(Pictured – Stone Temple Pilots)
A little while back I did a piece called “Back to the Nineties – The Last Great Era of Rock.” I suppose if I were to rethink that I’d call it the Last Great Era of Mainstream Rock. Because you can still hear great rock music but now you have to go looking for it. And we don’t all know the same bands anymore.
In that piece I said, “And I was listening to the (Nineties) 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.”
Here’s the first tune, from yet another Seattle band, Soundgarden. I last wrote about them when I did a One Song/Three Versions post on Black Hole Sun so you can read about them there. The tune is “Spoonman” which was used (a bit) in the 1992 movie Singles whose soundtrack (especially Deluxe Edition) is just crammed with “grunge.”
Contrary to popular belief, i.e. what I thought, “Spoonman” has nothing to do with the needle and the spoon. Wrong! According to Songfacts, the song “is about a street artist named Artis the Spoonman, who played the spoons on the streets of Seattle, where Soundgarden formed. Artis played his spoons on the song and is credited on the album (Spoons: Artis The Spoonman). He is also featured in the video.”
Stone Temple Pilots sound grungy but were in fact from San Diego, CA. Wikipedia: “Two conflicting stories of how frontman Scott Weiland and bassist Robert DeLeo met have been related by the band. One was that they met at a Black Flag concert in Long Beach, California, in 1985.
They began discussing their girlfriends, only to realize they were dating the same woman. Instead of letting this come between them, they developed a bond and formed a band after they each subsequently broke it off with the girl.” There are other versions of how the band got together but I like this one so it will now become the truth.
Arguably, STP’s biggest tune was “Plush” but frankly I’m kinda sick of it. “According to Weiland, ‘Interstate Love Song’ was about the troubles he was having with his girlfriend, Jannina, saying, “The words are about the lies I was trying to conceal while making the Purple record. She’d ask how I was doing, and I’d lie, say I was doing fine,” So, more girlfriend stuff.
A Nineties post without one of the mostest uniquest bands ever, Radiohead? (Named for a Talking Heads song). How these guys got to this weird musical place is anybody’s guess (although one look at Thom Yorke speaks volumes.) There are days I think I haven’t fully absorbed their catalog and need to go back and do that.
From one of their most lauded albums, OK Computer comes “Paranoid Android.” I suppose there were a lot of tunes I could have done but I just love this fucking song. It forces us to slow down, take a breath, and wonder what exactly these guys were on. They’re like a punkier Pink Floyd. And I love Yorke’s haunting voice on just about anything.
What can you say about Red Hot Chili Peppers? I’ve loved these guys since go! There doesn’t appear to be any antecedent to what they did and they don’t fit it any Chuck Berry/blues formula that I ever listened to. I can practically guarantee you that if i went to see them I’d be in the mosh pit and I would strip down to my underwear just like they sometimes do (just before I get thrown out.)
Of “Suck My Kiss,” Rolling Stone said this: “Seasoned comics know a “hard K” sound will almost always get you a reaction. The Chili Peppers wholeheartedly embraced that trick in ‘Suck My Kiss,’ a song that finds Kiedis dropping “motherfuckers” left and right, spelling out “k-i-s-s-i-n-g,” and scatting “Chicka chicka dee/Do me like a banshee.” That’s in addition to the chorus, where the music drops out and it’s just Kiedis’ naked voice begging you to “Suck my kiss!”
Blur is/are/were (who knows?) a British rock band of the Nineties. The main thing I know about them is they had some pumped-up phony Beatles/Stones rivalry with Oasis? Who cares? If anybody promulgated that it was probably the Gallaher Brothers because they are fucking dickheads.
The fun thing about this dumb tune “Song 2” is that the band recorded this as a joke on the record company. (“I wanna bite the hand that feeds me, I wanna bite that hand so badly.”) They wanted to release it to “blow the label’s heads off.” Surprisingly, the record executives actually didn’t have their heads up their asses for once and dug it.
“Song 2” was a working title that stuck. Whee-hoo!
My guess is you’ve heard of Pearl Jam and they don’t need much in the way of introduction. We are rocking out here. This song is “Animal.”
I’d rather be
I’d rather be
I’d rather be
10 thoughts on “Back to the Nineties – Part Deux”
Good stuff, Jim, I like all your picks. Except for Blur, I was aware of all bands, though “Song 2” did ring a distant bell.
That said, I only know a handful of songs from each band you featured. As I’ve noted before, in many regards the ’90s largely are a black hole for me when it comes to then-contemporary bands. For some reason, I kind of tuned out and for the most part happily listened to pre-’90s music or new music by pre-’90s artists – not really sure why.
As such, it’s always great to be reminded there was some pretty good rock music in the ’90s!
By the time the 90s rolled around, while I was still very much listening to and playing music, I was well aware that there had been a generational shift. As much as I liked the music of these bands, I never saw any of them or had any particular desire to. And a lot of my peers had stopped listening for the same reasons. But i still listened and enjoyed quite a bit of it. Just because i wasn’t the target demographic of say, Nirvana didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy them. And now I find myself somewhat nostalgic for that era in a way. As mentioned, it was the last great era where rock mattered to a broad audience and you could turn on the radio and hear it regularly. As we both know, there’s still good rock out there. But some of it is just treading water and the days of the guitar heroes and rock as a cultural force are sadly behind us. But the 90s rocked. Thank you Seattle which, BTW, also gave us Hendrix .
Blur aside (thank fuck Radiohead killed Britpop) I love all of these, but then you’re hitting into my favourite decade here.
Even ‘mainstream rock’ aside, there was such an abundance of amazing new music through the decade across all genres – now we’re in a sort of stuck culture where the tailspin of all those insipid talent shows still has hold of what breaks through to the mainstream. Justin Hawkins (chap from The Darkness who, as a band I can take or mostly leave) is a very gifted chap and knows his stuff when it comes to musical theory too and has a good explanation as to the state of modern mainsteam, albeit with the swears censored for youtube: https://youtu.be/N_tjc8SbZwI?t=78
Thankfully there are still avenues to take to access a lot of good new stuff even if the radios don’t want to know.
Curious aside on Spoonman – it was one of the names tossed around for the fictional band in Singles then, when Citizen Dick was settled on, became one of the fictional track names assigned to Cliff’s solo cassette… THEN Chris Cornell decided to make it a real tune and eventually it became a Soundgrarden classic.
Yes, this is where you came in and many of my peers checked out. I guarantee you most of my generation could not name 5 songs from the 90s. I can name a million. That shit was fucking great and it is their loss if they feel they need to tie themselves to the Jefferson Airplane forever in some sort of bullshit loyalty to their generation.
We are in an era now that reminds me the time after Elvis went in the army, Jerry Lee was disgraced, Buddy Holly died, Little Richard got religion and Elvis went in the army. So we were left with Frankie Avalon. In the way you say Radiohead killed BritPop, the Beatles swept everything away.
Alas, I don’t think there’s any Beatles around the corner. Many of this generation do not give one flying fuck about guitars on rock or anything. It’s DJs and indie (mixed feelings on that) and hip hop. I guess. I’ve checked out on that shit.
That Singles story is funny. I haven’t seen that movie in a long time. Thanks for the YouTube. I’ll check it out.
PS. I haven’t overlooked your last two posts. Just trying to catch up. Will visit soon.
Lots of good music floating around from that decade.. The two bands here that I listen to in my travels are Jam and Soundgarden. Never heard a Pilots song unless I just dont connect the band with the song. I actually knew a kid that played the spoons. Love that cut. First time Ive caught the video. Im still discovering great music from all over the map.
“Plush” was a big STP song. Yeah, lots good music and there were some bands I didn’t even get to. A lotta really ballsy music from that era. Seattle’s pretty amazing if you think about it. All those hard-core bands. And Hendrix.
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I used to go down to Seattle and catch all sorts of good music, local bands and bands that were on tour and didnt want the border hassle coming into Canada.. They had a very happening music scene way before the 90s. Where I first caught Dan Hicks. Christian posted a Seattle band yesterday, Mudhoney who I like. I know this isnt a “Seattle bands” post but it’s leaning that way.
That’s right. That’s your backyard. I think I passed through Washington exactly once on the way to Oregon. Christian posted a New Music thing the other day with a band called White Reaper, whose song I liked as much as anything I’ve heard recently. It smoked.
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The tunes are out there. Ive been plugged into some new “Jam Bands” lately. Dangerous for me. Cant get out of the loop. Not a bad thing
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