This is one of the last multi-day entries in this current topic. I believe there is at least one more multi-day blogs left, but it could be two. So, let’s get this thing going.
R.E.M. – Monster (1994). After our heroes from Athens, Georgia, released two mega-hits to kick of the Nineties, R.E.M. decided to jump head-first into the current alternative scene that, ironically, the band had unwittingly opened the gates to 11 years earlier. In response to grunge and all the other stuff being popularized, R.E.M. created their most glam and trendy album to date. Monster is the sound of four thirty-somethings cutting loose and having a ball. This album is extremely underrated and underappreciated within their stellar catalog.
Soundgarden – Superunknown (1994). Soundgarden was the last of the Seattle Big Four to strike it rich. This album is where the band reached their potential with their Zeppelin-like mix of metal, grunge, blues, psychedelia, punk and funkish rock. “Black Hole Sun” is the band’s most enduring song.
Stone Temple Pilots – Purple (1994). On Core, STP were jumping from influence to influence to musically surround their Gen X lyrics. So, when the world heard this album, we all discovered this was a band for the ages. STP proved through sheer will and constant touring that anyone can develop their own sound that has resonated through the decades. The big hits were “Big Empty” and “Interstate Love Song.”
The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready to Die (1994). With the help of producer Sean “Puffy” Coombs, Biggie Smalls created the East Coast’s answer to gangsta rap. Coombs may have developed the music, but it would have been nothing without Biggie’s easy to understand tales of inner city life. It’s still a shame that he was taken at such a young age.
The Offspring – Smash (1994). Talk about a left field hit, this album a big one. The Offspring released this album on Epitaph, a small independent metal label and put this album into Billboard’s Top 5 on the Album Chart. Sure, The Offspring were a little metal, but they were a whole lot more punk. This album, along with Green Day’s Dookie, helped push punk rock into the American mainstream.
TLC – CrazySexyCool (1994). On TLC’s first album, they proved to be just another group of teenage women on a trajectory that was marrying bubblegum with rap, new jack swing and other modern sounds in R&B. So, imagine my surprise when I first heard this album. TLC had literally matured into strong beautiful black women who were ready to exert their creative control. “Waterfalls” remains one of the best Prince-sounding songs of the Nineties.
Tom Petty – Wildflowers (1994). For Petty’s second solo album, he enlisted super-producer Rick Rubin to help him work on stripped down sound. What the pairing did was creatively a master stroke. The pairing allowed Petty to develop his music without too many embellishments, which made for an exciting new direction of his music. This album represents the moment when Petty grew from a young rocker into a mature traveling troubadour.
Velvet Crush – Teenage Symphonies to God (1994). When I came across this CD at a Best Buy in Indianapolis, I discovered it in the Christian Rock section of the music. The album must have been categorized as a Christian act due to the album title, which is a quote from Beach Boy Brian Wilson when describing their music found on Pet Sounds.. Man, does the Velvet Crush live up to its album title. This has everything that is so delightful about power pop music. This is a little gem.
Weezer – Weezer (The Blue Album) (1994). When I first heard this band, I was absolutely convinced that I was listening to THE Cheap Trick of the Nineties. One day, I will have to do a compare and contrast blog between CT’s debut and this one by Weezer. This is a beautiful album in its simplicity juxtaposition with the tough sounding guitars. And much like Trick 17 years earlier, Weezer can stake claim to being much more than a power pop album. And, that’s what makes Weezer so compelling to follow through the years.
With that, I’ve put 1994 to rest. Peace.