Old Music Monthly #015: November 1994
Cranberries – Zombie
(The) Cranberries formed in Limerick, Ireland as The Cranberry Saw Us, I don’t know if that’s a better name, but it is more interesting. When I heard “Linger”, I hated it. I still hate it. I thought it was the first single, but the internet tells me it was “Dreams” in 1992, which I actually do like. “Zombie”, however, I think is their best song. The song started coming to life on tour for their first album, and it was written because of an incident in London where two children were killed by an IRA bomb as they were out shopping for Mother’s Day cards. Singer Delores O’Riordan wrote the song to distance themselves from the IRA, and saying that just because the band were Irish, they were no supportive of the IRA’s tactics. Island Records pleaded with the band not to release the song as a single, and O’Riordan tore up a million dollar check the label had given her to work on something, anything, else. The release of the song caused a certain amount of controversy, but O’Riordan said in response to them being labeled a political band, “I just cannot accept children being slaughtered at the hands of political violence.”
Tragically, O’Riordan died in January 2018. Guitarist and songwriter Noel Hogan works as a record producer and forming Mono Band and Arkitekt. (+)
The Blue Up? – Feel Me Dying
Ana Voog’s Wikipedia page reeks of a page written by the subject themselves. The Blue Up? is credited there as being “The first all-woman group from Minnesota”, which I find highly dubious. In fact, the first Google search yields Tetes Noires from Minneapolis who put out their first full length in 1983.
Also, there’s The Clams who started in 1985, but I’m getting off track. The Blue Up? started with a few singles in 1986 and 87, then released two independent albums before signing with Columbia for 1995’s Spool Forka Dish, which is where this comes from. This song has a staggering 54 views on YouTube…. and it’s too many. They’re supposed to art-pop, but it’s just vocal histrionics that don’t build to anything or really go anywhere.
The group disbanded in 1995, and singer / guitarist / keyboardist Rachael Olson became Ana Voog and signed with MCA. Nothing came from that, but she apparently invented the idea of becoming a “Cam Girl”. She signed with Universal and released one album in 1998, and then… she became a hypnotist and an astrologer. Drummer Renee Bracci went on to play with Felonious Bosch and Vernon Dixon. (-)
David Gray – What Are You?
This English (some call him English, some call him Welsh, some call him Irish) born singer / songwriter used to have this decent sized hit in the late 90s, I think it was called “Babylon”? It used to play every fucking day when I worked big box retail. I was ready to hate this. I don’t hate it, though. I really like the quality of his voice here, and he’s really kind of jut snarling, which is not what I would expect.
Gray is still out there, waiting, watching. He will strike when we least expect it. (+)
The Wedding Present – Yeah, Yeah, Yeah Yeah
This band formed in 1985 in Leeds, as a tribute to The Birthday Party. I’m going to name my band The Anniversary Dinner or The Christmas Disappointment. I actually kind of like that last one. Anyway, they put out their first album in 1987, two more albums and fifteen live cassette only releases through 1994. Pearl Jam laughs at their efforts.
This track is fun, I like it. I don’t know that I would listen to a whole album of this, but it’s a no frills pop rock song with a 60s throwback (a evidenced by the video).
Singer / guitarist David Gedge is the only remaining original member, and they have twenty-four former members, and I’m not tracking all those wah-hoos down. (+)
K’s Choice – Me Happy
You’ve almost certainly heard this Belgian group’s 1995 single, “Not an Addict”. You may have seen them perform on a 1999 episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This Belgian group started with siblings Gert Bettens and Sam (formerly Sarah) Bettens as The Basement Plugs. The group didn’t last, but Sam was given a label contract and appeared on a few soundtracks before the label gave him the opportunity record an album, where he brought back his brother Gert.
The Great Subconscious Club was recorded as The Choice in 1993. I guess it took some time to get across the pond. The song is kind of funny, filled with back handed compliments. The song itself is kind of average, but Sam’s smoky, husky voice really carries it.
K’s Choice broke up in 2003, but came back in 2009. The band and Sam Bettens solo have continued to release new music all this time. (+)
Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Kinder Words
The only thing that’s changed since I wrote them up last, they broke up. Apparently, singer Dicky Betts is an anti-vaxxer, so just more proof everything is terrible. We’ll see them again. (+)
Helmet – Just Another Victim
Page Hamilton started Helmet in NYC in 1989. They released their debut in 1990, and broke big with Meantime in 1992. 1994’s Betty is their peak for me, but it didn’t sell as well.
So, this is weird, it’s sort of just like a live version of half of the song. It’s for a compilation called CBGB’s 20th Anniversary Album. What’s weird about that, is that it’s only a sampler and it apparently was never released to the general public. Why would you promote something no one can buy? Anyway, it’s an interesting alternate (incomplete) version to a song that everyone knows pretty well. It’s inclusion is pretty strange since Helmet was already well established at this point.
The group broke up in 1998, which Hamilton started the short lived project Ghandi. He also was the touring guitarist for David Bowie’s Hours tour, played on Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile, Wire’s Object 47, and Norma Jean’s The Anti-Mother. Bassist Henry Bogdan now plays lap steel and pedal steel guitar and is in high demand as a session musician. Drummer John Stanier plays in Battles and Tomahawk. Guitarist Peter Mengede started (future CMJ alum) Handsome with members of Quicksand and Murphy’s Law. Hamilton resurrected Helmet in 2004 with Chris Traynor (Orange 9mm, latter day Bush), Frank Bello (Anthrax), and John Tempesta (White Zombie, Testament, Exodus, The Cult). (+)
(There is no video of the CBGB’s live track, so enjoy this instead.)
B-52’s – Private Idaho
I don’t think I have to tell you about The B-52’s. They make thrift store party music built on kitsch and camp, and it’s almost always great. This also comes from CBGB’s 20th Anniversary Album. It’s good.
The group is still going, though they haven’t released anything since 2008 (and since 1992 before that), they have been touring pretty regularly. (+)
(Again, this version doesn’t exist on YouTube, so enjoy this instead.)
Tom Jones – If I Only Knew
Sir Tom Jones is a Welsh singer and… is he a sex symbol? Because on this album cover he’s really going for it.
This song was written by “experimental hip hop band” Rise Robots Rise, who made an appearance all the way back in #005. Jones’ best years I think are behind him at this point. 1994’s The Lead and How To Swing It looks like a desperate attempt to regain relevance, with three songs produced by Killing Joke bassist Youth, one song written by Diane Warren (“Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing”, among other crimes), one written and produced by Jeff Lynne, and an appearance by Tori Amos. I suppose it worked since this one went to #11 in the UK, and he appeared as himself in Mars Attacks!, among many, many other accomplishments. That being said, this doesn’t work for me.
Jones is still going now, with a jukebox musical based on his songs and as a judge / mentor on The Voice UK off and on. (-)
Butt Trumpet – I’m Ugly And I Don’t Know Why
L.A.’s Butt Trumpet is ostensibly a punk rock band. I’ve gone back and forth on this one, it’s a chaotic mess, but the production is so sterile that it’s kind of hard to enjoy. Plus, I don’t think I’d listen to a whole album of this. The album this comes from, Primitive Enema, was banned from sale in Massachusetts when a parent referred to it as “audio porn”.
Three members split off and formed Betty Blowtorch, including singer / bassist Bianca Halsted (aka Bianca Butthole), which eventually included L7 bassist Jennifer Finch. Halsted died in a car accident in 2001, and there’s some zombified version of Butt Trumpet that is still active. (-)
Justice System – Just Because
CMJ has now had this trend of really only including jazz inflected hip-hop groups. I’ve listened to it a few times, but it does leans hard on other people’s lyrics. That being said, it is better than some of the others ones who have passed through here.
There isn’t really much about them out there. Justice System it still going, but their releases are highly irregular. They released albums in 2003, 2004, and 2018. (+)
Diamanda Galas With John Paul Jones – Do You Take This Man?
John Paul Jones was really having a moment in the 90’s, producing records for Brian Eno, Heart, Jars of Clay, Lenny Kravitz, and Butthole Surfers. So, it’s not surprising that he teamed up with singer, composer, painter, performance artist, voice actress, and HIV/AIDS activist Diamanda Galas.
The recorded The Sporting Life together (with Elvis Costello drummer Pete Thomas), and the duo also toured. It’s hard to say exactly what Galas is, except for advant-garde. She does a talk-singing thing here, but she has some banshee wails in the background as well, but they’re buried pretty deep in the mix. Of course, Jones’ bass is pretty sick.
Galas is still going, she has her own label and spent much of 2009-2019 regaining the rights to all of her recordings. Jones plays with practically anyone who asks, creating one off groups, most popular of which is Them Crooked Vultures. (+)
Spearhead – Hole In The Bucket
Michael Franti was one of the MCs in Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy (who did the music for William S. Burroughs way back in #003), but they ended in 1993, and by 1994 Franti created Spearhead (later, Michael Franti and Spearhead). The song is good, typically 90’s socially conscious hip-hop. Franti has a good voice, good cadence, good flow.
Speahead is still going, and Franti has worked with multitudes of artists. He is also very politically active as well as advocating for veganism and “being barefoot”. (+)
Consolidated – Cutting
San Francisco’s Consolidated started in 1989, and play a mesh of alternative rock, hip-hop, funk, and industrial. I had heard of the group before and they are considered a radical left political band, often writing songs about vegetarianism, the dangers or capitalism, the dangers of American nationalism, other dangers.
The song is cool, it sounds exactly like I expected it to. Some trash can drums, noisy guitar in contrast with some more restrained riffs against some British news samples. The chorus even has a little bit of a hook.
Consolidated are still around, they released an album in 2020. I haven’t heard any of that other stuff, but there has certainly been plenty to rail against. (+)
State Of Emergency – Chocolate City
So, there are at least 10 artists on Discogs with this name, and nothing comes up on YouTube, so? (O)
James – Jam J
Are there really nine people in this band? Well, there weren’t when they formed in 1982, or for 1994’ Wah Wah. Brian Eno produced this record, and that’s always a wild card. Eno also produced Laid, but insisted the record their jam sessions and create an album from those. Laid was originally going to be a double album (per Eno), but the label said, “Nah”. So, instead we get this in 1994.
I think this is an interesting exercise. It’s not good, but it’s not bad, either. I wouldn’t want to listen to a whole album of it, though.
James broke up in 2001, but reformed in 2007 and are still going now. RIGHT NOW. (+)
Big Head Todd and The Monsters – In The Morning
Here we have an alt-country-rock / jam band hailing from Boulder, Colorado (not Boulder, Canada). The group began in 1984, and formed their own label in 1989 and self-released two albums before being picked up by Warner Bros. subsidiary Giant Records. They released Sister Sweetly, which never went past number 117 on the Billboard Top 200, yet somehow managed to go platinum. They released Strategem (purposely misspelled) in 1994, which is where this comes from. Truthfully, despite competent playing, this isn’t for me. It’s not slick enough to be Nashville country of the time, and it’s not weird enough to be a Meat Puppets’ countrified track.
However, dear reader, you will be happy to know that the major label ogre did not grind up this band and feast on their entrails. While they were dropped after this album, they are still going today. (-)
Kerbdog – End of Green
Formed in 1991 in Kilkenny, Ireland, three school friends began as Rollercoaster, playing covers of Sonic Youth, Spacemen 3, and Fudge Tunnel. In 1992, their friend Billy Dalton joined on second guitar and crew in 1994, they recorded their self-titled debut with Uncle Jack Endino. It’s fuzzy, heavy track. It has a little bit of a pop hook in the chorus.
Dalton left and the band reverted back to a three-piece, and they released On the Turn in 1996 (1997 in the UK), but it was too late, Mercury Records dropped them soon after. They attempted to record an album to find a new label, but they ended in 1998. Singer / guitarist Cormac Battle and drummer Darragh Butler formed Wilt, which went until 2003. Battle became a TV and Radio personality. The group has reformed from 2005-2008, 2011-2016, and again in 2019, and they released a live reunion album in 2014 (+)
Monster Magnet – Negasonic Teenage Warhead
When you think of bands from New Jersey, who do you think of? Probably Bon Jovi first, then Misfits. Maybe Skid Row, depending on your age. Maybe you should be thinking about Monster Magnet? Just an idea. The group formed in 1989, and the whole thing is built on the counterculture of the 60’s and 70’s. I remember I had bought this VHS sampler called Molted because a friend had it and it had the videos for Therapy’s “Nausea” and Soundgarden’s “Jesus Christ Pose”. Anyway, the video for “Twin Earth” was on it, and I was convinced that they didn’t know what year it was. I wouldn’t normally include something not on the disc, but just look at it.
This is a sound that bands today are just killing themselves to replicate. This song is more of the same. Of course, everyone knows “Spacelord” from 1998’s Powertrip. I saw them open for Rob Zombie, and they were awful. Wyndorf was just a drugged-up mess, and the rest of the band was clearly aggravated with him. He was screaming nonsense and slamming his guitar (that wasn’t even plugged in) against the mic stand. To be fair, Wyndorf had been doing drugs since he was 14, had an overdose in 2006, but apparently has been clean ever since. Great for him! Monster Magnet is still going today, releasing an album just last year. They’ve had a lot of turnover with Wyndorf being the sole constant member. (+)
Spitboy – Removal
Here we have an all-female anarcho punk band from San Francisco. This song is just brutal, feral, I mean for fuck’s sake… and good for them! They only existed from 1990-95, but left a mark with their songs about the patriarchy and gender roles. They members all went onto other music projects after the break up, and drummer Michelle Cruz Gonzales released a memoir titled The Spitboy Rule. The band’s entire catalog (all 71 minutes of it) was reissued in 2021. (+)
Team Dresch – She’s Crushing My Mind
Olympia, Washington’s Team Dresch formed in 1993 and was an important band in the queercore scene. Dresch had filled in on bass during tours for Screaming Trees and Dinosaur Jr., before forming her own group. This is some bouncy punk, it’s fine. Spitboy is a hard act to follow. Team Dresch broke up in 1998 so the members could work on other projects, and they appeared in a number of LGBT+ documentaries. The band reformed in 2004 and is still going today. (+)
Now It’s Time For Breakdown:
Worthy Tracks: (16/20) 80% passing… I need to start being meaner.
Maple Leaf Invasion: A big fat ZEEEROOOOO! 9.5% Irish, though.
YEEEEAAAHHH, Here Comes the Roster: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones make their third appearance, making them and 700 Miles the only ones (so far) to three-peat. Matthew Sweet, Sarah McLachlan, Eve’s Plum, Catherine Wheel, Therapy?, Jeff Buckley, Beastie Boys, Engines of Aggression, Luscious Jackson, and G. Love & Special Sauce are all members of the Two-Timers Club. There have been 256 unique artists to date.
Discogs Stats: 74 users have this (including me), 14 users desire this in their life. The lowest price it ever sold for was $2.69, while the highest was $12.00, the median price was $5.50. The last one was purchased on December 29, 2020 (same as last month).