Section 1: The Ass End
“Strange Currencies” 1995, #47 (15 weeks) (download)
“E-Bow the Letter” 1996, #49 (9 weeks) (download)
“Bittersweet Me” 1996, #46 (12 weeks) (download)
“Electrolite” 1997, #96 (2 weeks) (download)
“Daysleeper” 1998, #57 (3 weeks) (download)
“The Great Beyond” 1999, #57 (14 weeks) (download)
Due to the 25th anniversary release of Green, there’s been an unusual amount of chatter around these hills lately about R.E.M.
It’s amazing how many different opinions you get on the band in 2013. Discussions through the late ‘90s probably had these guys virtually doing no wrong (except from the purists who hate anything after the IRS era). But once the ‘00s came around and the group really lost all momentum, the bubble burst pretty heavily. For me, R.E.M. should have packed it in around 2002 and all would have been fine.
Clearly now you know my stance on the group at the end of their career but let me rank their studio albums to give you an idea where I come from. On a 10 scale:
Murmur (8), Reckoning (9), Fables of the Reconstruction (7), Life’s Rich Pageant (8), Document (10), Green (6), Out of Time (6), Automatic for the People (10), Monster (10), New Adventures in Hi-Fi (6), Up (4), Reveal (2), Around the Sun (2), Accelerate (6), Collapse Into Now (6).
It’s the albums that immediately bookend Automatic for the People that really are the most polarizing. I know there’s a lot of varied opinions on the quality of Monster since it was very different from other R.E.M. releases but I think it and Automatic are easily in the top 5 of the decade when talking about the best back-to-back releases from a band.
The Rembrandts were right in my wheelhouse in the early ‘90s and yet I ignored them for some reason. I don’t know that I’d be in to them today but both these songs are pretty cool, especially the rockin’ “Johnny Have You Seen Her?”
“Closer” 1993, #66 (6 weeks) (download)
Wow, what a horrible song. Remedy sounds like they never progressed from the ‘80s while still trying to adopt that All-4-One sound and the deep spoken vocals of Boyz II Men. For those of you that think this was the worse decade for music, you can use this track as a great example of that. Not one damn thing unique about it and horrible at the same time.
“Strawberry” 1998, #83 (2 weeks) (download)
I probably like this song more than anyone reading this post. Nicole was from Philly so I heard this one a lot back in ’98 and ’99. A pretty girl with a bit of a Natalie Cole look, she had a great voice and “Strawberry” was catchy as hell. She’s one of those artists that I would have bet money on to turn into a superstar.
“Friends of P” 1995, #82 (3 weeks) (download)
Goddamn, the excitement around the arrival of Return of the Rentals into the WTSR studios in ’95 was like nothing I’d ever seen. Weezer was still a great band at that point and The Rentals featured Petra Haden of That Dog, who was beloved by many at our station. Those two things made this one of the most spun albums of the year for us.
Personally, I think the album is kind of dull to the point where I didn’t even know they had released more music after this album until I just looked it up.
“Friends of P.” though (P. is rumored to be Paulina Porizkova) is still one of the staples of ‘90s modern rock.
“Love Is A Rock” 1990, #65 (6 weeks) (download)
There really is no masking it any longer. I hate REO Speedwagon. I didn’t used to. I never really loved them but I surely could tolerate them. As the years have passed and I hear their songs in grocery stores every time I shop, I have grown to hate their sappy ass rock tunes. This is another pretty sappy one, though arguably with a catchy groove. It’s from the album, The Earth, A Small Man, His Dog and a Chicken. Just the title alone makes me want to hate them more.
Back in my college years there were really two types of women that did it for me – the seemingly wild and bad-ass alternative chick (like Saffron or Shirley Manson) and Lisa Loeb. Yes, Lisa Loeb is her own category. But Saffron was incredible looking, which made me listen to the first Republica record. The debut album is a blistering rock record with jagged riffs, catchy choruses and a bit of punk rock attitude, which I’d recommend anyone check out.
What I wouldn’t recommend? Watching the video for “Ready To Go” if you’re prone to seizures.
“Tell Me What You Dream” 1993, #43 (13 weeks) (download)
Restless Heart was a country band at the core but had a lot of pop and adult contemporary in them, like the Eagles. And nowhere is that more present than on “Tell Me What You Dream” which could have been an Eagles tune in 1978. That’s the real problem here, not that it’s a bad song but it’s a decade too late. If “Tell Me What You Dream” had been released in 1982, this would have been a smash hit. Hell, maybe even in 1990 while Don Henley was still hitting the charts. But in 1993, I’m surprised that any radio station at all played this very dated tune.
Rythm Syndicate were an interesting band. Kind of funky, kind of soulful, a little dance, a little reggae. Not everything was good as evidenced by “Blinded by Love” but most of their music was at least interesting. The main players in the group Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken were the two producers responsible for Donny Osmond’s late ‘80s, early ‘90s comeback. You can hear that sound in “I Wanna Make Love To You” (at which time they put the “H” in their name making them the Rhythm Syndicate, which auto correct likes a lot better than the former moniker).
Tony Rich was a one album wonder, which was another surprising one since he was a good looking dude, with a great voice and a debut album which I’d put up against any contemporary R&B album of the decade. His three charting singles all came off of that debut (Words) and then he disappeared for a while after his follow up in 1998 didn’t do much at all. Rich surfaced again in 2003 and has been making music ever since.
Richie Rich; a product of labels signing every west coast rapper that could even get close to spitting a rhyme. He claims in “Let’s Ride” that he’s putting a new twist on the sound but I just don’t hear it.