Old Music Monthly #014: October 1994
Sugar – Your Favorite Thing
Singer / guitarist Bob Mould left Hüsker Dü and released two solo albums, which no one bought and Virgin Records dropped him. In 1992, he formed Sugar in Austin, TX. This is another group that had an incredible short lifespan, only lasting until 1995. Even so, they managed two albums, a B-sides collection, and an EP in that time.
I’ve never really heard Sugar before (I didn’t have this one back in the day), but I remember ads for this album were everywhere. This is a pretty good song, pop oriented, yet fuzzy. I don’t think I like it as much a Hüsker Dü, but that doesn’t make it bad.
Bassist David Barbe became a sought after producer, as well as playing fronting future CMJ alums Buzz Hungry. Mould returned to solo work as well as performing as a dance music DJ and a brief stint as a script writer for World Championship Wrestling. (+)
Soul Coughing – Down To This
The members of New York’s Soul Coughing all preformed in various groups at the experimental playhouse The Knitting Factory, where singer / guitarist Mike Doughty was a doorman. Three fourths of the group also played with resident weirdo John Zorn. I talk a lot of trash on major labels, but Warner Bros did sign Soul Coughing within a year of their formation, and the label also put out 3 Mr. Bungle albums (one produced by Zorn), and Flaming Lips’ four disc Zaireeka where all four discs are meant to be played together, and one song has a warning not to play in the car because it causes disorientation and nausea. Those are pretty weird projects for a major to get behind.
Anyway, the group builds a lot on samples, and I’m surprised this is available on streaming after all the trouble De La Soul had clearing samples to go digital. This song is no different, I’m including the original video because it has some of the worst computer animation I’ve ever seen. I’ve never heard this one before, unless I heard it when I saw them live in 1999. When I saw them, they were with future CMJ alums Black Eyed Peas, DJ Spooky, and (sigh) Everclear.
We’ll pause on Soul Coughing for now. They’ll be back, but we won’t see them again until 1998. (+)
Luscious Jackson – City Song
The ladies from NYC are making their second appearance, we first ran into them way back in #004. This is “City Song” on the sampler, but “Citysong” on Natural Ingredients. This is the album they were touring for when I saw them at Lollapalooza 1994. I don’t remember specifically anything because that was the first time hearing them, but they brought lots of people on stage to dance, and that was fun. This song inducts the group into the Two-Timer’s Club, we talked about them in #004. It’s a good track, it’s funky, the drumming is on point.
We’ll see them at least one more time in 1996. (+)
Manu Dibango – Soul Makossa
Born in French Cameroon, Manu Dibango is a jazz / afrobeat / afrofunk musician playing saxophone / piano / and vibraphone. This song has an interesting history, it was released in 1972 originally a B-side to a single celebrating Cameroon’s soccer team making the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations. Popular New York radio DJ David Mancuso found a copy and began playing it heavily at his underground private parties. You know how in the early days of recorded music when a song became popular, everyone rushed out to record their own version to get a slice of that pie? At minimum, 23 artists recorded covers of the song, and eventually in 1973 Atlantic Records licensed it from Dibango’s French label and released it as an A-Side.
The song was an influence on Kool & The Gang’s “Jungle Boogie”, Eddie Murphy’s “Boogie In Your Butt” (?!), and Michael Jackson lifted the hook for “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’”. Dibango recorded a version in 1994, which is what this should be, and another one in 2011. YouTube is flooded with original versions and remixes, but no way to differentiate a 1994 version. I’ve chose this extended version because it fucking slaps. I know I don’t usually count it unless it’s that actual sampler version, but this is just too damn good to deny.
Sadly, Dibango died March 24, 2020 due complications from Covid. (+)
Sinister Dane – Where’s My Parade?
Hailing from St. Louis, Sinister Dane played (play) a brand of funk metal / funk rock. They toured with Living Colour before they had an album out, but soon after recorded their Different Shades of Frustration demo tape. Soon, the singer and guitarist would quit. The band soldiered on and found a new singer and guitarist after lots of rotating personnel in those slots. They signed to Columbia and released one self-titled album in 1994, which is where this track comes from.
This isn’t bad, even thought funk metal’s brief moment in the sun was already over (with the exception of those sock wearing fools from California). Still, I would be interested to hear more.
Naturally, they broke up… sometime. It’s hard to say, there is next to nothing out there about them. They do have a Facebook page with 700+ followers, and they reunited for the first time in 26 years last year to open for fellow St Louis band (and future CMJ alums) The Urge. Singer Joe Sears is now a teacher, and bassist Donald Williams is still very active in the St. Louis music scene. (+)
Buckwheat Zydeco – Hey Baby
I thought this was a band, but it’s actually a person… but also sometimes the band. Zydeco (the man) is one of the very zydeco (the genre) musicians to have any sort of mainstream success. His music has been in countless TV shows and movies, and he has performed with tons of high profile musicians.
On paper, covering songs from Dirty Dancing with an accordion should work for me, but it just doesn’t. It’s incredibly grating. The thought of listening to a whole album of this annoys me without even having heard it. I think if I were at an outdoor festival in a live setting I would like it a lot more. It’s not unusual, lots of artists are better live than on record (and vice versa).
Zydeco (the man) died from lung cancer in 2016. (-)
D Generation – No Way Out
New York strikes again with this glam punk band. This was on a soundtrack, but I forget which one. When I saw the video for it, I wasn’t there for it. In thinking it over, I thought 1994 was too early for a “glam revival” in any form, but to my puny teenaged brain, glam was Poison. Not Bowie or T. Rex, so that was a failing on my part. I do like this song, I would probably check it out if I found it in a bargain bin of CDs (if those even still exist).
The band ran from 1991 to 1999, and at the end of their first run featured hardcore guitarist Todd Youth. Bassist Howie Pyro and Youth also played together in Danzig later on. Singer Jesse Malin went solo… and holy shit, he also had a band called Bellvue that I saw open for Clutch. They were bad. D Generation reunited in 2011 for tours of Europe and North America, and released an album in 2016. They’ve been quiet ever since. (+)
Compulsion – Delivery
This group began in Ireland as The Amazing Colossal Men and were signed to EMI. After some major label fuckery, they sued the label and were released from their contract and reformed as Compulsion in 1992. The group released Comforter on One Little Indian Records in 1994.
“Delivery” is a really good track. I expected a group named Compulsion to sound something like Human Impact (never mind that Human Impact’s first release came out 26 years after this), but it’s kind of a punk song with thicker sounding guitars. I like the guy’s voice, too, it has a real rough quality to it.
One Little Indian dropped them in 1997 and they split. Singer Garret Lee is a music producer, and has worked with U2 and Snow Patrol. Drummer Jan-Willem Alkema joined China Drum and Drive to Collision, while bassist Sid Rainey created Underground Charlie for the BBC. (+)
Soup Dragons – One Way Street
How did this band exist for a full decade under our noses? I was surprised to see they formed in 1985. Of course, I’d heard 1992’s “Divine Thing”, some stuff escaped me but I wasn’t living in a cave. By this point, only lead singer Sean Dickson remained in the “group”, and 1994’s Hydrophonic was filled out with session musicians, including Tina Weymouth and Bootsy Fucking Collins.
This is a song where the sum is less than its parts. It’s just… boring. There’s no individual credits to be found so I don’t know who plays on this, but I pity them. And the video is a typical amalgam forced candid weird people on the street and “Earth is an alien planet, maaaaaan” mish mash.
When this album failed, Dickson started The High Fidelity, which ended in 2001. (-)
Paula Cole – I Am So Ordinary
When I went back to community college after flunking out, I was in a film class with this guy, I forget his name. He was your typical film nerd, always talking about really out of the way stuff… but he dressed like an undercover cop from the 70’s. He had this tan brown leather jacket that was either vintage or a remarkable fake. I didn’t talk to him that much, but I remember him because he liked to make himself the center or attention. One day, he started talking about Paula Cole’s “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone”, completely unprovoked. He said, “What is up with that song? It starts all scary and industrial and it turned to shit.”
This is what I think whenever Paul Cole’s name comes up. But all of that was years after her debut album, Harbinger, which is where this comes from. Here’s the thing, her voice is great, the instrumentation is top notch, but I just don’t like it. She is supremely talented, but her music is not for me.
Did Dawson’s Creek ruin her career? Maybe, maybe not. She still performs and records and since 2013 has been faculty at The Berklee College of Music. So, she’s doing alright for herself even if this doesn’t check any boxes for me. (-)
Murmurs – You Suck
Ok, first things first, their hair on the cover of their album is absolutely amazing. (The) Murmurs were an acoustic duo from New York City, they met when they were both students at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Formed in 1991, by 1994 they released their debut album on MCA Records. This song, became an moderate hit, peaking at #23 on Billboard’s US Modern Rock tracks, #25 in Australia, and #1 in … Norway.
The song became kind of accidental feminist anthem, even though that was not the intent by the duo. However, they are ok with that categorization, because it gained them listeners, and the song lends itself to that interpretation.
In 1997 the group expanded with two members, bassist Sheri Ozeki and drummer Sherri Solinger. However, by 1998 the group was over. Original members Leisha Hailey and Heather Grody teamed up again in 2001 and formed Gush, who recorded an album and sold it at live shows, but soon broke up. (+)
Rusted Root – Send Me On My Way
You’re not going to make me listen to this are you? You are? Well, shit…
Rusted Root are a “world beat rock band” from Pittsburgh, PA. Oh, God, it hurts. You’ve heard this song, it’s in Ice Age, it’s in Matilda, it’s in Party of Five, and about 400,068 commercials. Please make it stop.
I saw them (for free, I’ll see anyone for free at least once), I didn’t really know who they were. They were playing at a college one of my friends went to. I came late and I left early, it was headache inducing. A shoeless young woman in front of me with hair past her waist was dancing in front of me, she kept hitting me in the face with her gross hair.
Anyway, I guess they’re still around. They haven’t released anything since 2012, and it looks like everyone but 3 people has been fired from the band, so who the hell knows. (-)
G. Love and Special Sauce – Cold Beverage
Jesus Christ, this asshole again? We talked about them back in #009.
I guess I should score this one. (-)(-)(-)(-)(-)
Body Count – Born Dead
Do you remember the absolute shit storm over “Cop Killer”? I mean, my God, people threatening to boycott Batman Returns because it was a Warner Bros movie and Cop Killer was on Sire, also owned by Warner Bros. I mean, the absolute pearl clutching. After the Ice-T had Body Count on his O.G. Original Gangster album, then debuting them at the first Lollapalooza, I think everyone just expected this would just quietly go away. It happened that way sort of.
Born Dead, the group’s second album, was pretty poorly received overall. The main riff in this recalls Ministry’s “Thieves”, and frankly as a song, this is merely ok. Ice-T talks a lot about justice and overseas war in the intro, but other than retreading some “Cop Killer” themes, there’s not much to this. The lyrics are mostly: Born black? DEAD. Born in South Africa? DEAD. I want to pass it, but if I did, it would be for Body Count’s cultural impact, and not this song in particular.
The group managed to put out two more albums after this one, but disbanded in 2006. Original drummer Beastmaster V died of Leukemia in 1996. Original bassist Mooseman played on Iggy Pop’s Beat ‘Em Up, but was killed in a drive by shooting before it’s 2001 release. Original rhythm guitarist D-Roc died from lymphoma in 2004. Ice-T and Ernie C. brought back the group in 2009, and I don’t know if anyone thought we’d remember this in 2022, but the group has received two Grammy nominations and have you heard “Black Hoodie”? Jesus Christ, it slays, and unfortunately makes Body Count more relevant than ever. (-)
Engines Of Aggression – All The Rage
We talked about L.A.’s Engines of Aggression all the way back in installment #001. This comes from their only full length album, Inhuman Nature. It’s not very good, I have the album. The whole thing is just pretty toothless. It lacks the urgency and intensity of the Speak EP, which I do recommend. (-)
700 Miles – Drift
Didn’t we just talk about these dudes? Yup, two installments ago in #012 and also way back in #004. Ugh, why do these guys get the first to be three timers?
Ok, this is actually pretty good. It’s much better than the first one, but not as adventurous as the one from two installments ago. It sounds like somebody, but I can’t put my finger on it. What do you think? (+)
Adam Ant – Beat My Guest
Adam Ant was kind of between projects in 1994. His solo album, Persuasion, was supposed to be released in 1992, but was shelved when MCA dropped him. I don’t know if the collections were his idea to keep funds coming in, or a label idea… to keep funds coming in. There was 1993’s Antmusic: The Very Best of Adam Ant (Arcade Records), and then 1994’s B-Side Babies (Epic Records), which is where this comes from.
It’s a great song. It was originally released as a B-Side to “Stand and Deliver”, and Adam and the Ants used to open shows with it before they were big.
I’m not entirely sure what Ant is up to these days. He hasn’t released an album since 2013, but apparently tours regularly. (+)
Vodu 155 – Mama Dadŭ
This group is a total bigfoot mystery. This is a group formed by 2 brothers, who started a club, and this band, both under the same name of Vodu 155. But then I found this:
Lionel and Regular Bernard was raised in Haiti influenced by voodoo and reggae, but moved to NEW YORK within the ’70s, bathing in that city’s ska, punk, funk and hip-hop designs and performing in a number of local rings: the Toasters, Second Stage, Unity. The brothers after that produced Vodu 155, welding hip-hop and funk to reggae and Haitian tribal rhythms on the self-titled 1995 debut for Isle Records.
Sure. Anyway, they only released one self titled album in 1994, and this as the single. I enjoyed the mystery of this, I’m glad this exists for those that it speaks to, but it’s not for me. It doesn’t really live up to the hype, and I’m not hearing the melting pot that the short bio above is touting. (-)
Nobody – Rush Away
One thing about these discs, is they almost always frontload with stuff that is going to reach the “alternative rock” crowd, and usually the more bizarre (and often foreign) acts get put at the back of the bus. This means that often when I get toward the end, I get a few things that are difficult to research… of course no one was thinking about Googling things in 1994. So, here we have Japanese rock duo Nobody.
However, everything I found says they haven’t released anything since 1988. No videos on YouTube. I searched for the song and group on Google, Yahoo, and Ask Jeeves, and nothing. So, no rating this time. (O)
Blonde Redhead – Sciuri, Sciura
This group is from NYC, but singer / guitarist Kazu Makino was born in Kyoto. It’s not Nobody, but easier to search for sure. The other two members were born in Milan, and grew up in Montreal. The three of them formed Blond Redhead in 1993.
Perplexing, this track was not a single (stand alone or otherwise), and it didn’t come out until 1995 on their self-titled album. I like this, its ostensibly indie rock, but it’s a pretty weird sounding track, and the guitars sound just damaged enough. It’s not perfect, and I’m not sure I’d track down an album of this, but it’s bizarre way to end a record.
Blonde Redhead is still going today. (+)
Now It’s Time For Breakdown:
Worthy Tracks: 11/19; This disc comes in at 57.8%, the series is at 66.5%.
Maple Leaf Invasion: Zero, but 2.4% over the series. However, 30% NYC content, for you statistic nerds out there. Also, no Flying Nun releases. Sorry, Pupshaw.
YEEEEAAAHHH, Here Comes the Roster: There have 236 different artists across the series so far. Engines of Aggression, Luscious Jackson, and G. Love & Special Sauce all join the Two-Timers Club. They are now in the company of Matthew Sweet, Sarah McLachlan, Eve’s Plum, Catherine Wheel, Therapy?, Jeff Buckley, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Stereolab, and Beastie Boys. But the first one to three-peat is New York’s 700 Miles, and their tracks are 66.6% approval rating, so that’s resilience for you.
Discogs Stats: 53 users have this (including me), 13 have it on their wantlist. The lowest price it ever sold for was $2.24, while the highest was $7.00, the median price was $4.00. The last one was purchased on December 29, 2020. Mine came from Electronic Bay.