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Tag: Attack of the '90s (11-20 of 96)

Nine Inch Nails' 'The Downward Spiral': 20 years of filth and fury

Though I had dipped in and out of MTV throughout the late ’80s and early ’90s, tuning in for the manic kitsch of Remote Controlthe clever smarm of The Half-Hour Comedy Hour, and the occasional Skid Row video, I didn’t really go all in on the network—and thus music videos—until 1994. I had become deeply invested in the narrative running through the third season of The Real World, which was the great San Francisco-based slobberknocker between Pedro and Puck. That show became the only thing people talked about during middle school study halls, so I immersed myself in one of the earliest revolutionary reality shows, and often stuck around for the videos.

I have vivid memories of sitting in the dark in my living room after my parents had gone to bed, watching clip after clip on the network (this was still the era when a Saturday night meant several consecutive hours of music videos shown under various umbrellas). A handful of those videos from that year stuck with me, simply because they were in such heavy rotation: Nirvana’s Unplugged performance of “All Apologies,” Smashing Pumpkins’ sci-fi clip for “Rocket,”  Soudgarden’s terrifying “Black Hole Sun,” and the Beastie Boys’ kinetic ’70s cop show homage “Sabotage.” (There was also the always-playing clip for Janet Jackson’s “Any Time, Any Place,” which I found boring at the time but now I find cripplingly sexy.)

But only one video really mattered to me, and that was Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer.” READ FULL STORY

Fast talking at the end of the world: 15 thoughts on hip-hop's 1998 middle age

Just last week, one of the topics on EW Radio was the number of genre-defining hip-hop albums hitting their twentieth anniversaries this year.

Snoop Doggy Dogg’s Doggystyle, Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders, and Salt-N-Pepa’s Very Necessary all just wrapped their second decade. Those all represent different corners of the rap universe, and they all point to a crucial moment when hip-hop became such an overwhelming presence that mainstream culture had no choice but to move in its direction, rather than the other way around. The success of Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, which dropped in late ’92, started the trend, and it reached its apotheosis with the one-two punch of Notorious B.I.G.’s 1994 debut Ready to Die and Tupac’s 1995 crossover smash Me Against the World.

Plenty of rap records had found their way to the upper echelon of the charts, though they were primarily pandering or novelty tracks (in ’92, both Kriss Kross’ “Jump” and Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” became Hot 100 chart toppers). The albums from ’93 were purer hip-hop, and they were crafted by fantastically charismatic characters who were singular in their delivery and presentation. The success of Doggystyle was particularly jaw-dropping—listening to that album 20 years on, it still packs an incredible impact both as a unique piece of pop music and as a remarkably dirty statement of purpose.

Those albums are unimpeachable classics, and by design there’s not a whole lot more to add to that conversation. So let’s fast-forward five years to the albums from late ’98 that are now turning 15 years old. They represent a strange middle age for hip-hop, as its dominance on the pop chart began to be taken for granted and just about everybody began to lose their way.

There are plenty of notable big-ticket rap records from 1998′s fourth quarter, and none of them are classics. It could even be argued that not a single one of them is any good. But they do represent a culture in transition, and it’s a fascinating look at where hip-hop was and how it managed to get to the place it is now. So on the 15th anniversary of Busta Rhymes’ E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event): The Final World Front, Method Man’s Tical 2000: Judgment Day, Mystikal’s Ghetto Fabulous, Ice Cube’s War & Peace Volume 1: The War Disc, RZA’s Bobby Digital In Stereo, DMX’s Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, Juvenile’s 400 Degreez, and Redman’s Doc’s Da Name 2000, here are 15 thoughts on the 15th anniversary of a weird time for hip-hop.

1. Everybody totally thought Y2K was going to be a real thing
For anybody too young or too unborn to remember Y2K, it seems utterly ridiculous. READ FULL STORY

Busta Rhymes invites Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Q-Tip along for 'Thank You' video: Watch it here

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What do we do with Busta Rhymes in 2013? It’s been more than a minute since his peak years of mainstream relevance — his first big break came on A Tribe Called Quest’s immortal 1992 single “Scenario” — but 2012′s Year of the Dragon was surprisingly strong, and there are more hits than misses on his Catastrophic mixtape from last year.

The internet has also been fairly excited about his new tag-team tape with Q-Tip, thanks to the single “Thank You,” which lets Busta do his lightning-tongue thing over some groovy old school new soul funk. It features the best Q-Tip verse in years, plus drop-ins from Kanye West and Lil Wayne — both of whom also appear in the spartan but satisfying video that just dropped this morning.

Give the clip a spin below and marvel at Kanye’s unwavering stare during one of Q-Tip’s verses at the 2:37 mark. It’s freaky: READ FULL STORY

Lost Kurt Cobain interview from 1993 features his thoughts on Aerosmith and feminism

Though he had all the makings of a proper recluse, Kurt Cobain actually submitted himself to a surprising number of interviews over the course of his too-brief career.

And no two were alike, because nobody ever knew which version of the Nirvana frontman would show up. The acid-tongued cultural critic? The in-joking goofball? The shy suffering artist? The sweet family man? They were all part and parcel to the Cobain experience.

In a recently unearthed interview from 1993 conducted by British journalist Jon Savage and animated by PBS’ new Blank on Blank shingle, each one of those Kurts shows up for a minute or two.

There’s some stuff that has come up in conversations in the past, like the idea that Cobain thought at one time that he might be gay, and details about his various stomach ailments. But there’s also a fun bit about looking for the roots of the name Cobain, what annoys him about Aerosmith records, and how he felt about becoming a father.

Listen below: READ FULL STORY

Take a look at Nirvana's first record contract with Sub Pop, worth a hefty $600

“Six hundred bucks well spent—not that we had it at the time.”

The official Tumblr account of Sub Pop Records just put up a copy of Nirvana’s first contract, along with that note — the contract that would yield the band’s first album, 1989′s Bleach.

There are some remarkable pieces of history embedded in this artifact: The fact that the band was signed as a four-piece (featuring soon-to-be-departed members Chad Channing and Jason Everman, the latter of whom did not play on Bleach), that they were originally only signed for two years (it was set to expire at the end of 1991, though Sub Pop made a deal with DGC about Nirvana prior to the release of Nevermind), and that the band’s first advance was for a guaranteed $600 (with jumps up to $12,000 and $24,000 in the option years).

Of course, the band became far bigger than anybody at Sub Pop could have predicted back in ’89: They went on to sell over 30 million worldwide copies of their second album Nevermind and changed the course of popular music for a few years in the early ’90s.

As noted yesterday, Nirvana’s In Utero is getting the 20th anniversary box set treatment next month.

Scott Weiland countersues Stone Temple Pilots over music and name rights

Years ago when Guns N’ Roses (the original, Appetite For Destruction version) parted ways, there was a protracted legal argument that ended with frontman Axl Rose as the owner of the band’s name.

Several non-Axl members of GNR went on to form Velvet Revolver, and tapped Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland to provide vocal duties — and now Weiland himself is in a very similar battle with his old bandmates.

Just days after the other three members of STP—brothers Dean and Robert DeLeo and drummer Eric Kretz—sued Weiland in an attempt to get him to stop playing STP songs and using the STP name on tour, Weiland has filed a $7 million countersuit. He’s seeking that amount in damages and wants a judge to dissolve the band partnership.  READ FULL STORY

Spacehog's Royston Langdon on getting the band back together, auditioning for Velvet Revolver, and one fateful motorcycle ride

If you remember 1995, you remember the neo-glam modern-rock radio smash “In the Meantime” — and the band that made it, the Langdon-brothers-helmed Spacehog.

After the breakout success of their debut, Resident Alien, the group followed with a critically-beloved cult classic, The Chinese Album, that failed to catch on commercially, and then The Hogyssey before going their separate ways. Along the way, they experimented with different bands, went over rocky personal paths (including frontman Royston Langdon’s marriage and subsequent divorce from actress Liv Tyler), and generally tried to find their way.

Now older and wiser but still obsessed with glam sweetness, Spacehog are back. They released their long-awaited fourth album As It Is on Earth last month, and they’re currently on the road in support of it. EW caught up with frontman Royston Langdon to discuss his long hiatus, how he nearly became the singer of Velvet Revolver, and how he feels about “In the Meantime” nearly two decades later.

Entertainment Weekly: The Hogyssey came out all the way back in 2001. How did Spacehog dissipate?
Royston Langdon: It was a lot of things. We’d spent a lot of time touring intensely for the first two or three years, after the release of Resident AlienThe Chinese Album came pretty easily and was a similar kind of experience to the first record, and it was pretty critically well-received but not so well-received commercially. So then we spent some time in the wilderness without a label. When we finally made The Hogyssey, there was a lot of creative differences with the label and within the group. I’ve never really been happy with that record, so touring that record in 2001 was hard work. We were pulling in all different directions, which is not good for a band. Our show final show was supposed to be on the eighth of September in 2011. READ FULL STORY

Record Store Day 2013: What's on your must-have list for the annual vinyl bonanza? Here's ours

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This Saturday, April 20, a great yearly tradition arrives once again.

No, not that one. We’re talking about the sixth annual Record Store Day, which pays tribute to the independently-owned record stores that were once ubiquitous but are often now fighting just to stay afloat in in the iTunes and Amazon age.

The day is more than just a tribute to the fetishization of vinyl; it also honors the sense of community that comes when a bunch of music obsessives get together to talk about their favorite stuff — and kick-fight in the aisles over a limited-edition Roky Erikson 7-inch, or whatever their coveted object may be. (Check out the impressively large list of stores that are participating in this year’s festivities.)

Though there are plenty of live in-store performances, signings, and giveaways, the main attraction has become the vinyl releases that surface for one day only (and then for an eternity on eBay). This year’s list doesn’t have the same parade of heavy hitters as last year’s, but there are still plenty of goodies worth seeking.

I love Record Store Day, mostly because I just love record stores. I’ll be celebrating this year at my home base during my high school years, and here’s what I’ll be searching for:  READ FULL STORY

What is the best '90s alt-rock one-hit wonder?

Earlier this week, the brand new reissue of Blind Melon’s self-titled debut album arrived in the EW offices. After giving it a few spins and discussing its worth, a handful of us in the music department came to the same conclusion many of us did back when this thing first landed in record stores: It’s terrible. “No Rain” is the only good song on there, and “No Rain” is just the worst.

However, a lot of people will defend “No Rain” simply because of nostalgia. If you’re in your late 20s or early 30s now, it’s entirely possible that “No Rain” was in super-heavy rotation when you first discovered MTV, and even if you didn’t like the song, it’s certainly a part of you now. There’s plenty of ’90s canonization going on right now, partially based on the fact that the people who were in high school in 1998 now have all of the disposable income, and partially because the Internet has made it way easier for artists well past their maximum saturation points to hold onto the fans who could develop into lifers.

Thus, we’ve been getting comebacks from ’90s icons of all sorts, from New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys to Lisa Loeb and everybody on those Sugar Ray package tours. Of course, the great artists from that era have stuck with us (or moved on to other, better projects), but there are a handful of welcome comebacks, including Spacehog.

After some time spent on side projects and re-charging some batteries, Spacehog are back with a new album called As It Is On Earth coming out on April 16, and they played a tiny cobweb-shaking show at New York’s Mercury Lounge last month. I always loved them—as a huge fan of David Bowie, I always enjoyed their glam-centric approach to alt-rock.

They always deserved to be bigger than they were, but their one famous contribution to radio culture, “In the Meantime,” holds up exceptionally well. It manages to successfully merge sci-fi soul with post-grunge radio crunch, and the hook is absolutely killer. Before the show, I was with a few friends of mine at a bar, and somebody else queued up “In the Meantime” on the jukebox. As we listened to it there, and then a second time at the show, my friend turned to me and said, “This very well might be the best one-hit wonder of the ’90s.”

He may in fact be right (it’s certainly better than “No Rain”), but in order to come to some kind of conclusion, it’s necessary to examine some of the other contenders and to apply a little bit of science. READ FULL STORY

Mad Season's Barrett Martin on the new reissue of the grunge classic 'Above'

Back in 1995 when grunge was arguably at its height, a Seattle supergroup dropped its first — and what would turn out to be their only — album.

Though it consisted of 75 percent scene luminaries (Alice in Chains vocalist Layne Staley, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, and Screaming Trees drummer Barrett Martin), Mad Season were actually more of a next-generation blues band.

That album, Above, went gold on the back of the single “River of Deceit,” and was vital to the development of the four musicians in the group (bassist John Baker Saunders rounded out the lineup), all of whom had struggled with substance abuse but managed to clean themselves up. “There was a spiritual elevation that we all felt when we played together,” Martin tells EW. “Part of that was because we were all sober at the time. There was a real heightened awareness in that band. Everything seemed to awaken within us when we played together.”

The group only played a handful of shows, and though they began work on their second album in 1996, Above was Mad Season’s only album. (Saunders passed away in 1999; Staley passed in 2002.) But a handful of recordings from those second sessions have made it onto Above: Deluxe Edition, the new multi-disc package celebrating one of the great all-star acts of the alt-rock ’90s. In addition to a handful of previously unreleased bonus tracks, with vocals provided by Mark Lanegan in place of the late Staley, there is also a live recording of a legendary live performance in Seattle from 1995, as well as a DVD featuring video footage of that show plus a handful of other thrilling live moments.

Martin, who worked with McCready and original Above producer Brett Eliason on the reissue (and also wrote the extensive liner notes), talked to EW about the band’s origins, its legacy, and its unusual chemistry.

Entertainment Weekly: How did Mad Season first come together in 1994?
Barrett Martin: Mike called me and said he wanted to do a side project with this bass player that he had met when he was in rehab, and I said absolutely. READ FULL STORY

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