Friday, 9 August 2013

The One With All The 90s Groups - #40 - 31

 The Power Rangers were a group of the nineties, right?

#40. Regurgitator

The members of Brisbane band Regurgitator (Quan Yeomans , Ben Ely and Peter Kostic) supposedly met on a bus in the early 90s. But it was Brisbane. And it was Brisbane in the 90s. So chances are they would have met anyway in a town where two degrees of separation was practically a given. The 90s also saw major labels such as Warner began to spotlight local acts . At the time of meeting Regurgitator were all in other upcoming bands (Wolfmother, George and The Resin Dogs).

1993 saw the release of the first album Tu-Plang - a rock heavy controversial album (due to explicit lyric content). It was loud, rude and full of the energy that garage bands tried to emulate. Conservatives loathed it. There were even campaigns to have it removed from airplay. So of course, everyone else (below thirty and probably living in a share house) loved it. I mean, you have to love the bad boys. The misunderstood. The underdogs. Tu-Plang (which incidentally means 'juke box' in Thai) won Best Alternative Release at the 96 Arias.

It was however, the 1997 album Unit that really launched the band into a more commercial spot light with it’s pop electronic sound and self referencing lyrics. The first track “I like your old stuff better than your new stuff” still divides fans (I personally love it). The album still contained that raw and garage band quality that the 'Gurge were famous for, but also had an element of industrial dance such as in the awesomely addictive track '! Song Formerly Known As' and slick pop in the widely played 'Polyester Girl'. A tongue in cheek look at the fascination of beauty in modern times, this song always got the dance floor up and bopping and people talking about high maintenance women.

The film clip for 'Polyester' showcased the technology at the time and screams 90s with it’s computer generated animations.

The 'Gurge remained true to themselves throughout the 90s which stamped them as indie icons not intended for the faint hearted.

- Lou Endicott

#39. The Divinyls

Back when I was probably about 11, Mum and I were driving home from grocery shopping with the radio on and I can vividly remember hearing a song with the line “it’s a fine line between pleasure and pain”. It was love at first listen but also confusion. It’s a fine line between pleasure and pain? “What the hell does that mean?” I thought to myself. “Hey Mum! What does it mean when she sings that?” I asked. I honestly don’t remember the reply but I know awkwardness ensued. 

That song introduced me to a band fronted by one of rock’s most enigmatic, commanding women to have ever captained a band in the 80s and 90s. Once introduced I quickly fell head over heels with their biggest hits, 'I’m Jealous', 'I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore' (both top twenty singles) and 'I Touch Myself' (their only number one single) which all have a sexually charged desperation about them that confronted conservatives and enamoured the liberated.

Now twenty years have passed since I first heard the Divinyls 'Pleasure and Pain' and not only are they one of my all time favourite bands but I now fully understand the meaning of pleasure and pain that I’m sure my mum wasn’t able to put into words that were suitable for eleven year old me. 

-Nayt Housman

#38. Nine Inch Nails


One of my all-time favourite concert experiences was at a Nine Inch Nails show. Trent Reznor took a solemn position, seated centre stage, lit by a spotlight. It could have been the Mary Jane, but as he sang “something I can never have” I could have sworn he was singing right to me. I was frozen, captivated as I watched him grimacing through the track, on the verge of tears. It pulled at every one of my heart strings.


Trent is the only official member of Nine Inch Nails taking on the roles of singer, songwriter, producer and instrumentalist. Trent calls the shots but does tour with a live band. Nine Inch Nails released Pretty Hate Machine in 1989 but began touring the album worldwide in 1990. His tendency to destroy the equipment on stage earned the group notoriety. The 1990s were a busy time for NIN with three releases during this time - Broken, The Downward Spiral and The Fragile, although most of the groups success was attributed to 1994's The Downward Spiral, which still remains their highest selling release. 'March of the Pigs', 'Closer', 'Hurt' and 'Piggy' were the four singles from the album.


There was a lot of anticipation follow the release of The Fragile in 1999. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and fell from the top ten after only a week, setting a record at the time for the biggest drop from number one. One of the most controversial songs from the The Fragile was 'Starfuckers, Inc.' rumoured to be an attack on Marilyn Manson. The two goths ended up reconciling with Manson appearing in the video clip and later joining the group on stage to perform the song. Awww, group hug.

- Katie Langley


#37. The Verve

The Verve was my 'cool' band of choice back when I was a fledgling. When someone would ask what music I was into and I was trying to seem edgy and indie I’d proclaim “Oh you know I’m totally into The Verve.” This wasn’t a lie, I genuinely loved (and still do) the one and only album I have, Urban Hymns that birthed the worldwide hit 'Bittersweet Symphony'. Also it helped that I had somewhat of a crush on the 'heroin chic' (literally) front man, Richard Ashcroft. Did you see his lips?

The band had a tumultuous history of break-ups, lineup changes and drug addiction after their critically acclaimed 97 release Urban Hymns and they broke up in 99 due to creative differences (aka drug abuse). Apparently they reformed and released a new album in 2007 called Forth. Who knew? In 2010 it was confirmed they had again broken up so now I wonder how long until their next reunion and breakup?

- Nayt Housman

#36. Lamb

Lamb was another trip-hop inspired duo from the 90s and first caught my attention with the single 'B-Line'. A jazzy, cabaret infused, drum & bass number with an explosive, pulsing chorus consisting of a vocalised interpretation, of the rapidly beating heart of a lusty union. Combine this with the voice of Lou Rhodes (like a mix of Stevie Nicks and Roisin Murphy), often bizarre lyrics (most notably 'Alien'; a song about being pregnant) and I had a new fave to add to my twisted list of left field, alternative pop.

Although influenced by the trip hop movement coming out of Bristol in the 90s, Lamb infused their sound with more distinct jazz influences and an often more experimental soundscapes which made them standout in their homeland UK, but mostly failed to make their mark overseas. Though never really achieving major commercial success, Lamb released five studio albums and one greatest hits album since their conception in the mid nineties. They had minor success with the single 'Gorecki' (from their debut self titled album) reaching number thirty in the UK charts and an unlikely number one single in Portugal (yep, good old Portugal) with Gabriel (from the What Sound album).

Thanks to Lou Rhode’s distinctive voice and Andy Barlow’s unique arrangements and production, Lamb still manage to stand out from others in their genre.

- Nayt Housman

#35. Buena Vista Social Club 

“When Juanica and Chan Chan
Sifted sand in the sea
The way she was shaking
Made Chan Chan mad with arousal.”

Oh who could forget these famous lyrics about the heat of a sunny day and two lovers by the sea gathering sand to build a house? Cheeky, sultry and oh so sexy.

What do you mean that you have never heard them before? Oh wait. Of course. This is the English translation. This song - (Chan Chan) was penned by Cuban bandleader Compay Segundo in 1987 and then recorded with the Buena Vista Social Club in the 1990s. Segundo was in his late 70s when he wrote this song and based the lyrics on an old farmer's story he had known since he was a boy.
In his seventies? Singing about sex? Like as in “my milkshakes bring all the boys to the yard?” Si (that means yes in Cuban by the way) - you heard me correctly and I will never again mention that awful milkshake song (promise).

The nineties saw the emergence of this fabulous hip swinging Cuban group which inspired a whole new generation’s interest in all sounds Cuban. The title of the group was taken from a music hall in Havana that was popular during the 40s. Juan de Marco Gonzalez and Ry Cooder (an Amercian guitarist) recorded an album with many of the original musicians and captured the essence of Cuba for our listening delights.

This passionate and vibrant music was then brought to the world stage via a documentary which archived the recording. The film won an Academy Award and set in motion a whole lot of world tours and solo careers for members of the group. The members of outfit were mostly in their seventies, eighties and nineties. More rock and less rocking chair for these legends and hence the Buena Vista Social Club make the cut in this list for pure inspiration to a younger generation for keeping the music of their culture alive and pumping. That and the fact that this music is just amazing. If you have still got passion coursing through your veins and are as cool as these guys when you are in your later years (or at any age for that matter), then I can’t help but stand up and dance with you amigos.

- Lou Endicott

#34. Sneaker Pimps

The era of trip hop spawned some very impressive musical talents but in the 90s I was more consumed in the worlds of Bjork and the Spice Girls than the Sneaker Pimps.

It wasn’t until the mid 00s that my lover suggested I give them a listen and I realised I’d heard them before and made note to listen to more several years prior. So I popped my new copy of Becoming X in the CD player to find their dark and twisted sounds and sexy, provocative lyrics were right up my proverbial alley. I was hooked.

Their two biggest singles were 'Tesco Suicide' and 'Spin Spin Sugar', both fronted by Kelli Ali who was later dismissed for their second album Splinter and final album Bloodsport, replaced by the alluring and androgynous founding member Chris Corner (IAMX).

While never quite as commercially successful after the first album, Sneaker Pimps gained a large underground following and have never officially broken up as far as I know. However the band more or less morphed into Chris Corner’s solo project IAMX, which carries on the theatrical electronic ideals of Sneaker Pimps.

- Nayt Housman

#33. The Cure

In my opinion no 90s band list is complete without the addition of the British boys of theatrics, addictive pop sounds and fabulous hair volume: The Cure. Led by band leader Rob Smith, The Cure with their playful antics, rocking rhythms and gorgeous hooks, brought to the nineties an alternative to the emerging grunge scene: the essence of fun and mischief.

I was always surprised when I heard people talk of The Cure as a 'dark' or 'heavy' band. Of course the music evolved from their early years (which began in 1976) to the nineties. Like any creative collective, growth is mandatory. I think that perhaps because of Rob Smith and co’s trademark gothic style (wild black hair, white face, red lipstick) many people initially missed the point, but those who got it, really got it. By the nineties, Rob Smith and his musical brothers were creating upbeat joyful songs with deep driving guitar and raw yet tight drum lines.

Although the 90s saw The Cure in a new lineup (Smith has been the only staying member of group since the start), a legal battle of their name (they won) and a few hit and miss recordings chart wise, the Cure still managed to release great new music. Apart from an album full of remixes, Mixed Up (which featured the head rocking single 'Never Enough'), The Cure really hit the nail on the head with the infectious 'Friday I’m in Love'. This song became an unofficial anthem of the end of a work week and gathered a whole new fan base for the band. The film clip (although dizzy, busy and just more than a little over the top) was a delight on any dance floor and a guaranteed “one to get up, sing along to every word and shake your booty too” and it’s still a staple in my feel good songs of all time.

- Lou Endicott

#32. The Cranberries

The Cranberries No Need To Argue was the second CD I ever owned (I can’t publicly admit the first) which was a gift from my sister. She must have known I was obsessed with the song 'Zombie', I’d spend days repeating the same “eeeeeeh oh eeeeeh oh eeeeeh oh oh oh” over and over because I didn’t know any other lyrics. Much to the dismay of the rest of my family my sis encouraged that obsession.

No Need To Argue is the album probably most responsible for my love of somber, melancholic, confessional soft rock. Grounded by introspective moments that are gentle and reflective hymns about love and relationships ('Empty', '21', and 'No Need To Argue'), you are drawn into Delores O’Riordan’s internal conflicts by the desperation in her voice only to be dragged back out into more worldly battles where the tone becomes more ominous and dire  as in 'Zombie', 'Ridiculous Thoughts' and 'Yeats’ Grave'.

This is The Cranberries’ masterpiece, vast and poignant, never to be repeated, No Need To Argue is undoubtedly an all time favourite and stands tall among it’s contemporaries.

- Nayt Housman


#31. Rage Against The Machine

It's interesting that one of the most influential and memorable bands of the 90s also had a name that epitomises part of what being alive in the 90s was about. The sentence that makes up their name reflects a mood, a movement, a way of life and a way of thinking for a generation of people who experienced the 90s wholeheartedly.

The self-titled debut album from Zack de la Rocha, Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk, released in 1992, wasn't just a collection of rap metal songs, it was also a collection of revolutionary political statements, of education and of statements on the society that was in the 1990s and it's triple platinum status in the US shows they weren't alone in their thoughts. While it was an album full of anger, it wasn't just youth angst, it was anger directed at the western governments and a commentary of the way of life in America (and therefore a large portion of the rest of the western world) at the time. Singles like 'Know Your Enemy', 'Bullet In The Head' and the incredible 'Killing In The Name' all addressed the elitist few that the members of the band saw ran our society.

The second album Evil Empire released in 1996 was just as powerful and contained one of their most well known singles, 'Bulls On Parade'. The clip, containing shots of mosh pits, demonstrations, rallies, a live performance and the lyrics "they rally round the family, with a pocket full of shells" confirmed them as the poster children of the 'No Logo', 'fair trade' and 'anti-globalization' movements that were such a big part of the entire decade. The Battle Of Los Angeles, released in 1999 ended the decade just as angrily as it started, with an album still questioning a way of life that some of their fans were gradually becoming less and less interested in questioning themselves.

While I still have a large part of my personality that loves the ideals this band promoted and believed in, I question whether a lot of their fans really knew the extent of what their music meant. Regardless, it's hard to beat one of my favourite live music memories, that of screaming along with thousands of others those infamous lyrics "killing in the name of....fuck you I won't do what you tell me" (and repeat sixteen times). That is certainly a memory I won't forget in a hurry and it's one of those magic live music moments where, standing amongst a crowd of thousands, I felt exactly the way the band intended. Yes, I was angry and yes, it certainly felt like a lot of 'Rage Against The Machine'.

- Jo Michelmore

No comments:

Post a Comment

Love it or hate it? Agree or disagree? Let me know what you think!