Welcome to the second installment of Old Music Monthly! This is one, like last installment, where I never owned the original. In the last post I made a big deal about getting a free full CD with a magazine every month, but this one is only about 52 and a half minutes. I’m not sure if there’s a contractual difference between giving away a CD to a radio station and packaging one with a magazine you’re selling, but since it involves 1.) money, and 2.) the record industry of the 90s, I’m sure there’s something there.
Old Music Monthly #002: August 1993
Smashing Pumpkins – Mayonaise
Before Billy Corgan was a (public) ego-maniac, before he had wrestling themes tea houses (is that right?), before he cosplayed as Nosferatu, there was this. Yes, before all that there was the Corgan that could not spell “mayonnaise”, and it’s driving me crazy. This would be very close to when Siamese Dream, with the album released July 27, 1993, and magazines having at least one month ahead publication date… actually this may have been first. Apparently, Virgin Records didn’t think they needed the boost from a free sampler ever again, because they never make another appearance.
Full disclosure, I am not a fan of Smashing Pumpkins. Mainly, due to Corgan’s voice. That being said, there are some times when they really hit the mark. I would say Corgan’s voice is about 50/50 here, but the guitar is rad, so it pushes it into keeper territory. (+)
Mazzy Star – Fade Into You
Now this one is a clear example of CMJ being ahead of the curve. Mazzy Star’s So Tonight That I Might See came out October 1993, and “Fade Into You” came out as a single on April 12, 1994. There was a music video released in October 1993, but no one gave a shit. Then, a new video was released in February 1994, which fared much better. Singer Hope Sandoval and main musician / songwriter David Roback were romantically entangled. Eventually, as always happens, they split up and so did Mazzy Star. After pursuing other projects, they reunited in 2012, and released an EP in 2018. The group is still technically active, but Roback died in 2020 from cancer.
The song, of course, is a classic and rates on many lists for best of the 1990’s and best of 1994. At the time, I think I would have been pretty ‘meh’ on it, but then again, there are some things I like later on that I never would’ve expected myself. (+)
Tool – Sober
Here’s another blockbuster in wait. Someone remind me, was this big on daytime MTV? I didn’t think that Tool really got big on MTV until “Stinkfist” (aka “Track 1”). Anyway, I can remember clear as day the first time I saw this video, and I worked hard to wrap my head around it. I’m not a fan of what Tool does these days, but this is still a banger. (+)
New Bomb Turks – Grounded Ex-Patriot
This Columbus, Ohio punk band is still going strong, though they haven’t released a full length since 2003. This track is a great, lo-fi, garage punk song. The singer sometimes sounds like he’s having some sort of fit… but it’s a feature, not a bug. One thing I think that’s neat about this, and GBV later on this disc, is it kind of foreshadows how the music industry and was pulling from Ohio to kind of fill that void. Breeders, Brainiac, Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, Guided By Voices, all had some push from the media trying to find the next big “scene”. (+)
(the) Verlaines – Mission Of Love
New Zealand’s The Verlaines (credited here without “the”) are named after French poet Paul Verlaine, not after Television’s Tom Verlaine… but even if there were they’re still named after the poet because that’s not Tom’s real name anyway.
Is this something that just doesn’t translate to my American sensibilities? I mean, it’s not terrible, but nothing here really grabs me. It doesn’t really seem to go anywhere, but at 3:16 in the video, there’s a single person dancing all alone, so at least it means something to them. If you wait until 3:49, you’ll see a man sitting on Robert Smith’s face.
The band is still going, but with only half of this lineup. Bass player Mike Stoodely does a variety of audio technical jobs, as well as playing with The Broken Heartbreakers (not sure that’s still ongoing), and guitarist Paul Winders launched his solo effort Paul Winders and the Goodness. (-)
Flop – A Popular Donkey / The Great Valediction
Is there a band name that screams 90’s Seattle more than Flop? I mean, it’s perfect right? Also in perfect Seattle fashion, they had releases on six labels over their five-year existence. It’s also, that magic word (Seattle) that got them signed to Sony for their only major label release: 1993’s Whenever You’re Ready.
“A Popular Donkey” is a hilarious title, but that’s really just a little organ intro track that leads into the real song. “The Great Valediction” is a quick little punk-ish tune, and the singer has a good voice suited for pop music. You could call it pop-punk, and not be wrong, but it doesn’t sound like you would think when using that descriptor.
Flop ended in 1995, but singer / guitarist continued on in a number of projects and is still active today. Everyone else more or less quit music, except 2nd bassist Dave Fox, who went back to The Posies for a brief stint there. The group did play a one-off reunion show in 2012. (+)
(Video includes both the intro and the song.)
Cranes – Jewel (Robert Smith / Bryan (Chuck) New Remix)
Yes, that Robert Smith. The UK shoegaze / dream pop group is led by the sister / brother duo of Allison Shaw and Jim Shaw, and they had an “in” for getting Smith on this remix, as they’ve toured with The Cure several times.
I watched the original video of “Jewel”, and everyone is really pretty in it, except for the drummer, whom you never see for more than a fraction of a second. He’s either the most beautiful of all and they have a complex about being less attractive, or he’s got a real Quasimodo thing going on.
Truthfully, the remix isn’t anything special. It has a slightly different beat and it’s about two minutes longer, but you never say, “Now that’s some good Robert Smith!” Still, it’s a simple song, but sounds nice, except the singer kind of has this “sexy babydoll” thing going on, where if she goes above a whisper her throat will literally explode and shower the crowd with blood. I don’t hate it. (+)
Kinky Machine – Supernatural Giver
London’s Kinky Machine beat Flop in the short tenure category, by only existing four years (1991-95). The group ultimately broke up because bands that opened for them (Supergrass, Elastica) got huge before they did. They split and became Rialto, The Embers, and Roll the Dice.
The pre-chorus is just kind of like… a wet piece of bread. The end of the chorus has a really good stomp to it, but it’s ruined by everything that surrounds it. (-)
LaTour – Craziaskowboi
If you had told me I’d write something about LaTour in the year of our Lord 2021, and I’m not making fun of “People Are Still Having Sex”, I wouldn’t have believed you. This song kind of sucks, but I kind of love it. The hook is “Crazy Ass Cowboy”, and it’s actually some pretty good House music.
But here’s the rub, there’s two drastically different versions, and I don’t know which one was on the original CD. This will be a reoccurring theme where the CMJ version is some sort of alternate version, often unavailable anywhere else. I think the house version is the one on the disc, but the difference in lengths of the two videos is only 5 seconds, and they still don’t match up what is listed on the physical copy. So, anyway, here’s both.
(William) LaTour is still making music today, as well as working in voiceover and radio. “People Are Still Having Sex” went to number one in 1991, and he had a parody of Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus” (“Rock Me Jerry Lewis) top Dr. Demento’s Funny Five in 1986. (+)
Eve’s Plum – Blue
And here is a first, and only, a repeat from the prior month’s edition. I won’t grade it again, check out the original here if you haven’t already.
Guided By Voices – Over The Neptune / Mesh Gear Fox
The first of many appearances by GBV. They’ve been active from 1983-2004, 2010-2014, and 2016 to now. They have had 400 members and 67,374 records. When this would’ve come out, this would have been way too under polished for my tastes. Today, I enjoy the lo-fi nature of it. I’m trying to imagine what it would be like to listen to this on cassette, and driving through my deserted city with the windows down in the summer, 12:30 am after having left my menial fast-food job. (+)
Tiger Trap – Supreme Nothing
Hailing from Sacramento, these four young women lasted barely two years. A split single with Bratmobile in 1992, a self-titled album in 1993, and a split single with Henry’s Dress in 1994. This is sometimes considered “twee-pop”, and I can hear that. I’m not loving the vocals (the harmonizing is good when that happens), but it’s kind of a ramshackle indie pop thing. This song is acceptable, but I wouldn’t buy the album.
After splitting up, Heather Dunn played with Dub Narcotic Sound System, Jenn Braun played with Slower Than, and Rose Melberg embarked on a solo career. (+)
Epic Soundtracks – Farmer’s Daughter
This comes from 1992’s Rise Above. Epic Soundtracks (aka Kevin Paul Godfrey) died of unknown causes in November 1997. Parts of this are ok, but there’s a lot going on here: horns, piano, drums, vocals. It’s this kind of indie rock and chamber pop hybrid, yet, less than the sum of its parts. I’m sure this is for someone, but it certainly isn’t for me… but it does have J. Mascis on drums! (-)
Now It’s Time For Breakdown:
Worthy Tracks: 75%; still pretty good right? It’s still not as widely eclectic as these will become in the future (past).
Canadians: 0%; I’m starting to look really stupid for even including this, but trust me, the Maple Syrup Revolution is coming! It is 8% New Zealand…ian? Is that right? And 25% English.
Discogs Stats: 13 people have this disc, and 33 want it (I’m one of those). It last sold on August 14, 2020 (I must’ve slept on it). Its lowest price was $4.71, and its highest was $10.00. Still pretty reasonable, but don’t tell eBay.