Content tagged '90s'
Life After Death (Album of the Day)
The Notorious B.I.G. rose quickly to the top of East Coast hip-hop with a brilliant debut; unfortunately, Biggie's reign was brief - he was killed just weeks before the release of follow-up album LIFE AFTER DEATH. The acclaimed collection picks up right where READY TO DIE left off, and like its predecessor, is peopled with thugs and playas trying to survive some very mean streets. As befits its epic 24-track length, the set features a small army of talented producers (Sean "Puffy" Combs, RZA, Easy Mo Bee) and guest rappers (Jay-Z, Lil' Kim, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony) while remaining the product of a singular vision. Though filled with violent drama, LIFE AFTER DEATH also sets its sights on mainstream radio with the catchy beats of "Mo Money Mo Problems,” the unexpected optimism of “Sky's The Limit” and “Hypnotize,” which became a posthumous #1 hit on this day in 1997.
The Muffs (Album of the Day)
Singer-guitarist Kim Shattuck spent five years paying her dues with SoCal retro-garage greats The Pandoras before departing with that group's rhythm guitarist Melanie Vammen to form her own band. Joined by a bassist and drummer, The Muffs began cranking our irresistible pop punk and were signed to Warner Bros., which released their eponymous debut album 25 years ago this week. You'd expect the raw energy here, but the quality of the songwriting is a revelation; these 16 tracks (all but a handful penned by Shattuck) burst with hooks and memorable melodies, with singles “Lucky Guy,” “Big Mouth” and “Everywhere I Go” among the many highlights. Co-producer Rob Cavallo, who'd helm DOOKIE a year after this, must have been taking notes – though THE MUFFS is easily a match for Green Day's breakthrough.
Violator (2006 Remastered) (Album of the Day)
One of the hallmarks of a truly great group is its ability to build on successes; Depeche Mode had already sold out L.A.’s Rose Bowl on its Music For The Masses tour when it released VIOLATOR in 1990. The U.K. quartet’s seventh studio album, co-produced by the band and Flood, is arguably Depeche Mode’s best, filling dance floors all around the world and reaching triple platinum status in the U.S. VIOLATOR plays to each member's strengths, from Dave Gahan’s impassioned vocals to Alan Wilder’s inventive keyboard arrangements to one of Martin Gore’s best-ever sets of songs – including such memorable hit singles as “Policy Of Truth,” “Enjoy The Silence” and “Personal Jesus.” In “black celebration” of Dave Gahan’s birthday, we’ll give another spin to this dance/techno-pop landmark!
Modern Life is Rubbish (Album of the Day)
A difficult 1992 U.S. tour playing to unappreciative grunge fans left the members of Blur homesick, and frontman Damon Albarn frequently found solace in the music of The Kinks while on the road. That band's Anglocentric approach helped inspire MODERN LIFE IS RUBBISH, which saw Blur shifting from the Madchester style of their debut to one that harks back to classic U.K. '60s songcraft. Released 25 years ago today, the album was “a weird combination of quiet nostalgic-sounding melodies and chord progressions, with these weird caustic lyrics about England as it was at that moment,” to quote Albarn. With such indelible singles as “For Tomorrow” and “Chemical World,” it proved a success, and MODERN LIFE IS RUBBISH was the first step on a path that would take Blur to the pinnacle of British rock.
Black Love (20th Anniversary Edition) (Album of the Day)
For their follow-up to the critically lauded GENTLEMEN, The Afghan Whigs headed to Memphis' Ardent Studios for 1996's BLACK LOVE. The band's fifth studio album overall, the Elektra collection boasts a strong R&B influence and a rich cinematic feel - lead singer Greg Dulli had been planning to make a film noir movie, and though the project was never completed, it left its mark on the music. Opener “Crime Scene Part One” was inspired by the screenplay for "The Million Dollar Hotel," and the album's dark tone fuels songs like the singles “Honky's Ladder” and “Going To Town.” Rhino's 20th Anniversary Edition of BLACK LOVE adds nine previously unreleased recordings, including demos, outtakes and studio jams, and now we'll give it a spin in honor of Greg Dulli's birthday.
The Boy Is Mine (Album of the Day)
A Jerry Springer Show episode about love triangles that Brandy saw on TV helped plant the seed for “The Boy Is Mine.” The singer had initially planned to cut the song of competitive romance as a solo recording before taking a cue from the 1982 collaboration between Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney. Fellow R&B hitmaker Monica signed on, creating a single (and video, costarring actor Mekhi Phifer) that ruled the airwaves in 1998. The track shot to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart and stayed there for a phenomenal 13 weeks - the first No.1 hit for either Brandy or Monica. The double-platinum duet was also a success with the critics; “The Boy Is Mine” earned three Grammy nominations including a win for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group.
Fate Of Nations (Album of the Day)
Since his Led Zeppelin days, Robert Plant has explored many different paths, and so it was on his FATE OF NATIONS, released 25 years ago this month. The album drew inspiration from turning-point artists like Moby Grape, Jefferson Airplane and Traffic that Plant explained “were trying to tell the listener something, joining various traditions, with the sense of a quest being insinuated and bandied in their acoustic and electronic themes.” The U.K. singer-songwriter does his heroes proud on a set of richly textured folk and rock arrangements, with lyrics that touch upon concerns both personal (“I Believe,” an elegy to his son) and political (“Network News”). FATE OF NATIONS would be Plant's last real solo album for nearly a decade, and it has the majestic feel of a musical summation.
Arise (Expanded Edition) (Album of the Day)
Sepultura hit its stride in 1991 when the Brazilian quartet released its acclaimed fourth record, ARISE. Recorded in Florida with producer Scott Burns, the album has been certified platinum based on worldwide sales and includes indispensable thrash/death metal tracks like “Under Siege (Regnum Irae)” and “Dead Embryonic Cells.” Now available from Rhino, the Expanded Edition of this raucous classic features a newly remastered version of the original album along with 28 bonus tracks. The previously unreleased material includes an industrial remix of “Dead Embryonic Cells,” a cover of Motorhead’s “Orgasmatron,” basic tracks for “Murder,” “Altered State” and more. ARISE: EXPANDED EDITION also features the CD debut of eight concert recordings originally released on the band’s first home video, Under Siege (Live In Barcelona).
Fountains of Wayne (Album of the Day)
Named after a Wayne, NJ, lawn ornament store, Fountains of Wayne carried the power-pop torch higher than almost any other band of the 1990s. Built around the talents of singer-songwriters Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger, the group signed to Atlantic Records and their eponymous debut followed in 1996. Its dozen originals offer sly looks at modern life buoyed by hook-filled alt-rock arrangements; singles “Radiation Vibe” and “Sink to the Bottom” qualify as highlights, but you'll find yourself singing along to “Sick Day,” “Leave The Biker” and others just as enthusiastically. While its kid superhero cover image was used by another band right around the time of release, it's entirely appropriate for this exhilarating album – FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE will rescue you from musical doldrums.
Ritual De Lo Habitual (Album of the Day)
No less an authority than Alice Cooper declared Jane’s Addiction's RITUAL DE LO HABITUAL “their peak album, where they really went out on a limb,” and it's tough to argue with the rock legend on this point. The second and final studio set from the L.A. quartet's original incarnation spans alt-rock ragers (“Stop”), mainstream rock hits (“Been Caught Stealing”) and haunting ballads (“Classic Girl”) as well as progressive epics (“Then She Did”). Frontman Perry Farrell and axeman Dave Navarro play every song as if it might be their last, and today we'll cue up the double-platinum RITUAL DE LO HABITUAL to celebrate the guitarist's birthday.