List Of The Day (NEW)

1993 – The Mainstream View

List Of The Day

View gallery

.
While I've kinda somewhat semi-successfully discussed the 'alternative' bands of 1993, I now must turn my attention to the 'mainstream' acts who were either dominating the charts or who were too old and straight to be part of a cutting edge. I still have the bonafide hits of the era to discuss, but for now...

Ah, you hate these intros as much as I hate writing them. Let's just get to the list!

View gallery

.

25) Elvis Costello & The Brodsky Quartet -- The Juliet Letters: I've met a total of two people who enjoy this collection. Most others consider this to be the moment where the shark was officially jumped. The records had been fair-to-middlin' at this point, but this was the album where I had no idea whether or not it was any good. I like the bands with the electric guitars and the drums and the problem is that once you do something like this, you can't go rock again the way you once did. It changes you as a musician. So be careful. Don't learn too much.

24) Guns N' Roses -- The Spaghetti Incident?: The Sex Pistols had the good fortune to break up at the end of their only U.S. tour. Sure, McLaren kept the farce running a little while longer with the outlaw Ronnie Biggs getting some action, but Guns N' Roses just overdid the entire thing. Had someone been able to keep Use Your Illusion a single 43:22 minute album, the band might not be scrounging around for covers to get them through another difficult year. Boys, "Ain't It Fun" says nothing about sticking around for decades with just your lead singer holding the rights to the name of the band.

View gallery

.
23) Garth Brooks -- In Pieces: Just as you likely can't believe the sweaters on The Cosby Show or the hair, make-up and shoulder pads on Designing Women, it's difficult to comprehend the appeal of this rather bland country-pop dude who was way more 1980s than 1990s, except in those places that don't catch up for ten years.

22) Bruce Springsteen -- In Concert / MTV Plugged: Bruce nearly cashed in all his Atlantic City chips at this point for Vegas tokens. He dumped the E Street Band and thought the 1990s would be all about a new multicultural band that could swing. Except he's Bruce and he doesn't swing and as a result one of the great live performers of his era turned in a live performance for MTV that was flat-out dull and had people wishing he'd remembered more of his old songs.

View gallery

.
21) Mariah Carey -- Music Box: Anyone who sings the way Mariah Carey sings -- you know, all those notes -- causes my entire mind to blank. I don't process it. The way you might not process lactose.

20) Billy Joel -- River of Dreams: Let's not say anything. Wouldn't want to wake the poor bastard.

19) 10,000 Maniacs -- MTV Unplugged: I sure hope the other 9,999 Maniacs made some decent money before Natalie ditched them for the solo career that everyone on Earth saw coming.

18) The Cranberries -- Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?: Great question, eh? The answer: because the other people are doing it because they have an inner need to do so and not because they see everyone else doing it, OK? Now, go to your room.

View gallery

.
17) U2 -- Zooropa: The best move they ever made was to get away from that dreary sound they locked themselves into place with back in the 1980s. But they eventually lost the thread and came running back to safety. Or maybe it was best that way. Us non-fans tend to like the stuff everyone else hates. It's why we're non-fans.

16) Loudon Wainwright III -- Career Moves: At the time of its release, this live album seemed like a serious career summary unlikely to be topped. Then Loudon ignored whatever edicts and decrees were handed down from Mount Whatever and went on a streak that continues pretty much to this day where he writes and sings songs every bit as good if not even much better than the ones he wrote during the first half of his career.

View gallery

.
15) Arthur Alexander -- Lonely Just Like Me: He died at age 53 of a heart attack within a month or so of this album's release, which had been the first music he'd made in years itself. His voice was still there, if not the creative drive; he had to 'revisit' a few old songs. Folks hype him as the one songwriter who was covered the Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. It's not really what's important but if it gets people to pay attention, why not?

14) Warren Zevon -- Learning To Flinch: Zevon deserved to be an electric performer 'til the day he died, but economics didn't bear it out, so when times got tough, the tough went solo-acoustic.

View gallery

.
13) Mick Jagger -- Wandering Spirit: OK, this was pretty good. If you grade on a scale, which I do. I have to. We all have to. Or else we'd never leave the house.

12) Bob Dylan -- World Gone Wrong: Oh Mercy! suggested Bob had a way out of the 1980s. But then Under the Red Sky suggested he had no way in to the 1990s. So, what better way to keep costs low and to keep Bob comfortable than to go back to the solo voice and guitar he hadn't tried for a whole album since Another Side of Bob Dylan? It worked and Good As I Been To You led to this one.

View gallery

.
11) Janet Jackson -- .janet: Obviously, most people weren't digging up acoustic albums by Bob Dylan in 1993. They were looking for that spot where music feels new but also feels a little like the era they just left. If you loved the 1980s, you likely loved this, too. Me? I can't dance and I didn't love the 1980s.

10) Van Halen -- Live: Right Here, Right Now: Van Hagar appealed to those folks who wanted/needed something to crank on their car stereos that was new but still in debt to the 1970s. Who was more in debt to the 1970s than Sammy Hagar?

View gallery

.
9) Rod Stewart -- Unplugged…And Seated: As someone who likes Rod Stewart but who never put serious stock into him, I'm a more forgiving type. I'm OK with him sitting down. I'm OK with him singing smooth folk-rock or slick dance-pop. And at this point, he had yet to go near the dreaded 'Great American Songbook' that was where I'd draw the line. And you? Do you think he was sexy, young turk?

8) Van Morrison -- Too Long In Exile: Too Long In Exile? Maybe 'Too Long Making Records That Sound Remarkably Similar'? I'm a fan and I don't know what to make of his royal blandness when it comes to album productions. The voice can still phrase like no one else and some tracks are magical, but there's also a lot of goop on the overall sound.

View gallery

.
7) Melissa Etheridge -- Yes I Am: I know lots of women find this music empowering, but I tend to think of her as overdoing it in the same "intense" way of somebody like Henry Rollins, who just seemed to have so many identity issues on call that it's just better if you let him work on it by himself. Though I don't think Melissa's ever felt the need to "answer her critics" in that OCD way that Rollins approaches his public relations. I still have a postcard from Henry somewhere. It was nice of him, but a restraining order would've been cooler.

6) Sheryl Crow -- Tuesday Night Music Club: I don't think the people who didn't like her music had any really strong feelings about it. Just that it was everywhere and you wished you'd hear it less and something else more. But she kept up the profile and is now far better known than someone like Christopher Cross or the fellas in Counting Crows, for that matter. She knew her music and what she wanted to do. And she plays a cool guitar.

View gallery

.
5) Salt-N-Pepa -- Very Necessary: Completely out of my league in so many ways, S-N-P remind me of an era when hip-hop had a variety of voices and approaches and what you had to say was put closer to the front. Much like 1960s rock vs. 1980s rock. Or 1970s punk vs. its overly-stylized cousins in the 1990s. This went on to become the most successful hip-hop album by a female group. But they weren't so obvious about it.

4) Donald Fagen -- Kamakiriad: What's the difference between a Donald Fagen solo album and a Steely Dan album? Ask Walter Becker's accountant.

3)

View gallery

.
Counting Crows -- August and Everything After: Had the band showed up two decades earlier, they'd likely have had a very different career where their concert tapes were traded like Dead shows or Springsteen or something. But by the 1990s, record companies weren't interested in what else a band could do, just what they did in the first place. So, first sign the band shows of a mercurial Van Morrison temperament and the videos go into high rotation to overexpose them and erase whatever mystery they thought they had. There could be only one Pearl Jam.

2) Neil Young -- Unplugged: After a decade of being weird and trying out anything that amused him for a few months, Neil showed up for the 1990s ready to resume 'old Neil' status. Nothing, of course, seemed more natural than for 'The Godfather of Grunge' to sit down with an acoustic guitar and a pump organ and sing the old songs like he'd always been doing it this way all along.

View gallery

.

1

1) Jackson Browne -- I'm Alive: His first studio album of the 1990s and he dumped the political screeds of the 1980s to sing about love again. Let that be a lesson to those singer-songwriters who think it doesn't matter what they sing about. People listen to the words just close enough to figure out if you're singing to them or at them.

View Comments