My background with the band Live coincides with my discovery of “alternative” music in the early 90’s, my desire to seek out bands that did things their own way, and a mentor who helped introduce me to many bands that I still love to this day. The band cut a record in the late 80’s while still in high school under the Public Affection moniker, fell in with Jerry Harrison of the Talking Heads and released their masterful debut as Live in 1991, Mental Jewelry (still my favorite). From there the band became more and more popular, selling tens of millions of records along the way. Throwing Copper, Secret Samadhi, and The Distance to Here all were records that helped solidify Live as a household name. From there, the band experimented with their sound (V), released a somewhat underappreciated album (Birds of Pray), and released an album with some strong songs but overall didn’t showcase the band’s strengths (Songs From Black Mountain). The band went on hiatus, followed by solo albums, one-off projects, and a Live album cut with Chris Shinn of Unified Theory fame. A reunion of the original four members seemed to be an impossible scenario.
Another year gone by, another year in music to review. For me personally, it was a strange year in music. I found myself listening to unsigned / self released artists more often than some of the mainstream artists that I love so much. 2 Neil Young records – the 1st was good, if not great. The 2nd was a little too lush for my tastes. Neither appear on my year-end round-up. I looked forward to the new John Mellencamp (yes, seriously) but I came away only loving about half the record. Bruce Springsteen added Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine to his band and the record he released didn’t disappoint me. I managed to get out to a few shows in 2014 and was blown away by Mudhoney (twice) and First Aid Kit. Speaking of First Aid Kit, their Stay Gold record grew in stature with repeated listens and should help them become a household name. So without further rambling, here are the records that I played the most in 2014. Note: these are listed randomly and I chose to focus on full length releases that were released in 2014.
The summer of 1995 represented my 1st taste of adult freedom. High school in the rear view mirror and higher education still in the future, it truly felt like there were endless possibilities. My best friend and I ventured out to Hershey, PA to catch what was being billed as a homecoming concert for one of the biggest bands in the world at that time – Live. An unlikely success story, Live rode the perfect wave of talent, hard work, and timing in the early to mid 90’s. The band’s 1991 debut Mental Jewelry is still one of my favorite records of all time – bass heavy indie rock drenched in mystic lyricism that sought answers to the meaning of life. Throwing Copper arrived 3 years later and took about a year to become a #1 hit, eventually selling over 10 million copies. The music had a more aggressive slant, perfectly timed to revel in the post Grunge rock revolution. The concert I saw in mid 1995 seemed to be the pinnacle of the band’s success – yet, they still managed to throw a Guided By Voices cover into their set list – a nod to their indie roots. 1997’s Secret Samadhi and 1999’s The Distance to Here continued the classic Live sound before the band essentially became a vehicle for the aspirations of lead singer Ed Kowalczyk.
In the spring of 2007 I had the chance to go see El Perro Del Mar as part of an event put on by Seattle broadcasting legends, KEXP. The opening band was The Shackeltons – full of nervous post-punk energy and displaying a commanding stage presence. The band’s bio brought up a few curious circumstances that related to me. My Grandmom’s maiden name was Shackleton, and I may or may not be related to the famous explorer, Ernest Shackleton (depends on who is our family genealogy expert at any given time). To top it off, The Shackeltons were from Chambersburg, PA – just a couple of hours from where I grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs. The band had recently signed to Seattle’s Loveless Records and the future was bright. 6 months later the band’s new record was released and I was pleased to find that their manic stage energy had carried over to the recorded document. And then…nothing.
Part 7 of a series that will run every Friday throughout 2012 as I discuss records that have affected me throughout the years – Flashback Fridays
1991 for me represented a musical awakening – although I vacillated between hair metal and hip hop, I seemed to yearn for something a bit more. As much as I loved rocking out (and truthfully, still do) to Yngwie Malmsteen, White Lion, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, etc….my life was forever changed the day an older friend (probably in his 30’s then, sigh) played me Bossonova by The Pixies. As Black Francis screamed his way through “Rock Music” I remember thinking “What on earth is this music?”. Or in my 8th grade brain “This is really cool”. As that album progressed, I became more and more enchanted with what was known back then as “Alternative Music”. In all honesty, it is still my favorite Pixies album which isn’t really a popular thing to say (have you HEARD “The Happening” ?? Still gives me tingles to this day). I made it a quest to find out as much as I could about “Alternative Music” (this was about 6 to 8 months before Nirvana broke in the fall of 1991) and got my hands on records by bands such as The Smiths, Morrissey, The Ocean Blue, The Lightning Seeds, etc…