The 90s certainly did prove to be an interesting time in music. Please allow me to paint a vivid picture for your enjoyment: 1998. New York State Fair, Syracuse, NY (Upstate). Sitting in the grandstand, awaiting a blockbuster performance from the highly regarded Britney Spears and 98 Degrees (Yes, I even stayed the whole time…I DON’T want to talk about it), and with the whole family in tact, I was about as stoked to see this show as, well, someone watching paint dry on a Friday night. My dad politely asks the guy in front of us, who’s sitting with his wife and daughter, why he’s reaching for his earplugs. With the simple response “You’ll see,” my heart drops. The lights go dim. The next thing I know, my ear canals are filled with the most hair raising, ear drum bursting shriek you could ever imagine, magnified about 30,000 times. Ah yes, now I see why he brought those ear plugs, even though I will never hear in the same way ever again. Let that be a lesson people: the 90s were crazy.
Early grunge/punk preceded boybands, teeny-boppers, and pop princesses, which then gave way to the pop-punk era best described by one band: Blink 182. But as we all know, everybody has to start somewhere-and where better than a nice, friendly, before-they-were-famous collection, all in one place! (in the true spirit of an infomercial!)
Since Blink is the current topic, let’s start there-how about their 1993 demo Buddha? Pretty good stuff, from before they even added the “182” to their name! Then there’s Papa Roach’s 1994 EP titled Potatoes For Christmas, and Green Day’s Kerplunk!, a reissue of their 1992 release that has since gone platinum that includes an early version of “Welcome to Paradise.” Not to outdo the others, and not to be modest, but lest we forget current idols Coldplay and Death Cab For Cutie?? That’s right folks, and we’re talking the good stuff-Chris Martin and co.’s three song EP Brothers&Sisters, that laid the groundwork for Parachutes, and Death Cab’s pre-Atlantic stuff via Barsuk Records.
Now, sit down, and catch your breath. Are you ready? Early stuff from classic acts Bob Marley, Elton John, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Jimmy Page, the New York Dolls, Ray Charles, Ted Nugent, The Donnas, The Ramones, and Steely Dan-before-they-were-Steely-Dan–Walter Becker and Donald Fagen. What a mouthful! You can’t even listen to any of it without hearing their pre-fame influences, and the artists in their truly raw forms.
I guess 1998 wasn’t so bad after all, having listened to this stuff. But just out of curiousity, I wonder how much hearing aids cost these days…