THE WOOF 200 FOR 1993
More songs that are completely unrelated outside of being released in the same year. I’m not even sure why I do intro paragraphs anymore.
So this marks the second appearance of vocalist Glenn Hughes on the countdown despite the fact that he didn’t actually release any material of his own in 1993, content I guess to lend his particular stylings to various solo works of noted guitarists. My thoughts on his style were already covered back at #137, so instead we’ll focus on how perfectly he melded with ex-Dokken shred master George Lynch on Mr. Scary’s debut solo album. Lynch is simply one of my favorite guitarists of all-time and he delivers a killer album his first time out, enlisting not just Hughes but several other vocalists on Sacred Groove. He’ll be back later on with a track featuring the guys from Nelson (no, I’m not kidding), but I couldn’t pass up this mid-paced rocker featuring Hughes’ unique, impassioned singing. (Check out “Flesh And Blood” for a taste of the Lynch with the late Ray Gillen, or “Tierra Del Fuego” if you wanna hear George rock out unencumbered by singing.)
Queensrÿche made a brief habit of dropping killer stand-alone tunes in between albums during the early 90’s, first delivering “Last Time In Paris” post Operation: Mindcrime and pre Empire, and now giving us this majestic track between Empire and their next release, Promised Land. Here they go full-on overblown epic with a Michael Kamen led orchestra (in a song that apparently convinced Kamen to convince Metallica to do a full live album with the SF Orchestra), and it is as sweeping and as grand as I’d come to expect from Seattle’s best non-grunge export. I’ve grown to really loathe Geoff Tate over the years since he appears to be as big and pompous in real life as his vocal style would lead you to believe, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy his work, even when it takes itself WAY too seriously. Epic prog is one of those things you either get or you don’t, and I for one do, so there you have it. Man, the Last Action Hero soundtrack was badass.
I had a huge crush on Melissa Etheridge around the time she released her phenomenal Never Enough album. I also had a huge crush on that album, so I was pretty excited for the follow up. The fact that it made her a huge star thanks to “I’m The Only One” and “Come To My Window” is great for her, but in truth it never quite stuck with me on a track-to-track basis like the previous one did, even if I do like it quite a lot. I liked the hits, but this song felt more quintessentially Melissa to me, hence it’s placement here while those other two are regulated to Honorable Mention status. Her husky voice is of course in fine husk here, and her songwriting as always is raw and passionate. I lost touch with her career (as I did a lot of acts post 1995) as time went on and these days I just can’t muster up the energy to track her new stuff, but revisiting her now makes me question that attitude. As I’ve said before, so little time, so much music.
We interrupt the countdown to bring you this deliciously cheesy country ode to life (rather make that death) at the local watering hole. Props too for the Weekend At Bernie’s Goes Redneck video. This Guilty Pleasure Alert is now over and we return you to your regularly scheduled music countdown.
This song might be the most blatantly “1993” song on the entire countdown, at least to my ears. Which isn’t to imply it hasn’t aged well. Quite the contrary, as it still sounds pretty vital even in 2015. It’s just that of all the music I listened to that year, Cracker as a band felt the most representative of what was going down at the time: slowed down, noisy in places, somewhat lyrically obtuse, and oddly dark without ever being truly morose. Some records just feel very much of their time, and this is certainly one of them. A big shiny radio hit, as everything seemed to be back in those days, despite not being something that would have been even given the time of day a scant three years earlier. I’m telling you, man, times changed in a hurry in those post-Teen Spirit years.
Savatage, on the other hand, was very much of a time gone by, one of the few remaining 80’s metal acts content not to advance with the calendar. In fact, led by producer Paul O’Neill, the band spent the 90’s drifting further away from their thrash roots into a more epic, operatic style that eventually led them to morph into the (now) more popular Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Being the band’s last album with original guitarist Criss Oliva before his tragic death in a motor vehicle accident later in the year, as well as their first with new singer Zak Stevens, Edge Of Thorns had a lot of things working against it, but quality was not one of those things. Oliva rips off a tremendous solo on this one and I for one welcomed their inclusion of more piano into their metal structures (or just straight up piano, as in album track “Exit Music”), although I totally get why hardened fans hated the change.
I really don’t know how or why I picked up this album of mid-level adult contemporary rock, but I’m glad I did as over the years it has found its way into my play rotation quite a bit more than I would have expected. Very much a chance-of-pace artist for me, I guess you could slot him in alongside Edwin McCain, although with less emphasis on roots rock and more on a kind of laid back pop sheen. Vocally he’s one of those artists who constantly reminds me of someone else, but I can never quite pinpoint who. This track reminds of Toad The Wet Sprocket’s more laid back stuff, although again I’m not sure that’s really justified. Maybe Marc Cohn without all the Motown undertones? I dunno, I give up. I just really like this tune. (Also a big fan of the album’s title track, “Little Victories”.)
- ROCKHEAD – “SLEEPWALK”
I knew eventually I’d hit another song that I couldn’t find a link for (there’s a really awful industrial mix version on YouTube, but I ain’t linking that shit), so I’ll keep this brief. Rockhead was noted producer Bob Rock’s attempt at a band (following his trash pop days in the early 80’s), but by the time it landed in 1993 their form of guitared-up boogie metal wasn’t much in the way of popular, so it died a quick death. The album is a sort of dirty and drunk Bon Jovi if you will (Bob having produced their last couple of albums in addition to Motley Crue, Metallica, and The Cult, among others), although this track was the most polished of the album, which is why I liked it. Not that you can hear that, without the link. So much for keeping it brief.
In retrospect this probably deserves to be a hell of a lot higher as I *really* dig this song, but in my defense I never actually owned the album, which means the song sat in my head for years as one of those things I could never remember who did it and thus never got a lot of play. In fact for the longest time I thought this was more of a late 90’s tune, since again, I didn’t know who did it and didn’t make the connection to James even though I remember seeing the album around Tower for so long. Anyway, it was a big fat one-hit wonder, deservedly so, given that it’s catchy, very 90’s sounding, and oh yeah, about sex. That usually sells. Or so they tell me.
The opening track off of Anthrax’s masterpiece The Sound Of White Noise, this song absolutely destroys right from the opening scattergun drumming (I mean once past the TV static intro) before unleashing new vocalist John Bush with a vengeance. I love the way it just announces this “new” ‘Thrax with total authority, leaving behind their old sound for a slightly more traditional and muscular approach. The difference is slight, and mostly noticed in the songwriting, but Bush-Anthrax is not the same beast as Belladonna-Anthrax and they aren’t hiding it. This album is absolutely killer, as evidence by this being the third track to make the countdown (including 1 official honorable mention) with one more still to come. I went from being a fringe member of their following to a hardcore fanatic when this album landed, to the point that now that they’ve gone back to Belladonna for the last couple of albums I’m still fully on board. One of the fathers of modern metal for good reason.