Posts Tagged ‘90’s music’

After the initial success of Cake’s 1996 hit “The Distance,” the release of their follow up album PROLONGING THE MAGIC (1998) generated some negative reviews. A writer for The Times in London predicted Cake would go down as ‘one-hit wonders’ and were little more than an above average bar-room act. Wrong. “Never There” went to the top of Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks. Cake has shared the secret to their unique sound: cheap guitars. Guitarist Xan McCurdy states “Front man/guitarist John McCrea’s guitar is a shitty old starter guitar from the ’60s. They probably made a million of them off an assembly line. We never get the exact same tone twice.” Maybe he’ll have it with him when Cake performs in downtown Cleveland this weekend at the InCuya Music Festival.

Years ago I was with my wife (then girlfriend) at an old Pizzeria Uno in Beachwood, Ohio. At the next table over was a couple in their late-teens who repeatedly kept looking over at us and whispering between themselves. After about ten minutes, the young man stood up and walked over to our table and very nervously asked me “Are you Mike Mills from R.E.M?” A little stunned, I responded “no” and joked with him “but I am the drummer for local alternative band, Nothing Like Vaudeville.” Unimpressed, he returned to his table and broke the disappointing news to his female friend. Here’s my absolute favorite from R.E.M – music was written by the real Mike Mills and recorded at Criteria Studios in Miami – supposedly the piano he played on this track was the same one Derek and the Dominos used when they recorded “Layla.” The beautiful string arrangement on “Nightswimming” was done by former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones.

A top 1997 hit for English band The Verve which resulted in lawsuits for singer Richard Ashcroft and the band. Before recording, The Verve had asked for and received permission to sample The Andrew Oldham Orchestra’s instrumental version of the Rolling Stones 1965 hit “The Last Time”. A 50/50 split on royalties was originally agreed upon. As the song moved up the charts, former Rolling Stones business manager Allen Klein, whose company owned the publishing rights to the Stones early songs, argued the band used more of the song than agreed upon. The Verve had the option to relinquish 100% of the royalties, which they did, or take the song out of all the stores. Songwriting credit was also changed to Jagger/Richards/Ashcroft (Ashcroft wrote the lyrics).

Originally signed by legendary producer Phil Ramone, who just passed away in March 2013, The Tories were an acclaimed L.A. power pop/rock band with well-crafted songwriting, excellent musicianship and extremely catchy melodies and hooks. ‘Flying Solo’ is the opening track from their 1997 debut release WONDERFUL LIFE and a true representation of the band at its finest. I absolutely love the melodic guitar solo with the rest of the band providing a warm, precise groove (with ‘tom-tom’ accents) in the middle of the song. I may have hit rewind and replayed this small section of the song 1000 times. Great songs always have a melody, vocal phrase, part of the arrangement, or even a simple note that never outstays its welcome and always leaves you wanting to hear it again. This is one of those moments.

The Tories had a follow-up release UPSIDE OF DOWN in 2001, which included the original theme song ‘Time For You’ written for JESSE, the TV sitcom featuring Christina Applegate. The band went their separate ways in 2002. Steve Bertrand (singer/guitarist) went on to form the band Avion, which had a strong self-titled release in 2004. The multi-talented J.J.Farris (Lead Guitar) evolved into a Composer, Arranger and Producer of music for TV and Film, including daytime soap operas General Hospital and The Young and the Restless.