Old Music Monthly #024: August 1995
Here’s our good friends Primus. There’s only one page of an actual interview, but three pages of a photo shoot, and it’s infuriating. You can hear the photographer saying, “be whacky!”, and they use all these photos and they look like idiots.
A whole bunch of angry Canadians in this one. Someone please page Sir Simon, he needs to defend hHead’s honor! Also, I love the disclaimer not to email the letters department about missing or broken discs.
In My Room
Here we have “Separated at Birth”, but they forgot Ride by Godspeed. What other album covers did they forget?
And here is an inspired tour line up:
Best New Music
This one only has a total of 38 reviews. While there isn’t much in here that is that interesting, the Ramones review is kind of interesting in hindsight. The Ramones get a two-page article… more actual words than Primus gets.
This is the reissue column, and I didn’t mention it before, but this is something some of you will be interested in.
I didn’t bring up this column before because it hasn’t been interesting yet, just a giant wall of text, but this one explores Courtney Love wading into the internet and taking swings at her detractors.
Miss Polly Jean Harvey drops to number 15. How many of the 75 do you own?
This one is from Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments vocalist Ron House talking about Columbus, Ohio.
I find it interesting that this ad makes no mention of Dave Grohl, or Nirvana. It would be admittedly gauche, but not like it’s ever stopped corporations before. Anyway, I’m trying to think of when I knew about Foo Fighters, and I don’t remember the time of year, but I was in a friend’s car, and she had bought it and was making us listen to it. She asked what I thought about it, and I thought it was ok. I had only heard it once, not even all the way through, and being distracted by 3 other friends in the car. She said, “No, it’s awesome.” It was the first time I was ever corrected on my opinion.
Foo Fighters first played a show in February 1995, and then two shows on March 3 and 4. The March 3 show was a benefit for the investigation for the rape and murder of The Gits vocalist Mia Zapata. I have to think that word was out already about them, even considering how terribly slow information travelled in 1995. “This Is a Call” was released in June 1995, which tracks as about when this magazine would hit the street. There was no video for this single, so it still could’ve been a mystery. The first Foo Fighters video, “I’ll Stick Around”, wouldn’t be out until September. Also, strange there’s that much blank space at the bottom.
Here’s what Puma is doing this month. Nice subtle dig at Nike.
Without further delay, the CD:
Leftfield / Lydon – Open Up
Neil Barnes was a percussionist and DJ who decided in 1989 to try his hand at electronic music. He created two singles for the Rhythm King label in 1990, and they got the remix treatment from Paul Daley, who was also a session percussionist. Daley joined Leftfield, but the duo would be trapped in a legal dispute with Rhythm King until 1992. They released “Open Up” as a single with John “Johnny Rotten” Lydon in 1993, and it appeared on 1994’s Leftism. This is probably my favorite thing Lydon has done, although I do like some PiL.
Leftfield split in 2002, but Barnes brought back Leftfield (without Daley) in 2010. (+)
Sun 60 – C’mon And Kiss Me
Here we have what began as a folk duo in Los Angeles, and morphed into an alt rock group. Singer Joan Jones and guitarist David Russo started adding members to create a more rock rhythm section. They got signed to Epic in 1990, and released a self-titled debut in 1991. They got further than most bands did with Epic, they released a second album in 1993 and Headjoy in 1995, which is where we are catching up with them.
I wouldn’t say this is terrible, it’s kind of fun, if slight. But the reality is, I’m never going to listen to this again, and I’m never going to seek out the album. Also, how mad was the drummer here do you think? He’s barely in it, and his placement makes sure any shot of him is consumed with the singer’s face.
The group split in 1996. Jones went solo, and Russo works in TV and Movie scores. (-)
that dog. – Ms. Wrong
This Los Angeles group (thank god I’m only tracking Canada and not L.A.) began when singer / guitarist Anna Waronker sat in her dorm room writing punk songs about boys. She was soon joined by sisters (two out of three triplets) Petra Haden on violin and Rachel Haden on bass, and Tony Maxwell on drums. The group was up and running by 1992 and pretty much immediately signed to DGC Records, releasing their self-titled debut in 1993. Here, we’re caught up with their sophomore effort, Totally Crushed Out!
I like the song, I like that it’s a lady’s point of view of being hit on, and she’s just like, “You’re ok, but I’m not feeling it”. Is that progressive for 1995? My favorite line in the song is when the guy character asks if she is a teepee or a wigwam, and she says, “I’m just too tense.” Insert your favorite picture of Tracy Morgan / Jordan saying, “WORDPLAY!”
That Dog put out a third album in 1997, and immediately broke up! They did regroup without Petra Haden in 2011 and have released two albums since. Petra has been a very in demand violinist, playing on records by Breeders, Mike Watt, Luscious Jackson, Beck, Foo Fighters, Sunn O))) and Goatsnake (featuring Wool member Pete Stahl) among many others. She also released an acapella recording of The Who Sell Out, and she was Bill Hader’s singing voice in the Documentary Now! season one finale “Gentle & Soft: The Blue Jean Committee Story”. Maxwell has done some score music, and also played the dog man in Daft Funk’s “Da Funk” video. Rachel Haden has played drums for Beck, and played keyboards for Jimmy Eat World and The Rentals, and played bass for Todd Rundgren. Waronker went solo, as well as co-writing an musical about Linda Lovelace, and co-writing the soundtrack to Yellowjackets with Shudder To Think’s Craig Wedren. Waronker is married to Steven McDonald (Redd Kross, sometimes Melvins). (+)
Catchers – Shifting
Dale Grundle and Alice Lemon formed Catchers in Northern Ireland in 1993, and by 1994 they were releasing Mute, their debut album. They had some measure of critical acclaim from English and French press (the media, not the coffee machine), and toured with Oasis, Pulp, and Edwyn Collins. Truthfully, I wasn’t into this, but the vocals on the chorus were just that good.
In 1998, they released their second (and final) album, which was well received in France, but sold disappointing numbers in the UK. While not official, the band took a break between 1999 and 2006, and between 2006 and 2019. They are currently around, releasing a new single in 2021. (+)
A House – The Strong And The Silent
We’re been to Northern Ireland, not let’s go to Regular Ireland. This is another name that is either brilliant, or stupid. I think it’s kind of funny. The group were college friends who formed in 1985 and honed their craft in pubs, including McGonagle’s, where U2 worked out their sound in the late seventies. The group signed to Blanco Y Negro, then got dropped, and scooped up by Setanta Records, which made them labelmates with Catchers and Edwyn Collins. Collins produced 1994’s Wide-Eyed and Ignorant. This is actually not bad, it’s got some oomph behind it and the chorus is very singable.
The band split in 1997, as one does. Singer Dave Couse went solo, but also has a career as an FM radio presenter. (+)
Catherine Wheel – Waydown
Scarce – Honey Simple
Following the breakup of Anastasia Screamed, singer / guitarist Chick Graning started Scarce with bassist Joyce Raskin, and drummer Jud Ehrbar in 1993. Mike Levesque replaced Ehrbar in 1995, and the group recorded and released DeadSexy. We’ve seen Levesque before, this is actually his third appearance after drumming on tracks for Juliana Hatfield and Jen Trynin. This is a good alt-rock song, I feel like Graning’s vocal delivery is informed by Kurt Cobain, he doesn’t exactly sound like Cobain but he goes between a nicer singer voice and a real howling but scratchy delivery.
The band went on tour opening for Hole, and after that Joseph Propatier replaced Levesque on drums in June 1995. When Graning did not show up to practice, he was discovered in his apartment having had an aneurysm. After learning to walk and talk again (after being given a 10% chance of survival), the group re-recorded a bunch of DeadSexy, and changed the order and track list and released it again in 1996. However, they split in 1997. Raskin had a breakdown, and wrote about her experiences in Aching To Be which was published in 2007. Scarce reformed in 2008. (+)
Stiffs, Inc. – Chelsea
This NYC “Victorian Punk” band started in 1992, and today we would probably call Steampunk… Punk, today. I don’t know. I didn’t save this back in the day, but it’s not bad. It has this primitive sound to it, and without seeing them, you wouldn’t know they were “Victorian”.
They put out a second album, but then split by 1998. Singer Whitney Sterling went onto form electronic outfit Umbrella Brigade. Guitarist Paul Boering started a group called Coke, which then became “White Powder (Of Which We Do Not Partake) Which Brings To Mind The Cold Beauty Of Snow As Well As The Glamour And Sophistication Of The 1920s, But Also Happens To Be The Name Of A Brown Sugary Beverage”, which then reverted back to “Coke”, and eventually became Beaut. (+)
Steel Pole Bath Tub – The 500 Club
Formed in Montana by guitarist / vocalist Mike Morasky and bassist / vocalist Dale Flattum, the group moved to Seattle, picked up drummer Darren Mor-x and moved on to San Francisco. Steel Pole Bath Tub are a noise rock band known for chaotic performance, and heavy use of television samples. They released two demo tapes, a ton of singles, and 3 indie albums before being signed to Warner Bros. imprint Slash. They released Scars From Falling Down in 1995, but without any of their samples they used in early releases because the lawyers threw a fit.
Their second album for Slash was intended to a cover of The Cars’ first album, but the label wasn’t having it, and they called the demos “Unlistenable”, and refused to release them. The group refused to do anything else, and then busied themselves with side projects including Milk Cult and Tumor Circus with Jello Biafra (both actually pre-date the major label signing). When the rights for the Slash demos reverted back to them in 2002, they released them as Unlistenable, then they broke up. They had a single reunion in 2008. (+)
Menthol – USA Capable
This Champaign, IL group began as Mother and released 2 independent albums, before changing their name to Menthol and signing with Capitol Records. They released a self-titled album, where this comes from. I didn’t save this one back in the day, it’s really the vocals I don’t care for… but today, the music makes up for it.
Much like Steel Pole Bath Tub, they recorded a second album which Capital refused to release. In 2002, it reverted back to the band and they released Danger: Rock Science! The band broke up… some time… but it’s unclear when. (+)
Gov’t Mule – Monkey Hill
Guitarist / vocalist Warren Haynes and bassist Allen Woody started Gov’t Mule as a side-project of The Allman Brothers Band… which I didn’t know back then but makes perfect sense. There are about 400 live versions of this on YouTube, but this is the only one that is the same on the CD (skip to 13:56). The guitar sounds nice, but it’s just too “jam band” for my tastes. I’m never going to listen to this again.
The Allman Brothers ended in 2014, but Gov’t Mule is still going. (-)
Big Sugar – Ride Like Hell
This group, which seems like it’s really just singer / guitarist Gordie Johnson, formed in Toronto in 1988, and are billed as a rock/reggae band. Big Sugar is among the 25 best-selling Canadian artists in Canada. “Ride Like Hell” comes from 1993’s Five Hundred Pounds, which seems a little late to the party. Does stuff take this long to cross the border? Anyway, this is pretty bland. I would enjoy it if I was in a dank pub, but in this time travelling disc series, it’s just “Meh”. It’s cheap blues that goes with cheap beer.
After this, the group signed to A&M for 2 albums, and broke up in 2004, but reformed in 2010. (-)
Jasper And The Prodigal Suns – Sincerely Jasper
There’s very little about this hip-hop group out there, just the same snippets over and over again repeated on endless sites. One thing I read, was that singer / guitarist Jasper was good friends with G Love, and I was totally ready to hate this. But I don’t. Everything points to this being Jazzy hip hop, which we’ve seen time and time again. Maybe the album is more jazz influenced. This is kind of jazzy, but I think it’s more ragged blues, you can see a group of poor, barefoot musicians in the kitchen of a dilapidated house hammering this out.
The group only released on EP (on Cherrydisc) and one album (on Geffen) in 1995, then disappeared into the ether. (+)
Ani DiFranco – Not A Pretty Girl
Ani DiFranco hails from Buffalo, the daughter of an Italian father and a Canadian mother… so, partial credit. She began busking with Beatles songs when she was 9, writing her own songs at 14 and playing them wherever she could. She was emancipated from her mother at the ager of 15. She started her own record company at 19, Righteous Babe, and all her albums have been released on her label.
Her music is “alternative”, but draws very heavily on folk music, and is by and large autobiographical. While there are other songs of hers coming up that I do like, I don’t care for this one, but I like her statement here. It’s just not something I’m going to listen to.
DiFranco isn’t going anywhere, we will see a lot of her in the upcoming weeks, months… however long it takes to get through these discs. (-)
Dr. Dre – Keep Their Heads Ringin’
What can I tell you about Dr. Dre? Nothing, you idiots! Dr. Dre is dead! But seriously, it’s always kind of weird for me to write something about people who have had their own Behind the Music episodes, let alone a biopic. Dre started as Dr. J, spinning in a club called Eve’s After Dark, where he met DJ Yella, who he would later team up with in NWA. Dre’s fashion was on point, I wish he’d go back to this.
Dre linked up with World Class Wreckin’ Cru, then joined up with Ice Cube and Easy E in NWA. After a very public fallout with Easy E, Dre went solo and The Chronic, which was a smash that was certified three times platinum, and also launched the career of Snoop Dogg. Here, we have Dre with the lead (and only) single from the Friday soundtrack.
Like (too) many artists, his legacy is complicated. Lots of real dickish behavior that he occasionally attempts to apologize for. He had aneurysm in 2021 and survived. (+)
Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Hell Of A Hat
I like this song, I mean, if you like the others you’ll like this. But I really like the last third when it goes of the rails. The video has a lot of stupid shit in it, but I like that it gives their dancer / backing vocalist / mascot / hype man / whatever the hell his job is a moment in the sun. (+)
Screaming Headless Torsos – Vinnie
This does not sound like you would expect this band name to sound like. The group formed in 1989, and released their debut album, 1995, in 1995 of course. Alright, there are parts of this I like, and parts I don’t. Some of this guitar sounds like nothing else, and it’s pretty cool, but I can’t get over the jam band vibes. And the guitarist as his t-shirt tucked into his jeans, who does that?
The band is still going, but releases albums sporadically and focuses most of its touring attention on South and Latin America. (-)
Kaleid – Culture Shock
Here is a mystery. Rod Richardson is (was?) Kalied and he put out ambient music. The magazine says that this is from the upcoming Zen and the Surveillance of Bicycle Messengering, but the album that came out in 1995 was actually Out of Mind Is Out of Sight, and it was released on Richardson’s own Void Ware Productions. He did manage to afford a full-page ad in the magazine, though:
Richardon’s second album used the Zen… title, and that came out in 2002. His Void Ware label released only his two albums, and something called Darkk Bros. Richardson was actually a bike messenger in the 90s, no idea what he is up to now. (-)
Dissolve – Strand
This group is the project of two New Zealand guitarists, Chris Heaphy and Roy Montgomery. Heaphy is also a painter (how has been since this was released, and Montgomery has been in about 6,000 New Zealand bands. At first, I wasn’t wild about this, but it’s kind of like an alternate reality No Wave track. (+)
Now It’s Time For Breakdown:
Worthy Tracks: (13/19); 68.42% for this disc, 64.66% across the series.
Maple Leaf Invasion: Add one more! This disc is 5.26%, making it 2.77% across the series.
YEEEEAAAHHH, Here Comes the Roster: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones become the first artist to cross that threshold of four appearances. Catherine Wheel joins the Threepeaters, who include Matthew Sweet and 700 Miles. The artists that are part of the Two-Timer’s Club are Satchel, Hum, Bracket, Guided By Voices, Chris Whitley, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Quicksand, Digable Planets, Adam Ant, Catherine, Ass Ponys, Magnapop, Cranes, Sarah McLachlan, Eve’s Plum, Therapy?, Jeff Buckley, Beastie Boys, Engines of Aggression, Luscious Jackson, G. Love & Special Sauce, and Green Apple Quick Step. Over the 24 installments, there have 414 unique artists.