Well, here it is, the last year of music that made a big impact on me. 1994 was the year during which I became a teacher. I began the year student teaching biology and chemistry at Eastern Hancock High School and ended the year as a 31-year-old first year teacher and coach at Alexandria Monroe High School. As I quickly discovered, I no longer had the time for my beloved past time, only listening to the music that truly moved me after this year. What was cool was that my students were now influencing the music I would listen to. It quickly became apparent that I was no longer cool. I was an adult now.
And, that was fine. Shortly, I would hand the musical reigns over to my boys who would take the lead in discovering new music. However, I did go out in a blaze of glory, as you can tell by my choices. From here on out, my record choses become more conservative, as you will see in future blogs. You know, we all get old at some point. But, I can still pick out a new artist that will hit before most people, so I got that going for me.
Here we go! The last multi-day year of albums on my list.
Beastie Boys – Ill Communication (1994). When we last heard from the Beasties, they had picked up their instruments again and started played hip hop with them as opposed to creating an aural collage of sounds for their beats. That move gave the trio an immediacy that only enhanced their music. On this album, the guys tightened their songs and really merge the whole alternative nation and hip hop world together into one forceful sound. This is the Beastie’s sweet spot. Don’t believe me? Put on “Sabotage.”
Beck – Mellow Gold (1994). One thing about the music of Generation X was that they were willing to attempt at synthesizing the sounds of everything that they had heard. Case in point, Beck’s “Loser.” This is an amalgamation of blues, rock, pop and hip hop that does not imitate any of the genres while developing a whole new language. And, the rest of the album only hinted at the greatness of this new kid on the block.
Blur – Parklife (1994). On this album, Blur staked claim to the Britpop throne. Their take on mid-Nineties English life was taken right out of Ray Davies’ Kinks playbook. This is one magnificent album that pushed Oasis to greater heights.
Green Day – Dookie (1994). When I heard this album, I thought I was having a flashback to 1977. Green Day reminded me of The Jam in the way they played, but their lyrics were nothing but American middle class antipathy. Ahhh! American punk had arrived.
Hole – Live Through This (1994). Back in the pre-fake news days, I remember students of mine who were certain of two conspiracies. One, Kurt Cobain, husband of Hole’s frontwoman Courtney Love, wrote, or co-wrote, all of the songs on this album. And, two, Courtney had Kurt murdered. Now, if the former were true, then why would she have the latter done considering Cobain were her gravy train? So, throw those stupid notions away and simply admire this great album that Love’s band created. It is just a great album of grunge/punk/pop/rock.
Hootie & the Blowfish – Cracked Review Mirror (1994). Long before this album became an annoying cultural phenomenon to many, Hootie was being pimped as an up-and-coming band with their pleasant rock, soul and country mix. Their music naturally fit in with classic rock songs of the Seventies while lacking much of the Gen X cynicism that seemed to be off-putting to the older Boomers. There is so much to enjoy about this album now that the hoopla has settled. Give them another chance, because this record kills.
Jeff Buckley – Grace (1994). Back in 1994, Jeff Buckley, son of the late-Seventies folk singer Tim Buckley, was being hyped as a potential savior of rock music. Sometimes, Jeff’s music was lush and ethereal, as on his enduring version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” while other times it was harsh and aggressive. Buckley had it all going for him: great looks, great guitar licks, great voice. Unfortunately, Buckley never got to cash in on the promise exhibited by this album as he died shortly after the albums release in a drowning accident. But, we have this one beautiful album.
Johnny Cash – American Recordings (1994). Legend has it that hip hop producer Rick Rubin was looking to produce an original rocker who was down on their luck and seeking a new record deal. And, it just so happened that Johnny Cash fit the bill. Rubin was seeking to revive Cash’s badass reputation and introduce his talent to a whole new generation that had little idea who the man was. The brilliance in this album is that Rubin played a bunch of songs by current artists and asked Cash to arrange them as he would his own stuff. In the process, Rubin helped Cash rediscover his muse. And, here is the first album in a series of five albums worth of material the two recorded over the last nine years of the Man in Black’s life. This remains a landmark album in Johnny’s illustrious career and sits alongside At Folsom Prison as his best albums ever. Of course, it revived Cash’s career and reputation, as well as making Rubin more palatable to more artists as a producer.
And, that my friends, is the end of Day 1. Peace.