Posts Tagged ‘1990’s music’

Fans of the Smashing Pumpkins fans may have missed what I think is Billy Corgan’s finest hour (actually 3:45) as a songwriter which came during his time in between the original and re-incarnated Smashing Pumpkins. Zwan was an alternative band who managed to keep itself alive for only one release — MARY STAR OF THE SEA in 2003. The five-person lineup included Corgan, original ‘Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlain, and former A Perfect Circle member, Paz Lenchantin on bass.

‘Honestly’ was the single from this release and is a perfectly executed song that showcases the best of Corgan’s alternative guitar-rock songwriting. A flanged guitar effect gives the song a cool trippy feel. Chamberlain’s identifiable drumming plugs the songs open spaces with his signature ghost notes on the snare, and driving back-beats. Lenchantin’s female backing vocals provide an excellent accent to Corgans’ unique voice during the chorus lines /”There’s no place I could be without you”/. The mix builds towards the end of the song with a well-placed short guitar solo that captures the songs melodic structure, and repeated energetic chorus. Another one to check out from this release is the opening track ‘Lyric’.

Fantastic song from David Baerwald’s first solo record BEDTIME STORIES. He was better known for being one-half of David & David and ‘Welcome to the Boomtown’, their commercially succesful and critically acclaimed song from 1986.

Soul Asylum originated from the same Minneapolis music scene that thankfully gave us The Replacements and Husker Du in the 80’s. While Dave Pirner & Company did not have had the same overall musical influence as Bob Mould and Paul Westerberg did with their respective bands, Soul Asylum definitely has been more commercially successful.  Their 1992 release GRAVE DANCERS UNION marched up the charts with hits ‘Somebody to Shove’ and ‘Black Gold’,  and then exploded with ‘Runaway Train’  which led to a Grammy for the modern-rock band.

Despite their multi-platinum success in 1992/1993, GREAT SONGS NEVER  DIE has to fast-forward a bit to the track ‘Just Like Anyone’  from their 1995 release LET YOUR DIM LIGHT SHINE. The energy and attitude of this hard-driving song captures Soul Asylum at the top of their game. The entire release has such a full and warm sound. I think Sterling Campbell on drums made a huge difference bringing a solid foundation to the band. Plus, Butch Vig with his outstanding production. [Butch is drummer for the band Garbage and produced Nirvana’s mega-seller NEVERMIND].

Accented drum hits, open hi-hats time-keeping, and guitar support the verses of ‘Just Like Anyone’  leaving you on edge just waiting for the chorus to kick in. Take a deep breath if you want to sing along because Pirner does not pause during the chorus as he tells the elegant story of a girl in an outhouse contemplating life. Using a series of homophones, the lyrics continually push the song forward along with the late Karl Mueller’s great bass line that closely mirrors the vocal melody and phrasing.

The band is still making music having released a new studio effort, DELAYED REACTION, this past summer. Unfortunately, guitarist Dan Murphy, who has been will the band since 1983, recently announced he was leaving the band. Also be sure to check out their 2006 release THE SILVER LINING with ‘Bus Named Desire’, ‘Lately’, and ‘Good For You’ as the stand-out tunes; plus their more recent DELAY REACTION in 2012 and my favorite track ‘Pipe Dream’.

When I first heard about Mr. Big forming as new ‘Supergroup’ back in the late 80’s, I was totally jazzed to hear Eric Martin was the lead singer. I remember Eric Martin as a solo artist with his 1987 song ‘These Are The Good Times’ and thought his strong raspy vocals would be a great fit for a hard-rocking outfit. Teamed with instrument masters Paul Gilbert (Racer X), Billy Sheehan (David Lee Roth),  and Cleveland-native Pat Torpey (Robert Plant), Mr. Big was best known for ‘To Be With You’ from 1991’s Lean Into It, but the Gilbert penned song ‘Green-Tinted Sixties Mind’ from the same release is the Mr. Big’ highlight for me.

Aside from being a well written and recorded rock song, it also serves an outstanding example of creative musicians with serious chops but who still have the discipline and tastefulness to play within the context of what the song truly needs. I love the cracking of Torpey’s drumming and how he and the other members get their melodies and licks in but still allow ‘space’ for the vocals to soar – particularly in the last line in each chorus —  the lead and backing harmony vocals fly but like falling off a cliff  and then come crashing down with a ‘crack’ into the next line.