Old Music Monthly #033: May 1996
How old do you think Pollard is here? I thought he always looked haggard, I’m sure he came out of the womb looking 56.
Here’s the article, I’m sure several here will be interested:
Some dude is highly offended that everyone says Elastica ripped off Wire. Maybe this dashing gentleman will finally win Justine Frichsmann’s love (step aside Damon Albarn!). Godspeed, Laurence!
In My Room
Tours We’d Like To See
I’m not sure I agree on the “coolness”.
Weird Record of the Month
This… isn’t great but is kind of interesting in theory. Copies start at 99 cents on discogs, if you feel so inclined.
Promo Item of the Month
Fire up your fax machines!
Best New Music
Man, I used to love Busta Rhymes.
and I’m going to stick this here because it’s rare that an actual metal band graces the pages of this magazine. But I also want to point out what a huge waste of space this is, you couldn’t fill out a little bit more text in the article? C’mon!
Enjoy some quality Web 0.05.
Therapy’s Michael McKeegan walks us through Belfast.
Without further delay, the CD:
Semisonic – Down In Flames
This Minneapolis trio formed when Trip Shakespeare broke up and members John Munson and Dan Wilson teamed up with drummer Jacob Slichter in 1995. They had released an independent EP, and then were signed to Elektra Records, but a change in upper management at the label resulted in them getting dropped before they ever recorded anything. MCA scooped them up and their debut album, Great Divide, came out in 1996.
The album was reviewed pretty well. The song is pretty great, it’s a good measure of pop hooks and guitar slinging.
You already know that the group had a sizeable hit with “Closing Time” a few years from now, but they never recaptured that success, in the U.S. at least, they had other hits in Europe. The group split in 2001, but reformed in 2017. (+)
Butthole Surfers – Pepper
I’m going to be as succinct as possible about a band that’s been around for 41 years. They were on my shortlist for an Artist Spotlight, before I got sidetracked with this insane endeavor.
The group started when Gibby Haynes and Paul Leary met in college in San Antonio. Despite being headed for “normal” careers, they were two weirdos who had a similar sense of humor. Haynes was captain of the university basketball team and won “Accountant of the Year”, and Leary was working toward his MBA. The duo had a zine called Strange V.D., which caused Haynes to get fired from the accounting firm where he worked, and they moved to Southern California and made money selling Lee Harvey Oswald t-shirts. They soon moved back to San Antonio to start Butthole Surfers.
The group was spotted by Jello Biafra, who invited them to open for Dead Kennedys on tour (along with TSOL), and soon they released their first EP (Butthole Surfers, aka Brown Reason To Live, aka Pee Pee the Sailor) on Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles. In the early days, everything they made went right back into the stage show, which became the stuff of legends. Nude dancers, fire batons, walls of strobe lights, projectors playing surgery footage, and so on. Second drummer Theresa Nervosa has to leave the band because of the damage the strobe lights were doing to her brain.
They released a number of challenging and highly regarded albums on Touch and Go and Rough Trade, as well as moving to Athens, GA to stalk Michael Stipe. They released Pioughd on Rough Trade, which soon went belly up (but not before releasing Leary’s solo album The History of Dogs). Incredibly, the signed to Capitol Records which immediately had people calling them sell-outs. But, Independent Worm Saloon (produced by John Paul Jones) is pretty damn weird.
Worm seems to be an album early fans and later fans can mostly agree on. Then, in 1996 we get ElectricLarryLand, and “Pepper”. “Pepper” is probably a weaker track, there’s a lot of stuff on the album I would rate above it, but it does make sense as a single. Lots of abuse is levelled at LarryLand, but even if you go back to Brown Reason to Live (my preferred title for the first EP), “Hey” isn’t weird at all, it’s a normal straight forward (kind of) pop song.
If we want to talk about terrible Butthole Surfers releases, we can talk about 2001’s Weird Revolution. Embroiled in legal battles with Capitol, they recorded After the Astronaut and Capitol went and released promos before it was finished. After being freed from their contract, the re-recorded a bunch of the album for Weird Revolution, but it’s a mess.
Never officially disbanding, Leary focused on more production work (every time you hear Sublime’s “What I Got” he gets another quarter), while Haynes released a solo album and some other singles through Jack White’s Third Man Records. The group reformed to tour Europe and play the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in 2008, with the classic lineup (including Nervosa, bassist Jeff Pinkus, and longest serving drummer King Coffey). The group played sporadically through 2009, 2011, and 2 dates in December 2016.
In 2014, Leary and Pinkus played on Melvins’ Hold It In, which of their most recent albums, is one of the best. Pinkus stayed with Melvins for a little while, holding down their rotating bassist slot. He also has his solo project Honky, which is almost like if Melvins were more Southern rock influenced.
In 2017, Leary stated there would be a new Butthole Surfers album, but we’re still waiting. It would be great if Weird Revolution isn’t their final album. (+)
Wallflowers – Sixth Avenue Heartache
Ok, serious question, if Jakob Dylan weren’t Bobby’s son, is he good enough to have had a music career?
I will cop to liking “One Headlight”, but this song is trash. This is music for people who don’t listen to music. This is something to compliment the sound of espresso machines and people clacking away on laptops at their screenplays in a coffee shop.
Over the years The Wallflowers have included Jack Irons (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Eleven), Rami Jaffee (Foo Fighters), Michael Ward (Ben Harper), Peter Yanowitz (Natalie Merchant), and Mario Calire (Ozomatli, Liz Phair). (-)
Mark Eitzel – Southend On Sea
Mark Eitzel is best known as the singer of American Music Club (1982-1994), but sometimes, when a band and a singer hate each other very much, the natural thing happens, and the singer goes solo.
60 Watt Silver Lining came out in 1996 on Warner Bros. I’m not into it. It’s not that there isn’t talent involved, it just seems so Adult Contemporary, but is included here because of goodwill toward American Music Club.
We’ll see Eitzel again in 2002, maybe he’ll do better next time. (-)
Guided By Voices – The Official Ironman (sic) Rally Song
This marks the first time GBV worked in a 24-track studio, and this album is glossier sounding than they had been before, but there is also some 4-track stuff mixed in. There are some of you who are closer to this than I am, was this seen as selling out back then? We loved to accuse people of selling out in the mid-90’s. I don’t know if there’s any deeper meaning to this song, but I really feel it.
We’ll hear from them again in 1999. (+)
Pee Shy – Little Dudes
With a name that’s a little clever and a little cute, they must be from… Tampa, Florida? Ok, sure. Pee Shy began as a duo with Jenny Juristo and Cindy Wheeler who wanted to do music together, despite not knowing how to play any instruments. I kind of respect that, just willing your band into existence.
It sounds pretty twee, and overly long, but check out these lyrics:
Where are you little dudes?
Don’t you know I’m in love with you?
I ain’t old enough to be your mom,
You were six years old when I went to the prom.
I don’t want to be overly serious about it, but this is the That’s My Boy of indie-pop.
What sort of mania gripped major labels that Mercury Records put out a group called Pee Shy that sounds like this? Against the odds, the group released a second album in 1998 on Mercury, but broke up soon after. (-)
Gillian Welch – Paper Wings
This singer / songwriter was the daughter of a college freshman and a travelling musician, and was adopted by a couple who went on to write for The Carol Burnette Show. In college she played bass in a goth band, drums in a psych / surf band, and earned a degree in photography before moving on to the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Welch then moved to Nashville, where she caught the attention of T-Bone Burnett who expressed interest in producing her first album, Revival.
This is nice. I wasn’t into it back then, but I like the simplicity of the song and the production.
Revival was nominated for a Grammy (it lost), she’s been nominated several times and won a Grammy for her contributions to the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, and for best folk album in 2021. (+)
David Gray – Faster, Sooner, Now
David Gray visited us in #015, with a song I surprisingly liked.
He’s back with his 1996 album Sell, Sell, Sell. This song is pretty generic. The cover art also makes him seem quirkier than he would be marketed in 2 years from now.
In 1998, Gray will self-release White Ladder as…. sigh, “folktronica”. “Babylon” will be released in 1999 as a single and fail. Then, Dave Matthews will re-release the album and the single will be a smash! And David Gray will no longer need CMJ! However, the label that scrapes up a bunch of demos as a cash grab needs CMJ, so we’ll hear from David again in 2001. (-)
Blind Melon – 3 Is A Magic Number
We had “No Rain” alllllll the way back in #001.
Blind Melon formed in 1990 in Los Angeles by guitarist Roger Stevens and bassist Brad Smith met vocalist Shannon Hoon. They took their name from a Cheech & Chong sketch from their first record. Hoon was originally a native of Lafayette, Indiana and after moving to LA linked up with his sister’s high school friend Axl Rose, which resulted in Hoon being in a little seen music video for a song called “Don’t Cry”.
The band relocated to North Carolina to record their debut after a false start in LA resulted in songs that the band felt were too polished. The band toured hard on their self-titled debut, which eventually when 4x platinum. The band relocated again to New Orleans to record their follow up, Soup, which failed to meet expectations. While on tour, Hoon died of heart failure brought on by a cocaine overdose.
Because 70’s nostalgia was all the rage, Atlantic put together a cover album of School House Rock!, which featured this track released after Hoon’s death.
Blind Melon opted to continue after Hoon’s death, but they could not agree on a vocalist or a direction, so they split. Smith and other guitarist Christopher Thorn formed Unified Theory (with former Pearl Jam drummer Dave Krusen and vocalist Chris Shinn).
Unified Theory broke up in 2001, and Blind Melon reformed with ne vocalist Travis Warren and immediately released three new songs. They went on tour after releasing a third album in April 2008, and by November, Warren was out, and Shinn was announced as a replacement… then they said “fuck this” and decided they’d rather break up. In 2010, they reformed with Warren and are still going. They keep promising a new album, but it hasn’t shown up yet. (+)
George Clinton – If Anybody Gets Funked Up
Where do you even start with George Clinton? He’s one of the architects of funk (along with James Brown and Sly Stone). He’s a singer and producer, but I think his real talent is choosing the right people for hit projects (not unlike Ozzy Osbourne), he just has a knack for finding the right players and getting from them what he needs. But I get ahead of myself.
Clinton was born in North Carolina but grew up in New Jersey. He co-owned a barbershop with other members of what would become the P-Funk collective, and formed a doo-wop group called The Parliaments in 1955 (named after the cigarettes). Clinton was a staff songwriter for Motown in the 60’s, but everything was a failure (except for “(I Wanna) Testify”). By 1969, The Parliaments were over.
However, what emerged was both Parliament and Funkadelic, two groups melding James Brown, Frank Zappa, Sly Stone, and Jimi Hendrix. These two groups, and their billion offshoots, were a dominant music force throughout the 70’s, but by the time 1980 hit, the groups were more or less dissolved. PolyGram bought Casablanca Records, and Clinton was involved in several legal battles.
Clinton eventually signed to Capitol as a solo artist, and as P-Funk All Stars. Funkadelic attempted to record an album between 1983-85, but just couldn’t do it (the efforts were released in 2007). With the exception of “Atomic Dog”, Clinton was on the outs for most of the 80’s, but did pick up some production work (like Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Freaky Styley).
By the 90’s, G-Funk had shone a bright light on the catalogue of Clinton and his associates. He appeared on numerous TV shows and movies, and other artists’ albums. By 1996, he had signed to Sony, and released T.A.PO.A.F.O.M. (The Awesome Power of a Fully Operational Mothership), which is where this comes from. This track is the right choice for a single, because the rest of the album is a snooze, but this is pretty good.
I saw Clinton in 1994, and he was pretty cool. Saw him again at Woodstock 99 as a Parliament / Funkadelic reunion and it was really great. Both groups reform and disband at the will of the universe, who knows how it really works, it’s beyond me. (+)
(There’s a single version that isn’t as good, too many “LA Las” in it, and the disc has the better version anyway.)
Sepultura – Ratamahatta
Ooof, getting long winded today.
Sepultura formed in 1984 by Max and Igor Cavalera, the sons of an Italian diplomat and a Brazilian model. After their father’s death, the sons formed the group after hearing Black Sabbath’s Vol. 4 on the same day. Max played guitar and Igor played drums, and they enlisted Paulo Xisto Jr on bass and Wagner Lamounier on vocals. By 1985, Lamounier was out over disagreements with the brothers, and he formed Sarcófago, Max took over vocals, and they brought in Jairo Guedz on guitar. In 1985, they released their debut which was a split with Brazilian band Overdose, but Bestial Devastation was eventually released on its own.
Their first EP and first full length (Morbid Visions) were written with English lyrics, despite no one in the band speaking the language. They also self-produced these two releases and used borrowed instruments because they were so poor. The result was a kind of knock off of Venom and Celtic Frost, which is what they were going for anyway. After Morbid Visions, Geudz left the group. Geudz went on to play in a Brazilian Metallica cover band called Metallica Cover Brazil (not that clever of a name), The Southern Blacklist, and did a stint with Overdose.
Guitarist Andreas Kisser joined in 1987, and brought with him more traditional metal and thrash elements. The group released Schizophrenia, and sent the album to radio stations in the United States, and while they made no headway with this strategy, they did get signed to Roadrunner even though no clubs in the States would book them.
American producer Scott Burns flew to Brazil to produce 1989’s Beneath the Remains (no one else would do it), which he did through translators because the group still didn’t speak English. In 1991, they teamed with Burns again for Arise, which was instantly a thrash classic.
For reasons unknown, the band’s 1993 album came out on Roadrunner and Epic Records (the rights must’ve reverted to Roadrunner, because they’ve reissued it no less than 250 times). Chaos A.D. was a huge success, and poised the band for even bigger success with 1996’s Roots.
Roots is the band embracing its Brazilian heritage and incorporating more Latin American elements, as well as taking a mobile unit to record with the native Xavante tribe. The album has guest appearances by Mike Patton, DJ Lethal, and Korn’s David Silveria and Johnathon Davis, which caused some criticism that the album is too Nu Metal, but Nu Metal doesn’t have shredding like Andreas Kisser.
Oddly, this song also features Brazilian pop artist and percussionist Carlinhos Brown, who is known for playing a kind of samba-reggae. It’s a weird choice for a single, but it is percussively impressive.
In August 1996, Max’s step-son was killed in a car accident, and the band played their last show with Max on December 16, 1996. Max quit the band after a dispute about his wife managing the band, and the band feeling that they were acting in Max’s best interest, and not the best interest of everyone.
Max started Soulfly in his quest to be the “Heavy Metal Bob Marley” (his words, not mine). Max has spent every day from 1997 to now whining about Sepultura, complaining they are still using the name to a band he quit. Max also did Nailbomb in 1994 (highly recommended), and now does Killer Be Killed with members of Mastodon and Dillinger Escape Plan.
Sepultura enlisted Outface singer Derrick Green as a replacement vocalist (he also unsuccessfully tried out to replace HR in Bad Brains) and are still going with him today. Igor quit Sepultura in 2006, and reunited with his brother in Cavalera Conspiracy.
We’ll hear from the Derrick Green fronted Sepultura in 2001. (+)
Meices – Wow
Meices started in Florida as Mice, who then migrated to L.A., but singer / guitarist Joe Reineke lost the bassist and drummer along the way. The squeaked out an EP and two albums while fighting with police in Spain (and being thrown in jail), stealing a car in Kansas, and nearly burning down a hotel while setting fireworks off inside.
We’re catching up with them on their third album, Dirty Bird. They ostensibly alternative rock with a pop slant, sometimes going to far as to be called noise-pop, but I don’t really hear that here.
Meices split up in 1997. Bassist Steve Borgerding went on to do something called Grand Mal. Reineke started Alien Crime Syndicate, which signed to Giant Records who shelved their debut album for years. He then went on to form Society of the Silver Cross. (+)
Eric Clapton – Cryin’
Eric Clapton is some shitbird who used to play xylophone or something. Who cares. He’s an anti-vaxxer.
This is from Crossroads 2 (Live In the Seventies), the only way Clapton could make people in care in the mid-nineties is to cash in on old shit. (-)
Gravity’s Pull – Plastic Umbrella
Formed in Wilmington, Delaware…. I think this is the first time anyone has been from Delaware… anyway, brothers Mike (guitar / vocals), Mark (drums), and Nick (bass) formed with Sue (vocals / percussion) who is Nick’s wife, to play alt-rock-pop. The released their first album in 1990 on Scratched Records (who has put out 6 albums between 1979 and 2017), but realized they had gone as far as they could in Delaware. They all made a clean break with their lives and moved to join the Chapel Hill, NC music scene.
After moving, they put out Motorama in 1994, and RadioStationWagon in 1995, which is where “Plastic Umbrella” comes from. I listened to the album, and it’s ok, but this song was the best one on it. The darkness of the song with the dual vocals are really something special… it’s a shame the song has less than 50 views on YouTube.
The band split in 1997, but maybe they got back together? There’s nothing on Discogs, but Spotify lists to albums from 2009, and a single from 2018. (+)
Bel Canto – Rumour
Bel Canto (sometimes Bel Kanto) is a Norwegian group; they play a sort of synth pop. They started in 1985, but they kind of function like a side project. Singer Anneli Drecker has a solo career (and is also an actor), and Nils Johnasen composes music for television and movies, and has his own band called Vajas. This isn’t terribly interesting, anyone doing this sort of thing has done it better.
The group is still technically active, but it looks like they haven’t released anything since 2002. (-)
Lida Husik – Bad Head Day
We ran down Lida Husik way back in #020, here she is teamed up with British DJ / Producer Beaumont Hannant who remixed both Bjork and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, but doesn’t seem to have done anything past 1996.
Last time Husik had a favorable outing, but this is bland. So, watch this video that has less than 10 views, as of this writing. (-)
Acme – Decision
How to ensure your band will be forgotten: 1.) Name your band Acme, 2.) Refuse to tell anyone anything about your band:
Here’s what I can tell you, there is one instance of this group on the internet. It’s on Rate Your Music, and there are no reviews at all. But it does list them as Canadian! Well, it’s not on YouTube, and the album isn’t even on Discogs. This is a bust. (O)
Mike Johnson – One Way Out
The mid-90’s are magical in that nearly anyone can have an album on a major label. Mike Johnson was in Oregon punk band Snakepit, then in 1991 he joined Dinosaur Jr., and Year of Mondays (his third album) came out on Atlantic, near the same time J. Mascis’s solo album Martin + Me.
As a song, it’s ok, but he has a really good voice (and some backing vocals by Mascis). The album also has appearances by Dan Peters (Mudhoney), Mark Lanegan, and Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees, Skin Yard, Mad Season).
Speaking of Mark Lanegan, Johnson played on his first five solo albums, and later worked with Queens of the Stone Age and Caustic Resin. (+)
Bad Brains – Sailin’ On
We talked about Bad Brains back in #021, but really only from 1995 forward, so we’re working backward here.
The roots of the group come from DC jazz fusion group Mind Power which formed in 1976, with singer HR, guitarist Dr. Know, bassist Daryl Jennifer, and drummer Earl Hudson (HR’s brother). In 1977, Sid McCray (Mind Power’s original singer) introduced the band to punk. Changing to Bad Brains after the Ramones song, the band started playing punk songs with the occasional reggae song thrown in. By 1979, their destructive fan base caused them to be blacklisted from nearly every club in DC, so the band relocated to New York.
By 1982, they were regulars of the NYC club scene, and ROIR released their self-titled album on cassette only, which was reissued in 1996 on CD for the first time, hence it’s inclusion here. Their second album (Rock for Light) was produced by The Cars’ Ric Ocasek and was out in 1983. By 1986 the band was incorporating more rock and funk and released I Against I (my favorite), and HR provided vocals over the phone from jail while he was incarcerated for possession.
In 1987, HR and Hudson quit to focus on reggae, and the band brought in singer Taj Singleton and drummer Mackie Jayson (Cro-Mags). They began recording Quickness, and HR and Hudson came back, and Singleton’s vocals were wiped and replaced with HR’s. During this time, the Hudson bothers were constantly at odds with Know and Jennifer, and HR was failing to show up to performances. By 1989, the brothers quit again, Jayson was back on drums and former Faith No More vocalist Chuck Mosley was the vocalist from 1990-91. I wish they had recorded with him, but alas, it was not to be.
The success of Living Colour managed to get Bad Brains signed to Epic, and they put Israel Joseph I on vocals and released Rise in 1993. Midway through the tour, Jayson quit and was temporarily replaced by Chuck Treece (McRad, later Stiffed and Santigold). Then, we get the Hudson brothers back and pick up where we talked about 1995’s God of Love.
The “controversies” section of Wikipedia has since been deleted, but I think it’s important not to sweep under the rug the fact that they said some homophobic stuff when they were young. They did walk it back and say that saying those things was foolish, and that sometimes in youth, you think you know everything and don’t consider other perspectives. So, that counts for something I suppose. (+)
(The) Verve Pipe – Photograph
You folks remember “The Freshmen”, so I don’t have to… what? Ugh, fine.
The Verve Pipe formed in Michigan in when Brian Vander Ark from the band Johnny With an Eye (terrible) shared a producer with the band Water For the Pool (also terrible), and he basically mashed the two bands up. They self-released I’ve Suffered a Head Injury as a 10-song album including an acoustic version of “The Freshmen” in 1992, but then it was reissued as a 7 song EP in 1995. They released Pop Smear in 1993, and when the band was signed to RCA in 1996, they reissued it under their label.
“Photograph” was the first single from Villains, I have zero recollection of this song… either from this disc or as a single. I saw the band at K-Rockathon, and I have no recollection of that either. Is it that boring or am I getting old? Mostly forgettable. It’s not exactly terrible, but there’s nothing here to recommend it.
The band is still going, improbably, but Vander Ark is the only original member left. (-)
Now It’s Time For Breakdown:
Worthy Tracks: 57.89% for this disc, 63.27% across the series.
Maple Leaf Invasion: One that we can’t even listen to, but that makes it 5%, and 2.78% * across the series.
*This is a correct amount, after like a bonehead, I forgot to include The Inbreds in #026. Thanks to elipsisparenthebang for catching my mistake!
YEEEEAAAHHH, Here Comes the Roster:
Lida Husik, Bad Brains, Blind Melon, and David Gray are inaugurated into the Two-Timer’s Club. They are in company with Cowboy Junkies, The Spinanes, Idaho, Cracker, Iggy Pop, The Coctails, Possum Dixon, Rocket From the Crypt, Pharcyde, Gene, Sonic Youth, Meat Puppets, Echobelly, Ben Harper, Hum, Bracket, Chris Whitley, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Quicksand, Digable Planets, Adam Ant, Catherine, Ass Ponys, Magnapop, Cranes, Sarah McLachlan, Eve’s Plum, Jeff Buckley, Beastie Boys, Engines of Aggression, Luscious Jackson, G. Love & Special Sauce, Green Apple Quick Step, Letters To Cleo, Big Audio Dynamite, Eve’s Plum, Greta, Paul Weller, Radiohead, Ramones Stabbing Westward, Sister Machine Gun, and Superchunk.
Guided By Voices joins the three-peaters with Therapy?, Catherine Wheel, 700 Miles, and Matthew Sweet.
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are the only group to appear four times.
Over the 33 installments, there have 568 unique artists.