Although both baffling and unfortunate that the term ‘alternative’ was then beginning to be applied to various genres of music, 1991-1992 was nevertheless such an exciting period for discovering new bands. Having been an anglophile for as long as I can remember – captivated by the 45s of the British Invasion my mother would play as far back as learning to walk, through to hanging a Union Jack in my pre-teen room like Iron Maiden would do in their tour videos, soon replaced by a 6-foot poster for the Jesus & Mary Chain’s “Head On”, still there today – by this point I was even learning about the music of my homeland through a Brit. One Dave Kendall, who hosted ‘120 Minutes’ from 1989 through 1992. The show was never really the same after that. But what a run he had. Mondays at school were always a write-off as I’d had to stay up to watch the show the night before, from midnight to 2 a.m. This was imperative as often MTV, when they still showed videos, might only show a certain video once. Life-changing was that 3 minutes 27 seconds in late 1992 when I happened to catch Suede’s “Metal Mickey”, I believe the only time U.S. MTV ever played it. The same is true, I’m fairly certain, for all the videos below. What impresses me about these videos is that they were all made on no budget whatsoever, and IT DIDN’T MATTER. Fun as they are, they again show that a video is simply another vehicle to get a song into our brains, and there they operate in the realm songs are meant to, that of Sound. A realm in which all of these resonate victoriously.
And so it was that on one springtime night, approaching 2 am, I was introduced to the Chainsaw Kittens. Fighting hard to keep my eyelids open, soon I found myself wide awake as Tyson’s scream kicked them into the verse of “Connie I’ve Found The Door”. Energetic, Powerful, Melodic, with one of those falsetto “Woo”s that I love in the second verse, Relentless: it was like a kiss that completely kicks your ass.
I immediately wrote down their name and couldn’t wait to get the Flipped Out In Singapore album (produced by Butch Vig). And kept up with the Kittens thoughout the years. They had what I love – great songs, style, cool song titles (“Shannon’s Fellini Movie”, “Angels Self Destruct”, “Pop Heiress Dies”), that perfect combination of ROCK and POP, heavy, melodic guitars with an excellent voice.
And what an xmas 1992 was! I still have the longboxes I got for the Mary Chain’s Darklands, the Drop Nineteens’ Delaware and Sebadoh’s Smash Your Head On The Punk Rock (whose “Brand New Love” is one of the best love songs of all time. The Superchunk cover of it is very good too.) A longbox was a form of cd packaging peculiar to the U.S. For a look at one, check out the copy of Honey’s Dead David Letterman is holding up here before this TV performance of “Far Gone & Out”. Honey’s Dead came out in 1992 as well, and was LIFE-CHANGING as far as my life is concerned, but that’s another post entirely. I had asked for Delaware after seeing “Winona” on 120 Minutes. A lost shoegaze classic if I’ve ever heard one. Dreamy chimey melody afloat on a slow flood of sound.
It’s a shame the video for The Afghan Whigs’ “Turn On The Water” is nowhere to found on the internet. A perfect example of the low budget video, I seem to recall it centering on a decrepit bathtub. But nonetheless you felt their power; a beacon to guide you to those masterpieces of love and sex gone wrong – Gentlemen and Black Love – in the years to come.
My original intention in writing this, admittedly hurried, post was to point out a few great but lesser-known American bands of the 90s. But I feel considering the subject matter, and resonance of names (taking this further, I bought Love Sick Pleasure and Flipped Out In Singapore, along with Generation Terrorists all on the same amazing summer day in 1992), Daisy Chainsaw’s “Love Your Money” deserves a mention. Being as it was then, and still remains to this day, such a PURE BLAST OF ORIGINALITY. One of those spectacular and special pop moments.