The 90’s I remember to be split into 2 halves: the first half beginning with what looked to be a hypercolored extension of the 80’s, where extremeness had just begun to outdo itself, over and over and over again. The haircuts were similar but different, and the fashion just grew brighter and more neon colored. One of my favorite bands from this rich cultural period of time was Primus, and “To Defy the Laws of Tradition” is one of my choice anthems; the song just does not get old or dated. ‘Frizzle Fry’ is one of the few albums that seems truly timeless, in a sense that it is just that creative and unique as well as masterful musically (made even more impressive by the fact that this was their official debut!).
Another vaguely similar band (in that they reassess the bass player role) is the Jesus Lizard. My favorite album of theirs debuted in 1990, titled ‘Head’. The world would never be the same:
And their live shows were legendary:
Singer David Yow was and is a raving lunatic, and also a performer like no other. To me he encapsulates the feeling of the late 80s early 90s quite well, while being quite entertaining. His mixture of comedy, weirdness, and all out disturbing behavior is just as punk now as it was then; a nightmare barker against the status quo. The rest of the band were an air tight rock monster; one of the best rhythm sections in rock history with one of the better guitarists. Few rival the original yet traditional guitar techniques employed by Mr. Denison; and fewer still have that perfect tone.
In addition to new and original cultural movements, the movies looked even more futuristic… as much as I don’t really like Arnold today, one has to admit he was in some pretty great movies:
Or, on a less obvious note, you could check out movies like Hardware that at the time were just totally alien looking, yet it represented a future that was not unimaginable.
The 90’s started as a more absurd late 80’s… it’s impossible to really section off decades, as much as people like to do it. It’s the main reason why people got confused about the year 2000, which was NOT the first year of the 21st century. 1990 was my transitional year from Jr. High to High School… I didn’t get made fun of as much, as I got a job delivering newspapers hours before I had to go to high school (the beginning of my sleep deprivation turning into insomniac decade and a half)… and sprung for things like Reebok Pumps.
Things got even more surreal, considering 1990 was the debut of David Lynch’s ‘Twin Peaks’. While I did not watch it much at the time, the show was extremely influential in a not so direct way; it was on network television but it wasn’t exactly a household name either. (also, Stephen King’s ‘It’ was on television as well). The show’s first season was perhaps its best, as the plot and characters became more and more distorted over time.
Obviously, even the advertising was trying to be different in the 90’s by watching this promo video. Also, check out Bobby‘s haircut… it is the stereotypical early 90’s teenage male haircut.
Shifting gears…. Ministry, like Primus, is one of my all time favorite bands. The first half of the 90’s was just overflowing with great new sounding bands. But Ministry took the influence of other “industrial” bands such as Killing Joke and hammered it into a distorted and gnarly new shape… It was just more punk, more metal, and more over the top, if some might say less tasteful. As far as this listener goes though, Al Jourgensen and company have had few botches on the album front… except probably ‘The Dark Side of the Spoon’ (which really is not as bad as most make it out to be). What may be the quintessential Ministry album, ‘The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste’ was ahead of its time, and its sociopolitical commentary is among the best in the musical sphere of influence.
On “Breathe”, much tension and texture is explored, while technotribal drumming is dominant. In its hypnotic precision it was touching upon some new ground, reminding me of dark trance techno as well as very metallic metal with subtle keyboard work and lots of samples… which is pretty much their trademark. Also thought this was a pretty excellent live performance that represented this incarnation of Ministry quite well.
1990 was also when Persian Gulf fever was starting to really rear its ugly head. While on its surface, Megadeth’s “Holy Wars” was quite objective in describing a holy war, Dave Mustaine seems a little more real-life patriotic in this clip (but the live footage of this early performance of the song is amazing… along with those white pants).
I must admit, ‘Rust In Peace’ is the main reason I love Megadeth. Sure, the album after was the one that got me hooked on Megadeth’s brand of metal; but R.I.P. is their true masterpiece. It really is still in my top 5 metal albums of all time; the remaster only solidified this. The lineup seen here in these two youtube videos will always be THE Megadeth lineup. Marty Friedman and Dave Mustaine made up one of the best two guitar attack; and the rhythm section was tighter than tight. If “Holy Wars” was not enough, “Take No Prisoners” surely would convince the most jaded of metal heads.
You just witnessed one of the greatest metal songs of all time.
And now, the other side of nerd-dom:
“Woo! Yeah, you ready?? Woooo!! I don’t get this at home.”
Notice how back then, the video game competition did not go above age 17.