Tag: 1990

Urge Overkill – Americruiser

ARTIST: Urge Overkill                  Urge_Overkill_-_Americruiser

TITLE: Americruiser

YEAR RELEASED: 1990

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Ticket to LA

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Uh, huh

LINEUP: Eddie “King” Roeser, Nash Kato, Jack Watt

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second record from Chicago alternative trio improves the sound a bit, the songs a bit, but still kind of blurs together.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After a drummer change, Urge Overkill recorded their second album with Butch Vig in controls, and he and the band cleaned up their sound and corralled their influences a bit, which was sorely needed.

The one-two punch of “Ticket to LA” and “Blow Chopper” gives one hope, and those songs definitely are keepers for the band, but then the next six tracks don’t build or diversify, or are kind of half-assed (like “Empire Builder”). It’s also short, too, with eight songs that aren’t that long. King Roeser sings most of the cuts, so that also may be a change for later fans.

They’re on their way to where they’d land, but this isn’t where to start with them.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Jack Watt was known as “Jaguar”

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE: C+: There’s enough good stuff here to make you wish there was more, and more diversity.

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The Jesus Lizard – Head

ARTIST: The Jesus Lizard                    220px-JesusLizHead

TITLE: Head

YEAR RELEASED: 1990

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Nooooo

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: They played Killer McHann at almost every show

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

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Texas weirdos kick it up a notch and release a full-length album with sinister sounding tunes and David Yow all over.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: David Wm. Sims’s bass is rumbly and menacing, Mac McNeilly pounds the drums and locks into Sims, and Duane Denison’s guitar chars whatever is in its way with riffs and fills. Then…there’s David Yow.

Yow’s vocal delivery ranges from incomprehensible, to distorted, to deranged. Sometimes, in one song, he’s all three. Definitely not for the weak of heart, or those who really insist on melody or something like that. They’re excused here.

The Jesus Lizard’s still trying to figure out their best approach, but this, their first full-length, is getting close. A couple of tracks lumber on where the menace becomes boring. But there’s some classics, especially “Killer McHann”, a concert staple.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This was the first release featuring McNeilly. They had used a drum machine before.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: The CD included their debut EP

GRADE: B+: A step in the evolution of a crazed band.

Yo La Tengo – Fakebook

ARTIST: Yo La Tengo                                220px-Fakebook

TITLE: Fakebook

YEAR RELEASED: 1990

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Speeding Motorcycle

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: It’s a cover record, but there’s not many you’d know besides “Here Comes My Baby” or maybe “Griselda”

LINEUP: Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley, Dave Schramm, Al Greller

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A quieter folky album of some of their favorite tunes, and a few originals in the same mode.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: By this time, Yo La Tengo had already had a reputation for guitar freakouts and long songs, especially in concert. But the band also had a very diverse taste, and this is the first sense that they were more than a loud alternative rock band.

Kaplan and Hubley’s joy for singing and playing these songs are apparent, as they dive in with glee to these old songs. Old friend Dave Schramm joins the group again on lead guitar, and Al Greller plays double bass.

It’s not going to be among the essential works for the band, but it was the first to show their other sides and pretty darn good for something that seemed to be just for fun.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They covered tracks by Cat Stevens, Pete Stampfel, the Flamin’ Groovies, Daniel Johnston, Rex Garvin, Gene Clark, Ray Davies, the Escorts, John Cale, and NRBQ.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: B+: A fun listen.

The Posies – Dear 23

ARTIST: The Posies                         220px-Dear23

TITLE: Dear 23

YEAR RELEASED: 1990

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Golden Blunders (#17 Modern), Suddenly Mary

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Apology

LINEUP: John Auer, Ken Stringfellow, Rick Roberts, Mike Musburger

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Moving from acoustic to electric, the Posies major label debut established their power pop credentials.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Adding bassist Rick Roberts and drummer Mike Musburger, the Posies moved toward a power-pop sounds in a mixed bag of an album.

There’s some highly produced songs (“Apology”), some songs that show their love of the psychedelic era (“Flood of Sunshine”), and a few cuts that seem leftover from their acoustic days (“My Big Mouth”). When this album is on point, it’s great. There’s hooks, and harmonies, and definite channeling of Badfinger here (listen to the guitar under the verses in “Apology”).

However, it doesn’t hang together as an album in my ears – it’s a collection of songs, yes, and some are fantastic, but it caught them in transition. They’d evolve fully soon enough.

 

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Ringo covered “Golden Blunders” on an album

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B+-: I didn’t like the flow of the album, the songs were great but it seemed put together in a haphazard way.

Junior Brown – 12 Shades of Brown

ARTIST: Junior Brown                        51u480XQ3SL

TITLE: 12 Shades of Brown

YEAR RELEASED: 1990

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: My Baby Don’t Dance to Nothing but Ernest Tubb, Too Many Nights in a Roadhouse, Hillbilly Hula Gal

LINEUP: Junior Brown, Tanya Rae Brown, Steve Layne, Spencer Starnes, Mike Ballew, Donny Dolan, Tom Lewis

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First album featuring the guit-steel innovator and husky baritone/bass and sense of humor.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Junior Brown’s legendary guitar and steel playing finally got a showcase of his own with this solo album. His guit-steel, which combines a lap steel and electric guitar, allows Brown the freedom to switch between both instruments easily during a song.

The songs are slight at times, and are more showcases for Brown’s firey guitar playing. He specializes in a Western swing theme (hence his name-check of Ernest Tubb) and doesn’t cotton to current Nashville trends (then or now).

It’s a fun album for the most part. When Brown gets serious, it suffers, but the light cuts will make you smile and the guitar playing will leave you in wonder.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He created his guit-steel in 1985.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B:  It’s fun (the best songs are the fun ones) and the guitar playing is fantastic.

Tad – Salt Lick

ARTIST: Tad                saltlick

TITLE:  Salt Lick

YEAR RELEASED: 1990

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Loser

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Wood Goblins.

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

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: An EP of mass destruction of your ears – heavy duty grunge.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Hot on the heels of God’s Balls, Tad Doyle and crew cranked out an EP which built upon and expanded the hard, grungy sound of the group. I kid you not, this is heavy duty, resembling Tad’s stout frame.

The first side of the EP is absolutely vital for any student of this era (“Axe to Grind”, “High on the Hog”, and “Wood Goblins” – one of the best videos of the genre). The other side seems somewhat redundant, which was the problem with the band at the time. Heavy as they were, there weren’t any changeups here.

When this was released on CD later that year, Sub Pop added the single “Loser” – the rallying cry for Tad and the entire movement. Loser’s got nothing to lose.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: If you try to Google “Axe to Grind” to find the lyrics – you get Bastille and Sawyer Brown. Not the same song, not even in the same area code.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Well, when this came out on CD, they added seven of the 10 tracks from God’s Balls (why not make two separate CDs?) and didn’t add the B-side of “Loser”. With the new releases out now, they add that B-side, a great compilation single “Habit & Necessity” and a Black Flag cover.

GRADE: B+:  Four essential tracks. Not a bad percentage.

Jawbreaker – Unfun

ARTIST: Jawbreaker                               220px-jawbreaker_-_unfun_cover

TITLE:  Unfun

YEAR RELEASED: 1990

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Busy

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably no

LINEUP: Brett Schwarzenbach, Chris Bauermeister, Adam Phaler

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Punk with pop elements that suffers from same-same ness over an entire album.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Certainly there’s some good stuff on this debut by Jawbreaker. They stay pretty true to punk-rock (as true as you can for me, at least, but I’m no purist) and the growl of Schwarzenbach hides some definite pop elements while still having a rough, gruff exterior.

The melodies and songwriting under the growl reveal an early kind of ‘emo’, with Schwarzenbach wearing his heart on his sleeve on more than one occasion. But this record isn’t warm and cuddly – the sound is angry.

Yet that angry sound blurs together in the middle of the record, as song leads into song without a lot of sonic difference between them. The result is a reduced impact, which is a shame, since there are definite highlights here.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They formed at NYU, but moved to Los Angeles since Schwarzenbach and Pfhaler were from Santa Monica.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A new mix of their single is appended.

GRADE: B: Because of the same-sameness in the middle, it blurred together, but there’s some individually good punk here.

 

Lynch Mob – Wicked Sensation

ARTIST: Lynch Mob                       220px-lynchmob_wicked

TITLE:  Wicked Sensation

YEAR RELEASED: 1990

CHART ACTION: #46

SINGLES: River of Love (#19 Mainstream), Wicked Sensation (#31 Mainstream)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably that’s a big fat no.

LINEUP: Oni Logan, George Lynch, Anthony Esposito, Mick Brown

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Former Dokken axe-man grabs the drummer, forms a band, and it’s actually an improvement over Dokken for the most part!

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: I always felt that George Lynch was sometimes buried in Dokken. The mediocre hair-metallers had a guitarist that could really wail, and it didn’t seem they used him to the fullest potential. When Lynch formed his own band, he was able to show what he could do leading a band.

The result – well it’s not going to win any songwriting contests. Lead singer Oni Logan’s lyrics are hackneyed most of the time, but Lynch’s riffs, fills and solos are worthwhile most of the time. It’s kind of an overlooked album, maybe due to the lack of a real hooky single that would have driven pop radio play. Alas.

As the record goes on, the songwriting limitations become more noticeable. It’s a decent effort, though, and much better than you’d expect except if you knew what Lynch was capable of.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: After their first tour, Lynch sacked Logan, for substance abuse I guess. Hard to say.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B-:  Great guitar, meh songs. Lynch is worth the listen, though.

The Reverend Horton Heat – Smoke ‘Em if You Got ‘Em

ARTIST: The Reverend Horton Heat          smoke_em_if_you_got_em

TITLE:  Smoke ‘Em if You Got ‘Em

YEAR RELEASED: 1990

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Psychobilly Freakout

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Bad Reputation, Eat Steak

LINEUP: Jim Heath, Jimbo Wallace, Patrick Bentley – or Rev. Horton Heat, Jimbo and Taz

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut album from psychobilly revivalist that is fun, fun, fun.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: A hollow body Gretsch, a stand-up bass, and a drum kit is all the Reverend Horton Heat and his crew need to make a fun album that still stands up 16 years later.

Sure, not every song is a winner (it is a bit uneven), and at times the music is the best part of the song, but when this album is on, it cooks with gas.

At least half of the record is classic and has lasted with fans, especially oddities like “Eat Steak”, “Marijuana”, “Bullet”, “I’m Mad” and “Bad Reputation”. With a wink, a smile, and a rockabilly sound, the Rev. and his crew are on point here.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Most of this record was recorded live to two-track and it sounds great.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-:  Enough winners here to warrant several listens, and singalongs, as the best songs stick with you.

The Black Crowes – Shake Your Moneymaker

ARTIST: The Black Crowes                            220px-BlackCrowesShakeYourMoneymaker

TITLE:  Shake Your Moneymaker

YEAR RELEASED: 1990

CHART ACTION: #4 US, #36 UK

SINGLES: Jealous Again (#75 US, #5 US Rock, #76 UK), Twice As Hard (#11 US Rock, #47 UK), Hard to Handle (#26 US, #1 US Rock, #39 UK), She Talks to Angels (#30 US, #1 US Rock, #70 UK), Seeing Things (#2 US Rock, #72 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: That’s about it for airplay.

LINEUP: Chris Robinson, Rich Robinson, Jeff Cease, Johnny Colt, Steve Gorman, Chuck Leavell, Brendan O’Brien, Laura Creamer

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Blues / Southern rock makes a retro-sounding record that’s a big hit and holds up well.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The album and sound are about as basic as you could get. Open-tuned blues guitar as a basis, some nice leads and bottleneck guitar, and some vocal swag. Oh, and a tasteful cover of a forgotten Otis Redding song.

Chris Robinson’s vocals have enough of an attitude to convey a sense of fun and danger. The addition of Chuck Leavell on piano and organ is also an excellent touch as he adds that authenticity from working with the Allman Brothers.

It’s a good album for those who long for the southern blues rock idiom. The songs are simple, direct and unpretentious. Not everyone is top notch, but nothing you’d skip over, either.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “She Talks to Angels’ is about a woman with a heroin addiction that Chris Robinson knew.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A couple of extra tracks and an acoustic song.

GRADE: B+: This still holds up today. A good ol’ fashion’ Southern blues / rock record.