Old Music Monthly #003 [September 1993]

You know, since I don’t have the actual magazine, there isn’t much else to say, so let’s get on with it!

Old Music Monthly #003: September 1993

The Juliana Hatfield Three – My Sister

Juliana Hatfield has a pretty long pedigree. She was in Blake Babies in college, then spent a year as the bass player for The Lemonheads, before going solo, starting The Juliana Hatfield Three, then going solo again (the reforming the trio in 2014). Also, there is a paragraph and a half about her losing her virginity on Wikipedia, which seems like a good use of everyone’s time.

“My Sister” was apparently a sizeable hit, it reached number one on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart, and landed Hatfield on the cover of Spin in 1994. However, I never heard it before this listening, at least not knowingly. Everyone just loves to point out that Hatfield doesn’t have a sister, as if songwriters / authors are not allowed to be creative and invent scenarios and characters.

I’ve listened to it 3 times, and I’m just not into it. I wouldn’t say it’s bad, but it just makes me feel nothing. But, in research I found out she did an entire album of Police covers, and some of that was really good. (-)

Stereolab – Jenny Ondioline

Formed in London, Stereolab is a French/English “avant-pop” group. They started in 1990, and are still going today after a decade break between 2009 and 2019, although their membership fluctuates with singer/guitarist/keyboardist Laetitia Sadler and guitarist Tim Gane being the only constant members.

The version on Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements is over 18 minutes long, so I have to assume the original disc has the single version, which is officially credited as “Jenny Ondioline (Part One)”. It is named after the instrument Ondioline, invented by Georges Jenny in 1941. However, the instrument does not appear on the track, and the song isn’t about the instrument or its creator (but you could hear it on Tommy James and the Shondells’ “I Think We’re Alone Now”, and several early Motown hits). Honestly, it’s not for me.

(As a concesion to the known Sterolab fans among you, I did listen to “French Disko” just out of curiosity, and that was pretty good.) (-)

Uncle Tupelo –  Give Back the Key to My Heart

The history of this band is quite a ride. You may have already heard it. Jeff Tweedy joined rockabilly band The Plebes, with Jay Farrar and his two brothers. One of the brothers left and the 3 piece started to play punk rock, at Tweedy’s insistence. Since punk was unpopular in St. Louis, they switched to a more blues oriented garage rock, and changed their name to The Primitives. The evolved to Uncle Tupelo and began writing more originals.

In 1989, CMJ New Music Report (the industry only predecessor to CMJ New Music Monthly) reviewed their demo tape and declared Uncle Tupelo the best unsigned band of the year. The band put out 4 releases from 1990 to 1993, the last being Anodyne with their expanded 5 piece line up.

The group is credited as creators of Alternative Country, but isn’t that really just Outlaw Country with a spit shine on it? On the expanded reissue, they have a Waylon Jennings cover, and this very track is a cover by the Texas Tornados, and they have songwriter/singer/guitarist Doug Sham playing it with them. I don’t think it’s really special in any way. Am I missing something?

Anyway, Uncle Tupelo flamed out. Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy had shouting matches, Farrar thought Tweedy was taking over the band and refused to sing harmony on any song written by him. They agreed to a final tour for their manager, who invested a lot of money to keep them going. Eventually, Farrar started Son Volt, and Tweedy and the rest of the band evolved into Wilco. The pair have both poo-pooed a reunion, but they did reunite… to sue their former record label for unpaid royalties. (-)

Big Star – Don’t Lie To Me

Big Star, hailing from Memphis, rose from the ashes of The Box Tops. Singer Alex Chilton sang “The Letter” with The Box Tops when he was just 16 years old. I fucking love “The Letter”. In case you don’t know, The Box Tops were kind of an American ripple after effect of the British Invasion, part blue-eyed soul, part pop, part psychedelic rock. The Box Tops ended in 1970, and Big Star began in 1971. Then, Big Star ended in late 1974. I’m beginning to be astounded by the short runs of these bands. Is it a CMJ curse?

Big Star reformed, with only Chilton as an original member in 1993, and ran to 2010, ending with Chilton’s death. Original guitarist Chris Bell died in 1978 in a car accident, and original bassist Andy Hummel died of cancer in 2010.

I’m not exactly sure why this is on this disc, and of course I don’t have the disc sleeve or the magazine. The only thing that came out in 1993 was Columbia (Live at Missouri University 4/25/93), and a compilation of the original 3 albums across two discs… that was only released in Germany.

That being said, the song is a great slab of power-pop, a genre I don’t find myself in very often. I can’t speak to the live version, but the original studio one from 1972 is exactly what you’d expect from the era. It would fit right in with the soundtrack to Dazed and Confused. (+)

(Sometimes, I really fall down a rabbit hole with these things. The Box Tops are still going. They reformed in 1996 with Chilton, and continued with him until his death, and reformed again in 2015. In 2002, The Box Tops contributed a cover of Blondie’s “Call Me” to a compilation called When Pigs Fly. It looks like a trip. It also has Don Ho doing Peter Gabriel’s “Shock the Monkey”, Leslie Gore doing AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”, Oak Ridge Boys doing Kansas’ “Carry On Wayward Son”, and many more.)

The Pogues – Tuesday Morning

These dudes are (were) Celtic punk, despite forming in London in 1982. Singer Shane MacGowan and tin whistle player Spider Stacy met in the bathroom at a Ramones concert. They were in different bands with overlapping personel before starting their own band with accordion player James Fearnley. They garnered some relative success, and booted out MacGowan in 1991 because of his drinking problem. After a very brief stint with The Clash’s Joe Strummer as vocalist, Stacy moved from tin whistle to vocalist. Talk about a promotion!

This isn’t “punk” in the traditional sense, it’s punk in the way that Willie Nelson is punk, in that there are no more fucks to give. There’s some great debate about the meaning of the song. Some think it’s about a break up, one person thinks it’s about 9/11… despite coming out 8 years prior. Me, I think it’s about discount retailer Tuesday Morning, which is a great place to buy slightly irregular curtains. (+)

Iggy Pop – Wild America

I really don’t have it in me to regurgitate a large info dump on Iggy Pop. It’s not because he’s not great, because he is, but so much ink has been spilled on him already. He’s not as enigmatic as he was in 1993, he’s been the subject of documentaries, books, podcasts, and he allows himself to be interviewed by anyone who owns a pen and a sheet of paper.

This is a great, muscley guitar rock song, with backing vocals by Henry Rollins… although you’d maybe never pick up on it. The biggest indicator it’s 1993, there’s a warning on the front cover that reads: Parental Warning: This Is An IGGY POP Record. For those too young to remember, there was a huge deal about censorship and parental warnings in the late 80’s / early 90’s with the PMRC (Parent’s Music Resource Center). Iggy Pop is so cheeky! (+)

Best Kissers In The World – Miss Teen USA

This Seattle band had a run from 1991 to 1996. After a self titled debut EP, singer/guitarist Gerard Collier replaced the entire original line up with an influx of members from The Lemons and Cherry Poppin’ Daddies (?!). The band was signed by MCA, they released their major label debut, Been There, in 1993. Then, as we’ll see oft repeated in the coming weeks, the band was dropped just before the release of their second album Yellow Brick Roadkill which finally saw the light of day in 2012. Collier resurrected the group in 2007 and 2010, but nothing lasted.

This song is ok. The guitar solo and the vocal harmonies save it, but I think it’s not as clever as it thinks it is. It’s very much of it’s era, standing there screaming, “isn’t the mainstream LAME?! Beauty queens LOL!” (+)

My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult – Blue Buddha

Here’s another example where not having the actual disc is a disadvantage. There are at least 6 versions, ranging from 4:35 to 7:15 in length, and then video is 3:49, so who the hell knows?

Anyway, TKK are known as front runners of the industrial rock genre, and among the Chicago Wax Trax! roster back in the day. I love the Wax Trax stuff. In the booklet for Blackbox (Wax Trax! Records: The First 13 Years), it says that the band recorded a soundtrack to a movie but forgot to film it. Almost definitely apocryphal, but it sure is funny, and also believable when you hear the old stuff.

Groovie Man and Buzz McCoy are still at it, but I haven’t heard what they’re up to specifically. This song, though… I hate it. I hate it so much. They used to be a balance of spooky and sleazy, but here they just lean too far into sleaze for my enjoyment. (-)

Jamiroquai – When You Gonna Learn

Three years before Jamiroquai hit it big when their singer danced on an escalator on TV, they had this. Singer Jay Kay also had hats. Lots and lots of hats. This reinforces Glyph’s assertion that the 90s were Peak Bad Hat.  He also got in trouble on a few occasions for wearing Native American War Bonnets.

Jamiroquai isn’t terrible, but they’re like a substandard Stevie Wonder. They’re what happens when you ask mom for Stevie Wonder and she tells you that “we’ve got Stevie Wonder at home”. (-)

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Someday I Suppose

In 1993, we still didn’t have cable. It was installed 4 houses down, but that was the town line. However, that cable provider 4 houses down didn’t include MTV in its package because of those fears it was going to turn all of the youngsters into drug addled prostitutes.

My cousin, however, had normal red-blooded American cable with MTV. Some weekends, I’d stay over and we’d stay up watching Headbanger’s Ball. One night, after the show when they would just go to random videos, they played “Someday I Suppose”. This is probably the first time I heard Ska (or ska-adjacent, since they often have fits of hardcore). Ska never really stuck with me that much, I still don’t understand how it got as big as it did. This song is pretty great, though (+)

Stick – No Groovy

In some ways, Stick is almost exactly the reason I started this dumb little project. To give a second look to things I passed up the first time. I fascinated by the stuff that got signed by major labels in the post-Seattle boom, everyone just looking for the next big thing.

Stick started as Kill Whitey in Lawrence, Kansas in 1989. Kill Whitey is an infinitely better name, but, I can see why it would get changed. When I say that they are “almost exactly the reason”, I’m looking to shine a light on stuff that got lost… Stick should be lost. That felt mean. But, there isn’t anything here to make it stand out more than any of the other 100s of cannon fodder bands signed by major labels to capitalize on grunge. They aren’t as bad as a lot of those bands, but there isn’t much to hang your hat on. (-)

Cocteau Twins – Theft, and Wandering Around Lost

These Scottish pioneers of Dream Pop ended in 1997 when singer Elizabeth Fraser and guitarist Robin Guthrie broke up… just like every band where the members are in a relationship. None of them quite seem to implode in a fashion as spectacular as Fleetwood Mac. These first discs are loaded with Dream Pop, aren’t they? Anyway, I know their stature and legacy, but this song isn’t for my (but I always liked “Wax and Wane”). (-)

William S. Burroughs – Words of Advice for Young People

This is grand. It’s Burroughs reading from his book to music by The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. It’s like a dour and cooler version of “Everybody Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” that’s four years early. (+)

Fabulon – In a Mood

Fabulon was the one man band of Kevin Janosky (aka Kevin Macbeth), who was a Miami musician who played in post-punk / goth bands The Sleep of Reason and Reagan’s Dream. Here, you’ll find none of that.

Entertainment Weekly actually reviewed All Girls Are Pretty, Vol. 1 and gave it a “B”, but stated the album “will be either one of the decade’s worst jokes or its biggest hit.” This has a lot to unpack. It’s got 70’s glam, hippie bullshit, and… horns? It’s pretty good, though, and it’s obvious that depending on where you’re standing, Fabulon arrived too early, or too late.

Janosky assembled a touring band including Jellyfish’s Jason Falkner, but it was too late, the label dropped him soon after. He apparently had a project called Stupid World, but it seems to be wiped from the internet. (+)

Melvins – Hooch

I’ve written plenty about Melvins, and you can read that here.

“Hooch” is the opening track off of 1993’s Houdini. It was released as a single, but you’d have a better chance of being hit by a meteor than hearing it on the radio. (+)

The Spelvins – Don’t You Love Me Anymore

Putting the Spelvins right after Melvins on this disc is either careless, or lazy, or both… just because of their names, though. They don’t sound alike.

Here’s what I found out: 1.) They were on Zoo Entertainment, and 2.) They played the 9:30 Club in DC on November 14, 1993 and their opening act was those placenta tossers Live. This is a good song, it hews close to “sad bastard” music. Good news: singer Michael Canarie is now a pediatrician and volunteers in raising money for medical supplies for a hospital in Haiti. (+)

Heavenly – P.U.N.K. Girl

Heavenly was a UK indie pop band (not to be confused with a French power metal band with the same name), they became Marine Research, then became Tender Trap which they still record under.

This is an upbeat, lo-fi workout. The vocals are very “sweet” sounding, and this is not the last time we’ll hear music almost exactly like this, but the delivery makes this one worthwhile. (+)

King Kong – Funny Farm

Formed by former Slint bassist Ethan Buckler, delivering a groove with guitars nearing a funk sensibility, and the singer doesn’t sing, he just sort of says stuff. Despite the refrain of “Hey not brown cow, cock-a-doodle do”, it doesn’t really do much.

King Kong is still techinically active, but hasn’t released an album since 2007. (-)

The Connells – Slackjawed

The Connells are Raleigh, North Carolina’s alt-rock / jangle pop band, and they’re still going today. This comes from 1993’s Ring. The album also had “’74-‘75”, which went to #1 in Sweden and Norway, top 5 in Belgium, Denmark, France, Iceland, and Switzerland, and top 20 in the UK.

When this was released, it was a college radio success, but no mainstream success followed. Which bummed out everyone else so much they considered breaking up. Seems like an overreaction, because college success is better than no success at all! Not to mention, it’s a pretty good tune. (+)

(The Connells are also on that When Pigs Fly disc, covering… Cypress Hill’s “Insane In the Brain”.)

Now It’s Time For Breakdown:

Worthy Tracks: 57.8%; not as great as they have been, but they will get so, so much worse.

Maple Leaf Invasion: 0% Canadians… again, I’m starting to think this was a mistake. However, 21% English and 5% Scottish.

Here Comes the Roster: There have been 49 different artists to this date, only Eve’s Plum has been on twice (so far).

Discogs Stats: 16 people have this disc, and 19 want it (I’m one of those). It last sold on January 12, 2020. Its lowest price was $3.95, and its highest was $14.99.