Back to the Nineties – The Last Great Era of Rock

What you are seeing in the picture above is my Christmas present to myself. Just in case you’re not aware of it, it’s made by Spotify and it’s called Car Thing. It is paper-thin, weighs nothing, and plugs into your cigarette lighter. And all it does is play Spotify. .

Now, you still need to jack your phone in. But once you figure out how the whole fucking thing sets up, then you get in your vehicle say fun things like “Hey, Spotify, play the blues,” or “Hey Spotify, bring up my playlists.” There are also a couple of buttons on the top and that big fancy dial but I’m not really sure what any of them do. I am not really out in the Porsche that much since I have spent most of the last two years hiding under my bed.*

Anyway, one day recently I asked it to play some tune and instead, it played Nineties rock. (BTW, I’m not 100% sure Spotify can’t do everything I’m saying without the gizmo. But for a mere $79 USD (€69), ain’t it pretty to look at?)

And I was listening to the tunes whilst driving somewhere and hoping I brought a mask with me I thought, fuck, these tunes are great. And they were all pretty mainstream and there were actual RADIO STATIONS that played them. And I thought to myself, this is the last great era of rock.

Now don’t just take my word for it. I saw Sonny Boy and I said to him, “Would you agree the Nineties were the last great era of rock?” “Sure,” he said. So there it is. Not just my opinion but an honest-to-God man-on-the-street scientific poll.

Let’s kick this six-pack off with the tune you see on the Thing, “Bombtrack,” by Rage Against the Machine. You already know that Rage kicks some mighty, mighty ass and this tune is no exception. Not only is it no exception, but it is also the very first tune off of their 1992 eponymous debut album.

And like “Good Times Bad Times” for Zep, it says – convincingly, loudly – Lock Your Daughters Up, We Have Arrived. They keep trying to induct this band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but they ain’t quite there yet:

I dug the Dave Matthews Band from the first time I saw them on Saturday Night Live. Actually, for reasons I can’t recall, my music-loving sister was staying over and we caught the show together and she dug them too. We’re a little estranged lately since I had to ask her to shut the fuck up when she dug into old family wounds for the millionth time.

Matthews has a station on Sirius which I dial up now and again. Despite that I don’t know how popular he is outside of his fan base these days but nevertheless, some of his early shit is really good.

Here’s “What Would You Say,” from his 1994 debut album, Under The Table and Dreaming. This is a pretty funky tune if you ask me:

In all this time, I can’t recall that I’ve done even one tune by Jane’s Addiction. Of the song “Been Caught Stealing,” Billboard – who apparently still write about music like it’s 1958 –Β  said, “After a long and impressive reign at modern rock radio, cut from acclaimed band’s current set is well-poised to click at top 40.”

They went on to gush, “Trippy psychedelic rave-fueled with nifty acoustic and electric guitar trade-offs-kicks hard but doesn’t risk intimidating weak-at-heart mainstreamers.” I’ve come to understand that the generation that grew up with this tune hits the dance floor in three seconds when they hear it. (The dog was apparently a happy accident they decided to leave in).

I feel like I’ve been kinda remiss here thus far, over representing LA to the exclusion of Seattle. So let us say the following

THANK YOU SEATTLE.

Maybe the last great scene of the last great era of ROCK

And who better to represent than one of the finest. Nevermind is on just about every critic’s greatest album list and if you don’t know the name of the band I will give you this hint- it is the final beatitude that transcends suffering,Β karma, andΒ samsara and is sought especially in Buddhism through the extinction of desire and individual consciousness.

You don’t hear this one often enough. “Breed.”

Sing this one along with me:

I sit around and watch the phone, but no one’s calling
Call me pathetic, call me what you will
My mother says to get a job
But she don’t like the one she’s got
When masturbation’s lost its fun
You’re fucking lonely

Green Day, of course, straight outta East Bay California. (Were there any East Coast bands in the Nineties? Just askin’**). When my son discovered music and then discovered my record collection, he was shocked to find Dookie there. He just figured dad was some old fart who sat on the couch, endlessly waiting for the Beatles to come back. Which, of course, has some merit.

This is “Longview.”

To round up this trip down memory lane – Jesus, it seems like the Nineties were yesterday – let’s go back to rainy Coffeeville, USA and listen to Pearl Jam. I can’t tell you anything about them you don’t already know.

“Alive.”

*By Porsche I mean Hyundai. Your correspondent doesn’t make quite as much as he thought he would working the Fry-O-Lator down at McDonald’s at 11 pm.

**Right, Matthews is from Virginia. OK.

28 thoughts on “Back to the Nineties – The Last Great Era of Rock

  1. A great read! Yeah, the 90’s might be the last great era of rock, I find myself listening to a 90’s rock playlist on occasion and really enjoying my self in my Porsche too (I mean Kia).

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    1. A friend of mine was bemoaning how we take all that great music for granted, thinking it would last forever. (I’m talking about 50’s through 90’s). But alas. I just recalled that Steve Van Zandt said that the rock era ended somewhere around the mid-90’s. Certainly the guitar-driven era. You can still find good stuff as we both know but I gotta look too hard. As to cars, let’s have a vote on who owns the shittier one. And then say to ourselves, Don’t I Deserve a Sportier vehicle?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We do take it for granted and when all our heroes are gone, the world won’t be as good as it was. Actually, my Kia is fairly new and I think it is sporty…but it ain’t no Porsche!!

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  2. Great six-pack!! I haven’t heard that Jane’s Addiction one. When I hear songs like that I wish I still had my drum kit. I would have included Smashing Pumpkins in my 90s six pack.

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    1. I have no idea why I had to approve your comment but I did! Surprised you don’t know “Been Caught Stealing.” Maybe their biggest tune. Pumpkins were on my short list but I once did a post on them. But for sure there will be Part Two down the road. It wasn’t till I started listening to the Spotify list that I realized how great the era was.

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  3. Rage? What a way to open the set. I know 4 of the cuts and really like all of them (Of course you are going to guess).
    I keep stumbling onto some pretty good rock (maybe missed a lot of it first time around). I’ve heard similar opinions to Van Zandts but they go back to an earlier era. Me? People are still rocking.
    Cars? Im king of the “Shit Box”. That knew toy you got would probably make my brain hurt trying to figure it out. Im out the door with the Discman. Later.

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    1. I’m bangin’ on it myself in the car. People still rock. Just too hard to find it these days. And there’s no scene like Seattle. I’ll guess you don’t know the Dave Matthew’s tune.

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      1. No, I really like Matthews, it;s the Green Day and Jane’s I don’t know. Spoyify is amazing for finding stuff and also the word of mouth that I find here. I quit looking for any kind of music in the mainstream years ago.

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  4. It’s kind of weird and I don’t really have a good explanation. While except for Jane’s Addiction I’m aware of all bands you featured in your post and have heard some of their songs, for some reason, I feel I know much less about the ’90s than preceding decades, especially the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.

    In the ’90s, much of my attention was on music from previous decades and new music from “old artists.” Admittedly, I can pretty much make that same observation for the first two decades of the current century. As you know, for the past two years or so, I’ve been trying to pay more attention to new music.

    As such, if you ask me were the ’90s the last great era of rock, I simply couldn’t give a well-informed answer and would have to say, ‘I don’t really know.’

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    1. Fair statement. I mentioned in one of the other comments that Steve Van Zandt said, pretty eloquently, that the rock ‘Renaissance’ ended in the mid-90s. I think he’s right. Look at the Billboard charts from then till now. The only rock on there, by and large, are classic rock greatest hits albums.

      While I wasn’t as avid a fan of what was then new in the 90s – in the sense of following it as closely as I once did – I did enjoy quite a bit of what was on the radio back then. And then when I started listening to the Spotify list, it kinda hit me all at once how ballsy and powerful and great some of this stuff was (and is.) And some of these bands and musicians are very much still around. Coincidentally I got a notification on my phone today about a new Eddie Vedder tune. Anyway, good stuff and there will definitely be a 90s part deux one day. I barely scratched the surface!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Looks like Vedder is coming out Feb 11 with a solo album titled “Eathling”. Apparently, he released an upfront single, “Brother the Cloud.” Two other tunes from the album are already out as well.

        If you’re curious, here’s “Brother the Cloud” – not bad!

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        1. Yeah, that’s the one I got notification of. Sounds pretty good. I think I subscribe to some sites that let me know when bands are in town. They sometimes also notify of new tunes. But then they let me know about guys like The Weeknd that I have no interest in.

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        2. I think I know it all too well – sifting through new music for the most part is a tough proposition for a guy who particularly is into ’60s and ’70s rock, blues and soul. But even with that mindset and a bit of flexibility here and there, it’s still possible to find decent new music. It just can take a long time.

          BTW, have you heard any songs from the new Elvis Costello album? I think it’s really great! While I’m by no means a Costello expert, I can hear some early Costello in there.

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        3. Yeah, I have been actually. I got intrigued by the title (there’s a book or something included) then read the reviews. There’s some good ‘old school’ playing. When we saw him a few years back there were a lot of ballads. I rarely review new albums but I might. I saw that you have one of the tunes in your roundup which I plan to get to tomorrow.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I felt a change in the Force… an urge to check back in with the blog world and lo-and-behold you’ve dished up six tracks from my favourite musical decade and included both my favourite artist and favourite Nirvana track AND four other great tunes. Great list, sir. Only this week did I say to myself ‘that first RATM album – in fact all three – are absolute belters’ and Bombtrack has been getting a blast from my Porsche* too.

    Fantastic bit of kit too, stuff like this is where technology gets my attention. One of the things I miss about the 90s is that it feels like the last point at which technology provided entertainment / assistance without being as invasive and intrusive as it is now.

    As for feeling like yesterday…. I realised recently that for today’s teens Ten is now older than Please Please Me was when Pearl Jam dropped their mighty debut.

    *Ford

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    1. Yes, the blogosphere wonders where the Man from Kent disappears to from time-to-time.

      I mentioned to someone else, possibly Christian, that I didn’t realize how much I liked the Nineties stuff till I was listening to the songs back-to-back. In addition to great pop tunes there were an absolute boatload of crushing rockers. I barely scratched the surface with my list. Now I can turn the radio on and here Adele, Taylor Swift and whoever Cardi B is any time I want. Shoot me now. What the fuck happened?

      Today’s teens don’t have a fucking clue do they, mate?

      For the record I also own a Toyota Corolla.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve been hibernating in an effort to relax, perform some mental feng shui and recapture my blogging mojo.

        I’ve a massive 90’s playlist on Spotify that’s up to 6hrs which is both multi-genre (ish) and still doesn’t scratch that surface. I feel that variety doesn’t exist in the mainstream anymore, there’s certainly a case of stuck culture that’s out there on the airwaves.

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        1. it’s a sedan. Yanks drive a mixture of things including gigantic, totally unnecessary pickup trucks. Oafish macho guys drive them so they can try to intimidate others on the road to compensate for their small cocks.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Sounds familiar – as does the Corolla which I’d misremembered as an Aygo – though I think they’ve branched out to embrace Audis here as well as pick-ups

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