One of the best bands from the early 90’s alternative scene has to be hands down Jane’s Addiction. They were such a bright spot for artistic imagination. Their influence of many genres allowed their music to go beyond the norm. During their brief early career, they managed to release two of the most iconic alternative albums ever, Nothing’s Shocking and Ritual De Lo Habitual.
Nothing’s Shocking is their absolute gem in their catalog. There is something truly spectacular about this album. A good portion of the best songs on the album were written by Eric Avery. Dave Navarro’s guitar playing has always been underrated in my opinion. And Stephen Perkins drumming is always right on. Songs like “Mountain Song,” “Had A Dad,” “Ocean Size,” “Pigs In Zen,” “Ted, Just Admit It,” and the ever overplayed “Jane Says,” are all complete standouts. The entire album start to finish is great.
Ritual De Lo Habitual really took a chance in exploring where the band could go. They really experimented with genres mixing in a bit of funk to their vibe. It’s this album that I think persuaded the Red Hot Chili Peppers to ask Dave Navarro to join the band for One Hot Minute (another unsung masterpiece in my humble opinion). There was also an added element of pop music in the way of really catchy choruses in songs like “Stop!,” and “Been Caught Stealing.” But there are such other great songs on this album like “Three Days,” “Obvious,” Ain’t No Right,” and “Of Course.”
Jane’s Addiction through all their ego trips and break ups have remained one of the most influential bands of the last 30 years. These two albums have helped influence countless bands over the years. The way they kept to their artistic integrity shows how creative they really are.
If I had to pick between these two I’d go towards Nothing’s Shocking. I jut love the purity in that album and the songs. That album has always stood out to me amongst their catalog and holds up beyond them all.
Since it’s been 20 years since Smashing Pumpkins double album Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness came out, I thought this would be a great topic for an album debate. Since it’s a double album the debate is between what disc you prefer. Disc 1 is entitled Dawn to Dusk and features classic like “Zero,” “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” and “Tonight, Tonight” along with some great deep cuts like “An Ode To No One,” “Jellybelly,” and “Muzzle.” This part of the album is heavier and filled with more rage. Disc 2 entitled Twilight To Starlight is loaded with songs that show a more mellow side of things. Songs like classics “1979,” and “Thirty-Three,” really set the tone of this side of the album. Other deep cuts like “XYU,” “Bodies,” “Where Boys Fear To Tread,” also give this side a kick in the teeth to break up the solemn mellowness.
I for one am a big fan of the album and depending on my mood it differs on which one I pick. I will say though that if I ha to pick one side, I would absolutely pick Disc 1: Dawn To Dusk. I just love the way the songs all flow into each other and the way that you can get so wrapped up in the angst but all the while there is a calming sense nestled in each song. Not to take anything away from Disc 2: Twilight To Starlight, which is an entirely different beast all on it’s own.
What side do you pick?
Smashing Pumpkins- Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness:
One of my favorite things to do when I love a band so much is to delve into what influenced them. Throughout the years of my obsession with Nine Inch Nails, I read that Joy Division was a huge influence on Trent Reznor. So years ago I went out and bought all the Joy Division albums and listened to them over and over, realizing why Trent loved them so much. Which now brings me to todays topic, which Joy Division album is better, Unknown Pleasures or Closer.
Unknown Pleasures was released in June of 1979. Interestingly no singles were released from the album. This album is considered one of the most influential albums in the post-punk movement. There are so many great songs on this album from “Day Of The Lords,” “New Dawn Fades,” Shadowplay,” and “She’s Lost Control.” There is something beautiful and haunting about this album. The desperation of Ian Curtis’s voice, is so dyer and urgent that it makes the music even more driving. I can’t forget about the cover art, which is such a seminal part of music history. It’s kind of sad that hipsters have hijacked the cover and made put it on all their urban outfitters clothing.
Closer was released in July 1980. This album took a darker approach and instilled a more gothic feel to it. This was a giant step in the creativity and songwriting of Joy Division. there are lots of critics out there that claim Closer to be the bands masterpiece. Ian Curtis had committed suicide two months prior to the release of Closer. The songs on this album really delved deeper into Ian’s problems with depression and seizures. “Atrocity Exhibition,” “Passover,” Twenty Four Hours,” “Heart and Soul,” really show the progress the band had made since their debut.
It’s really hard for me to pick a favorite, but If I had to I’d go with Unknown Pleasures. There is something about that album that really strikes a chord with me. There is a wonderful influence of The Velvet Underground and The Doors that rings throughout the album. I also love the production of it. Closer is more in line with what New Order would go on to do. I enjoy New Order, but I love Joy Division.
In the late 90’s Marilyn Manson released two albums that cemented his place in the rock world. His breakthrough album, Antichrist Superstar came out in 1996. This album was produced by Trent Reznor at Nothing Studios in New Orleans. The album was was met with a slew of controversy and excitement. It should also be noted that this was all part of a “rock opera” trilogy. Even though Antichrist was released first, it is the final installment of the trilogy. Holy Wood is actually the first. Antichrist had a real heavy industrial edge to it, along with a raw mentality that allowed it to have a cool, sinister and taunting feeling. There are so many songs on the album that are standouts besides just “The Beautiful People.” Songs like “Tourniquet,” “Irresponsible Hate Anthem,” (Which is the albums opener), “Cryptorchid,” Antichrist Superstar,” are all standouts.
Then in 1998, Manson released Mechanical Animals. This album has a much different feel to it that comes completely from left field. I’ve always sort of felt that Mechanical Animals was his David Bowie album, in the way his persona and the music changed. Originally, The Dust Brothers were going to collaborate with Manson, but nothing really came of those sessions. Later on Manson’s friend, Billy Corgan served as an unofficial music consultant for the band during these early stages. After playing a few of the early songs for him, Corgan advised the band that “This is definitely the right direction” but to “go all the way with it. Don’t just hint at it.” When it was time to go into the studio Michael Beinhorn was chased to produce that album. Beinhorn whose credits include Soundgarden’s Superunknown, was wrapping up work on Hole’s Celebrity Skin album before coming aboard for these sessions. Musically this album is a deep departure from Antichrist, but it is also one of the most thought provoking albums of Manson’s career along with his newest album The Pale Emperor. Songs like “The Dope Show” and “I Don’t Like The Drugs,” are fun and catchy and a typical singles, but then when you really delve into the album you come across songs like the very impressive “Coma White,” “The Speed Of Pain,” “Dissociative.” Those songs really make an impact on a entirely different level.
As you all know I’m a huge Trent Reznor fan, and you would think because of that I would pick Antichrist over Mechanical, but I actually like the songs better on Mechanical thought I love the production on Antichrist better. I think Michael Beinhorn is a horrible producer that does too many things to make it sound polished and compressed. So my pick for this debate is Mechanical Animals. Can you imagine what Mechanical would have sounded like had Trent done this one too?
When System Of A Down first came on the scene, it was something intriguing and exciting. Their debut album was released in June of 1998. At first they enjoyed a bit of success following the release of the singles for “Sugar” and “Spiders.” It was also during this time that they went out on tour with Metallica, Slayer and Ozzfest. The group’s big break arrived when their second album Toxicity was released September 4, 2001 and debuted at No. 1 on the charts. Even through the events of September 11, Toxicity would go on to see over 3 million copies in the US and has since sold over 12 million copies worldwide. With songs like “Chop Suey,” “Toxicity,” and “Aerials,” it’s no wonder this album went on to be as big as it was.
Personally, I enjoy the first album more. The message is still the same throughout all their albums, but the sense of urgency of the delivery on the first album really comes through. The production on the first album is a bit more raw as well. Not to take anything away from how good Toxicity is, that album to me just has a bit too much polish on it, almost to the point of being too theatrical. The first two System albums are awesome. It’s too bad they couldn’t carry on this level after. Their follow ups were miserable and lackluster.
Both of these albums are amazing. They each possess something great and powerful. Alice In Chains and Nirvana were so different from each other musically, yet were able to reach the same generation. The voices of Layne Staley and Kurt Cobain are without a doubt, pure, honest and as real as real can be. This is one of those debates that is really hard to pick one. It all depends on what camp you land in.
The Alice In Chains unplugged album to me is my favorite. When the band went in to perform this, it had been quite a few years since Alice had last performed live. Layne even jokes during the show that this is the best show they’ve played in a few years to which Jerry Cantrell replies Yeah it’s the only show we’ve played in a few years. Granted Layne was high as a kite during the filming, he was pretty much spot on throughout (though he did flub up the beginning of “Sludge Factory”). The set list they chose for the night was perfect and each song brilliantly executed. Opening with “Nutshell” was outstanding and closing with a new song “Killer Is Me,” was another great choice.
The Nirvana unplugged album has been hailed as the best of the series. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s the best of the series, but I will say it is the best thing that Nirvana ever did. I love the fact that they did what they wanted to do and played what they wanted as well. Their cover of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold The World,” is one of my favorite covers ever and one of the best covers of all time. The set list they chose was great as well. The version of “Pennyroyal Tea” is haunting as well as the closing song of Leadbelly’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” with that scream at the end, which still sends me chills when I hear it.
Both albums are great in their own right. I still always will pick the Alice In Chains album, but if I’m ever in the mood to listen to Nirvana I always pick the unplugged.
I’ve been a huge Deftones fan since I first remember seeing the video for “Bored.” I thought Adrenaline was a cool album when it came out, then I heard Around The Fur and my excitement level went through the roof. Around The Fur was so powerful. There was a striking difference between this album and their debut. As The story goes, when Deftones went into the studio to make Around The Fur they really didn’t have a set idea of what they wanted to come out with. This time around the guys spent more time in the studio with producer Terry Date. If you listen closely to Abe Cunningham’s drums, you can tell there is a difference on the drum sounds especially the snare, as he began to experiment using different snares on each song. There is also something really intriguing about the quiet to loud dynamics on the album as well. When you have songs like “My Own Summer (Shove It),” “Lhabia,” Around The Fur,” “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)” it really shows the bands growth and ability to write songs that can be heavy yet have a sense of melody without compromising their artistic integrity.
After a break from touring Around The Fur, the band spent a few months locked away in the studio writing and recording what would become White Pony. The majority of this time was spent trying to write songs, and that the writing of a particular song “Change (In The House Of Flies)” was the turning point for the group as they began working as a “band.” There was also pressure from their label to release the album sooner, but, the band decided to take their time making the album that they wanted to make. The band essentially picked up where they left off with Around The Fur by really delving more into melancholia and melody. The album is explosive and beautiful, thus making it one of the bands most mature releases. The inclusion of songs like “Digital Bath” “RX Queen,” (which features guest vocals by Scott Weiland), and “Knife Party,” join in with the vibe that “Change” had in its spaciousness and use of experimentation. The guesting of Maynard from Tool was a great use of a guest vocalist on “Passenger.” Even with all the experimentation and evolution, Deftones still had their heavy touch on a lot of the songs like “Elite,” “Feiticeira,” and “Street Carp.”
Granted these are two very different albums but they are similar in showing a bands evolution. Personally I’ve always been more partial to Around The Fur, for it’s raw prowess, and unforgiving nature. White Pony is a close second though. To me though Around The Fur just really gets me going in such a fashion that I can’t turn it off, or even turn the volume down. Where do you fall on this issue?