Thursday, 28 May 2009

Shady Memory Lanes Part One: The Dirge Pit of the mid to late 90s or How I Learnt to stop worrying about Pop and came to love Thrash.

1994 – 1998: Part 1.
Heavy Metal t-shirts acquired during this period: 10
Girlfriends: 0.
Is this relationship inversely proportional?

As you may have been reading yesterday, I decided it might be a bit fun to look at how my own ‘musical appreciation’ evolved (or perhaps devolved. Ok, lets just say ‘progressed’) over the past few years, roughly taking in the time from when I started high school in 1994 until the present day. The focus is ten albums only of which I enjoyed mostly in full. No strict hierarchy here, just exposition on the album and why I did, or may have, enjoyed it during a specific era of my existence, and what other contingent factors may have been linked to how I came to acquire the records. In retrospect, these records create their own myth.

In this first post, I’ll cover five albums, with the other five coming in the next few days (thus fulfilling my first epoch of music love).

As I’ve said, this first section covers my high school years. Years that can be described as the fairly ordinary and probably fairly typical of most 90s kids. I loved school, but when I heard Nirvana for the first time, I wanted to be Kurt Cobain That didn’t really change my love for school, but it did mean I became more open my mind to alternative music. It inspired me to start teaching myself guitar and as it happens, one of the first songs I learned was ‘Come as You Are’ (even today it is still my ‘tuning’ song).

It was pretty damn obvious that my high school years were dominated by grunge, hard rock and heavy metal. I hadn’t really heard of Triple J or 4ZzZ. All I listened to was the ‘rock’ hour on Triple M every night whilst doing my homework. Most of my music came from tape swapping with my friends such as Steve and Conor who shared mutual interests in popular music, and generally speaking, they shared similar taste with myself (though Conor went all psychedelic during years 11 and 12, which our friends and I thought was kind of strange and amusing but later proved to be well ahead of his time).

Ok, enough of the back-story and on to the meat and gravy.

Metallica - …And Justice For All.
This was my first Metallica record and it was life changing. I didn’t know people could play at these speeds. It was different from grunge, somewhat more rebellious, as well socially acceptable amongst my peers (Grade nine boys). But it was the extreme solos that sold me. Take for example the Hammett’s work on tracks like ‘Blackened’, or the drawn out mostly instrumental pieces such as ‘Too Live is Too Die’. Hetfield spoke of the hypocrisy evident within society, a themes that my 14-year-old brain could readily identify with. This served as my introduction to Metallica and, in many respects, 80s thrash metal and heavy metal, despite that the fact this particular record arguably was Metallica’s initial steps towards outright commercial success and the alienation of their former fans.

The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
This record was my awakening into alternative rock. It wasn’t grunge, it wasn’t metal, but had elements of both, but also included other links to other genres which at the time I didn’t appreciate, but are more fond of in the present day. While the first disc was more commercially friendly, I was fonder of disc 2. Great songs like, ‘Where Boys Fear to Tread’, ‘Bodies’, ‘XYU’, ‘Stumbleine’ and ‘1979’ (the last one still holding its own even after over 10 years) were the highlights.

Suicidal Tendencies – Lights…Camera…Revolution.
I got this album on tape from my Irish cousin, who had just immigrated to Australia and introduced me to a whole new world of music (he also gave me the Therapy? album, which I will talk about later). This stuff wasn’t being played on Australian radio. It was strange, unusual, and awesome. Suicidal Tendencies played something you could call an amalgamation of punk and metal, even bordering on rap in some cases. I never really listened to any other of their records, but I read that this one is probably their best. Best tracks include ‘Emotion No.13’, ‘You Can’t Bring Me Down’, ‘Lovely’, and ‘Disco’s Out, Murder’s In’. Funnily enough, at this time, Suicidal Tendencies featured Robert Trujillo, who is now Metallica’s current bassist.

The Doors – Self Titled.
My school friend Conor loved the Doors. He’d go into fits during the psychedelia of Morrison and company. The rest of our friends, including myself, were a bit concerned by such behavior. In our final year of high school, Conor convinced myself and a few others to perform a several Doors covers at a ‘Battle of the Band’s’ exhibition, where we went by the name of the ‘Pakistani Ratmen’. From memory, I think we played ‘Break on Through’, ‘Alabama Song’ and ‘Not To Touch the Earth’. It ended in comedic circumstances, with Conor going into a trance, falling off stage and ripping his leather pants. Anyway, after listening to album in order to learn the songs, I eventually came to really enjoy their debut LP, more so than any other of their releases. ‘Take It As it Comes’ was probably my favourite track at the time, but I really enjoyed the entire album.

Black Sabbath – Paranoid
I came to Black Sabbath via Metallica. My friend and Steve and I sought to investigate Metallica’s influences and stumbled upon Black Sabbath. I had heard that Ozzy was a bit mental, eating bats and all that jazz, but, man, they were a cool set of dudes. As everyone acknowledges, they pretty much influenced every genre of metal (which, depending on your musical orientation, could be a good or bad thing). I loved the Ozzy years, rather than the later incarnations. Classics like ‘War Pigs’ and ‘Iron Man’ are well know, but the songs like ‘Fairies Wear Boots’ and ‘Rat Salad’ (along with an outrageous drum solo stuck in the middle) were also as good. My personal favourite was ‘Hand of Doom’, with an mind warping closing section with a killer Iommi riff.

Well, that was a bit of writing. Part 2 to come soon.

1 comment:

Andrew McMillen said...

Nice list man. I'm a fan of the first two, but umfamiliar with the latter three.

It's funny that Come As You Are is your tuning song, as it's mine too!

Just a note that this entry would have benefited from a proof-read before publish, as there's a few errors hanging around in there that hint at your mid-sentence editing. ;)