Friday, 16 August 2013

The One With All The 90s Groups, #30 - 21

#30. Jamiroquai

“Nothing left for me to do but dance” (Canned Heat)

Admidst the pop, grunge, folk, rock and the alternative music scenes exploding in the 90s, the airwaves were treated to an emerging sound of acid jazz dance. Leading this wave (with the smoothness of disco and the sleekness of uptempo jazz) were the stand out group Jamiroquai.

I saw Jamiroquai live in the late 90s in Brisbane. Now over the years I have seen my fair share of live performance (including musical theatre), but I had NEVER seen anything quite like the energy or the passion that the lead singer and songwriter Jay Kay exuded. Jay Kay hit the stage dancing with everything he had. And he kept singing and dancing with the extraordinary musicians that made up this band - for over THREE hours. Wearing his iconic kooky head gear (an Indian Chief feather number) Jay Kay worked up an ocean of sweat and a planet of happiness in the adoring audience - the likes I had never seen before or since for that matter.

Did I mention I was in the front row? It was good fortune that I was (and the fact that I claimed the space hours before the concert started) as I needed the extra oxygen that the front row provided as I was close to swooning through out the whole three hours. Jamiroquai were a singing, dancing party machine. Also, I admit it, Jay Kay was perhaps my version of a perfect man in the 90s (head gear included.)

This band was a party whenever they played. And they brought you into that party, no apologies. The trademark silhouette of Jay Kay wearing buffalo ears (as seen on all Jamiroquai merchandise) was always an eye catching promise of dancing to follow. With catchy-cant-keep-my-feet-still songs such as 'Cosmic Girl', 'Virtual Insanity' and 'Canned Heat', Jamiroquai gave us sophisticated pop that impossible not to move to.

- Lou Endicott

#29. Everything But The Girl

I was surprised to find out that Everything But The Girl’s music career extends as deeply into the early 80s as it does. Beginning in ’82, they released a series of albums in the folk/jazz influenced genre of “sophisti-pop” (think Sade). Their career took off in ’95 when producer Todd Terry remixed the track ‘Missing’ which Everything But The Girl then released as a single, becoming an international top 20 hit and reaching No.2 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Anyone who’s been reading The Candy Shop recently (all five of you) would know that my music taste is strongly influenced by music observed whilst driving with my mumma. Missing is another song on that list and caused me to fall obsessively in love with this band and marked their way forward introducing them as a dance/drum’n’bass act, which they would continue on their next two albums. Tracey Thorn (singer) was also a guest performer on Massive Attack’s album Protection, and sang for Deep Dish, further defining their future direction.

Walking Wounded and Temperamental would be the final two albums the duo would release as EBTG and as they say, “good things come to those who wait”. Combing their “sophisti-pop” sensibilities with the pulses and twitches of drum’n’bass and house beats proved to be a great formula for the duo, with Walking Wounded peaking at No.4 on the UK pop charts (their highest position ever). However, Temperamental (although I adore it) failed to make waves and marked the indefinite end of Everything But The Girl.

- Nayt Housman

#28. Cypress Hill

If you loved the music of the 90s then you’ll know this lyric – “Who you tryin’ to get crazy with esse? Don’t you know I’m loco?”. A few dedicated souls may know the rest of the lyrics, but for many others the next lines involve a whole lot of mumbling before spluttering out “toss that ham in the frying pan”.

You may be surprised to learn just how productive Cypress Hill were in the 90s. They managed to pry themselves away from their bongs long enough to release five albums! Cypress Hill, Black Sunday, Cypress Hill III: Temples of Boom, Unreleased and Revamped and Cypress Hill IV. Hit single 'Insane in the Brain' propelled the group into stardom with Black Sunday going triple platinum in the U.S. They went on to join a number of big name tours including The Soul Assassins, Woodstock ‘94 and Lollapalooza.

Other big singles from this decade include 'Throw Your Set in the Air', 'Tequila Sunrise', 'Dr. Greenthumb', 'Rock Superstar', and 'Rap Superstar'. B-Real’s high pitched nasal vocals make for an interesting contrast to Sen Dog’s deeper tones, creating a point of difference for Cypress Hill in the hip hop scene. Oh blah blah blah. I just love how the guys have made millions of dollars from songs about hash. 

- Katie Langley

#27. Deftones

It’s important that I disclose up front that I am a complete and utter Chino fan girl. It’s like everything the man touches turns to gold. And it all began with his first baby, Deftones. The Californian rockers formed the group in the late 80s, with Stephen Carpenter (guitar), Chino Moreno (vocals) and Abe Cunningham (drums and percussion) all going to school together.

Deftones have achieved continued success beyond the 90s, but for me, the 90s is when they released their best music. And look, maybe I’m a sucker for a pair of baggy Dickies trousers. Adrenaline was the band’s debut album in 1995. The Internet played a huge part in its success, with word-of-mouth building a solid fan base. That’s right kids; it wasn’t just Justin Bieber who found fame online. Although '7 Words' and 'Bored' were the singles from this release, Korn took a shining to “Engine No. 9”, doing their own rendition.

The band hit the studio, releasing their follow up album, Around the Fur in 1997. This is by far my absolute favourite album of theirs. 'My Own Summer (Shove It)' and 'Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)' were the two huge singles from the album. The group were lumped in the nu-metal genre of the 90s, but since then have grown and developed their style. I saw them play at The Tivoli in Brisbane earlier in the year and they’ve still got it.

- Katie Langley

#26. The Cardigans

Sweden has produced some delicious musicians and bands and few have come as far in the pop world as the marvelous and diverse Cardigans.

The Cardigans came to worldwide attention when the single 'Lovefool' was included in the soundtrack for Baz Lurman’s Romeo and Juliet in 1996. With its sweet demeanor, retro bubblegum pop sound and lyrics of despair, it struck a chord with millions of giggling teenage girls (including me) charting in the top twenty worldwide. It wasn’t until the release of their ’98 album Gran Turismo that I truly discovered how amazing they could be. Changing from a more upbeat retro sound on First Band On The Moon to a much darker, synthy sound, I was swallowed and rebirthed with a hunger to consume everything “Cardigans”.

With an ever changing sound, their desire to learn and grow in their musical journey means The Cardigans have made foot prints in everything from pop to country, Americana, electro pop and rock. This kind of diversity, album to album often ends in disaster but has been carried with an air of ease and total professionalism by this inspiring and captivating band.

- Nayt Housman


#25. Crowded House

So there is a rumour that says Sir Paul McCartney was once asked what it feels like to be the best songwriter of all time. The rumour says that he said something along the lines of “I don’t know. Ask Neil Finn”.

Crowded House. The unmistakable songs, melodies, lyrics and the tight harmonies began in the mid 80s but continued with much acclaim through to the mid 90s. Although Neil Finn - and brother Tim who later joined the band - were born in New Zealand, Australian’s claimed them as their own since the band was founded in Melbourne. Look, as a trade NZ can keep Russell Crowe. We’ll keep Crowded House (thanks very much). Crowded House are about as close to musical royalty as you can get. Their songs always had anthem status and were crafted like royal jewels. In fact, Queen Elizabeth knighted both the brothers in the 90s for their contribution to New Zealand’s music (and lets face it - the rest of us too). So Sir Paul McCartney knew what he was (rumoured) to be talking about. The 90s saw a release of several albums (including a 'best of' recording) and had various line ups of band members. It also saw the end of the band (or so we thought). Up to 250 000 people congregated outside the Sydney Opera House in 1996 to farewell the band and to raise funds for the children’s hospital (isn’t that nice?). It was the largest live audience in the history of Australian music.

Crowded House have since rebanded (with a slightly different line up). And they continue to make music today.

- Lou Endicott

#24. Faith No More

Some might argue that Faith No More would be better placed in an 80s countdown. True, the group did form in 1981. However, they went through a heap of singers (including Courtney Love!) before Mr. Bungle’s Mike Patton joined in 1988. It was after this time that they band really began to experience success.

Faith No More had three albums released in the 90s – Angel Dust, King for a DayFool for a Lifetime and Album of the Year. They were nominated for several Grammy Awards and MTV Video Music Awards, winning Best Special Effects in a Video for 'Falling to Pieces'. The group did a cover of The Commodores single 'Easy' which went on to become one of the band's biggest selling hits, placing at number 46 in Triple J’s Hottest 100 of All Time in 2009. Faith No More have been credited for influencing a number of groups including Korn, Limp Bizkit and Sevendust, with others such as Metallica and Anthrax listing them as one of their favourite bands.

Fans were devastated in 1998 when the group announced their break up. Fast forward 11 years, however, and they announced they were re-forming for a European tour. They’ve gone on to do several tours, including Australia’s Soundwave in 2010 where I was privileged enough to see Mike Patton’s penis.

- Katie Langley

#23. Limp Bizkit

Limp Bizkit are the band the people love to hate. And most of that hate tends to be directed to a certain baggy pant, red-hat wearing front man. Fred Durst may be a douche, but there’s no denying that these nu-metal dudes were an unstoppable force in the 90s.

Limp Bizkit developed a cult following in their hometown of Florida where they frequented underground punk club Milk Bar. Within a couple of months the band went from playing to a small crowd to around 800 people. Fred has been credited with being the group's PR extraordinaire, building a fan base by spreading word of mouth at record stores and high schools. Three Dollar Bill, Yall was their debut album released in 1997. With songs such as 'Sour' and 'Nobody Loves Me' it remains one of their more raw sounding releases. Their rendition of George Michael’s 'Faith' was a huge radio hit. Guitarist Wes Borland was quoted as saying that “George Michael hated the cover and hates us for doing it”.

The band was keen to get back into the studio to release their follow-up album, Significant Other. It featured collaborations with Method Man, Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland, Korn’s Jonathan Davis and Staind singer Aaron Lewis. The album was a huge success, but the band received flak from an article in Spin which said that they, “had yet to write a good song.” And so the love/hate began! 'Nookie' was the huge single from the album. You know the one – “I did it all for the nookie, the nookie, so you can take that cookie, and stick it up your yeah, stick it up your yeah, stick it up your yeah, stick it up your yeah”. Lyrical genius.

Limp Bizkit performed at Woodstock ’99 where the crowd turned into animals during their performance of 'Break Stuff'. People tore plywood off of the walls, and there were a number of sexual assaults. Fred copped a lot of criticism for how he handled the aftermath. Love them or hate them, Fred, Wes, Sam, John and DJ Lethal have had huge success and have inspired a host of bands from Linkin Park to Norma Jean.

- Katie Langley

#22. The Smashing Pumpkins

I imagine that everyone has a definitive image that enters their mind when they think of The Smashing Pumpkins. Like most people, mine involves Billy Corgan being creepy. The visual of Corgan, James Iha and D’arcy Wretzky getting their goth on and stalking up a storm in a mental asylum throughout the ‘Ava Adore’ clip left a huge impression on me. The imagery was dark, twisted and expertly put together. Just like the music. With all of Corgan’s perceived faults since the 90s ended (a love of carbs, narcissistic ‘God complex’, dating The Veronicas), it’s sad to think that the music of The Smashing Pumpkins from the 90s – Gish, Siamese Dreams, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and Adore – doesn’t seem to have maintained as much respect as it deserves.

My first encounter with The Smashing Pumpkins was watching the video for ‘1979’ on rage. After that I could enjoy listening to the song on the radio pretty much all day every day (between the hours of 7am and 8:30pm) because it was getting A LOT of airplay. Just the opening line, “shakedown 1979, cool kids never have the time,” was enough to put a smile on my face.  The song would go on to be nominated for Record of the Year at the 1997 Grammys, just one of the seven nominations the band would receive for their masterpiece, Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness.  Is there a best of 90s albums list that doesn’t have Mellon Collie… on it? If there is, don’t waste your time reading it. Corgan’s writing was at its finest on tracks like ‘Tonight, Tonight’, ‘Jellybelly’, ‘By Starlight’ and of course, ‘1979’. ‘Zero’ and ‘Bullet with Butterfly Wings’ are 90s prog-rock perfection. Who doesn’t want to scream along to lines like, “despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage.”?

Siamese Dreams and Adore had their fair share of 90s gold. ‘Disarm’ and ‘Today’ remain timeless tracks and how could you not love the video for ‘Perfect’ continuing the story started in ‘1979’ (in what would be The Smashing Pumpkins’ last flash of brilliance)? Corgan and Co. can also be credited with being the only good thing about Batman and Robin after they contributed ‘The End Is the Beginning Is the End’ to the film’s soundtrack. Yeah, that movie sucked! “Tonight’s forecast… a freeze is coming!” I'll compromise and say there were two good things about the movie. I believe Jewel's 'Foolish Games' was also on the soundtrack. While their offerings in the 2000s can be described as… average… there’s no denying The Smashing Pumpkins were one of the greatest bands of the 90s. A distinct look and a compelling lead singer who could write some incredible tracks set The Smashing Pumpkins apart from the rest of the pack. Go and revisit them. They’re more than deserving of your time and attention. Just stop after Ava Adore.

- Matt Bond

#21. Frente!

Warning: this write up contains a lot of exclamation marks! I’m not shouting! I’m just excited!

The exclamation point at the end of indy folk group Frente! was an appropriate glyph to have. The 90s, amidst the angst and heavy sounds of the grunge scene, saw the emergence of this quirky and light hearted sound from the ARIA award winning Australian band fronted by vocalist Angie Hart.

It was Hart’s voice that immediately made people stop and exclaim either, “That’s a very Australian accent! YUK!” or “That’s a very Australian accent! WOW!” Long before the likes of Missy Higgins, Sarah Blasko or a host of contemporary Australian songstresses, Angie Hart let her soft sweet vocals showcase her natural accent and proudly exclaim, “We are Australian!” Frente! had success here in Australia as well as in the UK and America. In fact the song 'Ordinary Angels' was even featured on 90s TV show Melrose Place. Yes! Melrose Place!!

I was instantly smitten with Frente! and Marvin the Album. “They named an album like a person? Just like how I named my car!” I exclaimed when it was released. And then of course the appropriate: “Wow!” Looking back I suppose you could say Frente! was a bit like The Wiggles for adults. The music was bright, light, energetic and many of the film clips are a bizarre mix of play-school-like colour and weird dancing. Though there was also a more mature black and white clip (though the mandatory dancing is still there towards the end). And this song still remains in my rotation as a favourite (and a karaoke number).

Frente! were so good for road trips on a sunny day where you just wanted to believe that everything in life was like a happy story and all you had to do to feel better was to flail your arms about and bounce your head along (preferably NOT while behind the wheel). The music always got better with each listen and in actual fact was beautifully crafted and a joy to see played live (which this writer was lucky enough to see!).

Yes. Wow!

- Lou Endicott

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