Tuesday Night Music Club by Sheryl Crow

Classic Rock Review 1993 Album of the Year

Tuesday Night Music Club by Sheryl CrowSheryl Crow‘s official debut was at once brilliant and controversial. In fact, the title Tuesday Night Music Club comes from the assembled studio group who composed and recorded the album together with Crow at the forefront and guitarist Bill Bottrell as producer. However, only Crow was signed to the big record deal and she soon inflamed the situation by not stating accurate songwriting facts in post-fame interviews, a practice that was publicly denounced by Bottrell and other group members. Still, it is hard to dispute that the music is original, entertaining, and interesting and this is the criteria we use when selecting our Classic Rock Review Album of the Year.

Crow was a former music teacher from Missouri, who started gigging with bands on the weekends. She also began recording jingles at a local studio and her voice was featured in many national commercials in the late 1980s. She later toured with Michael Jackson as a backup vocalist during his world tour 1987-1989 and got several session gigs as a backup singer with several established artists such as Stevie Wonder, Belinda Carlisle and Don Henley. Crow was signed to A&M and attempted a debut album in 1992, but convinced the label not to release the album because she was dissatisfied with the result.

While Crow was dating Multi-instrumentalist Kevin Gilbert, she began jamming with his ad hoc group of composers known as the “Tuesday Music Club” at Ricketts’ studio. This rapidly developed into a vehicle for Crow’s next attempt at a debut album. After the release and success of the album, Crow’s relationship with Gilbert and the rest of the group became acrimonious due to disputes about songwriting credits, of which Crow was given a disproportionate share of royalties. Kevin Gilbert was killed in 1996, which pretty much cemented the rift between Crow and the rest of the Tuesday Night Music Club.


Tuesday Night Music Club by Sheryl Crow
Released: August 3, 1993 (A&M)
Produced by: Bill Bottrell
Recorded: Los Angeles, 1992-1993
Track Listing Primary Musicians
Run Baby Run
Leaving Las Vegas
Strong Enough
Can’t Cry Anymore
Solidify
The Na-Na Song
No One Said It Would Be Easy
What I can Do For You
All I Wanna Do
We Do What We Can
I Shall Believe
Sheryl Crow – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Piano
Dave Baerwald – Guitars
Bill Bottrell – Guitars
Kevin Gilbert – Keyboards, Guitars
Dan Schwartz – Bass
Brian MacLeod – DrumsTuesday Night Music Club by Sheryl Crow

The album begins with the soulful and steady “Run, Baby, Run”, a unique opener opener of revival blues that never picks up the pace and never really made much waves when it was released as the lead singer. Still, it sets up the following “Leaving Las Vegas” finely. Co-written by guitarist David Baerwald who borrowed the title from a book written by his friend John O’Brien, “Leaving Las Vegas” is the first track to contain the unique percussive effect, featured throughout the album. With a slow riff throughout played in different instrumental variations and topped by strummed acoustic and dynamic vocals, the song became a minor hit but indelible landmark on this album. However, this song also had its share of controversy as Crow stated that the song was “autobiographical” during an appearance on the David Letterman Show, which infuriated Baerwald and the rest of the group, especially when O’Brien committed suicide soon after.

Two other songs early in the album went on to have chart success. “Strong Enough” is a very melodic and moody acoustic folk song with a potpourri of great ethnic instrumentation including organ, mandolin, and accordion. The song charted at No. 5 on the Billboard charts. “Can’t Cry Anymore” is built on the choppy strumming by Bottrell and strong chorus and bridge hooks by Crow. This Top 40 tune also has some well placed, subtle lead guitar riffs throughout.

The biggest hit on the album and the song which brought Tuesday Night Music Club widespread attention is “All I Wanna Do”. The lyrics are based on the poem “Fun” by Wyn Cooper from his 1987 book The Country of Here Below. Musically, the song is dominated Gilbert’s bouncy bass and the pedal steel by Bottrell which gives the song a sonic vibe somewhere between “Stuck In the Middle With You” and “The Rain Song” (both from 1973). The song reached number two on the charts and was the winner of the 1995 Grammy Record of the Year.

“Solidify” is an attempt at funk/disco, not all that terrible, but definitely a tangent song. “No One Said It Would Be Easy” borrows from the sound Neil Young put for the on Harvest Moon (the Classic Rock Review album of the year from the previous year, 1992), with a very calm and deliberate, almost too slow approach and dreamy lead guitar. and the emotional charge Crows invests in a song about trying to salvage a troubled relationship. Baerwald’s “What I Can Do For You” is a decent slow rocker containing a thumping rhythm by bassist Dan Schwartz and high-register vocals by Crow during the choruses.

The album does contain a few weak spots, with the nadir being the rap filler “The Na-Na Song”. “We Do What We Can” is a nightclub cabaret blues with cheap electronic drums keeping a simple, slow rock beat. The album does end strong with “I Shall Believe”, which uses its title cleverly to work into an unusual perspective. It continues the “Strong Enough” theme of “don’t give up on me” and contains a restrained and laid back lead by Bottrell.

Tuesday Night Music Club went on to sell more than 7 million copies worldwide and won three Grammy awards in 1995. Although it launched a highly successful career for Sheryl Crow, she never again quite found the band chemistry as with the ad hoc group who met in Bottrell’s studio on Tuesday nights.

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Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of 1993 albums.

1993 Images

 

Pablo Honey by Radiohead

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Pablo Honey by RadioheadWith their 1993 debut album, Pablo Honey, British band Radiohead was just starting to forge their interesting sound which brought them much fame later on in the decade. However, in the heavily saturated alternative climate of the early nineties, the album was not given much initial attention until the lead single “Creep” began to gain popularity. That song was written by vocalist and guitarist Thom Yorke in the late 1980s and best symbolized the internalized and tortured themes of angst and alienation in the band’s lyrics. These were brought to life by the dynamically layered strumming fury of a three guitar crunch, strumming fury of their guitar work and the dynamism of their whisper-to-a-scream song structures was the Radiohead sound musically.

The band evolved from a group called On a Friday in Oxford, England in the early 1990s, which included Yorke and brothers Jonny Greenwood on guitar and keyboards and Colin Greenwood on bass. After signing with EMI/Parlophone, the group changed their name to Radiohead and released an EP named Drill in mid 1992. Some critics dubbed the band’s early style as “Nirvana-lite”, which the group actively sought to remedy.

The album was produced by the team of Sean Slade and Paul Q. Kolderie in the autumn 1992 and achieves a sound that is both visceral and intelligent. Since the material used was drawn from material the band had been playing for years, the sessions were completed very quickly. Still, Pablo Honey represents only a small subset of their early material and was described by a band member as their ‘greatest hits as an unsigned band’.


Pablo Honey by Radiohead
Released: February 22, 1993 (Parlophone)
Produced by: Sean Slade & Paul Q. Kolderie
Recorded: Chipping Norton and Courtyard Studios, Oxfordshire, England, Sep-Nov 1992
Track Listing Band Musicians
You
Creep
How Do You?
Stop Whispering
Thinking About You
Anyone Can Play Guitar
Ripcord
Vegetable
Proof Yourself
I Can’t
Lurgee
Blowout
Thom Yorke – Lead Vocals, Guitars
Jonny Greenwood – Guitars, Piano, Organ
Ed O’Brien – Guitars, Vocals
Colin Greenwood – Bass
Phil Selway – Drums

Pablo Honey by Radiohead

After the picked and pretty notes of the opener “You”, the radio and video hit “Creep” brings the album to life. Led by the upbeat, almost jazzy bass of Colin Greenwood and drums of Phil Selway during the verse, the heavy noise over chorus is previewed a bit early by a great effect by Jonny Greenwood. Rumour has it, this was initially an attempt to “ruin” this song which he he did not like, but became a great happy accident.

“How Do You?” is like punk with excess twangy guitars and contains a snippet of the Jerky Boys skit which gave the album its title. “Stop Whispering” never really leaves the main riff and only the drum shuffle by Selway rescues the song from being mundane. Still the song, written as a tribute to the group the Pixies, reached the Top 25 of the Mainstream Rock charts. The strummed acoustic of “Thinking About You” gives the album some diversity early on and is Yorke’s best vocal performance, brought out by sparse arrangement.

“Anyone Can Play Guitar” is driven mainly by the bass riff of Colin Greenwood, offbeat drums, and the later triple-layered guitars from Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, and Ed O’Brien. The song was the second single from the album but made relatively little impression on the charts. On “Ripcord” the chorus descends nicely and melodically while verse alternates between strummed and crunchy riffs.

Through the album’s stretch run it settles into a nice groove with moderately interesting tunes. Some highlights include the almost country/blues electric picking of “Vegetable”, the high register vocals of “Prove Yourself”, and the good, moderate sound of “Lurgee” with dual picked guitars, quality bass and drums, and a some compositional restraint. “Blow Out” makes for an apt and interesting closer, with a jazzy overall vibe, duet vocals, and intense interludes between sections with wild guitar effects by Johnny Greenwood.

Following the release of Pablo Honey, the band would digress from its alternative influences and evolve towards more expansive and experimental works. The album topped off at number 22 on the UK charts and never really made much critical or a commercial waves until the success of future albums.

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1993 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of 1993 albums.

Hints, Allegations, & Things Left Unsaid
by Collective Soul

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Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid by Collective SoulPerhaps the best sounding “demo tape” of the 1990s (if not all time), Collective Soul forged a great sonic mix on their debut Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid . The sound took the best of arena-era rock and mixed it with just a sliver of new-era alternative, all forged in the basement studio of budding composer Ed Roland. In fact, the songs were recorded by Roland with the sole intent of using the demo as a showcase to sell the songs to a publishing company and Roland had no initial plans of performing these songs in a band setting. However, when an Orlando, Florida radio station began playing the lead off track “Shine” and it became the station’s most requested song in 1993, the demo caught the attention of Atlantic Records, who released the album “as-is” a year later.

With this turn of fortune, Roland agreed to perform live shows and formed a band starting with his brother Dean Roland on rhythm guitar and Ross Childress on lead guitar. Ed Roland was actually reluctant to have the unpolished demo be presented as their debut album. In fact, the reason for calling their next album simply Collective Soul was because Roland considered that their “true” debut record.

The group took it’s name from a phrase in the novel The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, while the album’s title comes in part from a lyric in the Paul Simon song “You Can Call Me Al” from the album Graceland.


Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid by Collective Soul
Released: June 22, 1993 (Rising Storm)
Produced by: Ed Roland, Matt Serletic, & Joe Randolph
Recorded: Rising Storm Studios, Atlanta, GA, 1992
Track Listing Band Musicians
Shine
Goodnight, Good Guy
Wasting Time
Sister Don’t Cry
Love Lifted Me
In a Moment
Heaven’s Already Here
Pretty Donna
Reach
Breathe
Scream
Burning Bridges
All
Ed Roland – Lead Vocals, Piano, Guitars
Ross Childress – Lead Guitars, Vocals
Dean Roland – Guitars
Will Turpin – Bass, Vocals
Shane Evans – Drums, Percussion

 
Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid by Collective Soul

The album starts off with four excellent tracks, including “Goodnight, Good Guy”, a song written about one recently departed, which musically alternates between heavy riffs and melodic pop. Session man Joe Randolph adds some guitar on the song. The slow burner “Wasting Time” begins with a sustained organ and interesting percussion and constantly builds until reaching a brilliant guitar lead. This song contains good backing vocal harmonies and a nice counter-riff which fades out with the song. “Sister Don’t Cry” is a slow, strong, and soulful song about faith when facing dire circumstances, in this case a woman undergoing chemotherapy.

Starting it all off is the infectious, muted riff of “Shine”, which establishes the album’s great sound and melodies right off. With this lead single the band gained their fame and the song served as a hallmark of 1990s rock, becoming the #1 Billboard Top Rock Track for 1994. Dean Roland has called the song “basically a prayer” and many mistakenly labeled the band a Christian rock band initially.
 

 
The very funky, nearly hip-hop “Love Lifted Me” is led by the strong bass of Will Turpin and a great drum beat by Shane Evans. “In a Moment” starts with a chorus of acoustic guitars and some sharp electric above, while taking a very new-wavish approach vocally. “Heaven’s Already Here” is a great short folk song with a picked acoustic and slight arrangement, giving it the perfect fireside feel.

The only real filler on the album is the instrumental “Pretty Donna”, which contains no real rock-oriented instruments just some synth and string arrangements co=producer Matt Serletic. The very melodic and pop-oriented “Reach” is acoustic throughout with some excellent electric guitar overtones, a sonic candy factory. “Breathe” is an electric dance song, reminiscent of INXS, which made it a moderate radio hit, while “Scream” is a hyper song which really seems like the band’s token attempt at modern punk and does little more than diversify the album a bit.

The album ends strongly with two very melodic songs. “Burning Bridges” is passionate with a top level guitar solo, and calming vocals. “All” finishes things up nicely with a topical whining lead guitar over the rhythm mixture of electric and acoustic and a vocal chorus effect to make it a bit more interesting. “Beautiful World” finished the original album but was left off the The 1994 Atlantic re-release.

Hints, Allegations, and Things eventually peaked at number 15 on the Billboard album charts and launched Collective Soul towards a solid but short ride near the top of the rock world through the mid 1990s.

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1993 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of 1993 albums.

 

Out of Body by The Hooters

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Out Of Body by The HootersOut of Body was the fifth studio album by The Hooters, released in 1993, and would be the last before the band’s decade and a half hiatus from recording. As with all previous Hooters albums, the album of all original material was mainly composed by the team of guitarist/vocalist Eric Bazilian and keyboardist/vocalist Rob Hyman, who founded the group in the Philadelphia in 1980. However, Out of Body did mark a series of firsts for the band.  It was their first album for MCA Records and the first to employ Joe Hardy to co-produce along with Bazilian and Hyman. This was also the first album since the band had expanded to become a six-piece after the addition of vocalist, violinist, and multi-instrumentalist Mindy Jostyn, who started performing with the Hooters in 1991 and became a permanent member of the band in early 1992.

Following the band’s previous album, Zig Zag in 1989, the Hooters participated in Roger Waters’ The Wall, Live in Berlin, performing the song “Mother” with Sinead O’Conner and members of the classic group The Band. As the new decade dawned, the band’s popularity in Europe continued to grow as it inversely subsided in the US, something that would be reflected in the sales figures for Out of Body.

Recorded in Memphis, Hardy and the band took a much different approach to the recording process than on any previous band efforts, as Hardy took tracks directly from demos without much rehearsing and reworking. This resulted in a rapid recording process and final production which is sonically pleasing but a bit confused at times. Still, the band showcases their multi-faceted influences and every song contains unique blends of traditional instrumentation with modern rock and pop.
 


Out of Body by The Hooters
Released: May 11, 1993 (MCA)
Produced by: Joe Hardy, Eric Bazilian, & Rob Hyman
Recorded: 1993
Track Listing Band Musicians
Twenty-Five Hours a Day
Boys Will Be Boys
Shadow of Jesus
Great Big American Car
Private Emotion
Driftin’ Away
Dancing On the Edge
All Around the Place
One Too Many Nights
Nobody But You
Eric Bazilian – Guitars, Mandolin, Saxophone, Sitar, Vocals, Piano, Harmonica
Rob Hyman – Piano, Keyboards, Accordion, Hooter, Vocals
John Lilley – Guitars, Vocals
Mindy Jostlyn – Violin, Harmonica, Vocals
Fran Smith Jr. – Bass, Vocals
David Uosikkinen – Drums, Percussion
 
Out of Body by The Hooters
 

 
Some of the defining elements of Out of Body is the cross influences with other top-notch pop stars. “Boys Will Be Boys” was co-written by Cyndi Lauper who also provided some vocals, returning the favor a decade after Bazilian and Hyman contributed to her debut album She’s So Unusual and her hit, “Time after Time”. “Dancing On the Edge” was co-written by famed lyricist John Bettis and also has a bit of Celtic influence, which is well camouflaged here by a strong rock arrangement and percussive effects. “Private Emotion” would become the biggest “hit” on the album when it was later redone by Ricky Martin. The original version here is the heart of the album, led by mandolin throughout and very melodic vocals by Bazilian, accented by interesting, minimalist guitar lead and fretless bass.

The opener “Twenty-Five Hours a Day” gives the album its name in the very first verse and is sonically diverse with a mandolin intro, funky electric during the chorus, some synth effects, and an interesting lead section which blends violin, accordion, and the “hooter”. The song is fast paced like an Irish jig, getting off to a running start and the pace never slowing until the final notes.  Jostyn makes an immediate mark in her debut with the band as her violin and vocals add the perfect accent to blend with the folk rock funk of the rest of the group.
 

 
On the opposite end, the closer “Nobody But You” is an unusual yet compelling song. It is a love song, albeit a bit twisted with a back beat and sound that could be a hybrid of The Wallflowers and Tom Petty and quirky lyrics which make one wonder if this is a song of love or an unhealthy obsession –

Well I’m lying in your flower bed, I’m drunk on your perfume Just waiting for the seeds
I planted once to come in bloom
You ravage me, you savage me and you know I love it too…”

Some other fine tracks on the album include “Shadow of Jesus”, which has good ambience in the spirit of “All You Zombies”, with great funky bass by Fran Smith Jr. and harmonica by Jostlyn along with with strings and a dramatic presentation and lyrics.
“Great Big American Car” brings the band right back to the eighties sound with a lyrical nod to psychedelia and nostalgic times past. “One Too Many Nights” is highlighted by a great organ lead by Hyman and more mandolins by Bazilian, while “All Around the Place” is just that, as the aptly titled song moves from a heavy percussive dance beat by David Uosikkinen to mandolin to country chant feel with strings and accordion. Later some funky guitars and “The Memphis Horns” join in, giving the song’s climax an “All You Need is Love” feel.

The Hooters followed Out of Body with a live album the following year before the band would enter an extended hiatus period which would last nearly a decade of no touring or any activity. In 1995, Bazilian and Hyman worked on the debut album by Joan Osbourne called Relish, which produced the worldwide hit “One Of Us”, which was originally intended for an upcoming Hooters album.

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1993 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of 1993 albums.

 

August and Everything After by Counting Crows

August and Everything After by Counting CrowsOne of the more impressive debuts of 1993, August and Everything After by Counting Crows fuses lyrically rich ballads with such long forgotten sonic treasures as the Hammond B-3 organ, the accordion, and the straight-forward strummed acoustic guitar. Led by singer/songwriter Adam Duritz, the Northern California-based group put most of their efforts into live performances which results in this debut effort having a natural, non-contrived feel throughout. Still, most of the songs on this album contain strong hooks and memorable melodies, making for a solid collection of songs which assured that this debut album would be the band’s most successful ever.

The roots of Counting Crows began as an acoustic duo made up of Duritz and guitarist David Bryson starting in 1991, around Berkeley and San Francisco. As the duo gained popularity, other Bay Area musicians would join them on stage, with some signing on as permanent members of this emerging “band”. Several demo tapes using various backing musicians were produced through 1991 and 1992, containing most of the material which would later become August and Everything After.

By the beginning of 1993, the band had grown to include a stable five-piece lineup and was soon signed to Geffen Records. On January 16, 1993, the still relatively unknown band made their national debut when they filled in for Van Morrison at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony. Duritz’s vocal and songwriting style has often been compared to Morrison’s, and on this occasion, the band did a cover of his song “Caravan”.
 


August and Everything After by Counting Crows
Released: September 14, 1993 (Geffen)
Produced by: T Bone Burnett
Recorded: Los Angeles, 1993
Track Listing Band Musicians
Round Here
Omaha
Mr. Jones
Perfect Blue Buildings
Anna Begins
Time and Time Again
Rain King
Sullivan Street
Ghost Train
Raining in Baltimore
A Murder of One
Adam Duritz – Lead vocals, Piano, Harmonica
David Bryson – Guitars, Vocals
Charlie Gillingham – Keyboards, Accordion
Matt Malley – Bass, Vocals
Steve Bowman – Drums, Vocals

Coverdale-Page

Starting off the album is “Round Here”, which dates back to before the formation of Counting Crows when Duritz was with a band called the Himalayans. The rock version of the song was originally recorded by the group and members Dan Jewett, Chris Roldan and Dave Janusko all receive co-writing credits. On this August and Everything After version, Bryson’s poignant, picked guitar notes set the original melancholy and theatrical scene, as the song migrates through many sections of differing intensity, including a brief funk section, before dissolving back where it began. “Omaha” follows with some bright accordion by keyboardist Charlie Gillingham highlighting this relatively upbeat and bouncy folk song.

“Mr. Jones” is, by far, the most popular song by the band through their career. A straightforward musical riff decorated by dynamic vocal parts and rich lyrics in the style of Van Morrison, the song reached the top of the pop charts in early 1994. The song has its roots in the basic struggle to “make it” as a rock musician and was the major influence in Jonathan Pontell coining the later era Baby Boomers “Generation Jones”.
 

 
Driven by a choppy but effect drum beat by Steve Bowman, “Anna Begins” builds into a very pleasant and melodic listen with stream-of-consciousness lyrics which are at once intense yet relaxed and a great harmonized counter-melody towards the end. “Time and Time Again” is a slow ballad in the realm of latter-era Rolling Stones and contains a great presence of Hammond organ by Gillingham and bouncy bass by Matt Malley. “Perfect Blue Buildings” is another rhythm-driven song by Malley and Bowman, although kind of thin lyrically. But what this song lacks in substance, it makes up for in great ambiance.

The most upbeat song on the album is “Rain King”, a song about optimism and possibilities. It contains great blend of guitars by Bryson and mandolin by guest David Immerglück, a similar sound to that used by the Badlees on their Diamonds In the Coal album a year earlier. Duritz explained the song’s meaning;

I can remember being eight years old and having infinite possibilities. But life ends up being so much less that we thought it would be when we were kids, with relationships that are so empty and stupid and brutal…”

The moody “Sullivan Street” with its slowly strummed, twangy guitar blended with some great topical piano is great ode to lost love. “Raining in Baltimore” is perhaps the most Springsteen-esque song led by the solo piano and vocals by Duritz. Rounding out the album is “A Murder of One”, co-written by Malley who provides some great bass up front in the mix to compliment Bryson’s heavy use of sustained guitars and later guitar textures. This closer acts as the default theme song for the band with the recital of a traditional British rhyme about “counting crows”.

August and Everything After sold over seven million copies and brought instant fame and international attention to Counting Crows. But like many groups, this fame had a downside and the band went through some turbulent times which led to the departure of Bowman and a widely-publicized nervous breakdown by Duritz. Although the band was mostly dormant for the entire year of 1995, they did return with their strongly anticipated second album, Recovering the Satellites in late 1996.

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Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of 1993 albums.

1993 Images

 

Coverdale-Page

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Coverdale-PageCoverdale/Page was a collaboration featuring former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and former Whitesnake and former Deep Purple lead vocalist David Coverdale. The union of these two seemed like an odd one when it started in 1991, as Page was considered a top-notch guitarist for all time and Coverdale had been criticized as being a knock-off (even rip-off) of Zeppelin’s vocalist Robert Plant. However, Coverdale’s commercial currency was riding high at the beginning of the nineties, due mainly to the recent commercial heights of Whitesnake while Page’s post-Zeppelin success had been sluggish in the 1980s, save for a brief run with The Firm.

Since Led Zeppelin disbanded after the death of John Bonham in 1980, rumors of a reunion were always present. By the early 1990s, these rumors had reached a fevered pitch and it appeared as though a reunion may finally come to fruition. However, Plant reportedly began to have reservations which ultimately nixed the plan. Because of this, many have suggested that Page collaborated with Coverdale in order to somewhat “irk” Plant, by collaborating with this “newer model” of the singer. It may have worked, as Plant expressed some derision at the guitarist’s collaboration with Coverdale in interviews at the time.

The project officially began with some low grade recordings by the Coverdale-Page duo in 1991. The album tracks for the eponymous album were then recorded in several studios on both sides of the Atlantic over the winter of 1991/92. However, the album itself was delayed in post production for over a year until it was finally released in March 1993.


Coverdale-Page by Coverdale-Page
Released: March 15, 1993 (EMI)
Produced by: Jimmy Page, David Coverdale, & Mike Fraser
Recorded: Little Mountain Studios, Vancouver, Criteria Studios, Miami, Highbrow Productions, Hook City, NV & Abbey Road Studios, London, Late 1991 to early 1992
Track Listing Primary Musicians
Shake My Tree
Waiting On You
Take Me for a Little While
Pride and Joy
Over Now
Feeling Hot
Easy Does It
Take a Look at Yourself
Don’t Leave Me This Way
Absolution Blues
Whisper a Prayer for the Dying
David Coverdale – Lead vocals, Guitar
Jimmy Page – Guitars, Bass, Dulcimer, “Electric Dog”, Harmonica
Lester Mendez – Keyboards
Denny Carmassi – Drums, Percussion

Coverdale-Page

“Shake My Tree” starts things off as a very Zeppelin-esque, super-charged blues rock anthem. The song builds tension through the first two verses as Page’s guitar and Coverdale’s voice carry the day until a the rest of the band come in with a “fire one” approach, making this a very formidable opener. The key riff for the song had actually been developed by Page during the sessions for Zeppelin’s final album In Through The Out Door, recorded in 1978. It was discarded then and even passed up by Page’s mid eighties group, The Firm. The Zeppelin-esque riffing of “Waiting on You” follows with some interesting stop/start rudiments, while the drumming and bass is definitely more Whitesnake than Led Zeppelin.

Speaking of Whitesnake, “Take Me for a Little While” could have fit well on any of their 1980s albums. A very moody power ballad, with just enough arrangement pizazz to keep it from the caricature realm of groups like Poison. “Pride and Joy” is a bit more original. Conceived by Coverdale as a Dr. John-style blues tune before Page brought it to a whole new level with layered guitars and a dulcimer added on top (an instrument Page hadn’t recorded since “That’s the Way” on Led Zeppelin III). During the second part of the song, Page plays a much stronger electric riff, which nicely counter-balances the song’s feel. “Shake My Tree” earned considerable radio airplay at the time.

Slower rock tracks also are prevalent on the album, such as the “Kashmir”-like “Over Now”, which sounds like some of the tracks from Page’s brief solo career. Former Montrose drummer Denny Carmassi leads a fast rock shuffle behind “Feeling Hot”, while bassist Jorge Casas adds some melodic and bouncy bass to “Easy Does It”. But there is no doubt that this album is dominated by the two men who give its name. “Take a Look at Yourself” is almost a love song, with measured, strummed guitars by Page, a very melodic vocal hook, and some fine wailing by Coverdale towards the end.

The album ends strong with two quality tracks. “Absolution Blues” is almost a hybrid between Pink Floyd and Deep Purple, with Page providing the fine yet vastly different guitar parts for both sides of the equation. “Whisper a Prayer for the Dying” closes with more strong acoustic guitars and bass before it rips into frenzied part with strong riffs and wailing vocals.

Despite alt-rock dominating the charts and radio at the time, Coverdale/Page initially sold strongly, peaking at #4 in the UK and #5 in the US and eventually going platinum. But the album did soon fade from view, a proposed tour was axed, and the partnership quickly dissolved after this one album. In the end, Coverdale re-formed Whitesnake and Page finally joined up Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant in 1994 for a couple of new albums in the mid 1990s.

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1993 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of 1993 albums.

 

In Utero by Nirvana

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In Utero by NirvanaEven though it was a phenomenal commercial success, all three members of Nirvana had expressed dissatisfaction with the polished production of their 1991 album, Nevermind. With this in mind, the production of In Utero was intentionally stripped down with little to no overdubs and recorded in two weeks flat. Produced by Steve Albini, the oft-abrasive sounding album was nearly rejected by the group’s label DGC and ultimately the band hired a secondary producer to make minor changes to the album’s two radio singles. Still, the album shot instantly to the top of the album charts upon its release and has since been certified five times platinum.

The band had originally wanted to record during the summer of 1992, but domestic situations made that impossible. In October 1992, they recorded several instrumentals during a Seattle demo session with Jack Endino, who had produced the group’s 1989 debut album Bleach. In January 1993, the group recorded another set of demos while on tour in Brazil, one of became the “hidden” track “Gallons of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Through the Strip”. Using these groups of demos along with other material composed as early as 1990, Albini and the band members decided on a self-imposed two-week deadline for recording and paid for the sessions with their own money to limit label interference.

Albini felt the sound of Nevermind was “sort of a standard hack recording that has been turned into a very, very controlled, compressed radio-friendly mix. After the recording sessions were completed, Nirvana sent unmastered tapes of the album to several individuals, including the president of DGC’s parent company Geffen Records Ed Rosenblatt. When asked about the feedback he received, the group’s leader Kurt Cobain said “the grown-ups don’t like it.”
 


In Utero by Nirvana
Released: September 13, 1993 (DGC)
Produced by: Steve Albini
Recorded: Pachyderm Studio, Cannon Falls, Minnesota, February 13–26, 1993
Track Listing Band Musicians
Serve the Servants
Scentless Apprentice
Heart-Shaped Box
Rape Me
Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle
Dumb
Very Ape
Milk It
Pennyroyal Tea
Radio Friendly Unit Shifter
tourette’s
All Apologies
Kurt Cobain – Lead Vocals, Guitars
Krist Novoselic – Bass
Dave Grohl – Drums
 
In Utero by Nirvana

 
An almost “new wave” approach makes for a surprising start to the album with “Serve the Servants”. The song is strong, upbeat, and melodic (with the exception of what seems to be intentional de-tuning of some notes). “Scentless Apprentice” is the only track on the album not written solely by Cobain, as bassist Krist Novoselic and drummer Dave Grohl add their compositional skills. However, the production of this second song is a bit unfocused with an attempt at junk metal, which comes off as less-than-authentic with noisy guitars and muddled drum sounds.

“Heart-Shaped Box” is the first track on the album that sounds similar to the material on Nevermind. Although it never really leaves the same three chords, the song was melodic enough to be released as the album’s first single after some additional “treatment” mixing was done by engineer Scott Litt. The song reached number one on Billboard‘s Modern Rock Tracks chart and reached number five on the UK pop chart.
 

 
The controversial “Rape Me” had been performed live by the band since 1991. The song addresses Cobain’s distain of the media in light of their sudden success and is the first on the album to contain decent sounding bass by Novoselic. “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle” was inspired by the 1978 biography Shadowland, which Cobain had read in high school. Sonically, the song is all about dynamics but is not very well put together compositionally and the droning vocal screams tend to wear thin by this point in the album. The album hits a bit of a lull through the middle. “Dumb” is a very apt title and is uninspired with its subject of the struggles with complacency. “Very Ape” is fast and surprisingly crisp for this album’s production, punk influenced with some actual overdubbed guitars. “Milk It” contains some slightly interesting stop/start action musically, but this is counterbalanced with some frivolous lyrics.

“Pennyroyal Tea” starts as an almost REM-like song before breaking into a strong punk/metal section during the chorus with an (almost) standard guitar lead. The song was due to be released as the third single from the album but plans were halted after Cobain’s suicide in April 1994. “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter” is one of the most unique and rewarding songs on the album. Grohl’s steady drumming holds together this wild piece with flavored feedback effects and a cool anti-hero chorus hook. The experimental “Tourette’s” contains a heavy “noise machine” type sound with a three chord punk screed which ultimately does little more than set up the fine closer.

The finest track on the album is saved for last with “All Apologies”, a melodic, deep, and excellent closer. The song had been around since 1990 and Nirvana first recorded the song in Seattle on January 1, 1991. The In Utero track features Kera Schaley on cello, the only extra session player on the album. It was also remixed by Litt when Cobain asserted that the original vocals and bass sounded muddy. Lyrically, the song was inspired by Cobain’s wife and newborn daughter. The song received heavy airplay and was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1995. More importantly, the song was an excellent closer for the band’s final album.

Nirvana embarked on a world tour to promote the In Utero. On the European leg of the tour in March 1994, Cobain suffered a drug overdose in Rome and agreed to enter drug rehabilitation, but he soon went missing. On April 8, 1994 he was found dead in his Seattle home as the result of self-inflicted shotgun blast, ending his life at age 27, and sealing Nirvana in the tomb of rock history.

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1993 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of 1993 albums.

 

Get a Grip by Aerosmith

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Get a Grip by AerosmithAerosmith made an amazing comeback in the late 1980s, as the band which was essentially dead at the beginning of that decade sprang back with a second act unlike many others in rock history. However, with their first release of the 1990s, Get a Grip, the band kind of “jumped the shark” in providing manufactured, crowd-tested anthems with extra vanilla production techniques and cheap, low grade lyrics. Further, the group attempted to mask is hyper-commercialized approach by adding some boilerplate social commentary. As tacky as this approach was artistically, it certainly worked commercially as Get a Grip became Aerosmith’s best-selling studio album worldwide with sales of over 20 million copies.

Produced by Bruce Fairbairn, the album employees outside composers and performers more than any other Aerosmith album, with compositions by only band members being more the exception than the rule. Joey Kramer, a quality drummer since the band’s inception with their debut album two decades earlier, is reduced to providing almost mind-numbing drumming and hardly ever adding any variation to the most basic of 4/4 beats. This may just be the most egregious of several examples where the band just decided to play it safe and not really variate from their late eighties formula, even regress at times.

The album was actually rejected by Geffen in its original form during the summer of 1992 and the band returned to the studio to record more “radio-friendly” material, ultimately delaying the album’s release by about 6 months. Get a Grip would be the final album Aerosmith would record for Geffen Records.

 


Get a Grip by Aerosmith
Released: April 20, 1993 (Virgin)
Produced by: Bruce Fairbairn
Recorded: A&M Studios, Hollywood & Little Mountain Sound, Vancouver, Jan-Nov 1992
Track Listing Band Musicians
Intro / Eat the Rich
Get a Grip
Fever
Livin’ On the Edge
Flesh
Walk On Down
Shut Up and Dance
Cryin’
Gotta Love It
Crazy
Line Up
Amazing
Boogie Man
Steven Tyler – Lead Vocals, Piano, Harmonica
Joe Perry – Guitars, Vocals
Brad Whitford – Guitars
Tom Hamilton – Bass, Vocals
Joey Kramer – Drums
 

Get a Grip by Aerosmith

 
The tackiness of the album is evident from the jump with the terrible “Intro” with jungle noises, behind a cheesy rap by vocalist Steven Tyler and sampling of “Walk This Way”. This leads to “Eat the Rich”, co-written by hired songwriter Jim Vallance, which starts as a decent enough, riff-driven rock song but is unfortunately tarnished by cheap and cheesy lyrics and a few tawdry lines thrown in for pure “shock value”. Then, as if to just underline the total suckiness of the song, it ends with a loud belch. Still, this song was a hit and appeared on a few future compilations.

Vallance also co-wrote the title song “Get a Grip”, a frantic rap which gets repetitive. Better than the opener, but still pretty weak. “Fever” is the best of the opening trio because of strong rock and blues influences by lead guitarist Joe Perry. This still feels a bit cheap and, by this point in the album, it feels like this band of 40-somethings is trying just a bit too hard to be  hip and hard rocking.

Song doctor Mark Hudson’s “Livin’ On the Edge” is the first real quality song on the album, featuring Brad Whitford on acoustic guitar accompanied by almost-Eastern-sounding lead guitars and good quality melodies. There is also a decent bridge arrangement with some slight piano and the song’s only real issue is the artificially elongated ending, which reprises after a few false stops, extending the song about a minute and a half longer than it should be without much true benefit for the listener. The song was a Top 20 hit on the Pop charts. “Flesh” was co-written by long time collaborator Desmond Child and starts with a synthesized and sound-effect-drenched opening, before finally kicking with decent musical and melodic elements featuring Whitford on lead guitar. Perry’s “Walk On Down” is just as weak lyrically as other material but is a bit interesting because of Joe Perry’s vocals. “Shut Up and Dance” may be the nadir of this album. Composed by jack Blades and Tommy Shaw (then of Damn Yankees), there is a decent hook in the chorus but the verses are really cheap and repetitive.
 

 
“Cryin'” was co-written by Taylor Rhodes and is, perhaps, the best song on the album. A ballad performed at maximum volume, the production value is top-notch and the song contains a great fade-out coda, reminding us that Aerosmith can really extend a song organically when they really want to. Both Perry and Whitford play guitar solos while Tyler adds a harmonica solo.

Bassist Tom Hamilton adds some funky bass to the groove “Gotta Love It”, which also contains some biting guitar riffs. Child returns and adds some mandolin to the ballad “Crazy”, which has a decent enough vibe once you get past the corny intro. The song was another chart success for the band and also earned the band a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal in 1994. “Line Up” features Lenny Kravitz in a fusion between Motown and heavy rock along with a bluesy slide guitar and a slight horn section.

Leaving aside the experimental “Boogie Man”, the album truly completes with “Amazing” by Richard Supa. This excellent piano ballad with great chord structure and perfectly arranged instrumentation, almost single-handedly redeems the album with a great outtro similar to “What It Takes” on their previous album, but a lame 1940s-like spoken radio announcement completely rips the listener from the moody vibe and reminds him how cheesy this album really is right to the end.

Although a commercial phenom, Get a Grip tainted Aerosmith’s reputation for authentic rock quite substantially. They would redeem themselves a bit with their next album, the fine Nine Lives in 1997, which was much more substantial musically but less successful commercially.

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1993 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of 1993 albums.

 

Siamese Dream by Smashing Pumpkins

Siamese Dream by Smashing PumpkinsBuilding on the surprise success of their debut album Gish, the Smashing Pumpkins matured their blend of dream pop, heavy metal, and progressive rock on Siamese Dream, a blockbuster album which eventually sold over six million worldwide. Co-produced by Butch Vig and the group’s leader and primary composer Billy Corgan, the album has high level production for early nineties alternative rock, which intentionally aimed for loose arrangements and a raw, basic sound. The producers goals were to create a work with great sonic depth and layered sounds built the “old fashioned” way using multiple overdubs and sonic harmonies.

Despite the successful end result, the actual making of this record was quite tumultuous. The band was upgraded from Caroline Records to the parent Virgin Records and high expectations for this this sophomore record put immense pressure on the band. Further complicating things was a severe heroin addiction by drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, which was the motivating factor for the band relocating to Triclops Studios in Marietta, Georgia for the album sessions, so they could Chamberlin off from his known drug connections. Corgan took on ever-increasing roles in the studio, often overdubbing or re-recording tracks by his band mates if he felt he can improve on them.

Executives from Virgin began to grow impatient with the album’s recording as it went over budget and became behind schedule and even came to the studio to observe the band after hearing about their problems. This move only served to put more stress on Corgan, who would not let the company cut corners if it meant compromising the sound. Eventually the album came in about $250,000 over budget and by the time recording was completed, Corgan and Vig were too exhausted to continue and employed engineer Alan Moulder to mix the album.
 


Siamese Dream by Smashing Pumpkins
Released: July 27, 1993 (Virgin)
Produced by: Butch Vig & Billy Corgan
Recorded: Triclops Sound Studios in Marietta, GA, December 1992-March 1993
Track Listing Band Musicians
Cherub Rock
Quiet
Today
Hummer
Rocket
Disarm
Soma
Geek USA
Mayonaise
Spaceboy
Silverfuck
Sweet Sweet
Luna
Billy Corgan – Lead Vocals, Guitars
James Iha – Guitars, Vocals
D’arcy Wretzky – Bass, Vocals
Jimmy Chamberlin – Drums
 
Siamese Dream by Smashing Pumpkins

 
A couple of short drum rolls give a false beginning before the “Cherub Rock” builds in an ever-intensifying one minute intro. The several vocal styles by Corgan are displayed immediately with the good alternative hook “Let me out!” being the most indelible moment in the song. Like several tracks on this album, “Cherub Rock” was recorded by Corgan and Chamberlin alone. “Quiet” follows with a classic metal-like revolving riff. However, the song never really gets to any satisfactory destination.

“Today” was the first song written by Corgan for Siamese Dream. Beginning with quiet picked notes which give way to full-fledged grunge riff topped by a catchy and melodic melody. While topically upbeat, the song contains dark lyrics which Corgan wrote the song about a day in which he was having suicidal thoughts, supplying great contrast between the grim subject matter and bouncy tune which brought the band popularity through widespread radio airplay. “Hummer” contains an opening montage constructed by noise-heavy sound effects which later gives way to a calmer bass by D’arcy Wretzky and great guitar textures throughout, although the song does kind of lose steam about halfway through its seven minute duration. “Rocket” is almost a dance song with its steady and methodical rhythms, making it the fourth and final single from the album.
 

 
The most acclaimed song on the album is “Disarm”, an acoustic song with heavy string and “bell” effects which make for a very moody, melodic and theatrical feel throughout. Unlike many of the songs on Siamese Dream, which are lengthy and tend to wear out their welcome, “Disarm” is short at barely over three minutes. Despite being banned by the BBC, the song peaked at number 11 on the UK singles chart. “Soma” was co-written by guitarist James Iha and is very quiet and restrained until it breaks into a heavier version of the same emo theme for effect. The song contains about 40 overdubbed guitar parts, demonstrating the meticulous production techniques. Chamberlin gets much acclaim for his performance in “Geek U.S.A.” with a heavy drum roll and heavy metal riff. The song is a reworked version of an earlier song by the band entitled “Suicide Kiss”.

The latter part of the album is less even and less heralded. “Mayonaise” is another collaboration between Corgan and Iha and begins with a strummed electric and some lightly-bluesy, unplugged little riffs before once again progressing to the heavy riffs. Almost romantic in its approach, the song has a decent melody and garnered considerable radio play despite not being released as a single. “Spaceboy” is an acoustic, Bowie-esque song with heavy mellotron added by Corgan, who wrote the song as a tribute to his autistic half-brother. “Silverfuck” contains some sonic textures but the melodies and overall vocals are kind of weak. “Sweet Sweet” is a 12-string ballad arranged like a Scottish folk song but with the distinctive Corgan vocals leading to the the calm and decent closer “Luna” which is almost upbeat in tone, ending the album in a whole different place than it was played out on throughout its duration.

Siamese Dream earned The Smashing Pumpkins their first Grammy nominations in 1994 and established the band as a top level act in the ever-popular alternative genre which had yet to peak.

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Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of 1993 albums.

1993 Images

 

Vs. by Pearl Jam

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Vs. by Pearl Jam Pearl Jam tried to strike a balance between embracing their phenomenal success brought on by their debut Ten (our 1991 Album of the Year) and trying to maintain their rigorous standards of integrity in the face of that massive commercial success. The band set out on an intentionally obscure path which mirrored the “secret society” movement of Led Zeppelin at the height of that band’s popularity with their untitled fourth album in 1971. Like that classic album, the title Vs. does not appear anywhere on the cover, no singles were released from the album until several years later, and Pearl Jam also refused to produce any music videos from the album.

The album was originally slated for the title “Five Against One”, which represented the band’s perspective on their struggles trying to make this sophomore record. However, the title was changed shortly before its release to Vs. as a mocking tribute to all the media stories that would compare Pearl Jam against another Seattle-based band, primarily Nirvana. Lead singer Eddie Vedder took personal exception to this adversarial tone because most of the Seattle bands worked together in promoting their scene. The title was changed so late in the process that some of the first cassette pressings of the album were labeled Five Against One.

Vs. was co-produced by Brendan O’Brien and contains a rawer and more aggressive sound compared with the band’s previous release. In fact, some members of the band have since lamented that they wished the debut had more of a vintage sound like Vs.. O’Brien used an unusual linear approach of recording and mixing each song in turn so the band can focus singularly on each track, with most of the music developed through jam sessions. The lyrical content, written primarily by Vedder, is at times simplistic and self-righteous but this is offset by a passionate delivery with an intense and live-sounding performance.
 


Vs. by Pearl Jam
Released: October 19, 1993 (Epic)
Produced by: Brendan O’Brien & Pearl Jam
Recorded: Nicasio, CA and Seattle, WA, March–May 1993
Track Listing Band Musicians
Go
Animal
Daughter
Glorified G
Dissident
W.M.A.
Blood
Rearviewmirror
Rats
Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town
Leash
Indifference
Eddie Vedder – Lead Vocals, Guitars
Mike McCready – Guitars
Stone Gossard – Guitars
Jeff Ament – Bass
Dave Abbruzzese – Drums
 
Vs by Pearl Jam

 
Dave Abbruzzese joined Pearl Jam on drums in mid 1991, making this his first album recorded with the band. He composed the music for the album’s frantic opening rocker “Go”, a song relentless throughout and building right until its crashing end. It was the first single from the album on international releases. “Animal” was composed by guitarist Stone Gossard but is somewhat less appealing than the opener, yet adequate due to its short but great lead. The album’s original title Five Against One was taken from a lyric from “Animal”.

Daughter by Pearl Jam“Daughter” is a storytelling song in the same vein as “Jeremy” from debut album. It is a surreal acoustic tune by Gossard, with an otherwise standard arrangement until it dissolves into an odd, faded ending. Lyrically, Vedder wrote about a girl with a learning difficulty which is misinterpreted as outright defiance by her parents. This rather odd song became the most popular radio hit from the album. Although never officially released as a single in the U.S., “Daughter” song topped Billboard‘s Mainstream Rock charts for eight consecutive weeks and became the band’s first Top 40 single on the Pop charts.

“Glorified G” is a light, almost poppy song with chorus hook complete with backing vocals. Musically, the song features a twangy, Country-esque guitar by Mike McCready and an upright bass by Jeff Ament. Lyrically, the song was inspired by an incident after Abbruzzese told the band he had just bought two guns and Vedder was outraged, sparking a conversation about guns within the band. Overall the song straddles the line between country and funk before it later breaks into a strong rock section in the outro. “Dissident” is a political statement by Vedder with great vocal melodies and music collaborated by Gossard, McCready, and Ament, built from a live jam. The good, melodic guitars lead this slow but strong storytelling song, again not released in the United States, but charted as a single in several other countries.

RearViewMirror by Pearl Jam“W.M.A.” is driven by Abbruzzese’s rolling drums and Ament’s repetitive bass lines never really deviates making the song kind of mundane after the first three minutes, despite the fast and funky guitars and U2-like quality of the way it builds over a simple phrase. “Blood” alternates between thrash metal and funk, which is interesting at first but soon sounds like nothing more than an unorganized jam used for album filler. “Rearviewmirror” is a song of great motion that contains a syncopated riff and bass line and an E-bow effect by McCready, blending new wave type music with Vedder’s distinctive grunge vocals on top. “Rats” is a rather typical (by this point in the album) funk/rock song, upbeat and entertaining, but not quite original.

“Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town” may be the climatic point of the album. It is an acoustic waltz by Vedder that acts as a nice break late in the album with a definitive chorus hook. An overall melancholy tune about nostalgia and long lost love told through the eyes of an elder woman who never left her small hometown, rather typical pop song fare but not typical of Pearl Jam. While the album is pretty uniformly strong throughout, it is kind of weak at the end. “Leash” is heavy, shouting, with bad transitions and rather uninteresting. The final track “Indifference” is a mundane song which completely falls in line with its title, save for just a light tinge of cabaret blues by Gossard which may be the song’s redemption. Still, the deep connection which the song is trying to accomplish never quite materializes and Vs. does not finish as strongly as it should have.

Still, the album was nothing short of phenomenal commercially. Upon its release, Vs. set the record for most copies of an album sold in its first week – well over a million – a record it held for five years. It occupied the number one spot on the Billboard album charts for five weeks and has been certified seven times platinum by the RIAA in the United States. It was also nominated for “Best Rock Album” at the 1995 Grammy Awards, giving Pearl Jam the mainstream acceptance that they claimed they loathed.

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1993 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of 1993 albums.