but know belongs here" (which also may suggest changing the name from Retro Favorite Albums, to something like "Favorites and Recognizable/Respectable/Vaguely Aquainted Albums from [insert year]")

And lastly, I will reiterate (not in this entry necessarily, but in general) that bands like Galactic Cowboys and especially King's X were a LOT BETTER in my mind than the assortment of bands that got all the fame, credit, etc. Of course King's X predated ALL OF THEM, including that band Mudhoney who years ago I got in some silly debate about who was the 1st grunge band, etc. While King's X may have not been the 1st grunge band, invented grunge per say, nor actually were/are an actual *grunge* band who had the *grunge* sound overall. The fact is they were around before all of them technically since their formation dates back to the early 1980's if memory serves. And maybe more importantly, they were cited multiple times from the likes of Alice in Chains and Soundgarden especially as being a big influence. Pearl Jam? I'm not sure, but likely as well. Maybe the biggest thing in their influence was their use of the Drop-D tuning. And of course they never really found even a fraction of the audience those bands did, despite their even playing at Woodstock in 1994 and live on MTV in front of hundreds of thousands of people.

And with Galactic Cowboys, they should have been signed to Geffen records, likely instead of Nirvana, except for 1 big issue being Geffen liked the name "Nirvana" more and felt it was more marketable. And as I've also posted-as-a-paraphrase previously Cobain was quoted as saying "I don't know why they chose us instead of that band Galactic Cowboys, after all, they can actually sing."

edit: Galactic Cowboys were actually signed to Geffen, but NOT PROMOTED like Nirvana. The context of that citation, is either abridged from where I read/heard about it, or the account of that showcase was not fully accurate. But the lack of visibility and interest in them historically with those 1st 2 albums, speaks for itself. And they were at the same showcase or whatever it was, as Nirvana was.

And of course with both of these podcasts, they failed to mention Galactic Cowboys and King's X, which tells me even with history, they are still being ignored, lol. Maybe that won't always be the case.

I will say I was glad that Jane's Addiction was mentioned, as I am a fan, but at the same time I don't consider them Grunge nor even part of that scene really. They were as much an art rock band, than even "alternative" and "college rock." Three Days = prog more or less. At the same time The Smashing Pumpkins, I would associate with that scene, but per a user on YouTube, I guess Corgan never considered them Grunge really either. But they came around at the same exact time and shared some similarities. Although maybe a lot of differences (and Billy Corgan's love of Rush?).

Sting - The Soul Cages
rel January 22, 1991

I know this album more for reputation, than the actual music. "All This Time" I guess is 1 hit off it, and I know.

But given this is Sting, it's a Concept album, and still relatively early in his solo career, it's an album I would go with among the better records of 1991.

Queen Innuendo.png
Queen - Innuendo
rel February 4, 1991

"I'm Going Slightly Mad" "Delilah" and "The Show Must Go On" I probably think of this album for the most. It is of course the final Queen album before Freddie Mercury's death, and in many people's minds, the last real Queen album.

I don't know it incredibly well, but I do own it on vinyl and based on reputation and my memory, it definitely belongs as a relevant album from 1991.

Saigon Kick - Saigon Kick
rel February 12, 1991

Saigon Kick's debut album, which I own and enjoy. I haven't listened to it in a long time though. And while it's not my favorite Saigon Kick record, I remember enjoying it like more or less all of their albums.

I guess they were doing sort of a melodic and even slightly progressive version of Hair Metal. A little like Extreme I suppose. The vocal harmonies were always a standout part of their sound, and this album includes a lot of them.

"What to Say" maybe my favorite or most memorable track on this, but another case of the whole album is worth listening to per the consistency track-2-track.

R.E.M. - Out of Time.jpg
R.E.M. - Out of Time
rel March 12, 1991

"Losing My Religion" and "Shiny Happy People" are the hits, and I'll fully admit, they are both good tunes. LMR is maybe their most well known song, and it probably led this album to being R.E.M.'s most popular (at least one of them).

And I know this album is 1 of many of the staple college rock albums, among some of the other R.E.M. albums that preceded it.

And I'm not a huge R.E.M. fan, but unlike Nirvana, Radiohead, Oasis and many other hipster darling bands, I actually like some of R.E.M.'s music and think it holds up. Are there better bands? sure, but if looking back on 1991 and talking about the music from that year, I have less issue with this album being included than some of the other grunge and college rock stuff (My Bloody Valentine for example).

 photo The Tea Party - The Tea Party album cover_zpsjrbg73ta.jpg
The Tea Party - The Tea Party
rel June 1, 1991

The S/T debut album from The Tea Party. I know I downloaded it and especially when I went on a big TTP binge in the early-mid 2000's, I did check this out. But my memory is spotty. How much it differs from the follow up Splendor Solis and the heavy Led Zeppelin influence/style. With the Jim Morrison type of vocals.

Edit: okay, well some of the songs on it I imagine were re-recorded for Splendor Solis as "Midsummer Day" and "Save Me" for example were on this and that follow up.

So in a way this is a bit like what Fair to Midland and Mew did, as a demo or a self-released, lower fidelity album that the material was strong enough to re-record.

Still, I'd take this over most any of the grunge and college rock from 1991 as well.

Bogus Journey Soundtrack.PNG
Various Artists - Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey Soundtrack
rel June 9, 1991

This soundtrack features 2 stellar tracks, 1 being "Junior's Gone Wild" from King's X and the other "The Perfect Crime" by Faith No More.

Both of those songs were written during eras of those bands (1990-1991) I really love, and they are up there with some of their best songs from that period.

The rest of this soundtrack I guess I enjoy from a nostalgia and humor standpoint. There's at least 1 sound clip from the movie during the Megadeth tune "Go to Hell" that had me laughing so hard I was in tears. I generally find Mustaine's vocals incredibly cheesy and humorous anyway.  It was either that and/or the Vai track "The Reaper Rap."

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones - Flight of the Cosmic Hippo
rel June 11, 1991

As much as Bela Fleck and the Flecktones are known for being a live band, this is I know by some, their most liked studio record.

It features a few covers, including the Star Spangled Banner and "Michelle" by The Beatles, in the Bluegrass-fusion that is the Flecktones.

And the 7-minute "Jekyll and Hyde (And Ted and Alice)."

I suppose it was a launching pad record for their distinct style of instrumental banjo-led jazz-fusion.

Van Halen - For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.jpg
Van Halen - For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
rel June 18, 1991

I think this was the 1st Van Hagar record I ever heard. And of course many know it best for the hit "Right Now" which I do like, and might regard as the best track on this album.

"In n Out" i always think of when I need to take a quick shower, lol.

"Poundcake," "Top of the World" "Man on a Mission"  also are quite memorable, even if the sound on it overall is kind of samey. I ultimately would put it below some of the other Van Hagar records, but I do enjoy Van Hagar nearly as much as the Roth stuff (which I know many do not), so I still enjoy this album.

Marillion - Holidays in Eden
rel June 24, 1991

For quite awhile, early in the time I became a fan of Marillion, I saw this album at the bottom of their catalog. But over time I came to appreciate it more.

The progressive stuff especially are among my favorite Marillion songs in their whole catalog. "This Town/The Rakes Progress/100 Nights" especially I came to adore.

When you list all the qualities that you despise 
And you realise 
You're describing yourself 

And breaking someone up inside 
Is your only source of pride

"She spent your money, she spent your money!"

It's such a wonderful, narrative suite. I love the outro when the "This Town" chorus is echoed in such a dreamy way.

The other track I totally love on this album is "The Party" Great dynamics and emotion on that one. Hogarth's vocal lines are some of his best.

The rest of Holidays in Eden I came to accept. Songs like "Dry Land" "Splintering Heart" and even the almost blatant attempt at radio with "No One Can" and "Cover My Eyes (Tears in Heaven)." Not their best or catchiest, but they work on this album.

Even the cover of Rare Bird's "Sympathy" I've always loved, which was included on the Six of One, Half a Dozen of a Another compilation I picked up when I 1st got into them, and also on the remastered/double cd from 1998.

The only track I suppose I'm a bit thrown off by is the title track ironically. Why? I'm not sure. Rothery's guitar and the vocal melody is a bit odd.

Not necessarily a favorite record from 1991 but certainly a lot better than any of the college rock stuff and grunge from that year, and likely a record I'd include in my top 10 if not top 5 at least. But they are my favorite band bias included.

Crimson Glory-Strange and Beautiful.jpg
Crimson Glory - The Strange and the Beautiful
rel June 24, 1991

I got into Crimson Glory around the same time I got into Fates Warning and Queensryche. And I really enjoyed their 2nd album Transcendence. This album? I remember finding a bit more odd and crazy. Now that was 20 years ago approximately, and I didn't go back to it much. But I could imagine liking it more now.

I wonder if some of it may remind me a little of Watchtower even, as it may be more technical than the other CG albums. Although I may also be thinking of the album after it Astronomica which I also checked out at some point, and maybe found even more unusual for CG's sound.

And it was I think the last record Midnight sang on with CG.

Mr.Bungle - Mr.Bungle
rel August 13, 1991

The Mr.Bungle debut album. I know it mostly for the song "Egg."


Galactic Cowboys debut album cover.jpg
Galactic Cowboys - Galactic Cowboys
rel August 20, 1991

The Galactic Cowboys debut album, an album I love, and probably consider their 2nd best just behind the classic follow-up Space in Your Face.

"I'm Not Amused" "Sea of Tranquility" "My School" "Kaptain Krude" (King Crimson nod?) "Someone for Everyone" "Speak to Me"..there really ain't a bad track on this album. And the energy. riffs, emotion, dynamics, vocal harmonies are all there.

I mean it certainly is a bit more raw sounding than their follow-up, but the songwriting is wonderful. They still had the Beatles-meets-Metallica thing on this and made it work, as weird as that sounds.

Definitely among my favorite albums from 1991, and it's light years more interesting than Nevermind, which had Geffen records decided to go with them instead of Nirvana, a lot more people likely would have found that out. And who knows, the whole Grunge thing might not have happened, or at least not how it did.

Pearl Jam - Ten
rel August 27, 1991

This is the only Pearl Jam record I really like. Although I suppose I can claim to enjoy some of the follow-up Vs. And as much as I don't care for much grunge, this is 1 of the only exceptions.

"Jeremy" and "Black" I would include as favorites. The other 2 radio songs played everywhere around the time, or really in 1992 and 1993 "Alive" and "Even Flow" are acceptable and I don't hate.

The rest of this album I enjoy, but can't really claim to remember highly.

Rush roll the bones.jpg
Rush - Roll the Bones
rel September 3, 1991

Not as good as any of the 80's albums, but still an album I enjoy a lot of.

"Heresy" and "The Big Wheel" I find to be the 2 underrated gems off it. I love the marching drums on Heresy, and the sarcastic lyrics and impassioned vocal lines.

"Bravado" is popular, but I think has aged very well and I consider it 1 of their best ballads. It is quite a sad track, a little like "The Pass" in some ways.

"Dreamline" is a live staple, and I remember really enjoying initially, but have grown a little tired of having heard it so much live. But I still consider a good song.

The title track sort of falls in line with Dreamline as well, but I think I may enjoy it less. But the rap I am not repulsed by really.

"Ghost of a Chance" is a song I still enjoy, and will always remember hearing before I knew who Rush were, in 1991. I distinctly remember KQRS playing that song the Summer of 1991 and/or the Fall into 1992 maybe. And that was right when I got into Rush and I was transfixed by them. Even after knowing who Rush were and their classic rock tracks, I didn't realize that was a Rush tune.

And the guitar solo is sublime on it.

"Where's My Thing" is a good instrumental, but not a favorite exactly. I suppose I enjoy it as much if not more than some of their others.

And then songs like "You Bet Your Life" "Neurotica" and "Face Up" are I would kind of call filler. While Presto really has no tracks of that ilk, I always skip those 3 songs as they don't seem to ever do anything for me.

Still, RTB's is quite a good album, and being such a huge Rush fan, one that I still consider of their standards. And I more or less consider it better than most of the albums that followed it.

Guns N' Roses - Use Your Illusion I
rel September 17, 1991

The McCartney cover of "Live and Let Die" and "November Rain" of course are the tunes that this album got known for, and truth be, those are the only tracks I know as well. But I do know this album for its reputation of course.

Guns N' Roses - Use Your Illusion II
rel September 17, 1991

This one, which as the release date shows, came out the same day as Use Your Illusion I, I really only recall the Dylan cover of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door." The lead single "You Could Mine" that was even used in the Terminator II that summer, honestly, I have next to no recollection of after sampling it on YouTube.

The Twin Cities radio stations didn't play it from memory.

Savatage - Streets: A Rock Opera
rel October 4, 1991

This is probably the earliest Savatage album I was able to appreciate on some level. There's more to that, that I may elaborate about in another entry or on a YouTube video.

But I guess given Jon Oliva was their lead singer still, and I recall this was the final album with him as the lead singer until Poets and Madmen in 2001, I kind of don't rate or consider this 1 quite as high as I've always preferred/enjoyed the Zak Stevens albums a lot more, largely due to the fact I prefer Zak's voice.

That being said, this seems like it was the 1st of a few Concept albums the band would make in the 90's. And I found it was progressive, maybe more so than some of the 80's more NWOBHM/Power Metal/80's Old School Metal.

With that also in mind, I haven't listened to it a long time, but I just recall a few years back when I did, I grew to appreciate it and the themes and the story.

Plus it includes the 1st of a few different versions of the melancholy ballad "Believe." That and among the Criss Oliva featured songs, "Ghost in the Ruins."

Fish - Internal Exile
rel October 26, 1991

This is Fish's 2nd solo album, and one I will admit to owning on cd, but have next to no memory of it at this point. That being said, I am such a big fan of his and Marillion, even by default, I would assume I enjoy it over so much of the shoegaze and grunge that the media loves to champion from this year.

Parallels album.jpg
Fates Warning - Parallels
rel October 29, 1991

While this is hardly my favorite Fates Warning album, it's still a Fates Warning album I love and have enjoyed more or less since becoming a fan in the mid 90's. Track wise, I put "The Eleventh Hour" as probably my favorite. I love the chanting chorus and dynamics in that tune.

The singles "Eye to Eye" and "Point of View" I think of as staple/classic tracks from the band, and 2 of their most accessible songs ever. Lyrically included.

"Life in Still Water" as well. Great tune, melodic, riffy, dynamic and doesn't overstay its welcome.

"Leave the Past Behind" and "Don't Follow Me" also work well and I find to be 2 of the most underrated from Parallels.

"The Road Goes on Forever" is a cool, dreamy ballad that closes this record quite well.

And while it may be my least favorite track on the record and in some ways the most poppy, I still enjoy "We Only Say Goodbye."

Terry Brown even produced this album which is 1 of many things in his discography I appreciate.

And looking back on 1991, I don't know if there are too many all-time favorites or classics, I likely would put this near if not at the top still as it's 1 of the better records from 1 of my all-time favorite bands. It along with Shadow Gallery and Marillion likely.

Angel Rat Voivod.jpg
Voivod - Angel Rat
rel November 12, 1991

This is one of maybe 2 or 3 Voivod albums I own. And while I do have them, and have enjoyed them to a point. I guess I never have been able to love their music beyond a couple of tracks here and there. Including their cover of Pink Floyd's "Astronomy Domine."

But that being said, I rated it at 3-stars back in 2007 on rym, but now? I can't be sure having not revisited it in so long.

A square montage of square photographs arranged in a 4 by 4 grid. The photographs are mostly blue and red in tint, but some are monochrome. They are candid in nature and mostly show four men in various locations, including in an empty street, a crowded festival, under a bridge, in a car, and standing on sand. One photograph is a close-up of a man's hand wearing two rings bearing the characters "U" and "2".
U2 - Achtung Baby
rel November 19, 1991

This record was probably the most talked about U2 album, among people I know, when it came out. I knew U2 in the 80's of course, and The Joshua Tree and The Unforgettable Fire among them. But I guess I wasn't into U2 much then (I actually never fully got into them until about 2002) and it seemed most people I knew weren't highly into them.

That being said, this record has a lot of good stuff on it. From "Mysterious Ways" to "The Fly" to "Until the End of the World."

"Even Better Than the Real Thing" and "Ultraviolet (Light My Way)" are 2 others I've always enjoyed.

"One" while it's a ballad and maybe a bit too cheesy for me. And unlike some of the other singles on this record, it seems has been grossly overplayed. Or at least was throughout the 90's on the radio. But, I still don't loathe it or anything.

So while this album is hardly a #1 go-to for 1991 and even for U2, I can't deny, it's a great record with a lot of depth.

Michael Jackson - Dangerous
rel November 26, 1991

An underrated album from many accounts. Although the reputation from many is after Bad, most of MJ's music is not from albums, but singles.

Ironically though, I mainly know this album for the single "Black or White" which as much as I know that tune and knew it when it came out, I now think of it most for the fact Kevin Gilbert did engineering (sequencer work) on it. It was also co-written by Bill Botrell who of course worked with Kevin in the Tuesday Music Club. Tim Pierce as well, plays guitar on it.

Shadow Gallery (album).jpg
Shadow Gallery - Shadow Gallery
rel November 30, 1991

There's a long, detailed story about this album, that I may save for another entry. But I guess to say this is my favorite Shadow Gallery album probably is true, despite the fact there are no drums on it, but just a drum machine.

But when I finally was won over by Mike Baker's voice, I grew to adore this album and played it frequently. The vocal harmonies, channeling bands like Queen and Yes among others, and the guitar work and keys which I grew to appreciate a ton.

From the closing, cinematic/fantasy epic "Queen of the City of Ice" to songs like "Say Goodbye to the Morning" 'Darktown" "Mystified" and "The Dance of Fools."

Very melodic and well composed progressive metal. And even with all the criticism they received for ripping off Dream Theater and Rush, I honestly never agreed with. Mike Baker vocals alone allowed them to stand out.

Live - Mental Jewelry
rel December 31, 1991

This is Live's debut album, and while I am pretty sure I have heard it, it also is not as memorable as some of their others. I'm not sure if it's something I have on CD (dirt cheap from memory, with most Live CDs), burned a copy, or have a cassette tape copy from a friend who I used to talk to regularly back in the early-mid 2000's named Michelle (Michelle and I are friends on FB by the way).

But I find with Live, I get a similar take on a lot of their albums and their sound. I like moments and even songs, but never get addicted to them. At the same time, I've never hated any of their albums, so I suppose this album is no exception.

But I also would not consider them Grunge, but almost like a heavier/darker version of R.E.M. in a lot ways.

Ozric Tentacles - Strangeitude.jpg
Ozric Tentacles - Strangeitude
rel 1991

This is kind of my go-to Ozrics album, for various reasons. I'm not sure why I bought it, but I'm pretty sure it was the 1st and maybe only? Ozrics album I own. But why I bought it, I think was per it being the only cd that was at like Cheapo at the time they were suggested to me, sometime in the late 90's.

It's weird with Ozrics, while I enjoy their music, and respect them maybe more than being attached to their actual music. I find a lot of their music samey. But I have always felt that way, and also felt that I don't know if I'd want it any other way.

Their music is instrumental space rock to put it simply. I suppose the 2 times I saw them live, I maybe got more from it as it is jammy and it goes into a lot of different territory. And the crowd is very hippie-ish (including some of the women, lol).

But this album I have enjoyed historically. The title track maybe being my favorite. But it does flow quite well and doesn't seem to drag at any points.