Sunday, 30 April 2017

Top 75 of 1994

After the years of musical discovery of the 1990s so far I'd moved through the indie of my brother's initial record collection through rock and grunge and found that I was being drawn more and more to heavier music.  I was still listening to the other styles of course, but new music was now coming more and more from the heavier end of the spectrum.

This was partly due to me venturing out into the world of music magazines myself, previously I had nabbed whatever my brother had bought, mostly Melody Maker, NME or Select, and browsed the features of interest.  But later in 1994 I started buying RAW, which was fortnightly if I remember rightly, I think the first issue I bought had Scott Weiland on the cover and came with a load of stickers which I later stuck to the bass that I got for Christmas that year.

As this was now MY magazine I could read it cover to cover and absorb everything, new bands to look out for, more detail about bands I liked that wouldn't be featured in the indie papers etc.  This was pre-internet of course though, so actually hearing the bands still meant watching out for a clip on The Chart Show or Noisy Mothers or waiting for a free cover-mounted tape, I wasn't in a position yet to just take a punt on a band I'd never heard.

In 1994 I turned 16, so I finished school with a decent 2 A*s, 1 A, 5 Bs, 2 Cs and a D and started college where I selected A levels in Maths, Chemistry and Computing and a one year GCSE in Media Studies.  In college you could wear your band shirts with pride and see other people's allegiances at the same time.  I think my early shirts consisted of Senseless Things, Pantera, Sepultura, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Extreme and The Farm, so a varied selection.  My hair had also been growing out for about a year by then too and sporadic bouts of not shaving my chin kicked off the occasional appearance of my later permanent goatee.

1994 saw an explosion in recording my own music, still just primitively layering instruments over each other on a simple tape recorder, so the results weren't amazing.  I did two albums and an EP of my own music under the name of Marvin, all pretty bad, but the main concern of Pyf Belly Machine with my brother were even more prolific, 6 albums or about 7 hours worth of material over that year period.  After starting college, two of my mates hooked up with us to make it a "proper" band, the official lineup was my brother Peter on guitar/vocals, me on bass/vocals (or the top string of an acoustic guitar until Christmas when I got my bass), Gord on guitar and Darren on drums, but we swapped instruments a lot, I was probably the most guilty in that respect.

At the back end of 1994 we ended up playing a couple of gigs in Gord's garage (he had a big house with a triple garage, swimming pool and a sauna.....quite possibly room for a pony, if your mind was heading that way), we mostly played our own songs from the 2-piece version of the band's albums but also did covers of Girls and Boys, Everything About You and Jump Around.  I'd start the gig on drums, move to bass and a bit of singing, then guitar, back to bass before finishing on drums again.  About 20 college mates turned up to watch, let's just say if the other two weren't in the band we probably wouldn't have persuaded anyone to come.

That was a bit more background than usual......but I was enjoying myself remembering, anyway, music from 1994.  There were some pretty dark albums that came out that year, The Holy Bible being most prominent given the Manics were my favourite band, but The Downward Spiral was also up there too, given I'd been a Nine Inch Nails fan for around 3 or 4 years at that point.  Both incredibly dark albums, both giving the impression of decay in very different ways.  A few years later I would also discover the self-titled debut from Korn, taking a similar dark path but from a different angle.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, punk stirrings were felt across the Atlantic in the form of Green Day's Dookie and Offspring's Smash mainly, both featuring here.  Although interestingly Smash ended up with a lot more entries, not something I would have imagined beforehand with Dookie being the preferred album in my head.  There were also the beginnings of what would become Britpop, in particular with the release of Blur's Parklife.  This links in with me starting to go out for the first time, mostly to Middlesbrough Arena with it's indie club night on a Friday and second and third division indie bands playing often.  After my first gig experience in 1993, I had two more in 1994, seeing my beloved Manic Street Preachers for the first time in the February at Middlesbrough Town Hall, followed by Blaggers ITA at Middlesbrough Arena in the December.

But as mentioned before, my record collection was starting to take a metal turn.  One CD in particular helped this along a more extreme path, the Earplugged compilation on Earache records.  Two songs each from Bolt Thrower, Carcass, Napalm Death, Brutal Truth, Entombed, Cathedral and Godflesh - I would take a big interest in the first 3, some interest in the others, but I liked every song on there.  This, coupled with my choice of magazine and the emergence of bands like Machine Head putting metal back at the forefront, would lead me in to new unexplored avenues of music in subsequent years.

A quick note on bands that missed out as competition was fierce this time around and some good albums surprisingly didn't make the cut.  The full list of bands making the shortlist but not the chart were as follows: Godflesh, At the Gates, Shed 7, Ash, Carter USM, The Almighty, Stabbing Westward, Prong, Pro-Pain, The Farm, China Drum, Bad Religion, Stone Roses, Senser, Gun, Black Crowes, Spin Doctors, Sick of it All and Sultans of Ping.  Some of those I was particularly disappointed to see them not make the cut.....but you have to go with the best songs!

1. Bush - Comedown
2. Pearl Jam - Better Man
3. Bolt Thrower - ...For Victory
4. Machine Head - Davidian
5. Manic Street Preachers - This Is Yesterday
6. Inspiral Carpets - Saturn 5
7. Manic Street Preachers - Faster
8. Bush - Little Things
9. Stone Temple Pilots - Interstate Love Song
10. Soundgarden - Black Hole Sun
11. Offspring - Genocide
12. Nine Inch Nails - Heresy
13. Weezer - Buddy Holly
14. Manic Street Preachers - Yes
15. Pantera - I'm Broken
16. Pantera - 5 Minutes Alone
17. Bush - Machinehead
18. Pulp - Do You Remember the First Time?
19. Blur - Girls and Boys
20. Pearl Jam - Spin the Black Circle
21. Green Day - Basket Case
22. Pearl Jam - Nothingman
23. Bush - Glycerine
24. Green Day - Welcome to Paradise
25. Manic Street Preachers - Archives of Pain
26. Megadeth - A Tout Le Monde
27. Cradle of Filth - The Forest Whispers My Name
28. Nine Inch Nails - March of the Pigs
29. Nine Inch Nails - Hurt
30. Emperor - I Am The Black Wizards
31. Offspring - Gotta Get Away
32. Offspring - Smash
33. Soundgarden - The Day I Tried To Live
34. Machine Head - Old
35. Manic Street Preachers - PCP
36. Therapy? - Screamager
37. Green Day - When I Come Around
38. Offspring - Self Esteem
39. Offspring - Nitro (Youth Energy)
40. Blur - Parklife
41. Manic Street Preachers - Judge Yr'self
42. Manic Street Preachers - Revol
43. Bush - Everything Zen
44. Blur - End of a Century
45. Nine Inch Nails - Closer To God
46. Dog Eat Dog - Who's the King
47. Nine Inch Nails - Ruiner
48. Manic Street Preachers - 4st 7lb
49. Korn - Faget
50. Therapy? - Trigger Inside
51. Soundgarden - Fell On Black Days
52. Cradle of Filth - To Eve The Art of Witchcraft
53. Cradle of Filth - The Principle of Evil Made Flesh
54. Bolt Thrower - When Glory Beckons
55. Machine Head - A Thousand Lies
56. NOFX - Leave It Alone
57. Offspring - Come Out and Play
58. Offspring - Bad Habit
59. Offspring - Something to Believe In
60. Bolt Thrower - Remembrance
61. Bolt Thrower - Lest We Forget
62. Pantera - Becoming
63. Dog Eat Dog - No Fronts
64. Rollins Band - Liar
65. Cradle of Filth - Summer Dying Fast
66. Emperor - Cosmic Keys to my Creations & Times
67. Soundgarden - Like Suicide
68. Korn - Ball Tongue
69. Korn - Blind
70. Filter - Hey Man Nice Shot
71. Therapy? - Nowhere
72. Helmet - Wilma's Rainbow
73. Obituary - Don't Care
74. Napalm Death - Plague Rages
75. Brutal Truth - Choice of a New Generation