Sunday, 30 April 2017

Top 75 of 1994

After the years of musical discovery of the 1990s so far I'd moved through the indie of my brother's initial record collection through rock and grunge and found that I was being drawn more and more to heavier music.  I was still listening to the other styles of course, but new music was now coming more and more from the heavier end of the spectrum.

This was partly due to me venturing out into the world of music magazines myself, previously I had nabbed whatever my brother had bought, mostly Melody Maker, NME or Select, and browsed the features of interest.  But later in 1994 I started buying RAW, which was fortnightly if I remember rightly, I think the first issue I bought had Scott Weiland on the cover and came with a load of stickers which I later stuck to the bass that I got for Christmas that year.

As this was now MY magazine I could read it cover to cover and absorb everything, new bands to look out for, more detail about bands I liked that wouldn't be featured in the indie papers etc.  This was pre-internet of course though, so actually hearing the bands still meant watching out for a clip on The Chart Show or Noisy Mothers or waiting for a free cover-mounted tape, I wasn't in a position yet to just take a punt on a band I'd never heard.

In 1994 I turned 16, so I finished school with a decent 2 A*s, 1 A, 5 Bs, 2 Cs and a D and started college where I selected A levels in Maths, Chemistry and Computing and a one year GCSE in Media Studies.  In college you could wear your band shirts with pride and see other people's allegiances at the same time.  I think my early shirts consisted of Senseless Things, Pantera, Sepultura, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Extreme and The Farm, so a varied selection.  My hair had also been growing out for about a year by then too and sporadic bouts of not shaving my chin kicked off the occasional appearance of my later permanent goatee.

1994 saw an explosion in recording my own music, still just primitively layering instruments over each other on a simple tape recorder, so the results weren't amazing.  I did two albums and an EP of my own music under the name of Marvin, all pretty bad, but the main concern of Pyf Belly Machine with my brother were even more prolific, 6 albums or about 7 hours worth of material over that year period.  After starting college, two of my mates hooked up with us to make it a "proper" band, the official lineup was my brother Peter on guitar/vocals, me on bass/vocals (or the top string of an acoustic guitar until Christmas when I got my bass), Gord on guitar and Darren on drums, but we swapped instruments a lot, I was probably the most guilty in that respect.


At the back end of 1994 we ended up playing a couple of gigs in Gord's garage (he had a big house with a triple garage, swimming pool and a sauna.....quite possibly room for a pony, if your mind was heading that way), we mostly played our own songs from the 2-piece version of the band's albums but also did covers of Girls and Boys, Everything About You and Jump Around.  I'd start the gig on drums, move to bass and a bit of singing, then guitar, back to bass before finishing on drums again.  About 20 college mates turned up to watch, let's just say if the other two weren't in the band we probably wouldn't have persuaded anyone to come.

That was a bit more background than usual......but I was enjoying myself remembering, anyway, music from 1994.  There were some pretty dark albums that came out that year, The Holy Bible being most prominent given the Manics were my favourite band, but The Downward Spiral was also up there too, given I'd been a Nine Inch Nails fan for around 3 or 4 years at that point.  Both incredibly dark albums, both giving the impression of decay in very different ways.  A few years later I would also discover the self-titled debut from Korn, taking a similar dark path but from a different angle.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, punk stirrings were felt across the Atlantic in the form of Green Day's Dookie and Offspring's Smash mainly, both featuring here.  Although interestingly Smash ended up with a lot more entries, not something I would have imagined beforehand with Dookie being the preferred album in my head.  There were also the beginnings of what would become Britpop, in particular with the release of Blur's Parklife.  This links in with me starting to go out for the first time, mostly to Middlesbrough Arena with it's indie club night on a Friday and second and third division indie bands playing often.  After my first gig experience in 1993, I had two more in 1994, seeing my beloved Manic Street Preachers for the first time in the February at Middlesbrough Town Hall, followed by Blaggers ITA at Middlesbrough Arena in the December.

But as mentioned before, my record collection was starting to take a metal turn.  One CD in particular helped this along a more extreme path, the Earplugged compilation on Earache records.  Two songs each from Bolt Thrower, Carcass, Napalm Death, Brutal Truth, Entombed, Cathedral and Godflesh - I would take a big interest in the first 3, some interest in the others, but I liked every song on there.  This, coupled with my choice of magazine and the emergence of bands like Machine Head putting metal back at the forefront, would lead me in to new unexplored avenues of music in subsequent years.


A quick note on bands that missed out as competition was fierce this time around and some good albums surprisingly didn't make the cut.  The full list of bands making the shortlist but not the chart were as follows: Godflesh, At the Gates, Shed 7, Ash, Carter USM, The Almighty, Stabbing Westward, Prong, Pro-Pain, The Farm, China Drum, Bad Religion, Stone Roses, Senser, Gun, Black Crowes, Spin Doctors, Sick of it All and Sultans of Ping.  Some of those I was particularly disappointed to see them not make the cut.....but you have to go with the best songs!

1. Bush - Comedown
2. Pearl Jam - Better Man
3. Bolt Thrower - ...For Victory
4. Machine Head - Davidian
5. Manic Street Preachers - This Is Yesterday
6. Inspiral Carpets - Saturn 5
7. Manic Street Preachers - Faster
8. Bush - Little Things
9. Stone Temple Pilots - Interstate Love Song
10. Soundgarden - Black Hole Sun
11. Offspring - Genocide
12. Nine Inch Nails - Heresy
13. Weezer - Buddy Holly
14. Manic Street Preachers - Yes
15. Pantera - I'm Broken
16. Pantera - 5 Minutes Alone
17. Bush - Machinehead
18. Pulp - Do You Remember the First Time?
19. Blur - Girls and Boys
20. Pearl Jam - Spin the Black Circle
21. Green Day - Basket Case
22. Pearl Jam - Nothingman
23. Bush - Glycerine
24. Green Day - Welcome to Paradise
25. Manic Street Preachers - Archives of Pain
26. Megadeth - A Tout Le Monde
27. Cradle of Filth - The Forest Whispers My Name
28. Nine Inch Nails - March of the Pigs
29. Nine Inch Nails - Hurt
30. Emperor - I Am The Black Wizards
31. Offspring - Gotta Get Away
32. Offspring - Smash
33. Soundgarden - The Day I Tried To Live
34. Machine Head - Old
35. Manic Street Preachers - PCP
36. Therapy? - Screamager
37. Green Day - When I Come Around
38. Offspring - Self Esteem
39. Offspring - Nitro (Youth Energy)
40. Blur - Parklife
41. Manic Street Preachers - Judge Yr'self
42. Manic Street Preachers - Revol
43. Bush - Everything Zen
44. Blur - End of a Century
45. Nine Inch Nails - Closer To God
46. Dog Eat Dog - Who's the King
47. Nine Inch Nails - Ruiner
48. Manic Street Preachers - 4st 7lb
49. Korn - Faget
50. Therapy? - Trigger Inside
51. Soundgarden - Fell On Black Days
52. Cradle of Filth - To Eve The Art of Witchcraft
53. Cradle of Filth - The Principle of Evil Made Flesh
54. Bolt Thrower - When Glory Beckons
55. Machine Head - A Thousand Lies
56. NOFX - Leave It Alone
57. Offspring - Come Out and Play
58. Offspring - Bad Habit
59. Offspring - Something to Believe In
60. Bolt Thrower - Remembrance
61. Bolt Thrower - Lest We Forget
62. Pantera - Becoming
63. Dog Eat Dog - No Fronts
64. Rollins Band - Liar
65. Cradle of Filth - Summer Dying Fast
66. Emperor - Cosmic Keys to my Creations & Times
67. Soundgarden - Like Suicide
68. Korn - Ball Tongue
69. Korn - Blind
70. Filter - Hey Man Nice Shot
71. Therapy? - Nowhere
72. Helmet - Wilma's Rainbow
73. Obituary - Don't Care
74. Napalm Death - Plague Rages
75. Brutal Truth - Choice of a New Generation

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Top 75 of 1993

Compared to the years of musical discovery that were 1991 and 1992, looking back at the albums and songs in my collection from 1993 there were a lot of strong contenders but not as much in terms of volume.  There were some excellent albums released in 1993, but it didn't seem as though there were that many of them.  Hence this chart is dominated by a few prominent releases.

Back in 1992, through the influence of The First of Too Many album and the Easy to Smile single, Senseless Things had established themselves as my favourite band.  I got background information in the form of newsletters (no internet back then of course) and wore my blue Pop Kid shirt with pride, they were MY band.

But in 1993 I sent off for and received a pack of goodies from another band who, through a flurry of singles and a great debut album, had also got my attention big time the previous year.  I'd already read the interviews in my brother's Melody Makers, NMEs, Selects etc. but now I was reading uncut manifestos, background information, lyrics, I had badges, stickers and a membership card.  Impressive stuff for a 14/15 year old.  And then came the second album which impressed me even further, time has pegged it a little further back in their overall album rankings but then it was fresh and new.....and of course that band was the Manic Street Preachers.  1993 saw them become my favourite band and they're unlikely to ever be dislodged from that status.

I suspect, as with 1992, that I was catching up a little in terms of the previous year so some of the albums I bought in 93 would have been from 92.  But those I did buy that year were the aforementioned Gold Against the Soul by the Manics, Senseless Things' Empire of the Senseless, Pearl Jam's Vs and Sepultura's Chaos AD, all on cassette (my dad had a CD player in 93 but I didn't, meaning that I could only ever play my only CD - Rollins Band's Tearing single - downstairs).

Another major first from 1993 was something that happened on the 5th October at Middlesbrough Town Hall - my first gig.  Headliners Carter USM were obviously the main draw but support band Sultans of Ping FC were also well known to me at the time through Where's Me Jumper and Stupid Kid and to be honest I think I ended up enjoying them more.  The first band on were called Blink, pretty unremarkable although I imagine they were the Blink that caused Blink 182 to add the 182 onto their name.

1993 was also the year I first started making music, if you can call it that.  In the March, a couple of months shy of my 15th birthday, I recorded 6 solo tracks under the name of Listy.  Predominantly recorded on keyboard they were pretty awful, one track even just consisting of me singing alternative words over the top of Shadow by The Lurkers (the actual song itself, not a cover), renaming it Neale James is a Saddo after the radio DJ.  In May me and my brother teamed up to record Totally Spontaneous Masterpieces under the name of Sludge From the Bottom.  A list of pre-planned song titles based on TV and in-jokes were created off the cuff using a keyboard, a guitar and our voices.  Filling a one hundred minute tape.  Let's just say I don't listen to it very often.

October and November saw a slightly higher standard of improvisation, although still pretty dire, as our main 90s collaborative band was born - Pyf Belly Machine.  Best of 93 Sessions and Forks Brain Cake by the Lake Near Cirencester were the titles......it could only go up from here.....

But enough of that, back to the proper music.....a smaller number of bands made the shortlist this time but didn't get in the final 75.  Those bands consisted of Primus, KMFDM, Brad, My Dying Bride, Duran Duran, Saint Etienne, Thousand Yard Stare, New Order and Clawfinger.  I've always had the feeling that after Stone Gossard was part of the Brad album that he was never the same again in Pearl Jam.  His songs became less frequent, maybe even less interested and given his songs were some of the classics on the first two Pearl Jam albums that was a shame (no pun intended surprisingly).

One of the possible reasons for the lack of new album buying in 93 could have been that in terms of media I was still only reading my brother's indie papers and magazines, while I was moving further and further into rock and metal territory in terms of what I was listening to.  So, as shown with the Manics, Senseless Things and Pearl Jam, I was largely sticking to what I already knew.  In 1994 I started buying my own magazines, which blew everything apart, but that's for next time.

1. Paradise Lost - Embers Fire
2. Manic Street Preachers - From Despair to Where
3. Pearl Jam - Rearviewmirror
4. Paradise Lost - True Belief
5. Senseless Things - Too Much Kissing
6. Die Krupps - Fatherland
7. Carcass - Heartwork
8. Sepultura - Territory
9. Sepultura - Refuse/Resist
10. Manic Street Preachers - La Tristesse Durera (Scream to a Sigh)
11. Manic Street Preachers - Sleepflower
12. Smashing Pumpkins - Today
13. Pearl Jam - Go
14. Life of Agony - This Time
15. Pulp - Lipgloss
16. Skyscraper - Choke
17. Senseless Things - Primary Instinct
18. Mega City Four - Iron Sky
19. Life of Agony - Through and Through
20. Smashing Pumpkins - Cherub Rock
21. Die Krupps - Crossfire
22. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Soul to Squeeze
23. Faith No More/Boo-Yaa Tribe - Another Body Murdered
24. Tool - Sober
25. Senseless Things - Hold it Down
26. Senseless Things - Too Much Like I Know You
27. Manic Street Preachers - Donkeys
28. Carcass - Rot 'N' Roll
29. Manic Street Preachers - Life Becoming a Landslide
30. Manic Street Preachers - Roses in the Hospital
31. Carcass - This Mortal Coil
32. Sepultura - Slave New World
33. Sepultura - Biotech is Godzilla
34. Senseless Things - Homophobic Asshole
35. Manic Street Preachers - Patrick Bateman
36. Sultans of Ping FC - Stupid Kid
37. Sultans of Ping FC - You Talk Too Much
38. Life of Agony - River Runs Red
39. Pearl Jam - Animal
40. Pearl Jam - Daughter
41. Type O Negative - Black No. 1
42. Senseless Things - Keepsake
43. Suede - Animal Nitrate
44. Blur - For Tomorrow
45. Suede - So Young
46. Blur - Advert
47. Manic Street Preachers - Symphony of Tourette
48. Manic Street Preachers - Yourself
49. Paradise Lost - Widow
50. Paradise Lost - Dying Freedom
51. Pearl Jam - Glorified G
52. Carcass - Blind Bleeding the Blind
53. Sepultura - Propaganda
54. Carcass - Death Certificate
55. Cathedral - Midnight Mountain
56. Paradise Lost - Colossal Rains
57. Utah Saints - Something Good
58. Manic Street Preachers - Drug Drug Druggy
59. Manic Street Preachers - Gold Against the Soul
60. Pearl Jam - Leash
61. Die Krupps - Bloodsuckers
62. Sultans of Ping FC - Where's Me Jumper?
63. Blaggers ITA - Stresss
64. James - Sometimes
65. Napalm Death - Nazi Punks Fuck Off
66. Paradise Lost - Christendom
67. Nirvana - Heart-Shaped Box
68. Senseless Things - Runaways
69. Kingmaker - 10 Years Asleep
70. Inspiral Carpets - How It Should Be
71. Breeders - Cannonball
72. Senseless Things - Tempting Kate
73. Pulp - Razzmatazz
74. Carter USM - Lean On Me I Won't Fall Over
75. Jesus Jones - The Devil You Know