Tag: 1989

Slint – Tweez

ARTIST: Slint                      220px-Tweez

TITLE: Tweez





LINEUP: David Pajo, Brian McMahan, Britt Walford, Ethan Buckler

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Noisy Louisville band releases almost unheard and obscure record, but it gets them noticed in the Indy circles.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Slint got together as musical friends in Louisville, where they seemed to be about the only people who had an ear for bands such as the Minutemen. As teenagers, they developed originals, and by 1987 went up to Illinois to record with Steve Albini.

The music definitely sounds like Big Black’s cousin band, with shrieky, shreddy guitars and a rumbling bass. The lyrics, though, were written in studio or just conversations, such as the opening where Brian McMahan complains about his headphones. The song titles were the first names of each band member’s parents, plus a pet.

Slint would later record their classic album (not that they knew it at the time), and Tweez is just an interesting afterthought.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The album was released on their own label, paid for by a fan, Jennifer Hartman.


GRADE: B: If you like Albini’s guitar and don’t mind some oddball meanderings and sounds (like someone drinking a glass of water), then by all means…


The Offspring – The Offspring

ARTIST: The Offspring                                 220px-The_Offspring_-_The_Offspring

TITLE: The Offspring



SINGLES: I’ll Be Waiting


LINEUP: Dexter Holland (listed as Kevin on the original release), Kevin “Noodles” Wasserman, Greg Kriesel, Ron Welty

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Punk band scrapes up enough dough to record a record and it sells barely enough to get a deal with Epitaph.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Pressing just 5,000 copies, the Offspring recorded this album in 1989 to document their work-in-progress punk-with-some-pop leaning sounds. Really, they haven’t changed much.

The delivery of the lyrics by Dexter Holland is generally the same, and the punk backing with power chords and blasts of solos by Noodles, are there. The songwriting isn’t as good, but they also don’t repeat themselves with bad novelty songs.

This isn’t earth-shaking, but it’s decent pre-grunge punk. You’d never have thought they’d hit it big, or even medium, though. 220px-Offspring_-_ST_1989

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The band hated the original album art (the gross guitar alien thing) and changed it for the re-releases.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: The album keeps shedding tracks on re-releases. It started with 12, and they lost one on the 1995 reissue, and another on the 2001 pressing.

GRADE: B-: Standard Offspring punk rock, just unheard until they became big.

The Jesus Lizard – Pure

ARTIST: The Jesus Lizard                                  220px-Pure_EP




SINGLES: It was an EP

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Only if you were in tune with Touch & Go or Albini

LINEUP: Duane Denison, David Wm. Sims, David Yow

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut EP from the band formed from the ashes of Scratch Acid.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After Scratch Acid broke up, David Yow was asked by Duane Denison to play bass on some songs for a recording. Yow suggested he sing and bring on his old band mate Sims and the Jesus Lizard was born.

This EP catches the band in their early stages, with a drum machine and a tentative style. David Yow’s ‘vocals’ are rather much in place (he screams, yelps, shouts and distorts his voice more than sing), but with a drum machine the power of the group is somewhat dimmed.

Still, this is a debut that shows what the group was going to be about. And of course, with their final cut, some of what they were going to be was noisy BS, but hey, that’s their MO.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They originally formed in Austin, but moved to Chicago before recording.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, but on CD it was originally appended to their first full length.

GRADE: B:  “Interesting”.

Mudhoney – Mudhoney

ARTIST: Mudhoney                 Mudhoney_album_cover

TITLE:  Mudhoney



SINGLES: This Gift, Here Comes Sickness

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: You Got It, When Tomorrow Hits

LINEUP: Mark Arm, Steve Turner, Matt Lukin, Dan Peters

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First actual album illustrates the groups grungy side to the max, with gritty, dirty distortion.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Starting out with their classic single “This Gift” and moving through several early Mudhoney classics, the first full-length by the seminal Seattle band has tasty grunge nuggets.

But, it also shows the bands’ limitations. Try as they might, the LP has a problem with some songs sounding similar to each other. A few, like “You Got It” change things up a bit with an intro before the sludgy stuff starts, but still as the album goes on it all blurs a bit.

Still, “When Tomorrow Hits” is a good respite near the end of the album. That track has a tension build with a release at the end and is one of the better slow songs they’ve done.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They covered a song by Blue Cheer, but changed the title slightly and credited it to themselves. Now boys…


GRADE: B:  I love some of it, and some of it just seems like grungy background music. Still, I’d give my right arm to produce the guitar sound on “This Gift” or “Flat Out Fucked”.

Bullet LaVolta – The Gift

ARTIST: Bullet LaVolta                               mi0002386697

TITLE:  The Gift



SINGLES: Over the Shoulder


LINEUP: Clay Tarver, Bill Whelan, Corey Loog Brennan, Chris Guttmacher, Yukkie Gipe

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Cult band tried to find the gap between hair metal and punk rock. Some liked it; I didn’t.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Bullet LaVolta fell in the cracks between metal and punk, and developed some following in Boston. Kind of like grunge, except Bullet LaVolta’s meld was more of a harsher version, not really concentrating on the riffs, with a less melodic vocal sound and vibe.

This album was an LP and EP re-released by RCA from a local label, but it wasn’t that successful outside of Boston. It’s not a very radio friendly sound, but because of the metal elements it wasn’t really much of a punk vibe. It rubbed me the wrong way, but that may be just me.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They released another album and opened up for several acts during the time.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Not really – it is a combo of two vinyl releases, though.

GRADE: C: This is definitely a cult act, your mileage may vary. EXILED for me.

Tad – God’s Balls

ARTIST: Tad                                    220px-tad_gods_balls

TITLE:  God’s Balls


CHART ACTION: Are you kidding? No, really.


OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Well, I’VE heard them, of course. Real hipster grungy people, too!

LINEUP: Tad Doyle, Gary Thorstensen, Kurt Danielson, Steve Wied

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT:  A large man leading a heavy band. They were the grungiest.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Tad roared out of the Pacific Northwest with this opus, a couple years before Seattle was known for anything but coffee, airplanes, computers and smack.

Defiantly uncommercial, vulgar, macabre, and just weird, Tad was also very heavy. Detuned guitars making a holy racket, with a bass and drum there to pound away as well. However, if you can cut through the clatter, there’s a method to the madness. The feedback adds to the sonic layers, and there’s some interesting tunings and changes going on.

The song’s subjects are best illustrated in the titles of some of the cuts: “Behemoth”, “Pork Chop”, “Cyanide Bath”, “Boiler Room”, “Satan’s Chainsaw”,“Nipple Belt”. Tad yowls them like a demented wolverine, which is apt.

This record gets repetitive after a while, but for a blast of pure loud grunge, one or two cuts will do.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Tad himself had a music degree from the University of Idaho.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Just now, Sub Pop released their three albums for the label with bonus tracks and it sounds gloriously loud.

GRADE: B-: I don’t think this is the record for non-fans, and it gets a little repetitive, but for the converted it’s righteous!

Edwyn Collins – Hope and Despair

ARTIST: Edwyn Collins                     220px-hope_and_despair

TITLE:  Hope and Despair



SINGLES: 50 Shades of Blue, Coffee Table Song

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: This was obscure and not even released in the US, I believe.

LINEUP: Edwyn Collins, Dennis Bovell, David Ruffy, Bernard Clarke, Roddy Frame, Steven Skinner

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Ex-Orange Juice singer’s debut solo album showcases his interesting baritone amidst some interestingly produced downcast pop songs.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Even though Collins isn’t the most optimistic of souls, this debut solo album (that took a while to land somewhere that would release his work) hits all of the right notes that fans of the loved but little known (in the US) Orange Juice wanted.

He’s got a good group behind him with producer Dennis Bovell and Azetc Camera’s Roddy Frame taking their place behind him. He actually sounds happy in a few places.

This doesn’t sound at all like a late 80’s release. It’s got some nice bass work (thanks to Bovell and his work as a reggae producer) and the arrangements are more in the classic pop mode than aiming for the flavor of the month. A good effort for Collins to start with.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: After two singles, a folding record company and a fallout with Creation, it took three years to get this album out. Then, a followup stiffed (and isn’t streaming).


GRADE: B+:  Some of the downbeat songs may be a bit too much for casual fans, but it’s a darn nice pop record, if somewhat sad.

Toad the Wet Sprocket – Bread and Circus

ARTIST: Toad the Wet Sprocket                              220px-bread__circus_cover

TITLE:  Bread & Circus



SINGLES: One Little Girl (#24 Modern Rock)


LINEUP: Glen Phillips, Todd Nichols, Randy Guss, Dean Dinning.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Mellow-ish alternative band’s first album was self-recorded, picked up by Columbia, and starts them on their career.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Toad the Wet Sprocket’s mellow kinda-folky songs are prefect for adult alternative radio, as it’s not really pop for teens, and not album oriented rock. In 1988 and 1989, that really didn’t exist, but enough radio stations added them to give them a groundswell of support.

Jangly acoustic and electric guitars, harmonies, and a pleasant sound is what Toad the Wet Sprocket’s about. They’re not too hard, and not too wimpy and this first album really established their modus opreandi.

These ten tracks have some highlights, but after a while they all wash together. I probably would have picked a different single (the lead off track “Way Away” caught my ear more than anything else), but I’m not in charge.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: One member, singer Glen Phillips, was in high school still when they put this album together originally in 1988.


GRADE: B-:  I can’t say this excites me, really, but it’s not horrible and it’s good for background music.


Urban Dance Squad – Mental Floss for the Globe

ARTIST: Urban Dance Squad      Urban_Dance_Squad,_Mental_Floss_for_the_Globe,_front_cover.jpeg

TITLE:  Mental Floss for the Globe



SINGLES: Deeper Shade of Soul (#21), No Kid, Fastlane

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nothing else tickled the mainstream fancy

LINEUP: Patrick Tilon, Rene van Barmeveld, Silvano Madatin, Michel Schoots, Arjen de Vreede

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Dutch group combined hip hop and alt funk / rock to some success including a great summertime jam.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: When “Deeper Shade of Soul” blasted out of boom boxes in 1989, it seemed the perfect mellow summer tune, a combo of funk and hip-hop with some tasty guitar licks and interesting turntable work. The album itself was revelatory, with not so much mellow licks but some hardcore funk / punk married to rap and hip-hop.

Being that this was 1989, some people who heard the single weren’t ready for some of the guitar-based assault. However, live they put on quite the show and their vision definitely thrilled some forward thinking record buyers.

Some of the songs don’t really work – the noise rock experiment at the end for sure. Yet, there was a lot of promise for this Netherlands band and when this album clicked, like on “Prayer for My Demo”, “Big Apple” or “Struggle for Jive”, it really clicked.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The band got together in 1986 when Tilon and de Vreede (the DJ) jammed with the other three on stage in Utrecht.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a second disc of live cuts that’s pretty interesting.

GRADE: B+: The concept is great, there’s just a few misses here.

Pixies – Doolittle

ARTIST: Pixies  220px-Pixies-Doolittle

TITLE:  Doolittle



SINGLES: Monkey Gone to Heaven (#5 US Modern Rock, #60 UK), Here Comes Your Man (#3 US Modern Rock, #54 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: What alt-rock fan worth his bones can’t quote this record chapter and verse?

LINEUP: Black Francis, Kim Deal, Joey Santiago, David Lovering

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A commercial breakthrough in the UK, an alternative radio breakthrough in the US, and the launch of the Pixies as a force in the independent world.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The lyrics are still surreal, the guitars are still loud (most of the time), but this time Black Francis’ songs have more of a pop edge to them. They’re short, singable, and memorable. To their credit, this album has never gotten old, no matter how many times you played it.

The two singles were well chosen, as they introduced people to the Pixies’ madness without overwhelming them. But the first four tracks really set the table for the whole thing, especially “Debaser”, where Black Francis screams about that movie by Bunuel and Dali – the one with the eyeball. From there, “Tame”, “Wave of Mutilation” and “I Bleed” follow before you know it.

Again, near the end, the album slows a bit, especially “Silver”. I know Kim Deal was kind of screwed out of songs, but this…well. It’s an acquired taste. The record ends strong with “Gouge Away”, though. Well done through and through.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This album only cost $40,000 to make. More than worth it.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Oh, yes. Now there are versions with demos, Peel sessions and more.

GRADE: A: Almost, almost the A+. One cut knocks it back. Sorry, Kim.