Once again, we take a look at what a few local humans liked and didn't like in the music world this year. From fabulous celebrities such as Charles Barkley and Barry Goldwater to everyday folks you may have seen at your local Circle K or topless bar (Dave and Mariah, respectively) to your humble and knowledgeable staff of New Times professionals, we give you 12 different takes on the songs, discs, bands--even the music developments--of the year.
Mariah, "entertainer" at Tiffany's Cabaret
Mariah's picks serve double duty; not only does she make her living dancing to the music, but she listens to almost all of the songs mentioned at home, too. "They're good whether I'm vacuuming or stripping," she says.
1. The Sliver soundtrack. Gosh, you get such a wide variety of music, and slow stuff that's very sexy to dance to.
2. Neneh Cherry, "Move With Me." It's kind of a slow rap that's also very sexy to dance to.
3. Tag Team, "Whoop There It Is." It's a fun-filled song, makes you feel good and really gets the crowd going.
4. Nirvana, "Heart Shaped Box." It's more aggressive; if you want to project that more aggressive feel on stage. 5. Alice in Chains. It's also got a heavier feel.
6. Stone Temple Pilots. I really, really like them. It's a heavier sound, kinda like Pearl Jam.
7. Cranberries, "Linger." They have a whole sound of their own; kind of reminds me, in ways, of Sinad O'Connor.
8. Enigma, "Carly's Song." This came out a while ago, but it's on the Sliver soundtrack. It's real erotic.
9. Duran Duran, The Crying Game soundtrack. They're trying to make a comeback, but I even like old Duran Duran. They go back to, like, when I was in sixth grade or something.
10. Gin Blossoms, "Hey Jealousy." Actually, I'm very burned out on this song, but I played it a lot when it first came out. I used to go see them when they were playing little holes in Tempe.
Ted Simons, New Times contributor
1. Breeders, Last Splash. Ex-Pixie Kim Deal chops up the water in the alternative-rock gene pool. Breeders' songcraft is stronger than grunge, smarter than pop and, by CD's end, utterly ingratiating. An easy choice for No. 1.
2. World Party, Bang!. Not everyone can muse relevantly on God and man in a single CD. World Party's Kurt Wallinger does it in a single song, "Is It Like Today?". And Wallinger adds tons of other pop-smart tunes, to boot. Meet the new Prince.
3. Paul Westerberg, 14 Songs. Westerberg's first "official" solo disc is more than just replacement Replacements fare. The onetime "bastard of young" sounds older and wiser, yet still ragged enough to crank out a couple of killer faux-Faces cuts. Nice song: "Runaway Wind."
4. Juliana Hatfield Three, Become What You Are. The chords are tight. The guitars are punchy. Together, they make a nice, firm bed for Hatfield's sorority-girl vocals to bounce around on. Her best work yet.
5. Anonymous 4, On Yoolis Night. Everything that's good about austere medieval music is great on these enchanting carols and motets. Killer cuts: "Peperit Virgo" and "Lullay: I Saw a Swete Semly Syght."
6. Nirvana, In Utero. The graphic front and back cover art is unnecessary. So is a deliberately inflammatory song title like "Rape Me." It all comes off as desperation to be hip. And it only keeps this otherwise killer CD shivering in the shadows of Nevermind.
7. Best Kissers in the World, Been There. Phoenix band relocates to Seattle and becomes the Cheapest Trick in town. The riffs are good and the songwriting is great. Too bad the lyrics are so smug and condescending.
8. Sheila Chandra, Weaving My Ancestors' Voices. Stunning vocal work from a British singer of Asian ancestry. Chandra can stitch a Moslem call to prayer to a Scottish folk tune and almost always make it fit. A bit precious at times, though.
9. Arvo Part, Te Deum. Everyone's favorite Estonian composer of Eastern Orthodox meditation music comes up with another winner. Te Deum's subtle mysticism creeps and tiptoes toward a gothic, minimalist perfection.
10. Hang Ups, He's After Me. It's nice to see Minneapolis bands bubbling up again on indie labels. Hang Ups poke through with soft, melodic pop reminiscent of Velvet Underground's lighter side. A pleasant surprise. Best single: World Party, "Is It Like Today?". History, religion and other questions in a tuneful, four-minute pop song. Honorable mention: Gin Blossoms, "Found Out About You." For reasons far too obvious.
Best video: Tool, "Sober." Like an animated TV movie of Eraserhead. Gloriously nauseating.
Barry Goldwater, former United States senator from Arizona
The senator's list is actually a compilation of all-time faves; the songs reflect his deep-seated patriotism, and can rightfully be considered Top 10s for any year. Though he may not be down at Zia Record Exchange lining up for the new Pearl Jam release, Goldwater is not totally out of the loop: Is he familiar with the Gin Blossoms? "The who? Oh, yeah, they're Arizona boys. I'm sure they're good!"
1. "Battle Hymn of the Republic"
3. Bing Crosby, "White Christmas"
4. "Washington Post March"
5. "Air Force Song"
6. "Marine Song"
7. Glenn Miller and His Orchestra, "St. Louis Blues"
8. Frank Sinatra, "April in Paris"
9. Dean Martin, "Let Me Call You Sweetheart"
10. Frank Sinatra, "I'll Be Seeing You"
Twyla Webster, New Times editorial assistant
1. Tag Team, "Whoop There It Is." This phrase became a household word.
2. Dr. Dre, "Chronic Smoke." In a nutshell, Dre's album The Chronic was definitely the bomb! Dr. Dre put hisself back on the map.
3. Snoop Doggy Dog, "Gz Up, Hoes Down." Yes, Snoop is a good rapper, and, yes, he is a gangsta and all, but what's up with dissin' females (Ain't No Fun")? If he couldn't talk bad about females, he wouldn't even have an album.
4. Mr. Grimm, "Indo Smoke." For all those who get high, I know you will be playing this song years from now.
5. Toni Braxton, "Breathe Again." She is truly one of the best female singers this year. Her music had lyrics that every female and male can relate to.
6. 2pac, "Fed Up." 2pac may have had his share of problems this year, but his album was very strong and inspirational. While most rappers were busy dissin' females, 2pac found time to let them know they are still special.
7. Mary J. Blige, "Real Love." You go, girl! I hope we hear more from her next year.
8. Silk, "Let Me Lick You Up and Down." These boys have said what most men don't have the guts to say.
9. Tony! Toni! Ton!, "Anniversary." Their album was not as jammin' as the first one. They did make up for it in the end with the anniversary song.
10. Tevin Campbell, "Can We Talk." Good boy gone bad. He had some real strong messages about love on his album.
Serene Dominic, New Times contributor
Ten disappointments of 1993:
1. The Pixies Breaking Up. Seeing the way album buyers have responded to the Breeders and Frank Black, chances are this would've been the Pixies' year. It wasn't.
2. Pete Townshend Turning Into Andrew Lloyd Webber. Sure, Pete invented the rock opera for Andrew to plunder. But Townshend's glitzy restaging of Tommy for Broadway palates only needed Michael Crawford as the deaf, dumb and blind kid to make the hideous transformation complete. 3. Sinad O'Connor Missing in Action. Okay, so she can be a brat at times. She still has more controversy in that bald head of hers than Madonna has in her entire overworked body.
4. Michael Jackson's Bad Publicity. Whatever Michael's paying his damage-control people, they don't deserve it. Why let Michael tell Oprah on national television that he's involved with Brooke Shields and then not pay Brooke She-Devil to go along with the charade? If only they'd coerced Naomi Campbell to go down on Michael in a well-lighted restaurant or figured out a way to get his name in Heidi Fleiss' little black book, none of the current charges would stick.
5. Sequels to 15-Year-Old Albums. Are we to believe that all Meat Loaf had to do was apply the Roman numeral II to Bat Out of Hell to get him back in to the Top 10's good graces? What's next? Rumours II? Sunday Morning Fever? Frampton Comes Alive: The Resurrection? 6. Alternative Radio With Tighter Playlists. Used to be when a new album came out, you'd get a generous sampling of cuts; now alternative radio is combining the worst traits of Top 40 and that other horror show, the classic-rock format. I resent not hearing P.J. Harvey or some other new, exciting artist just so I can hear "Safety Dance" again.
7. No Howard Stern in Phoenix. The king of morning talk radio is in 12 other major markets--why not the Valley of the Sun? How much longer must we endure mush-headed morning "personalities" like Beth and Bill, who're about as controversial as his and hers coffee mugs?
8. The Solo Replacements. Now that we've heard from everyone--save for Bob Stinson--the consensus is that they sound like Keith Richards clones a lot of the time. Which is fine, but we've already got Ron Wood for that.
9. Blind Melon. Weren't these guys Supertramp in another life?
10. The Introduction of the Minidisc. To introduce another format is fine, but if the powers that be are going to push for the obsolescence of the CD the way they did with vinyl, I'd just as soon wait until they invent a microchip that just snaps into my brain.
Dave From Circle K
You'll find him behind the counter with the radio on at the Ash and University location in Tempe. Days and nights. "In general, it was a pretty good year, kinda weird--I mean, from Tool to Melissa Etheridge," Dave says.
1. STP, "Push"
2. AC/DC, "Big Gun"
3. Ozzy Osbourne, "No More Tears"
4. Scorpions, "Alien Nation"
5. Gin Blossoms, "Found Out About You"
6. Alice in Chains, "In a Hole"
7. Spin Doctors, "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong"
8. Tool, "Sober"
9. Megadeth, "99 Ways to Die"
10. Melissa Etheridge, "The Only One"
David Koen, New Times contributor (hip-hop)
1. Digable Planets, Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space). What it sounds like to inhale the jazz vibes of Art Blakey and Sonny Rollins and exhale hip-hop as cool as Miles Davis or Chet Baker.
2. Dr. Dre, The Chronic. With this album and Doggystyle (see No. 4 on this list), Dre and his glossy gangsta shit are starting to rule hard-core funk in a way no one has since George Clinton and James Brown.
3. De La Soul, Buhloone Mind State. In a year in which many rappers would've been naked without their cartoonish sexism and violence, De La turned out to be the most dangerous hip-hop act of them all, its reckless eclecticism orbiting stylistic circles around the blunt-puffing, bitch-smacking masses.
4. Snoop Doggy Dogg, Doggystyle. Dre protg Snoop, a self-termed conceited bastard, has every right to be. His quietly cocky phrasing is the deftest delivery in hip-hop.
5. Guru, Guru's Jazzmatazz: Volume 1. Miles ahead of Doo Bop, thanks to solid performances from both the hip-hop and jazz sides. Not a perfect genre-blending, but the closest to date.
6. Brothers Grimm, demo tape. Scottsdale's Brothers have hit on a ridiculously catchy gangsta-pop vein that makes them, without a doubt, the funkiest thing to come out of the Valley since Dyke and the Blazers.
7. A Tribe Called Quest, Midnight Marauders. Refreshingly free of jazz, blunts, gats or any other trend, the Tribe's understated, blue-collar sound is almost most remarkable for what it isn't.
8. Various Artists, the Judgment Night soundtrack. With rockers and rappers blending seamlessly, musical miscegenation has rarely sounded more inspired.
9. Cypress Hill, Black Sunday. The combo of Muggs' agitated beats and B-Real's ugly nasal rhymes goes beyond just great hip-hop; it's great grunge that stands up to anything coming out of Seattle these days.
10. Monie Love, In a Word or 2. So what if the absence of monster singles buried this album? Gonads or no gonads, Monie's still got one of the most ruthless tongues on the planet.
Charles Barkley, Nike spokesman
These are Sir Charles' favorite artists of 1993, in no particular order. He is a busy man these days; nine is apparently all he had time to enjoy.
1. Toni Braxton
4. Michael Bolton
5. Bobby Brown
6. Mariah Carey
9. Brian McKnight
10. Aretha Franklin
Larry Crowley, New Times contributor (country music)
1. Marty Brown, Wild Kentucky Skies. In his follow-up to the spectral High and Dry, Brown proves again precisely what the words "gifted" and "underappreciated" mean. Wild Kentucky Skies is high-class hillbilly, beginning to end. 2. Iris DeMent, Infamous Angel. Songwriter DeMent's accent is a beguiling, Arkansas-Kansas City hybrid, and her delivery is more than a little reminiscent of Jimmie Dale Gilmore's. The result is a countrified folk fest of unique, netherlandish vocals and powerful storytelling. Rare and wonderful stuff.
3. Robert Earl Keen, A Bigger Piece of Sky. Guitarist-songsmith Keen's oft-eerie tales of young lives lived on the edge are always carefully crafted and muscularly delivered; this year's batch is even more so, especially as he growls through the disturbing "Blow You Away" and weaves the startling story "Jesse With the Long Hair . . ." 4. Evangeline, French Quarter Moon. This harmony-driven quartet from Cajun country blends blues, country, rock, zydeco and a soup can of front-pew church music into a most flavorful musical gumbo. The choirlike, go-to-meeting beauty of "Don't Cross That Bridge" and the wistful "Elvis of the Night," especially, go perfectly with a cold Hurricane and a warm honey.
5. Nanci Griffith, Other Voices/Other Rooms. Griffith's a celebrated songwriter, but here she offers more than an hour of tributes to a handful of her musical influences. Her high, tender vibrato renders great, sometimes forgotten tunes like Dylan's "Boots of Spanish Leather" (with Bob Z. on harmonica), John Prine's "Speed of the Sound of Loneliness" (that's Prine's gutsy harmony there) and Janis Ian's "This Old Town" (with Bla Fleck providing inspired banjo) fresh and fragrant. Oh, my.
6. Gary Stewart, I'm a Texan. Gravel-voiced, big-hearted Gary pours out the blues here--Texas-style, natch--like the smoky "Stompin' Grounds" (featuring Charlie McCoy's timeless mouth-harping) and the two best drankin' songs of the annum: "Hand Me Another" and "Make It a Double."
7. Run C&W, Into the Twangy-First Century. The Burns brothers--that would be Crashen, Wash, Side and, of course, Rug--have hightailed it from Kentucky to the Motor City to build Cadillacs and make hillbilly rap for the deprived masses. Go ahead and guffaw, but your toes'll tap to the Burnses' clever treatments of Rufus Thomas' "Walkin' the Dog" and Sam Cooke's "Sweet Soul Music."
8. Walter Hyatt, Music Town. Hyatt's ultrasmooth baritone and classy songwriting simply continue to amaze. Within his Music Town dwell cool Forties and Fifties couples who sway cheek to cheek to a smoky clarinet on "Must I Fall" and swing to the fiddle-filled "Teach Me About Love." But some nights, you know, they're down and alone--Out Where the Blue Begins," perhaps. Some town, Music Town.
9. Rhonda Vincent, Written in the Stars. Sweet-corded newcomer Vincent spent 27 years performing with her musical Missouri family before going it alone. Already an accomplished and talented singer, Rhonda has created a debut disc featuring exceptionally strong material, including Lefty Frizzell's 1974 "I Do My Crying at Night," but ballads best allow her wide range to rove.
10. Mark Collie, Mark Collie. Country-blues purveyor Collie continues an impressive balancing act there on the fence betwixt the Nashville norm and quasi-outlaw. With the former represented by three minutes and 40 seconds of outstanding country music in "Even the Man in the Moon Is Cryin'" and the latter in a passel of sharp blues--especially "Keep It Up" and "Shame Shame Shame Shame"--Collie shows us that his is a rare voice in milquetoast Music City. Dave McElfresh, New Times contributor (jazz)
Ten underrated discs of 1993:
1. Tony Rice, Tony Rice Plays and Sings Bluegrass. Fans of amphetamine ax men like Joe Satriani should check out the frighteningly fleet fingers of acoustic guitarist Tony Rice. This sleek and terminally melodic solo disc from Rice is miles from the often-deserved stereotype of bluegrass as boring, bucktoothed mountain music.
2. Last Exit, Headfirst Into the Flames--Live in Europe. Could be that the best metal band in the world is this all-star group of grandparent-aged jazzmen. Guitar masochist Sonny Sharrock rants alongside the schizo sax of Peter Brotzmann; Last Exit's vicious improvisations are as subtle to the ear as a wire brush, and prove that real meanness comes with age.
3. Tom Waits, The Black Rider. Yeah, rave reviews were given to this latest disc by Tom Waits, but not much was made of its perfect coupling of Waits with fascinating literary loon William S. Burroughs. Waits understands and matches Mr. Naked Lunch's weirdness like the Siamese twin Burroughs never had.
4. Black 47, Fire of Freedom. Now that ex-Pogue Shane MacGowan is dueting with a bottle of Jim Beam, Black 47 is left to represent the ire in Ireland. Fire is far from a perfect disc, but is much more in-yer-face than any of the bands on the Straight Outta Ireland compilations or the latest Pogues release.
5. Various Artists, Johnny Otis Presents the Best of Rhythm and Blues, Volumes 1-5. Five discs of classic R&B, first issued on Otis' Blues Spectrum label in 1977. Fifties West Coast R&B greats like Charles Brown and Pee Wee Crayton are here, as is the Johnny Otis version of "Willie and the Hand Jive," and "Louie, Louie," done by its writer, Richard Berry. 6. Various Artists, Modern A Cappella. Rhino has put out the ultimate sampler of a cappella. The usual names are here--the Nylons, Bobby McFerrin, the Persuasions--but the less obvious inclusions are what make this disc a treasure. The Roches' version of "The Hallelujah Chorus" and a cut from Todd Rundgren's little-heard 1985 a cappella album both get a second chance. Best of all is "Only You" by England's matchless Flying Pickets.
7. Various Artists, Black on White: Great R&B Covers of Rock Classics. If you think Ike and Tina Turner's cover of Creedence's "Proud Mary" is preferable to the original, here's a whole compilation of other R&B artists' smoking versions of rock tunes. Al Green does the Bee Gees' "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" and Otis Clay kills Sir Douglas Quintet's "She's About a Mover." Check out how Howard Tate turns "Girl From the North Country" into a beautiful soul ballad that even Dylan must find an improvement on his original.
8. Joao Gilberto, Amoroso/Brasil. For well over 30 years, Brazilian composer-singer-guitarist Joao Gilberto has made ultrasensual music without ever falling into the realm of cornball. Though he composed nary a track, they are all so personalized that you'd never guess it.
9. Mark Knopfler, Screenplaying. This is no Dire Straits album. It's even better. Never mind that you may not have seen any of the four sleeper films represented--Knopfler's haunting scores, from which these sample cuts were taken, will grab you hard, nonetheless. 10. Kip Hanrahan, Days and Nights of Blue Luck Inverted and Vertical's Currency. New York composer Kip Hanrahan has finally reissued two of his lusty, late-Eighties masterpieces on CD. Part spoken word, part sultry vocals, part solid jazz or Cuban rhythm, Hanrahan's discs are nasty and neurotic contemplations of a variety of obsessions. Troy Fuss, editor, State Press Magazine
1. Jerky Boys. Makes you want to pick up the phone and bug someone. Don't bother--these three New Yorkers, who apparently had too much time on their hands, turned the childhood prank into an art form.
2. Bettie Serveert, Palomine. These four Hollanders interpret America's greatest export with original intent.
3. William S. Burroughs, Spare Ass Annie and Other Tales. Uncle Bill's sardonic growls twist with the same pharmaceutical potency as his writing. The combination is highly addictive, and should be taken under strict supervision.
4. Various Artists, No Alternative. Goo Goo Dolls, Breeders and a secret Nirvana track lead the superb performances by some of the shrewdest players at the Nineties musical table.
5. Juliana Hatfield Three, Become What You Are. Don't let the little-girl voice fool you. Hatfield is all grown up, and can play with the big boys. 6. Breeders, Last Splash. Apparently, Kim Deal retained custody of the creativity when the Pixies split up. Fortunately, we all have visitation rights.
7. P.J. Harvey, Rid of Me. She is woman, hear her roar.
8. Tom Waits, The Black Rider. Eat your Beefheart out, Captain. Theme music for greasy diners and alibis for restless wanderers. More true Americana on every track than a full season of The Andy Griffith Show. 9. BLS Isolationist Combo, I'll Be Right Back . . . . A laid-back veneer of instrumentation covers subversive and sneaky lyrics. Listening in the car may cause you to forget where you're going.
10. Didjits, Que Sirhan Sirhan. Eleven songs in 24 minutes. More effective than coffee in the morning--and much more fun.
Lunch, manager, Zia Record Exchange
Top 10 trade-ins:
1. Milli Vanilli. No one but the brave and the very young want this one.
2. Garth Brooks, any title. No comment.
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3. Guns N' Roses, any title. They sell and resell and resell; they come in and go right back out.
4. CDs You Get With Your New Car Stereo. People actually try to get rid of those. We don't take em. 5. Nirvana, Nevermind. So many sold that some are bound to come in.
6. Mariah Carey, Mariah Carey. Young, squeaky and traded.
7. Jesus Jones, Doubt. I doubt if it will ever sell again.
8. Depeche Mode, Violator. Another one you can count on showing up every half-hour and selling just as often.
9. and 10. Classic Rock Records. They're all beat.