Old Music Monthly #017 [January 1995]

No magazine yet, but I did get some hard copies for donating to an animal rescue, so those will be coming up in a few weeks. In the meantime, let’s listen to the CD, shall we?

Old Music Monthly #017: January 1995

Radiohead – (My) Iron Lung

Youse guys know who Radiohead is, right? I had Pablo Honey… well, a copy given to me by an ex, and it didn’t really do much for me. I haven’t heard the album since it was new (despite actually downloading it about a decade ago). What’s interesting to me here is that “Creep” was a huge hit, MTV Buzz Bin, the whole deal. Yet, Capitol Records are still hedging their bets here to give Radiohead more exposure. But what exactly are they promoting? The EP My Iron Lung came out at the end of September 1994, and the magazine came out probably November 1994, so there’s no excuse for leaving “My” out of the title on the CD. The song is also on The Bends, which will be out in March 1995. The band was not happy that the label didn’t push this (even though the stuck an acoustic version of “Creep” on the EP to give it a sales boost), and the label felt that this was just a curiosity for hardcore fans. So, I’m not sure exactly what the label is going because it’s 2 months late to push the EP, and at least 3 months early for the album.

Anyway, Radiohead has had the same lineup since 1985, and they are prolific with side projects and solo efforts as well. I am far from the biggest Radiohead fan, I am pretty casual, but this is my favorite era of the band. (+)

Chris Connelly – Candyman Collapse

I have written at great length about Chris Connelly in the Ministry Artist Spotlight, so I won’t rehash here. At the time, I struggled with Connelly’s Bowie persona, but it’s aged remarkably well, especially his third album, Shipwreck. TVT Records, after purchasing Wax Trax!, of course would grind Connelly up and he laid pretty low for the next 6 years. Of course, when he came back, he came roaring out of the gate with 2 solo albums and The Damage Manual. Anyway, this is a good alt-pop song. (+)

The Wolfgang Press – Going South

This London group formed as a sort of 4AD super group, when members from Mass, Rema-Rema, and In Camera got together to create The Wolfgang Press in 1983. Tagged as post-punk and post-industrial (I’m not hearing it), they became “avante-dance groovers”. I listened to this; I was not for it. I listened to what Wikipedia said was their “international hit”, which was “A Girl Like You (Born to Be Kissed)”, and I didn’t like that as well, this band is just not for me. I can’t even articulate why, which makes me a bad person.

Their guitarist quit before the release of their final album, Funky Little Demons. Before they could even continue, they were dropped by 4AD and they decided to split for good, even though they recorded 6 or 7 songs as a duo, which some of them were released in 2020. (-)

Black Sheep – Without A Doubt

This NYC duo formed in 1989, and released their debut A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing in 1991. The album was universally praised, and Mercury was so impressed they gave the duo their own imprint. As always happens with these things, the follow up came out in 1994 (Non-Fiction) and the label did little or nothing to promote it, and the sales weren’t there. The group split in 1995.

The song is ok, there’s nothing wrong with it, but I don’t think there’s anything here that sets it apart from what hip-hop was doing at the time. Am I wrong?

The group reformed from 2000-02, and then again in 2006 and have stayed together since. (-)

Massive Attack – Protection

This trip hop group formed in Bristol, formed in 1988 by 3D, Tricky, and Daddy G. They released their first album in 1991, and by 1994 had released their second, Protection.

Surprisingly, the CD has the full album version of “Protection”. At first, I thought it was just ok. The longer it went on, the more I liked it. However, I think this song really props up how great Beth Gibbons is in Portishead. The singer here is Everything But the Girl’s Tracey Thorn, and there’s nothing wrong with her, but most anyone could be singing this and I don’t know that it would change the song either way.

The band is still going, but with some fluctuations in personnel, including Tricky who went solo for a time. (+)

Dionne Farris – I Know

I didn’t realize until long after the fact, that Dionne Farris was in Arrested Development (the group, not the show). Well, not technically a member. She shared management with the group, and they were looking for a female singer for a few tracks. She was reluctant to be involved, but she relented. Although never an official member, she did perform with them on Arsenio Hall, and toured with them throughout 1992. She was offered a solo record if Speech (Arrested Development leader) produced, and she said, “Nah”, and continued searching for a deal where she would have artistic control. She bailed on the Arrested Development tour right before a show in September after an argument with Speech. She picked herself up, sent out demos, and Randy Jackson (American Idol judge and former Journey bassist) signed her to Columbia, who released this.

This is another example of CMJ< being ahead of the pop music curve. The single was released in January 1995 (remember, magazines are out earlier than their cover date), and spent 10 consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Top 40. I had this disc when it was new, I definitely wasn’t into this then. However, I quite like it now. Fun fact: it was co-written with future Alice In Chains vocalist William DuVall.

Despite her Columbia debut earning Grammy nominations, Columbia dicked her around and shelved her second album. It eventually was released in 2007, and she stayed busy doing soundtrack work in the decade in between. Her most recent release was a collaboration with jazz guitarist Charlie Hunter in 2014. She is also the mother of rapper Baby Tate. (+)

(The) Walkabouts – Murdering Stone

This Seattle group started in 1984 and named themselves after Nicolas Roeg’s film Walkabout. This will be on the test later.

This comes from 1993’s New West Motel, which came out on Sub Pop. Considering the climate, I wonder if that had anything to do with this song’s inclusion. It’s an ok song, I remember it from back in the day. I don’t love it, though. This is a song where I feel like I should’ve come up with a “no score” option. It’s not terrible, it’s kind of comforting, but is it special?

Like a lot of these sort of country-ish, folk-ish groups, they gained some measure of success in Europe. The moved on from Sub Pop to Virgin, and then bounced around from small labels to self-releasing, before calling it quits in 2015. (-)

Jewel – Who Will Save Your Soul

Alaska native Jewel has a story that is perfectly made for major label press releases. She lived in a home with no indoor plumbing in the mid-80’s, performed in variety acts with her family, and then drove around the country, living in her car, busking for anyone who would listen, and recording her debut album in the coffee shop she worked in. I mean, it makes Coyote Ugly seem reasonable by comparison.

Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s the world we live in now, or maybe it really is Jewel herself. Her early music is the stuff that seems to be really deep and meaningful, but the farther I am from it, the more trite it becomes. “Who Will Save Your Soul”, and Pieces of You, are so straightforward and bland… so bland that this track and “Who Will Save Your Soul” had to be re-recorded to even be released as singles. What’s odd to me, the album was released February 1995, but this song was the first single and it was released June 4, 1996. I mean, it’s cool that Atlantic didn’t just kick her ass out the door, it’s just unusual. Then, they released another single in 1997, and another in 1998. I may not like it, but her album went twelve times platinum. So, obviously, I’m an idiot.

Jewel went on too much fame and fortune, including being one of only 3 women who played Woodstock ‘99. She’s gone country, released lullabies (today I learned that Fisher-Price has a fucking record label), put out books, collaborated with any and every one she can (including Blues Traveler and Tyrese). She was also the season 6 winner of The Masked Singer in 2021. But you know what? I respect the hustle. (-)

Lena Willemark / Ale Moller – Sven Svanehvit

This Swedish duo’s track… isn’t on YouTube, so let’s keep it moving. (O)

Korn – Clown

This Bakersfield group is pretty well known for being a punch line (but still not as bad as Limp Bizkit). It’s hard to explain today just how out there and fresh this sounded when it arrived. The group was originally called L.A.P.D., but became Korn when singer Johnathan Davis joined up.

The self-titled debut was released on October 11, 1994, and the lead single was “Blind”, which was out in August. Nothing really happened. This song appears here, and then the next singles come out in April 1995 (“Need To”), June (“Shoots and Ladders”), and then “Clown” in July. Korn remains pretty much underground for the next few years, but reviews of the album are largely positive, pointing out the hip-hop influences and the bagpipes… the reviewers love the bagpipes. A friend of mine bought this album, and I thought it was pretty good, and I ended up buying my own. I don’t make it a point to listen to it, but it’s still in my collection.

I saw Korn in January 1996. They were opening for Ozzy Osbourne on his “Retirement Sucks Tour”, along with Life of Agony. I wouldn’t say they were booed off the stage, but the crowd of oldheads was extremely unenthusiastic about their performance. Nevertheless, the band gave it all they had. I saw them again headlining the same arena 3 years later, which was pretty impressive.

We’ll see them again in 1996. (I should point out that this version on the CD doesn’t have the screwing around at the beginning of the album version) (+)

Mother May I – Meet You There               

Are you ready for more ridiculous major label shenanigans? Read on! Guitarist / vocalist Damon Hennessey and drummer Rob Lebourdais met up and started the Mother May I and completed the lineup with bassist Graham McCulloch from… Negative Approach? That’s weird. The group self-released their first EP, Use Your Appetite For Spaghetti. Someone at Columbia Records was so impressed that they signed the group to an eight album contract. Oh, the hubris. McCulloch left and was replaced by David Swafford from Best Kissers In the World.

“Meet You There” is a good power-pop song. It’s not normally the sort of thing I go for, but I passed Dionne Farris, so I guess I’m subverting expectations this time out. In the magazine, they state: “R.I.Y.L.: Posies, Weezer, Gin Blossoms, Best Kissers In the World”, and I don’t care about any of those, but this is nice.

Their debut album came out on Valentine’s Day 1995, and Columbia dropped them by December 1995. What the fuck is this label doing? They managed to release a follow up in 1999, but by 2001 the band was over. (+)

Revolting Cocks – Beers, Steer and Queers

I’ve written about RevCo at length. This is a slightly different version than the one that is on Beers, Steers and Queers. This is here to promote Black Box – Wax Trax!: The First 13 Years, which I cannot recommend enough. It’s out of print, so if you ever find it, scoop it up. I think most of it is available on other releases (so many releases), but the book that comes with it is worth the price of admission. (+)

Widowmaker – Long Gone

A Dee Snider joint! Dee Snider, you should know, was the frontman of Twisted Sister and rallied against the PMRC (Parents Music Resource Center) with Frank Zappa and… John Denver. Twister Sister broke up in 1988, and Snider formed Desperado with Bernie Torme (Gillan, Ozzy Osbourne, Atomic Rooster), Clive Burr (Iron Maiden), and Marc Russell (absolutely nothing). Desperado broke up in 1990, and Wikipedia says that it was because of the “emerging grunge trend”, which makes no sense. Snider is smart, but he can’t see the future. Anyway, Snider took Russell and formed Widowmaker with Al Pitrelli (Alice Cooper, Asia) and drummer Joey Franco.

I poo-poo’d this when it was new as I thought I was too cool for Dee Snider. Honestly, it’s not terrible… but it’s not great either, and it’s certainly not worth hanging on to. How is this an improvement over, or even on par with, Twisted Sister? Spoiler alert: it isn’t.

Sources say the group split in 1994, but information traveled slowly back then. Snider went back to Twisted Sister off and on, and has a solo career. Pitrelli went on to play with Savatage, Megadeth, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra where he still currently plays. (-)

Laika – Marimba Song

Laika formed in London out of the ashes of Moonshake with vocalist / multi-instrumentalist Margaret Fiedler, bassist John Frenett, and their producer Guy Fixsen.

Look, this just isn’t for me. It just sounds like a dub remix of gibberish. (-)

Superdrag – Senorita

You most likely heard Knoxville, Tennessee’s Superdrag from their 1996 MTV hit “Sucked Out”, with its refrain of, “Who sucked out the FEEEELAAAAAHHHHNN?!” Someone once said to me, in an insulting way, “I bet you like that ‘sucked out the feeling’ song, don’t you?” Yeah, well, I do.

This is from their first 7-inch release in 1994, though it was compiled on CD in 1998. It’s indie, but it is sloppy and fuzzy, much more haphazard than their full length will be. I like that it’s a mix of dirty guitars and some good vocal melodies and harmonies.

We won’t see them again for their debut, but they will be back for their sophomore full length in 1998, so we’ll put a pin in them for now. (+)

Cardinal – Dream Figure

Australian and American pop culture relations have been rocky, no matter how many movies Paul Hogan forces on us. He’s like 150 years old and he put one out where he’s a butler not too long ago. I saw it on the shelf, and I just dropped my basket in disgust and walked out. Sorry, baby, you don’t need formula that bad. Anyway, Australian Richard Davies and American Eric Matthews formed indie pop duo Cardinal in Boston in 1992.

They released their 1994 self-titles debut to critical acclaim, but I’m not hearing it. The vocal harmonies are nice, but when Davies is singing on his own, he sounds like the last gasp of air is leaving his body. Live shows must’ve been like expecting to see the creation of a fresh corpse on stage. At the end of their set, Matthews would smother him with a pillow.

The group split soon after this, and reformed in 2011 and are still going today… for some reason. (-)

Containe – Tired Eyes

Ok this is a shame; this isn’t on YouTube. I’m going to have to start uploading these myself, aren’t I? I had a whole spiel planned about how I’m too hard on “softer” acts, and this one is just a couple of ladies sadly moaning about being alcoholics or something… give me a break, I’m going from memory here. I used to put these all on a tape, and I played this one after closing at McDonald’s. A girl that worked there, the same one that asked me about Superdrag up above, asked me, “What is this girl’s problem?”

Anyway, not fair to score this one, even thought I’ve heard it, and I liked it back then. (O)

King Crimson – Cage

Here is another example of a legacy act on these compilations, but unusually, tucked away at the end. They usually put them right up front. Maybe it’s because prog has always kind of been in the ghetto… at least since punk came along. Anyway, this was my first introduction to King Crimson, and I love the frantic energy of it. I never became a fan of King Crimson, but not through any fault of their own. I just didn’t know anyone into them in 1994. There was a guy in a computer class of mine who once wore a King Crimson shirt, but he had a bad haircut, so I didn’t talk to him. One thing I find interesting about this group is the way the lineups shift with multiple experiments, like three drummers, and “double trios”. It’s weird and it is defiant in our pop culture landscape’s insistence on making static lineups overly important.

King Crimson ran from 1968-1974, then 1981-1984, then 1994-2003, then 2008-2009, and 2013 to present day. (+)

Now It’s Time For Breakdown:

Worthy Tracks: (9/16) 56.25% worth listening to, would be 62.5% if I graded Containe. 64.3% across the series.

Maple Leaf Invasion: God, what a waste this space is. I refuse to get rid of it. 27.8% English, 5.6% Scottish, though. Oh yeah, and it’s only 1.9% Canadian across the series, so far.

YEEEEAAAHHH, Here Comes the Roster: For the first time in a long time, there are no additions to the Two-Timer’s Club or the Three-peaters. However, to date: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and 700 Miles are leading the pack with three appearances each. This time, we get four artists making their second appearances. Catherine, Ass Ponys, Magnapop, and Cranes join Matthew Sweet, Sarah McLachlan, Eve’s Plum, Catherine Wheel, Therapy?, Jeff Buckley, Beastie Boys, Engines of Aggression, Luscious Jackson, and G. Love & Special Sauce as members of the Two-Timers Club. There have been 273 unique artists to date.