Tag Archives: grunge

Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame Inductees: Week of Blogs

The 2014 Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony was held recently. As with each passing induction, more and more of the singers and bands I listened to are being inducted. This year proved to be a stellar and wide ranging array of artists. I am going to try and blog on each of them throughout the coming week. The list was as follows:

Cat Stevens
Hall & Oates
Nirvana
KISS
Linda Ronstadt
Peter Gabriel
The E Street Band
Andre Long Oldham (mgr of the Rolling Stones)
Brian Epstein (mgr of the Beatles)

Many hours of music enjoyment comes from this list of inductees.
     I can’t say I’m a huge Cat Stevens fan and his “Wild World” is not a favorite of mine but his career is extensive and influential to many song writers.
     Hall & Oates dominated the pop charts throughout my junior and high school days.
    Nirvana ruled the scene when I began college in 1991. Their influence is undeniable and I still love their music to this day. They changed the music landscape at the time as did Pearl Jam at the time. Hair metal took a dive from the pop scene and anything grunge was in. Although don’t worry, hair metal will never die but that will be for later blogs.
    Speaking of hair metal and the band that many hair bands looked up to is KISS. I was afraid of Gene Simmons as a small child but by the 80’s the make up was off and “Heavens On Fire” was a major hit during junior high. But with age comes a nostalgic look at the band as they started out. Make-up, pyrotechnics from Hell and guitar riffs that will live on forever. You can be critical of them but they do have a place in the Hall of Fame.
     Linda Ronstadt will be that sexy dark haired woman of the late 70’s and early 80’s. I loathed her Disney and adult pop crap of the late 80’s and 90’s.
     Peter Gabriel was the original frontman of Genesis before Phil Collins took over and made them radio darlings of the 80’s. Luckily, we have Peter’s solo career and the amazing album “Us”. And of course his unforgettable hit “In Your Eyes”.
     Lastly, The E Street Band. I love their music. The box set that came out while I was in high school gave me hours of pleasure and dreaming of getting out of my small hometown. Incredible music and Bruce Springsteen fronting them, it was powerful American Rock n’ Roll.
     I will be taking sometime throughout the week to devote specific blogs on Hall and Oates, Nirvana, KISS, Linda, Peter and The E Street Band.
     Rock on and as KISS says, “Lick It Up”!

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Pearl Jam: 20 years

 

Pearl Jam
Cover of Pearl Jam

 

Like my 20th  high school reunion approaching and catching me off guard, knowing that Pearl Jam with their amazing first album, Ten, debuting in 1991 caught me by surprise as well.  Pearl Jam is one of my favorite bands of all time.  Unfortunately I have only seen them in concert once (wish I could say more) and when I did see them it was way after their initial success.  But don’t get me wrong, that show was amazing and it only reconfirmed why I will always love and respect this band.

When I think of Pearl Jam, some great memories rush into my head.  First they always make me think of one of my greatest friends from college, Bryan R.  When Pearl Jam’s 3rd album, Vitology, came out, we drove from Ashland, OH where we were attending college to Cleveland, OH to stand in line at midnight to be one of the first to get the CD.  And as I think about this, I think that is the one and only time I ever did that.  And when we got back to our dorm room, we played the crap out of that CD for weeks and weeks.

Pearl Jam are a hard working band; not prone to stereotypical excesses of other rock bands.  They just do their thing, work, tour, make music from their heart and minds and have always rebelled against corporate scum (ie: the Ticketmaster boycott in 1994).

Of course you can’t really talk about Pearl Jam without mentioning Nirvana.  Nirvana introduced the world to grunge and killed the declining popularity of hair metal back in the early 90’s.  But Nirvana and Pearl Jam are so different musically speaking.  Cobain had issue with Pearl Jam at the time because he said they were “commercial sellouts” and that the album Ten was not a true alternative album due to its number of guitar leads (cited from Wikipedia.org and Rolling Stone).  And Cobain is correct, their are the standard rock guitar leads on many Pearl Jam songs but that is what makes them great for they integrated the essence of “grunge” into rock n’ roll giving an expansiveness to their music where as I feel Nirvana’s music is so alienating at times (and I feel that is what Cobain was striving for most of the time) that you get caught up with the loss of Nirvana and what could have been.  Pearl Jam had many dark messages but there was always hope and a sense of moving forward no matter what life dealt you.  With Nirvana, it was just dark and not much hope.


(Photo by: Shandopics: http://shandopics.paradepro.com/)

Below are a few of my favorite Pearl Jam tracks!

SHAMELESS PROMOTION OF MY PHOTOGRAPHY AND WHERE TO BUY IT =)  http://www.redbubble.com/people/shandopics

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Retro Thursdays: 1991: School of Fish

A view of downtown Bucyrus, Ohio on South Sand...
Image via Wikipedia

I am going to attempt every Thursday to recall music from my past that had a profound effect on me.  Today I have chosen the year: 1991, my senior year of high school in my hometown of Bucyrus, Ohio.  Where you live and what music you listen to have a very strong connection on your life.  I think to myself sometimes, ‘why was I so into this song? into this album? at that period of time? How was it speaking to me?’  As I do these retro music blogs, I am trying to find those answers.

I begin with a band that I wish would have had a more prolific career but alas, there is only one album of theirs that still to this day takes me back to 1991 like no other.  They are School of Fish and their self-titled debut album.  I have learned they had a total of 2 albums, the second one in 1993 didn’t do nearly as well as their first and of course, they broke up soon after.

The album School of Fish is alternative music at its best! Every song is a gem and it covers angst and frustration quite well.  As I stated before, I was a senior in my small Ohio hometown and I couldn’t wait to get the fuck out of dodge at the time.  Every day I was counting the days down cause I was going to be the next big actor.  I was going to move to NYC or Hollywood and make it big.  (Ah the dreams of an 18 year old and how no one can tell you anything cause you are 18 and know everything..)

There is a line in  the song “Speechles” : “And in my one room apartment/High above this town” I would picture myself living in NYC, far away from my boring little Ohio town.  The album itself is mostly depressing in lyrics but somehow it wasn’t depressing to me.  It made me want to go out and explore the bigger cities.  I also didn’t drink or do drugs in high school so this album kind of glorified drugs and alcohol..once again, in a depressing manner but it didn’t stop me from daydreaming about all that!

The main hit off the album was “Strange Days” (also known as “3 Strange Days”) and it’s just a great song basically about being fucked up for 3 days.  But there is one line in the song that gave me inspiration: “I’ve got to make it through/No matter what it takes/Oh I’ve got to make it through/These strange days” I knew there were new experiences ahead that I would learn from and grow.

But the song I listened to over and over in times of teenage frustration was the last song on the album, “Euphoria”.  The song just takes me back to that 18 year old boy laying on his bed staring at the ceiling, worrying, wondering, what is the meaning to all this?  I wish someone could have reached out and said, ‘it’s going to be alright.  Being gay is ok.  You have great times ahead of you.  Stop worrying what people think.”  So this song was a way for me to have those thoughts privately and keep going, get to graduation and your life is yours.

If you do not know this band at all, I highly recommend to take a listen to it and see what you get out of it.  And if you were alive in 1991, what were you doing? Where were you and can you feel the connection from music to time?  And if you weren’t born yet, you now have a great album that your friends probably don’t know about and you can be the cool kid with the old music that is still cool today..at least I think it still holds up to the test of time.

As for an analytical standpoint of this album, you can feel the precursor to grunge and all the bands that would copy this sound down the road.  All the songs flow very well together almost telling a story but not in a direct manner.

Below I have posted 2 videos; the main hit “3 Strange Days” and “Euphoria”.  Lastly, I dedicate this post to one of my good friends in high school days, Molly.  She loved this album and it never fails to make me think of her when I hear these songs.

 


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