Pop Rocks

THE WOOF 200 FOR 1993

 

PART 19

No intro, just tunes.

 

  1. SARAH MCLACHLAN – “POSSESSION”

This song was my gateway to the gloriousness that it is Sarah McLachlan, long before she was depressing the hell out of us with animal rights TV spots. Her voice is from some other plain, coasting in on angelic wings out of the ether to sooth whatever ails me. Contrasting that is the deeply sensual way she delivers this particular song (the accompanying video is one of the damn sexiest things I’ve ever seen). Let’s move on before I have a “moment”.

 

  1. GARY HOEY – “FADE TO BLUE”

This right here is a prime example of why electric guitar is the most awesome musical instrument man has yet conceived. Six glorious minutes of wailing, mournful, sad sounds that I want to be the last things I hear when that terrible day comes where I must shuffle off this mortal coil. This instrumental is the ultimate expression of sweet release. Soak it in.

 

  1. MARC COHN – “RAINY SEASON”

Back at #98 I praised Marc Cohn’s sophomore album and the way he embraced a soulful Motown sound on it. This song is the prime example of that musical hug, as this just drips with that 70’s Motown vibe. He croons the fuck out of this tune (with a nice assist from Bonnie Raitt on the backing vox), smooth as all get out during the verses and then ramping up with the right amount of passion at the chorus, catching himself before blowing it out in a way that is just tremendous. The backing band finds this pocket that feels like taking a stroll down busy sidewalk when you’re only the one who isn’t a hurry to get somewhere. Like you know the secret to internal peace while everybody around you is rushing to find the shortcuts. Lyrically it goes to a different place, not dark, but not exactly as light as the music makes me feel, and that contradiction is part of its appeal. Damn this album is so, so good.

 

  1. BRUCE HORNSBY – “RAINBOW’S CADILLAC”

Moving from Cohn’s soul to Hornsby’s jazz, this is quite simply one damn fun tune that puts a spring in my step thanks to its hopscotch beat and playful instrumental flourishes. This just feels like it’s a blast to play. The lyrics are likewise not to be taken too seriously, and once again we get a guest appearance from the magnificent Bonnie Raitt on backing vocals, here featuring much more prominently than on “Rainy Season”. She was a busy girl in ’93, that Bonnie. Man, I’m so much happier just listening to this song. The power of music, people. Use it.

 

  1. BIG SUGAR – “I’M A RAM”

I didn’t discover this album until the project began, but holy smokes do these guys deliver a thick n’ dirty kinda blues, definitely inspired by the likes of Cream and Traffic (they do a wicked cover of “Dear Mr. Fantasy” that made the honorable mentions portion). The highlight of their 1993 release Five Hundred Pounds is this robust shuffle that is prime example of what a good power trio can do with the right balance of balls and soul. Also check out “Ride Like Hell” for their take on a classic blues riff. Damn shame these boys never made it big.

 

  1. PHISH – “FAST ENOUGH FOR YOU”

I’m not so much a fan of the hippie jam band scene, The Grateful Dead barely registering on my musical radar even at their best, and I can’t say as though I ever really listen to their spiritual sons Phish even though I own something like 5 of their albums. I went through a brief phase thanks entirely to their ’93 album Rift and ended up loading up on catalogue as a result. In truth I’m not sure I can name a single song off their first three albums. But this song (and one other still to come) have both stuck with me over the years for reasons I can’t really articulate. I guess you’d call this one a ballad, what with its sleepy pace and hushed vocal delivery. The guys are of course extremely talented musicians and it shows here, the guitar work in particular being exceptional. A really easy song to get along with.

 

  1. STARCLUB – “HARD TO GET”

I lumped these guys in with Oasis and Radiohead and about a dozen other British bands back in the mid-90’s when I really had no idea what I was talking about. Listening now there’s almost no real similarity in sound, outside of a very generic sense of, I dunno… Britishness? Anyway, this song is more pop driven than your average Radiohead tune and far smoother than the kind of ragged pop that Oasis delivers. In a weird way they make me think of The Monkees updated for the alternative era. Whatever you call them, they deliver a killer form of jangly guitar pop, especially here with that cool little looping guitar refrain that intros the tune and re-occurs throughout. Vocals are a little light for my normal taste, but they never reach that whiney falsetto that drives me mad (I’m looking at you, Thom Yorke). Fun summer song.

 

  1. TEARS FOR FEARS – “ELEMENTAL”

More goodness from the excellent and underappreciated effort from the 80’s multi-hit wonders (is that a thing? feels like that should be a thing). This song is so unconventional in its structure for what is essentially a pop act, and yet it totally, totally works. I love all the weird little elements (forgive me) it incorporates right down to that muted elephant bray (well what would YOU call it?!) near the end. Tribal drum intro, rumbling bass, electric piano styled staccato rhythms, I mean there is just so much to absorb here. And man oh man, can Roland Unpronounceable ever sing. This thing is a rhythmic work of art. Seriously.

 

  1. THE DEVLINS – “TURN YOU ‘ROUND”

I tried to explain my weird relationship with this album/band back at #143 so I won’t rehash it here, but suffice to say I have no idea why I don’t track down more of their stuff given how much I love this album. This track starts with a sliding drumbeat combined with an minor rhythm chord and then throws this killer mini guitar riff on top of it along with a sweet rolling bassline. Everything they do after that is gravy, as this baby’s already got a spot in my musical heart before a word is sung. That said, Colin Devlin’s husky-smooth vocal delivery doesn’t hurt once he does start dropping lyrics on us. This band has such a warm, comforting sound.

 

  1. WINGER – “DOWN INCOGNITO”

I’ll go to my grave believing that Pull is one of the most overlooked albums of all time. I mean let’s face it, nobody really wanted to give Winger the time of day after all the 80’s hairband cheese they pumped out with their first two albums (that second one is a glossy hot mess), so I get WHY they got tossed aside, but it’s a pity, because they matured right quick and delivered a fantastic album in the early grunge infected era. This tune opens with some sick harmonica before launching into some rumbling bass with a funky guitar scraping riff. Even once the acoustic guitars kick in the song manages to find incredible power in its somewhat minimalist instrumentation (IE – no distortion or effects). This tune struts right through the room and doesn’t give a shit what you think because it knows it’s already too cool to be brought down by your jaded opinions. Balls without the bludgeon, I guess you’d call it.

 

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