My goodness! It sure has been awhile since I’ve written an entry. It’s been a bit hectic in the family lately, headlined by my daughter-in-law having some postpartum complications that put her in the hospital for a few days. But, my son stepped up to take care of the girls, especially the baby, so we were pretty happy to see that he handled this crisis with calm and great leadership. He made me a very proud papa to witness that. She is better but still being monitored. Fingers crossed.
I hated this delay because I was kind of excited to cover 1991, perhaps one of the last classic years for music in my ears. As far as I was concerned, 1991 marked the year in which my type of music finally became popular with the masses. Over the previous 15 years or so, I had been yelling into the wind about artists like Patti Smith or Black Flag, only to be ignored by those around me. Yet, one day I awoke to the news that Nirvana had knocked Michael Jackson from the Number One slot on the Billboard Album Chart around Christmas of 1991, suddenly and abruptly signaling a change in the collective musical tastes of a nation.
Suddenly, the underground was becoming mainstream. The cartoonish bands of the late-80s, like Poison and Mötley Crüe, were being knocked off the charts and being replaced by artists from the alternative scene like Metallica, Pearl Jam and A Tribe Called Quest. This change was seismic in nature and very unexpected at the time, causing rock radio programmers to decide whether AOR rock should add a band like Red Hot Chili Peppers or go full-on into Classic Rock programming. Gen X assumed the role of tastemakers of modern music, pushing the Boomers out of their long-held position. For the first time in the rock and roll era a new generation was exerting its power and youthful rebellion to the rock genre and change was in the air.
Gen X was not beholden to the blues- and country-based influences that the Boomers enjoyed in their rock sounds. Now, Gen X had around 35 years of blues, jazz, punk, metal, rap, funk, jazz, post punk, avant garde and whatever else piqued their interest to influence their vision of rock music. The canvas upon which these artists would paint was wide open and even three-dimensional as the internet opened more exposure to sounds from all over the world. And MTV, along with a cheap technology called the Compact Disc (CD), were poised to push this generation’s music to even greater heights stylistically and commercially.
It’s crazy to go back through old magazines (Millennials and Gen Ys, they are those book-like things at Walmart in which older people like me buy to read articles about rock stars our ages or older which are printed on glossy pages with color photographs, or pics.) to see just how sudden this change was because it was not limited to the music, but also affected fashion, photography, art, film, hell even body art and piercings find their ground zero in this change. It was cool to witness in real time as I was back in the college classroom studying to change careers from being a medical technologist to becoming a high school chemistry and biology teacher, so I observed my younger brethren of my Gen X nation butting up against the status quo of the moment.
Unfortunately, like all music-based pop cultural revolutions, it was short-lived. The whole alternative/grunge look and sound was quickly assimilated by the larger population and watered down until all that was left were a few artists attempting to grow beyond their original sound or burning (or checking) out until all that was left were the lesser bands like Creed and Nickelback who co-opted the sound but not the attitude. Plus, all revolutions face a backlash, which came in the form of the pop-based teen girl princesses and the boy bands, which all were studio concoctions, followed by the singing shows and the rise of YouTube that led to the demise of MTV and the rock artist.
Perhaps, we really needed this long streak of boring prefabricated music to influence my grandchildren’s generation to pick up their instruments to create a totally new version of rock music. Maybe, my modest album collection could become the source of influence upon a new group of rockers. That, along with my dream of one of my decedents becoming a member of the SNL cast are my dreams, replacing the siring of a great Olympic athlete.
A man’s gotta dream! Now, let’s do the countdown!
50. Skid Row – Slave to the Grind
49. Spin Doctors – Pocket Full of Kryptonite
48. Marc Cohn – Marc Cohn
47. Queen – Innuendo
46. The KLF – The White Room
45. Paula Abdul – Spellbound
44. Amy Grant – Heart in Motion
43. Mudhoney – Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge
42. Dinosaur Jr. – Green Mind
41. Pixies – Trompe le Monde
40. Naughty by Nature – Naughty by Nature
39. DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince – Homebase
38. Cypress Hill – Cypress Hill
37. Seal – Seal
36. De La Soul – De La Soul Is Dead
35. Julian Cope – Peggy Suicide
34. Van Halen – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
33. Massive Attack – Blue Lines
32. Talk Talk – Laughing Stock
31. Boyz II Men – Cooleyhighharmony
30. Public Enemy – Apocalypse 91
29. Lenny Kravitz – Mama Said
28. Mariah Carey – Emotions
27. Ice-T – OG: Original Gangster
26. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik
25. Sting – The Soul Cages
24. Bonnie Raitt – Luck of the Draw
23. PM Dawn – Of the Heart, of the Soul & of the Cross
22. Ice Cube – Death Certificate
21. Smashing Pumpkins – Gish
20. Temple of the Dog – Temple of the Dog
19. Soundgarden – BadMotorFinger
18. Simply Red – Stars
17. Saint Etienne – Foxbase Alpha
16. Matthew Sweet – Girlfriend
15. My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
14. Prince – Diamonds & Pearls
13. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Into the Great Wide Open
12. Material Issue – International Pop Overthrow
11. Michael Jackson – Dangerous
10. Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion II
9. Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion I
8. Primal Scream – Screamadelica
7. A Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory
6. R.E.M. – Out of Time
5. Pearl Jam – Ten
4. Metallica – Metallica (a.k.a. The Black Album)
3. U2 – Achtung Baby
2. Nirvana – Nevermind
1. Teenage Fanclub – Bandwagonesque