DO LOOK BACK
Yet another 12 months of popular song have come and gone--for many, a year of soul-touching hits, for others, an unfulfilling mess of redundant backwash. But one thing's for sure: 1994 was a year of events in the music world. Michael and Lisa Marie got together, Kurt and Courtney broke up, Woodstock turned 25 and celebrated with a pale imitation of itself, Green Day made "punk" a multiplatinum-selling category. And don't think any of the sights and sounds of '94 slipped by Valley residents, more than a few of whom are about to weigh in on what went down best--or otherwise--for them.
"Exotic entertainer" at the World Famous Shakey Drakes Topless Saloon. In reverse order, Karen reveals her fave songs to play when she's revealing herself:
10. Offspring, "Self Esteem." This describes too many patrons not to receive heavy rotation.
9. Garth Brooks, "Hard Luck Woman." You have to admit, there is some sort of twisted beauty to Garth Brooks doing a Kiss cover.
8. Prince, "Get Off." Songs about sex are always good.
7. Madonna, "Hanky Panky." So are songs about bondage.
6. Alan Jackson, "Little 'Bout Love." Huh huh--he said "hoochie coochie."
5. Consolidated, "You Suck." Guys in titty bars really like this song, though I'm not sure why.
4. Iggy Pop, "Pussy Power." Any song with the word "pussy" in the title is perfect material.
3. Cramps, "Can Your Pussy Do the Dog?" See previous explanation.
2. Green Day, "Longview." What's better in a topless bar than a song about masturbation?
1. The Reverend Horton Heat, "One Time for Me." Okay. Maybe there is one thing better, a song about asking someone else to masturbate while you watch.
Assistant manager, Zia Record Exchange. Parker lists the Top 10 trade-ins, counting backward, starting with a tie for the No. 10 spot:
10. The Bodyguard soundtrack: Whitney just has no staying power (ask Bobby Brown). Milli Vanilli: still holdin' strong!
9. Spin Doctors, Turn It Upside Down. A worthy heir to the powerful legacy that was A Pocketful of Kryptonite.
8. Bodycount, Born Dead. Stillborn may have been a more accurate title for this one.
7. Arrested Development, Zingalamaduni. I called this one early on. "Life music" just doesn't do it for the Dr. Dre/Snoop Doggy Dogg set.
6. Depeche Mode, Songs of Faith and Devotion. Maybe leather pants, keyboards and bad hair are finally out of our lives.
5. Sonic Youth, Experimental Jet-Set. Very simple--three noisy chords only work for the Ramones.
4. Poison, Native Tongue. We see this one--still sealed--almost every day. No takers.
3. Ice-T, Home Invasion. This year was not kind to the Iceman. Bad movies, worse albums (also see No. 8).
2. Any CD, as long as it's scratched. The fickle tastes of this market demographic are seen every day from my counter. And if you kids can't take care of your toys, don't blame me.
1. Blind Melon, Blind Melon. The Bee-girl is dead. Let her lay.
Laurie Notaro Spoken-word artist, local-music editor for Planet magazine. Laurie, who likes to have a good time, traces her best live-rock memories of the last 12 months, and holds nothing back:
1. Hole. The only thing I remember is being threatened with getting kicked out of Minder Binder's for passing whiskey through the underage gate and for commandeering the men's room for my personal needs. 2. The H.O.R.D.E. Festival. Since I was the seventh person through the gate at 1:03 p.m. last summer, all I remember is Sheryl Crow, heat stroke and dehydration.
3. Ramones. Held in the world's largest perspiration factory, Grind, all I remember is putting ice in my bra and drinking my own sweat.
4. Prong. The band sucked. I retreated to the bar after my then-boyfriend left with another girl.
5. Mazzy Star. I fell asleep.
6. The Reverend Horton Heat. All I remember is being chased around the Roxy by a strange fat girl. I later discovered I was dating her boyfriend.
7. L7. I was sick, so I indulged in a NyQuil/Jack Daniel's cocktail. It was so potent that not only did I dance, but I lighted my hair on fire with my cigarette.
8. Poster Children. The memories are fuzzy, but I recall that my current boyfriend told me that he loved the bass player, Rose, and that I convinced myself that I was invisible and informed a lot of people of this.
9. Sugar. I was on the wagon, and I had a stronger handshake than Bob Mould.
10. Dig. I remember everything, because I was completely on the wagon. It was a great show. Brian Smith
Singer for Beat Angels. Unable to come up with ten '94 releases he actually liked, Brian took the easier--and certainly more fun--route, listing the worst of the year:
1. Candlebox, Candlebox. The smelly residue of bad Eighties arena metal mixed with a shameless batch of songs that everybody else wisely forgot to write. The worst recording of the year by quite possibly the worst rock 'n' roll band in history. It sold millions, of course. Go figure.
2. Stone Temple Pilots, Purple. Unimaginative, witless droning passed off as something profound and deep. Feigned sincerity does not a song make.
3. Guns N' Roses, The Spaghetti Incident?. Some of my favorite punk songs of all time butchered to death by sheer stupidity and misinterpretation.
4. Boston, Walk On. Seventies worship of the worst kind.
5. Arcade, A2. Another smug anachronism full of woman-hating, macho, cock-rock clichs. At least this one bombed, though, proving there is some justice.
6. R.E.M., Monster. Should've been titled Searching for the Perfect Demographic. What a snooze fest. Who wants to hear R.E.M. trying to play punk-rawk chords? 7. Rolling Stones, Voodoo Lounge. And who wants to hear another Chuck Berry remake?
8. Pro-Pain, The Truth Hurts. Trailer-park angst meets dumb thud-rock in a world in which Beavis and Butt-head is not a parody. It's a prophecy. Pointless.
9. Soundgarden, Superunknown. I read a review somewhere that likened Chris Cornell's songwriting to that of Leonard Cohen. Jesus.
10. Anything having to do with Woodstock 2. The whole thing made me want to puke. You know that rock 'n' roll is in sad shape when kids are doing exactly what their parents did, which is contradictory to the essence of rebellion and the spirit of rock itself. It's hard to believe the old bag still draws a breath.
Entertainment director for the Rhythm Room and host of Those Lowdown Blues, heard on Saturday nights at 8 and Sunday nights at 6 on KJZZ-FM 91.5.
1. Johnny Dyer Blues Band featuring Rick Holmstrom. Great grooves, wonderful vocals. This group plays perfectly together for a traditional yet fresh blues sound.
2. Little Milton, Welcome to the Club. The perfect Milton album, showcasing one of the greatest voices of all time.
3. Kim Wilson, That's Life. Searing vocals and wicked harmonica by a modern-day master. Kim proves that the integrity of the blues is indeed being passed on through the generations.
4. Elmore James, The Classic Early Recordings, 1951-1956. A must for any self-respecting blues lover, the complete early works of the legendary slide-guitar wizard. Scary.
5. Lavelle White, Miss Lavelle. Soulful R&B vocals from a veteran long overdue for a break.
6. Slim Harpo, Hip Shakin'. Killer two-CD collection from the King Bee of swamp blues--all his hits plus previously unreleased live cuts!
7. W.C. Clark, Heart of Gold. A traditional R&B album for the Nineties, with Clarke's expressive vocals the star attraction.
8. Low Blows--An Anthology of Chicago Harmonica Blues; Little Willie Anderson, Swinging the Blues; and Big Leon Brooks, Let's Go to Town. A three-way tie, and I admit I'm biased, as I had a hand in producing each of these CDs. Together, they fully represent the glory of Chicago blues harmonica.
9. J.B. Hutto and the Hawks, Hawk Squat!. This welcome reissue offers one of the rowdiest, rawest, most unpretentious sets of Chicago blues ever recorded.
10. Jimmy Rogers with Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters. A solid live set by Rogers, one of the few true legends alive today.
Drummer for Zig Zag Black. Helm's list consists of the musical events of '94 that moved him the most. 1. The loss of Michael Jon Venell (the late Zig Zag Black guitarist). He was the most incredible guy to have as a friend, and I'm sure one of the greatest musicians I'll ever have the fortune to work with. God bless you, Mike.
2. Kurt Cobain. The world lost one of its most brilliant writers and one of its most creative minds. The poster child for Generation X.
3. Soundgarden, Superunknown. Best album of '94, the one that separates the men from the boys. It shows that the band's days of mere Sabbath-riffing are long gone.
4. Green Day, Dookie. This group brought "pop punk" to the forefront of the music scene.
5. Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, No Quarter on MTV. Nostalgia at its best. Everybody who grew up on Zeppelin dreamed of this day; they sounded as killer as ever.
6. Hole, Live Through This. Courtney Love proved she is more than Kurt Cobain's widow; I think her talent will last much longer than 15 minutes.
7. Dead Hot Workshop. The band signed a deal with Seed/Atlantic and released its first CD; I expect big things from these guys in '95.
8. Rolling Stones, Voodoo Lounge tour. The most overblown, commercial pile of shit! But you've got to give these guys credit. If I still have bladder control at their age, I'll be happy.
9. Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley. They tied the knot. Definitely twisted.
10. Woodstock '94. Undoubtedly the most lame attempt at re-creating something that can't be duplicated. But there was an honest, heartfelt concern at the bottom of the whole thing--money! Serene Dominic
New Times contributor. Lovable, cuddly and always-good-for-a-chuckle Serene offers no fewer than 11 predictions on what will be going down in the unpredictable music world next year:
1. Coinciding with Hollywood Records' five-CD Queen boxed set, A Queen's Ransom, Freddie Mercury fans will petition the Postmaster General to create a new U.S. postage stamp bearing his likeness. However, opinions will be sharply divided about whether the image should be of Young Freddie the hetero-looking Rock Star (complete with Cleopatra eye makeup, black nail polish, Zandra Rhodes designer outfits and long, silky hair) or Later Freddie, who just looks like one of the Village People.
2. Given the success of Magnapop's "Lay It Down" and Veruca Salt's "Seether," recordings with squeaky guitar strings will be virtually inescapable.
3. Not to be outdone by Tony Bennett's MTV Unplugged session, the Chairman of the Board himself will make an appearance and add a few new wrinkles (okay, a lot more wrinkles) to an already hackneyed formula. In keeping with the program's "no frills, baby" approach, Francis Albert Sinatra will do an acoustic set of hits like "The Lady Is a Tramp" and "New York, New York." The result? Purists will applaud his decision to ditch those electronic TelePrompTers for good, old-fashioned, hand-held cue cards.
4. In 1994, new artists fell all over themselves to perform on tribute albums to older acts that had no influence whatsoever on the younger acts' musical vocabulary. Therefore, few are surprised when tribute albums to great inventors who had nothing at all to do with music will be the big thing in 1995. Witness I Never Picked Cotton: A Tribute to Eli Whitney.
5. Cranberries lead singer Dolores O'Riordan will reveal in a Rolling Stone interview that she lifted her odd singing style from that episode of The Little Rascals in which Alfalfa swallowed a balloon and tooted all during his recital.
6. Bobcat Goldthwait will make his singing debut, but everyone will think it's Counting Crows.
7. Fed up with Prince's mediocre releases and stupid name changes, the press will heretofore refer to him as "The Artist Formerly Known As Talented."
8. In 1994, MTV showed how prudish and reactionary it is by bleeping out the line "let's roll another joint" in a Tom Petty video. This year, it will refuse to play a Faith No More video because it contains the word "cootie."
9. Aretha Franklin's friends will surprise her in 1995 by staging an "intervention" in which they urge her to "let one of us dress you."
10. The Campbell's Soup people will sign up Crash Test Dummies to spearhead their revitalized "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm Good" campaign.
11. Expect a mass exodus of middle-of-the-road performers from Branson, Missouri, when rapper and alleged felon Tu Pac opens his own show palace in mid-July.
New Times contributor.
1. Love Spit Love. Richard Butler returns in style. His raspy vocals and searching songs are an entree to beautiful melancholy. Butler's finest work since the best of the Psychedelic Furs.
2. Guided by Voices, Bee Thousand. The voices doing the guiding range from Barrett to Chilton to McCartney to Beefheart to Herman's Hermits (!), and they're all sheathed in gloriously blurred psychedelics. Great stuff.
3. Revueltas: The String Quartets. Instantly fascinating quartets by the late Mexican modernist composer. The mood is short, sharp and tense, and it never lets up. Convincingly performed by Cuarteto Latinoamericano.
4. Blue Aeroplanes, Life Model. With spoken-word pieces on some cuts, and above-average rock 'n' pop on others, this one's like a Nineties version of the Velvet Underground with brighter colors, happier faces and a sharp European accent.
5. Gavin Bryars, Vita Nova. Increasingly important new-music composer designs beautiful choral music (performed by the always blissful Hilliard Ensemble), offset by brooding instrumental works. Very nice.
6. Sugar, File Under: Easy Listening. Bob Mould does it again. Another round of fleshy pop hooks cut to bite-size pieces by Mould's trademark buzz-saw guitars. Killer cut: "Your Favorite Thing."
7. Terry Riley, Chanting the Light of Foresight. Weird and wonderful noises from the former architect of minimalism. These new tunings and dronings are as impossible to describe as they are to ignore.
8. Aphex Twin, Selected Ambient Works, Volume II. Trance music with signs of life. It's moody, ethereal and, unlike most ambient efforts, it's got a beat. Disc two is especially captivating.
9. Man or Astro-Man?, Destroy All Astromen!!. Psychotic, sci-fi surf tunes straight from the bowels of Alabama. Joyously absurd, and not to be missed.
10. Freedy Johnston, This Perfect World. Not as honest as his debut, The Trouble Tree, but better than the follow-up, Can You Fly?. Great songwriter and wonderful stylist.
New Times contributor.
1. Wu-Tang, "C.R.E.A.M." The proof is in the abbreviation: "Cash Rules Everything Around Me"--ain't that the truth!
2. Zhan, "Hey Mr. D.J." The name is pronounced "Jah-Nay," the track is "Hey Mr. D.J." and the sound is damn infectious.
3. Mad Lion, "Take It Easy." This jam rocked the reggae masses, though it's thickly laced with hip-hop. Hard-core hip-hoppers couldn't have asked for a better blend in 1994.
4. Aaliyah, "Back & Forth." Protge or prodigy? Allegations of her marriage to Mr. Bump N' Grind (R. Kelly) can't impede this track gone platinum.
5. Fugees, "Nappy Heads." Gone are the days when you could get by with simple drum beats and a James Brown shriek. Fugees come at you with a bumpin' new slick sound.
6. Queen Latifah, "U.N.I.T.Y." Black Reign. With a smooth, flossy jazz tempo and a delivery that says she's still the Queen, this is a high-octane track you can cruise to all year 'round.
7. Gravediggaz, "Diary of a MadMan." Offering the most creative fusion of hip-hop and horror in '94, this jam carried ghostly wails over an earthquake bass line.
8. Craig Mack, "Flava in Ya Ear." A brand-new 1994 flavor in your ear with contemplative chimes, pianos and alluring rhythms that sweep you away like a Barry White interlude.
9. Jewell, "Woman to Woman." No games here, 'cause Jewell ain't the one to play with. As she tells it like it is, this track is the anthem to all adulterers in '94. 10. Me'Shell N'deOcello, "If That's Your Boyfriend (He Wasn't Last Night)." The message here? Sistahs keep a leash on your men! The lyrics will have boyfriend and girlfriend alike on the floor. Laughing, that is.
Morning host on KZON-FM 101.5 and host of The Studio Zone, heard on Monday nights at 10.
1. Darrell Brown and David Batteau, Soul Mission. A major-label release by locals, this hard-core, Saturday-night-meets-Sunday-morning gospel album features legends Steve Cropper, Booker T., and Mavis Staples. Amen.
2. Willy DeVille, Backstreets of Desire. Either you get Willie or you don't.
3. Phillip Strange, New Truth. A local jazz pianist with world-class talent, featured this year on The Studio Zone.
4. Van Morrison, Live in San Francisco. It feels like you're there if you play it loud enough.
5. Keb' Mo'. The new Taj Mahal.
6. Subdudes, Annunciation. The best of New Orleans, distilled to its very essence.
7. Rickie Lee Jones, Traffic From Paradise. Wow.
8. Joe Myers, Sonoran Snake Lady. A beautiful work.
9. Tractors. Simply too much fun.
10. Carmen, the Maria Callas version. I saw the Arizona Opera production, bought the soundtrack the next day and have listened to it almost daily.
Program director for KUKQ-AM 1060 and host of the long-running Virgin Vinyl show, heard Sunday nights on KDKB-FM 93.3. Jonathan gives us his top musical experiences of '94, recorded and otherwise:
1. Meat Puppets. As a longtime friend and supporter, nothing made me happier than to see the Puppies finally achieve success in the form of a gold album.
2. Meat Puppets. Standing onstage and feeling the rush as the band performed in front of 60,000 people at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, May 14, 1994.
3. The Johnny Thunders tribute album, I Only Wrote This Song for You, featuring the Ramones, Willy DeVille, Michael Monroe and others. The best album of the "tribute" genre.
4. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Pure and Simple. The video for "Go Home," a brilliant minimovie about stalking, went virtually unnoticed because the MTV gods ignored it. Her midsummer show at the Mason Jar was incredible!
5. Pigface at the Roxy, November 14, 1994--an amazing show that lasted more than two hours. I was so mesmerized, I never looked at my watch once.
6. No FX, Funk in Drublic. As punk reemerged in a sea of Green Days and Offsprings, No FX had the right amount of humor and angst without sounding formulaic.
7. Danzig 4. Although his live show at Mesa Amphitheatre didn't measure up to his album, his interview with me on "The Q" was my fave this year.
8. New Times. For recognition of Virgin Vinyl as best Valley radio show once again. Especially because KUPD-FM rejected bringing it back and KDKB had the vision to pick it up. 9. Circle Jerks and Phunk Junkeez at Mesa Amphitheatre, June 10, 1994. Heart-pounding show.
10. XC-NN. With the lax condition of the majority of British music, XC-NN's debut shone. No English band since Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine has excited me this much.
New Times staff writer and host of Just Jazz, heard Sunday nights at 10 on KYOT-FM 95.5. Paul, who spends a lot of time in his car with the radio on, lists his top personal musical experiences of '94:
1. Billie Holiday. On a sleepless night at 4 a.m., catching Ms. Holiday singing "Strange Fruit" on TV in an A&E biography. Entrancing.
2. Sun Ra, Atlantis. A 1967 recording reissued on CD in 1994. Music for an apocalypse, with Ra on the Gibson "Kalamazoo" organ.
3. The Kinks. Driving into San Antonio, I heard Ray Davies and company on the radio and I was in paradise.
4. Either/Orchestra, live at Kerr Cultural Center in Scottsdale. This Boston-based big band swung hard.
5. John Lennon. I went to Flagstaff for the sentencing of a child molester I'd done a story on. As I was driving to the courthouse, Lennon was singing on the radio; the juxtaposition of watching a child molester be sentenced and Lennon's pie-in-the-sky tune was perfect. We don't all shine on.
6. Joshua Redman, MoodSwing. Bluesy, soulful third album from one of the best tenors of the new breed.
7. Thelonious Monk. I listened to him all year.
8. Poncho Sanchez, live at the Rhythm Room. Hottest show I went to all year.
9. Howlin' Wolf. Driving on I-10 from Phoenix to Tucson one night, trying to stay awake, a National Public Radio story on Wolf came on. His growl snapped me to attention and kept me alive.
10. Astor Piazzolla and the New Tango Quintet, Tango: Zero Hour. The 1986 recording by the late bandonen master, which is sensual, diabolic and passionate, was reissued in 1994.
New Times staff photographer. Though countless loyal Screed followers know him as Tim the Photographer, few realize that the man enjoys putting down the camera and cocking an ear to music.
1. Eugenius, Oomma Lama. Never heard of these guys, but saw them open up for somebody and now they're my favorite band.
2. Phunk Junkeez. Any live performance this year.
3. Bettie Serveert, Palomine. I especially liked the bright, tangy-orange color on the album cover, which fits the music.
4. Redd Kross, Phaseshifter. One night, I drank beer and ate this powdered candy named "Spew" and played this album for a friend. Though I later vomited because of the candy, the album was great.
5. Babes in Toyland, "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft." From the If I Were a Carpenter tribute album. Sung with all the passion and commitment one usually reserves for "The Star-Spangled Banner." 6. Giant Sand, Glum. Even the album cover, by Tucson portrait artist Robyn Stoutenburg, is worth the price of admission.
7. Counting Crows. That damn "Mr. Jones" song, to be specific; I was so in love with this when I first heard it on the radio that I ran out and bought it at a Wal-Mart. The album completely sucked, and I sold it to Zia Record Exchange in record time. Good single, though.
8. KUKQ-AM 1060. The return of this alternative station made local radio intelligent again. The music is swell, but a major attraction is the normalcy of the deejays--real people with real personalities and real names. No inane babblings from characters like "Whipping Boy," "Artie the Milkman" and "Willobee"--heard on the Q's competitor, KEDJ-FM 106.3--to distract from the music. 9. Grant Lee Buffalo, "Mockingbirds." This song is supposedly a twisted reassembly of an annoying Seventies single by James Taylor, but it still somehow sounds wonderfully Beatlesque.
10. Green Day, "Longview." Any song that includes the profound sense of loss one feels when faced with the realization that self-stimulation may not always be spiritually and physically satisfying is okay in my book.
New Times contributor. Larry reviews the year, comments frankly and even dares to make wishes for country music of the future:
1. Wynonna. Used to tell whoever'd listen that this girl would bloom once Mom Naomi let her immensely talented daughter be. Was dead wrong: Mom's writing, spot-on harmonies and steadying presence made the Judds what they were. Suffering from lack of decent material and an apparent yen for candied yams, the best country gal singer since Patsy Cline needs Mommy back onstage.
2. Reba McEntire. I always thought Reba was overrated--that her vocal acrobatics and good-ol'-girl, corn-pone patter were contrived, that her recordings reflected trends of demographics rather than any attempt at art, that her product was generally putrid--and I was right. Yuck. Go away, Reba.
3. Toby Keith. Those who saw this fella recently at Bill Bachand's award-winning nightclub heard a gifted singer-songwriter with a career bullet absolutely captivate an always-tough Toolies Country crowd. Dang--I shoulda been a cowboy. We want mo'.
4. Merle Haggard and George Jones. Nashville has managed to paint itself into a creative corner. A decadelong reliance on a narrow--if lucrative--range of acceptable product and an absolute shunning of anything remotely traditional worked as long as the MOR masses accepted such Music City mediocrity. But now the tide is turning; lookit all the old-timers the power-wielding leisure suits behind the Pine Curtain are trotting out. Thank Godamighty, and welcome back--especially to these two fellas, the newest darlings of Nineties Nashville. May the trend continue.
5. Billy Ray Cyrus. We're sure you saved a whole bunch of money from that awful "Achy Breaky Heart" thing. Consider it a lottery hit: Buy a little tavern with a tiny little stage somewhere not in Nashville. Maybe near a lake: Then you can get a big bass boat and fish yourself silly all day, then repair to your bar and sing that damn song all night. Just stay away from Nashville.
6. Dwight Yoakam. Sure, ex-girlfriend Sharon Stone said that she'd rather "eat a dirt sandwich" than reconcile with Buck Owens' buddy, but what Dwight might have lacked in romance, he more than made up for in wax. An innovator and modern-day outlaw who turns out the freshest stuff either side of Austin.
7. Branson, Missouri. Once a charming, little-known country-music mountain resort with generations-old family acts entertaining Ozark Mountain visitors, Branson is now the absolute ugliest of tourist traps--the place where old country singers build monuments to themselves and go to die. Don't encourage them, please. Go to Dollywood instead.
8. Randy Travis. Nashville has pretty much given him the bum's rush, ugly rumors persist about his personal life and there's a whole industry full of success stories out there who owe him for everything they've got. So why doesn't Travis get any credit? May 1995 treat the man better.
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