Monday, August 29, 2011

Even Superman gets old, Spin Doctors - Pocket Full of Kryptonite

Released August 20, 1991 on Epic
I'm a little late getting to this, but as of a week and a half ago, Spin Doctor's "Pocket Full of Kryptonite" has expired.

I have two small memories surrounding this album.  The first is listening to "Two Princes" while riding my bike in circles on my friend's driveway, waiting for him to come out and play.  The second is less of a memory and more of a stupid habit.  To this day, if someone asks me what time it is, I'm 40% likely to respond with "4:30.  It's not late, it's early."*  This is a lyric from, I believe, "What Time is It?"  Track 2 on "PFoK." 

This was their debut and most successful release going five times platinum.  If you absolutely must listen to the Spin Doctors, they've still got four studio albums that will remain accessible until 2014 when "Turn it Upside Down" gets the axe.  Or, you can just catch their contribution to the opening credits of Spin City in reruns.

A couple interesting facts I learned about tSD's from Wikipedia is that they are good friends with the band Blues Traveler, even sharing members in the beginning.  Also, singer Chris Barron lost his voice due to a rare acute form of vocal cord paralysis that severely affected his ability to talk.  He was told he had a 50-50 chance of ever talking or singing normally again.  Spoiler alert, he can talk and sing normally.

*100% if you ask me at 4:30

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Time's run out, Pearl Jam - Ten

Released August 27, 1991 on Epic

Most of the records I've blogged about prior to today remind me of my time in the fifth grade.  Pearl Jam's "Ten", however, has sixth grade written all over it.

I remember standing at the bus stop one morning with a girl who had just recently purchased Pearl Jam's debut album.  She yapped and yapped about it with such passion, convinced that it was the greatest music ever recorded.  I was a bit skeptical, but this girl was way cooler than I was and the fact that she was speaking to me about anything was a pretty big deal, so I listened.

Eventually I did buy the tape.*  And in no time I was totally on board with the rest of the world.  In the beginning, there was some question within the music community about whether or not PJ should be considered true "grunge."  I wasn't aware of any of this at the time, so it had no effect on me, but had I been, there's a good chance I'd have a different opinion about it today.** 

"Ten" eventually fell out of my regular rotation as I got more and more new music.  About three years ago I found a copy on CD in the dollar bin and picked it up to replace the one I'd lost fifteen years prior.  And you know what?  I couldn't tell you where that CD is today.  I think I bought it purely for sentimental reasons, but the reality is I'd moved on. 

The only other Pearl Jam record I ever owned was "Vs."  I listened to it once and hated it immediately.  The next day I gave it to my younger friend who lived down the street.  I regret my behavior that day.  I'm a lot better about giving music an honest, fair chance, ESPECIALLY music from an already established band/artist.  I know now that music can take hold and grow if given a shot.  And yet, I never did listen to "Vs." again.

* I say "bought", but odds are it was given to me as a birthday or Christmas gift.  Oh, and I'm 90% certain it was on cassette tape and not CD.

**Just to be clear, I think this is a fantastic record.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Exit Sandman, Metallica - Black Album

Released August 13, 1991 on Elektra
As of yesterday, Metallica's Black Album has expired.  Mourn if you must.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Bust a move, Young MC - Brainstorm

Released August 5, 1991 on Capitol Records
I remember being 10 years old (1990), sitting on the school bus and being asked by some kid to listen to a tape of his.  He wanted me to hear a new song, Young MC's "Fastest Rhyme."

Now, at 9 years old I liked rap.  Of course, "rap" for me was just one song: MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This."  But by the time Vanilla Ice's To the Extreme (exp. '10) was released less than a year later, everything had changed.  I absolutely HATED "Ice Ice Baby."  I don't know who influenced me to feel that way, (probably my sister) but man did it upset me.

Something must've happened between the ages of 9 and 10 that caused me to turn my back on all mainstream music.  I think I now know what it was...  the New Kids on the Block.  NKOTB is the first band I can remember hating.  It's probably because girls liked it and I didn't want to like girly music, but somehow that feeling of having superior taste transposed to hatred for Vanilla Ice and as an unfortunate result, turned me away from the entire rap genre.  Such a shame.  It wasn't until 2001 that I straightened up and really began to explore hip hop music.  That's eleven years of ignorance!

Anyway, back to that fifth grade bus ride...  Even though I'd officially entered the stage of "I like everything but country and rap,"* I remember being thoroughly impressed by this dude's skill.  He was rapid-firing lyrics about who-knows-what and I liked it.  It was definitely the fastest rhyme I'd ever heard.  I'm not sure I've ever listened to that song a second time, but whenever I hear his name, I think of that day and "Fastest Rhyme."  I don't think of "Bust a Move."  Heck, I didn't even realize that that was his song until many years later.  And only after reading his Wiki page for this post, did I learn he'd helped write "Wild Thing" and Funky Cold Medina" for Tone Loc.  (p.s. ATW he's won two reality/game shows: Weakest Link rapper addition & Celebrity Weight Loss)

So in conclusion, today we lose the man's SECOND album "Brainstorm."  It was his first release on Capitol Records after releasing "Stone Cold Rhymin'" on Delicious Vinyl the year before.  He's still got five records to enjoy, however and I think I'll spend the next hour or so doing just that.

*I've heard (and said) this statement a million times over the years.  I know now how ridiculous it is to eliminate an entire genre of ANYTHING...   Except country, I still hate country.   :)   

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fast like a bandaid, Ween - GodWeenSatan

Released in 1990 by Twin/Tone Records
Oooof.  This one's like taking a punch to the gut.

I came to the conclusion a few years ago that Ween is my all-time favorite band.  Higher on my list than Rush, higher than NoFX, higher than the 2 Skinnee J's...  They've taken over the #1 slot and I don't see them being replaced any time soon.

Ween is just two dudes: Gene and Dean (not their real names) who, ATW, met in 1984 during their 8th grade typing class.  (the only class to help me in my professional career!)  They've spent the last 27 years creating some of the most random, eclectic, experimental music around, and to date, have released 11 studio albums.*  Typically, when I recommend them to people, I make sure say that because they're constantly jumping from genre to genre, they shouldn't be judged on one album alone.**  It's possible that the only common thread linking their catalog together is the use of distorted vocals... and possibly extremely bizarre lyrics.

I can remember two instances where I first learned of Ween:  (though I'm not sure which happened first)

Years ago, there was a cable access show in New York called Squirt TV.  It was hosted by a 14 year old kid and shot out of his bedroom!  Living in Louisiana, I obviously didn't get Squirt but sometime later Mtv picked it up as a series.  I remember catching a clip of this cool little kid (he's only 10 days older than I am... what am I doing with my life?!) sitting on his bed next to Gene and Deen Ween.  

Second, their video for "Push th' little daisies" aired in part on the Mtv series "Beavis and Butthead."  If you haven't seen it, it's a WEIRD freakin video.  And a WEIRDER freakin' song.  This song was off their second album "Pure Guava" (exp. '12).

I imagine it's because I was still pretty young, but I didn't actually purchase a Ween album until 1994 when "Chocolate and Cheese"*** (exp. '14) was released. 

GodWeenSatan expired in 2010 and is the only Ween album I've had to delete from my itunes.

*One album, Craters in the Sac (exp. '19) was released as mp3 files only.  It's also the only studio album of theirs I don't currently own.

**I give the same advice when I recommend 88.9 FM KXLU -- the greatest radio station on Earth.  If you tune in and you don't like what you hear, check back in five minutes, it will surely be something entirely different.  (unless it's a weekend in which case it's salsa!)

***This album currently holds the top spot for favorite ALBUM of all time.

Watch "Push th' Little Daisies" HERE