On March 4th of 1997, Bill Clinton banned federal funding of research into human cloning. In other news, HAL9000 is activated in the ‘2001’ universe on January 17th, 1997. In the Terminator milieu, Skynet is goin’ live on August 29th. Even ‘Escape From New York’ is set in good ol’ 1997. On a more real note, it was also the year that John Denver crashed into the ocean as sole pilot of this neat little plane.
Speaking of music, there were ten pretty great albums released in 1997. It was a big year for me as I moved away from my rural surroundings into the strange sprawling cacophony that is Chicago. I’ve compiled a top 10 or something like that. I’ll start with one of those 90’s albums that are just classic (and there are a few of them this year):
While my Radiohead fandom is waning, I will still have a certain nostalgia for ‘OK Computer’ for probably most of my life (‘Kid A’ is also great fwiw; anyone ever notice there’s a Rush song called “Analog Kid”). It just can take you back to that time, if for no other reason I heard it a billion times in the late 90’s and in 1997. One of the few things people could agree on at college (well for the most part) and my old high school buddies too. I was “lucky” to be able to move to Chicago, since things all fell into place at the right time and I didn’t get into any trouble before I moved.
Up until ‘The Mollusk’, I just couldn’t get into Ween. Too goofy for my serious 21 year old self. But the arrangements got more developed and there was a definite prog rock undertone or something like it to the album that sold it for me. What’s more, it just might be their most consistent album from beginning to end.
So between ‘OK Computer’ and ‘The Mollusk’, 1997 is a very very “album-y” year. What’s next…. oh yeah, this qualifies.
Not only is this another perfect or near perfect album, it is the answer to the departure of music giants Eddie Glass and Ruben Romano. To top it all off, it also has one of my favorite drummers of all time Brant Bjork (ex-Kyuss) on it! In my opinion, pretty much the height of Fu Manchu’s powers… after this album they kinda lost it. ‘The Action Is Go’ has so many classic rock tunes like “Evil Eye”, “Urethane”, “Trackside Hoax”, “Unknown World”, “Hogwash”, “Strolling Astronomer”, and “Saturn III” making it one of the most rifftastic albums you’ll ever hear.
Another album I still love a ton is Subarachnoid Space – ‘Almost Invisible’, a drony masterpiece of mythic proportions. It has that mystical otherworldly vibe that you want to hear on this kind of album. I remember being turned onto lots and lots of new music in my first year in Chicago, and this was kinda what I had to share since no one else had this. It is both a good album to throw on and have conversations with friends and a great thing to hear as you drift off into slumber.
My art school buds really enjoyed Flying Saucer Attack. An at times very unique and at others utterly repetitive band. To sum up, for the most part in college the band was a bit too on the docile end of listening to music (yes despite the cool distortion). But in retrospect I find most of Flying Saucer Attack to be a rewarding and interesting listening experience.
I did get to see Brutal Truth one really drunken night at The Fireside Bowl during this tour. One of the reasons I’m still a big heavy metal fan, this show. Just pure rock fury in every direction. Crazy cowboy hats, grinding, Lilker, just pure madness. Brutal Truth, one of those bands who didn’t get lame and boring with time. imo…
Another classic throwback metal album was released in ’97… freakin ‘Frequencies From Planet Ten’ by Orange Goblin. Not only do they rock more than most bands, they also can throw down some tasty psychedelic garage rock blues. Go see them live next time they are in town. You’ll be glad you did (if they roll through).
The best way to absorb this next portion of this voyage through time, is to hear the whole album of Portishead that was released in 1997.
1. Cowboys 2. All Mine 3. Undenied 4. Half Day Closing 5. Over 6. Humming 7. Mourning Air 8. Seven Months 9. Only You 10. Elysium 11. Western Eyes
Perhaps one of my favorite albums of all time was released in ’97: Thingy’s ‘Songs About Angels, Evil, and Running Around on Fire’. “Already Ivy” is one of the most melodic math rock songs ever created. Also present is Thingy’s/Rob Crow’s ever present comedic factor:’
“Cutest Baby” is one of the funniest songs ever.
Cheer Accident’s ‘Enduring the American Dream’ … what more can I say, other than that this prog rock band is the greatest band to ever sprout from the very fertile musical fields of Chicago, IL. There are unfortunately not too many pre-twenty first century Cheer Accident youtube uploads, but there is this updated version of one of the best songs on the album:
Best duo album? Anyway, these dakota guys are just way ahead of their time:
this was also released in 1997 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3kUY5UijyE
P.S. Best movie of ’97? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvevTI2GgAg&feature=mv_sr at least I saw that one that year… later on I think I like Princess Monoke or Gattaca a little better.