Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rock and Roll Trivia

I've got something I'd like to try...Rock and Roll Trivia. If it goes well, it may be a regular thing on my blog.

1) What bands can you name with ONE original member through out their career. Extra bonus if you can name that member.

2) Who was Tom Petty's guitar instructor?

3) Where was Lynyrd Skynyrd from?

4) What is Bono's real name?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter Up North

Thursday night, my computer went on a fritz...Firefox crashed and I was barely running off on Internet Explorer. That put the final decision on heading Up North for Easter weekend, besides I figured I really needed to get away from the insanity that been going on lately. Glad that I did!

Friday morning, after I dropped the computer off, I headed off for the boondocks... Breaking away from gray metropolitan of Milwaukee into budding brown and green of the countryside, I felt my heart getting a little lighter. As I was traveling northbound, I could still see patches of snow hidden from the glow of sunlight. Winter was slowly losing her battle against Spring.

The battle between seasons became more evident by the time we reached Appleton. The Wolf River had overflowed its banks, kissing the roadways. I had recalled news stories about major snow storms hitting the area just a few days before. Not much snow now, just water and ice. The lakes were starting to thaw around the edges like ice cubes bobbing in water.

The wildlife seemed to rejoice in the upcoming spring. I saw a small heard of deer just outside the Menominee Indian Reservation. A turkey was trying to decide his fate with traffic just further down the road. By time I left my folks' place Sunday, I've already seen a black squirrel, downy woodpeckers, nuthatches, goldfinches and juncos in the birdfeeders. Vultures were gracefully on the wing, soaring high on the thermals. Bufflehead ducks, swans and loons were taking over any open water.
Yes, my girlfriend and I enjoyed the peaceful, easy feeling of the countryside. Before that delicious Easter dinner, we visited the Woodland Trail Winery in Lakewood. Had our partake in wine samples before deciding on a bottle of Northern Ice. Time was well spent visiting our families and friends, enjoying feasts and laughter.

As fast as holidays come, they go. As much as we wanted to stay and relax a little bit more, reality beckoned us to come home. A nasty year long court case with a surprising verdict, work, bills to pay and a computer to pick up.... It won't be long before we head up there again.....

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Ever since I set up my boom box in front of the TV to record an MTV special on Asia in concert from Tokyo, I've been fascinated with bootlegs. Finding, collecting and doing research on them has been a hobby for me for years.

So what are bootlegs? They are unauthorized live recordings by an artist. They can not be found in stores nor anywhere music can legally be sold. Many of these recordings are sold illegally through online sites. None of profits go to the artists' themselves. However, I'm not interested in any sharp nor form in the business of dealing tapes for cash. Music is priceless.

Getting them was rather interesting. I never bought any from the online sites that are strewn over the internet these days. I never trusted these sites for various reasons. Instead I have recorded them off of the radio, hooked up my tape deck to the VCR from the TV specials like MTV Unplugged, Live 8 and the Woodstock '94 pay per view and even hooked my tape deck to the computer to record downloads of the Internet from sites like the now defunct WinMX. Most of them I've gotten from are from friends. How they got them, the don't ask, don't tell rule applies.

I never have, myself, bootlegged a concert that I've been to. Too risky to get caught. Though I do have FOUR bootlegged shows that I've been to in my collection. That said, I do have a dresser 3/4 full of bootlegged tapes, making them a HUGE part of my collection.

So why all the fuss over bootlegs? Yes, I love live recordings from any artist. To me, they are extensions of the studio work. Where in the studio, the artist can slice and dice to perfect a song, in concert, it's do or die in one take. I've noticed though, the live recordings released by any artist are often "doctored". Meaning that they are mixed, overdubbed or whatever in the studio for release. Kiss Alive! and Led Zeppelin The Song Remains the Same are perfect examples of that. Whereas a bootleg, anyone can get the concert feeling as if you were in the show yourself-flaws and all. The flaws are gives the music its character...

Bootlegs are not perfect either. The sound quality can be barely audible to excellent. Blame can be given to whomever is recording the show and the technology they use. I've noticed in late '60's and the early '70's the recordings are often rare and muddied, while shows later on tended to be a better quality and more common. Thinking about it, a big and bulky tape recorder in smaller venues being stalked by roadies on the rampage versus compact and updated equipment in stadiums. Sometimes one can't be too picky, after all it's a bootleg.

However, there are a few bands that do promote tape trading. Jam bands like the Grateful Dead, the Black Crowes and the Allman Brothers have set ups at their show where can one pick up the finished tape or disc after the show.

Over the years, I've picked up unbelievably awesome and weird recordings. Many of them that captures the true essence and the spirit of the band. There's the Led Zeppelin's Earl's Court run in London at end of their 1975 tour. To this day, I still wonder why at least one of the shows hasn't been released. Aerosmith's Woodstock 1994 show was spectacular! Robert Plant's show in Amsterdam in 1993 was a real trip. A Traffic show at Summerfest had face melting guitar solos on "Dear Mr. Fantasy". Pink Floyd blew up a pig at Oakland in 1977. The Counting Crows wowed me in Chicago in 2004. The Allman Brothers blew my mind at Holmdel, New Jersey with their dual guitar attack on "Jessica" in 1994. I could really could go on and on about all this. I guess I'm gonna have to to more bootleg reviews...

So is your take on bootlegs?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Happy Birthday to My Son!

Another year has come and gone and today my son turns 14! Hard to believe that he's growing up before my eyes...Once a young lad playing with Hot Wheels in the sandbox in the backyard, is now in 8th grade looking towards high school. I don't see him as often as I would like, he's been keeping busy hanging out with his friends and weight training. I know, a typical teenager. He's already talking about girls...(Oh boy...) So what am I gonna do with him? Be the best Dad I can be for him and teach him the right things. Gotta love him!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Eagles Alpine Valley East Troy,WI 7/15/1994

It's been a long time since I've done a bootleg review. This time it's about a concert that I've been to. Yep, I do have FOUR bootlegged concerts in my collection that I've been to. Two of them are Rush, a Robert Plant show and this Eagles one. (No, I didn't bootleg any of these shows, copies of them fell into my hands).

1994 was an impressive year for concerts. Bands like the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, U2, Pearl Jam, and the Eagles were on tour that summer. With tickets prices growing out of control, we opted to see one concert that summer. After much deliberation, the decision fell on to the Eagles, for it was their reunion tour.

A wise choice, I may say (although I regret not seeing Pink Floyd)! The concert ended up being one of my favorite shows that I've been to.

Let me tell you why...

We pulled into the grassy parking lot of Alpine Valley in our Subaru station wagon on a sunny Friday afternoon. Temperatures were warm and comfortable. Pulled out our grill and beer to do some tailgating. As the burgers sizzled on the grill, we were introduced to a couple from Kenosha. As we were sipping the cold brewskis and playing frisbee in the parking lot, the vibes became more evident. The peaceful, easy feeling vibe.

And that vibe lasted into the night.....

Melissa Etheridge opened with an impressive set showcasing her latest tunes off of her Yes I Am album. Her vocals were top notch! The tunes like "Come to My Window", "I'm the Only One", "Bring Me Some Water" and "Yes, I Am" sent shivers down my spine confirming Melissa is the real deal!

As the sun was setting between sets, the vibe was getting stronger as I was laying there on my blanket feeling very calm. Then I heard explosions! Thunder! The roar of the crowd as the opening bars of "Hotel California" filtered through the dusky sky. The show was on! As roar died down, magic was filling the air... I could hear the entire audience singing along to the words! It was so surreal to hear this choir like effect on classics like "New Kid in Town", "Lyin' Eyes" and "Tequila Sunrise". People were dancing like lovers, swaying and singing along with the music. The crowd was cheering loudly for Joe Walsh's crazy antics (like wearing Dr. Suess' Cat in the Hat hat on "Average Ordinary Guy").

For the next three hours and two sets, the band consisting of Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Timothy B. Schmitt, Joe Walsh and Don Felder, plowed through tunes not only from the Eagles, but solo songs as well! It was quite surprising to hear the Eagles play "Rocky Mountain Way", "Boys of the Summer", "Smuggler's Blues","Dirty Laundry", "Life's Been Good" and "Funk#49".

When I play back the tape of the show, the hairs on arms stand straight up remembering the good, peaceful vibes and the magic of the show. I still wear the smile on my face when I walked up the hill after "Take it Easy" closed the night....

The set list...

Set 1
Hotel California
Victim of Love
A New Kid in Town
Wasted Time
Pretty Maids (All of Them in a Row)
The Girl From Yesterday
I Can't Tell You Why
Ordinary Average Guy Lyin'Eyes
One of These Nights
Tequila Sunrise
Help Me Through the Night
Love Will Keep Us Alive
You Belong to the Night
Boys of the Summer

Set 2
Dirty Laundry
Smuggler's Blues
Life's Been Good
All She Wants to Do is Dance
Heartache Tonight
Life in the Fast Lane
Get Over It
Amazing Grace
Rocky Mountain Way
Already Gone
Take It Easy

Thursday, April 14, 2011

She's Coming Around.....

To those who have had Harley in their prayers...THANK YOU!

It's been a week since, I had taken her to vet. A week of sadness and grief. A week of pondering over a decision that I did not want to make. A week of prayers. Its may be too soon to rejoice, but a miracle is in the works. Harley is coming around!

All last week, Harley seemed to be knocking on death's door. Laying on the floor next to the bed, practically unable to walk. She was very weak, short of breath, listless, lifeless, and didn't want to eat. A visit the vet confirmed a low red blood cell count and may need surgery. Unable to afford treatment, I resigned myself to lose Harley for good.

As I was getting closer to deciding to bring Harley in for her final visit to the vet, a miracle happened! She met me at the door wagging her tail! Just like she used to do all the time! I cried tears of joy.... Slowly, but assuredly she is progressing. She is now eating like normal, walking about on her own and "bugging" me for affection.

She may not be at 100%. She's still weak at times, but she seems to be getting better. I know that I shouldn't get my hopes up to high, but SOME hope is definitely better than none....

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bob Dylan Rocks Vietnam

In a country were rock and roll is almost non existent and controlled by the government, it is a surprise to hear Vietnam War protesting icon Bob Dylan to perform in Vietnam.

Here's the story as follows-

The 69-year-old Dylan took to the stage in the former Saigon on Sunday, singing such favorites as "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" and "Highway 61 Revisited."

Only about half of the 8,000 seats were sold to a mix of Vietnamese and foreigners who danced on the grass in the warm evening air as Dylan jammed on guitar, harmonica and the keyboard at RMIT University

With more than 60 percent of the country's 86 million people born after the war, many young people here are more familiar with pop stars like Justin Bieber, yet, still, Dylan's music during the tumultuous 1960s touched thousands of people in both nations.

Dylan is one of the top foreign artists to perform in Vietnam, where big-name concerts are still rare and the Communist government maintains strict controls over expression. Dylan's song list had to be preapproved by the government, but promoter Rod Quinton of Ho Chi Minh City-based Saigon Sound System said no restrictions were placed on the extensive set list submitted.

Here the set list-kinda neat huh?

  1. Encore:

Friday, April 8, 2011

Paying the Price to Live

Harley's still weak, laying there at my feet. Her breathing is shallow then it gets heavy at times... She can barely walk. All she does is lift her head up, looks at me and wags her tail. She's now on a medicated diet that she barely eats. As I was laying there beside her, consoling her, telling her that everything is going to be alright-knowing that it isn't true. I know what I have to do, but I can't bring up the strength in my heart to do it....

My heart is in pain...

My mind drifts off to how the hell I can up with the cash needed to possibly save her life. An ultrasound just to see what's going on inside of her-$4oo. Exploratory surgery just to see if the masses are benign or cancerous-$3000. None of that it guaranteed to work. That's the tip of the iceberg.

As I'm shuffling around bills to figure out a way to cover all this, the prognosis doesn't look good....I have fallen behind in bills to pay for a car I desperately needed to get to work. I don't think the utilities are going are to care about my problems nor my dying dog. They just want my money also.

It's not fair!!!!

I know, I know... I'm paying for the services of a trained professional...they earned it. As the deeper I think about things, the more I realize certain things. Have you ever noticed getting prescriptions for antibiotics and similar type medicine are cheap, while the necessary medicine for heart conditions and other life threatening conditions are sky high? Are the costs to manufacture them more expensive? I highly doubt it. I think it's knowing people need this forces greed. Personally, I think it's the same way all around.

So, if a loved one is laying in a coma, costing you a fortune to keep alive, will you pull the plug? This is how I feel about Harley...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Emergency Visit to the Vet

Meet Harley, my loyal and faithful companion of nine years. She is the one special bond that I have that has grown immensely over the years. I had gotten her when she was a little puppy, no bigger than the size of my hand. Now she has grown to be an eighty pound lap dog.

What a lovable golden retriever she is! Always greeting me at the door wagging her tail like crazy, knocking stuff over on the coffee table. Sleeping on my feet while I'm watching TV. Her head is on my stomach when I sleep.

Then there's the long walks by the lighthouse and in the woods Up North. Watching her chase robins in the park, just being a happy go lucky dog enjoying the fresh air and exercise. Then begging for water and drinking it down by the gallon like a noisy horse.

That all came crashing down today. This afternoon, she fell down a length of stairs and laid there for a few minutes, shaking. Should have known this was going to happen. The last couple of days she just wasn't herself. She wouldn't eat her food nor drink much water. She had become lethargic and lost her enthusiastic spirit, sleeping most of day away. Instead of her usual "dance" at the door, it became a simple walk up and wag. And that would tire her out....She was getting weak...

I thought it was no more than a bad case of a doggie flu and it would pass. I was wrong.

She was not injured by her fall, but it prompted me to get her to the vet. The results were serious. Her red blood cell count was extremely low, which was causing her become weak and dehydrated. Matters became worse, an x-ray revealed a mass on her spleen and liver which could be either cancerous or benign. An ultra sound and/or exploratory surgery could reveal further information. There's a 50/50 chance she'll survive the operation. To be brutally honest, I'm not sure I can afford all this, with car payments and rent to pay... I've got decisions to make here.

Right now, she's at my feet resting comfortably. I'm wondering if these are going to the last of her days... I hope not, I could use a few more years with her...

Monday, April 4, 2011

My Top 25 Albums 1990-1995

Moving on from the '80's into the '90's was a pleasant change. Music literally exploded! As the music scene shifted from the monotony of heavy metal and the plastic of new wave, I embraced grunge and the jam bands with a feverish passion. I don't know why, the music seemed more real to me and less affected by the corporate sell outs that I starting to despise.

Of course, with the music expanding in different directions, I was getting more and more involved into the music scene. I was buying albums on a regular basis and attending concerts every time that I had a few bucks to spare. I mean, $50 for a pay per view weekend for Woodstock '94 was a highlight (and a must) for me. That was easy to do when I was just living with a lady that soon became my wife. (We later divorced).

A good job, no kids, no worries-life was good.

U2 Achtung Baby-1991 With classic albums like War, The Unforgettable Fire and Joshua Tree under the belt, U2 keeps rolling along like an unstoppable force! Here they go again with another classic! Bono and the boys are the masters of reinvention. This time they add a little of techo-electronic to pizazz up their signature sound. Unbelievable!

Pearl Jam Ten-1991 I remember hearing "Evenflow" on the radio for the first time. I was mesmerized by Eddie Vedder's Morrison like vocals and Micheal McCready's explosive guitar solos. I just HAD to get this album! A great thing I did! The rest of the album got me smokin'. Tunes like "Black" and "Alive" reached to the depths of my soul...

Black Crowes Shake Your Money Maker-1990 I'm going to include their second album, The Southern Harmony and Music Companion in this entry because both of these albums are equally as good. I remember seeing the Black Crowes for the first time on David Letterman, thinking this is rock and roll without all the bullshit. These guys are strictly the meat and potatoes type of band. Taking the retro of the Faces, Zeppelin and the Stones and wrapping if up with the Allman Brothers like jams as spicing it up with the Cajun of the South is pure genius!

Jimmy Page & Robert Plant No Quarter-1994 I originally bootlegged this off the MTV special, Unledded, not knowing it'll be released soon. What happens here is Jimmy Page reunites with Robert Plant and his band recreating obscure Zeppelin classics! Performing with the London Metropolitan Orchestra and the Egyptian Ensemble, tunes like "Four Sticks", "Friends" and "The Battle of Evermore" take on a whole new life! It was a Godsend to see this in concert in Chicago. Probably the most unforgettable night ever!

Allman Brothers Band An Evening With the Allman Brothers Band Sets 1 and 2-1992 and 1995 No disrespect to the legendary Live at the Filmore album that features the original members of the Allman Brothers, but this IS the stuff I go for from the Allman Brothers. The revitalized line up that features the mind blowing guitar combo of Warren Haynes and Dickey Betts that has got me begging for more! Polished down and more deliberate, these guys take old tunes like "Blue Sky" and "Jessica" and new tunes like the 15 minute "Nobody Knows" and "Back Where it all Begins" to new heights!

Gov't Mule (s/t)-1995 I'm a Warren Haynes fan, can't you tell? The Allman Brothers guitarist's power trio side project takes off in the form of a retro rock and roll jam band. Warren blazes and slides his Southern like solos and his baritone pipes to the excellent rhythm section of Allman Brothers' bassist Woody Allen and drummer Matt Abst. The killer riffing of "The Mule" and the powerhouse "Rocking Horse" are a must for a guitar hero!

Guns n' Roses Use Your Illusion I & II-1991 The ambitious Guns n' Roses add keyboardist Dizzy Reed to compliment their deadly arsenal of guitars. The ending result was an incredible mixture of rockers, covers and epic length tunes like the iconoclastic "Civil War", the hyper-driven "Locomotive" and the heartrending beauties of "Estranged" and "November Rain" Even though there are a few blunders here like "Get in the Ring", one has to wonder what was going through Axl Rose's mind...

Counting Crows August and Everything After-1993 This album took me by surprise when I first heard the hauntingly smooth vocals of Adam Duritz and a brisk sounding group that is reminiscent of The Band. Duritz's lyrics are so illustrative, deep and starkly beautiful-making him right of there among the elite of songwriters like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. The rest of the Counting Crows has the uncanny ability to create the mood without going overboard with their stunning improvisations. Priceless....

REM Out of Time-1991 It's a never ending guess to what REM is going to bring to the table. This time, it's their own brand of folk. It's feel good record with a sunny array of shimmering mandolins and radiant acoustic guitars. Remarkably upbeat, it's something that isn't expected from the politically charged REM.

Seven Mary Three American Standard-1995 It's not the radio hits like "Cumbersome" and "Water's Edge" that got me addicted to this album. It's their obscure tunes like "Devil Boy", "Roderigo" and "Favorite Dog" that got me hooked. Through the rage of guitars and grungy riffs singers/guitarists Jason Ross and Jason Pollack purrs and growls their vocals to climatic heights!

Metallica (s/t)-1991 Also known as The Black Album to many. Metallica abandons their signature sped up complex tempo changing epics in favor for the conventional and assessable heavy metal. A risky move...and the fans ate it up! Classic tunes like the anthem "Enter Sandman", the Gothic grunge of "Sad But True" and the road warrior "Wherever I May Roam" were made mainstream by radio airplay and MTV. What's even bolder, the ballad "Nothing Else Matters".

Nirvana Nevermind-1991 Critically acclaimed as one of the best albums in rock and roll, it's easy to see why. Yet, I never did fully embraced the Nirvana legacy. Much of it I thought was overkill. However, I did find Kurt Cobain's haunted, tormented voice and the bands' catchy hooks rather engaging. Angry and raging guitars filled with angst and rebellion that rises and cascades down to a whisper of Cobain's troubled soul was a real trip...

Neil Young & Crazy Horse Ragged Glory-1990 Teaming up again with Crazy Horse, Neil Young is fearless! Leaping into the '90 after a mediocre '80's, Young makes his most impressive comeback. Using over-amped guitars with distortion and excessive feedback, the Godfather of Grunge blazes and burns as he rips through 10 minute epic tracks such as "Love and Only Love" and "Love to Burn". Lyrically he's also gotten bolder, shocking the hell out of many fans with his moniker, "Fucking Up". You know, Neil Young didn't fuck up on this's incredible!

Robert Plant Manic Nirvana-1990 Robert Plant "returns" to the Zeppelin form bringing the mystery and the mystical back for a second record. This time he rocks a little harder! There's the hippie feeling rocker "Tye Dye on the Highway" where Plant pumps life into his harmonica, the bone cruncher "Hurting Kind (I've Got My Eyes on You)" and the folksy "Liar's Dance" that is reminiscent to "Going to California". This album certainly was a vast improvement over the countless Zep clone bands that were around at the time.

Live Throwing Copper-1994 Throwing Copper is a very passionate, tight and melodramatic album aided by crashing crescendos and memorable hooks. Singer Ed Kowalczyk powerful vocals whispers to climatic heights as he belts out the heroin related story of "T.D.B." There isn't really a wasted track here. "I Alone," "Selling the Drama," and "All Over You," all of which received heavy radio play. The rebirth-themed "Lightning Crashes," the album's biggest hit, was written about a friend of the band that died in a car accident.

Collective Soul (s/t)-1995 Straddling a line between '80s arena rock and jangling, '90s alternative pop, their debut was a pleasant affair that became a multi-platinum smash. They don't tamper much with that sound on this self titled album, but the results are every bit as enjoyable due to the engaging melodies that lead singer Ed Roland and company seem to create at will. The hits included the infectious "Gel," sarcastic, mid-tempo "December," and the lovely, soaring ballad "The World I Know.

Blues Traveler Four-1994 The originality of this New York based jam band took me by surprise! Led by the guttural vocals and incisive harmonica of imposing frontman John Popper, Blues Traveler takes on a blues boogie formula and hopped it up with a kinetic mixture of guitars and harmonica fueled with speed of light cheeky lyrics. It wasn't really a surprise the tune "Run-Around" became a smash hit.

Aerosmith Get a Grip-1993 Aerosmith's train keeps a rollin' tour de force! Aerosmith's 11th studio album, Get a Grip, shows the band in the peak of their comeback form. Tunes like "Eat the Rich", Livin' on the Edge" and "Shut Up and Dance" rocks with a bluesy groove and bite that is comparable to their golden days. It's the ballads like "Cryin'" and "Amazing" that shows the band leaning towards commercialism.

Melissa Etheridge Yes I Am-1993 "Come to My Window" was the tune I heard when I seen Melissa Etheridge on David Letterman for the first time. To describe that performance in one word-breathless! That woman can SING! Heavily influenced by Bruce Springsteen, the album title says it all-she belts out these unapologetically anthemic numbers with such passion and confidence that is unparalleled in her previous albums.

Edie Brickell & New Bohemians Ghost of a Dog-1990 Talk about blowing me away... Hippie folk band Edie Brickell & New Bohemians sophomore (and last) effort, takes them beyond their debut! Once again, the musicianship and instrumentation are supremely appropriate, topping that with thoughtful, thought-provoking lyrics and memorable melodies. Unlike other songwriters, Brickell finds the similarity in differences and uses it to her advantage, spinning webs with words entangled in unique rhymes and patterns. This record is full of such cleverness, as bouncy and whimsical as some of the songs, some of it can get downright poignant and serious. However exquisite Brickell is as a songwriter and vocalist, enough can't be said of the guys who support her musically.They are wonderfully creative musicians, and the cohesiveness of their sound is exciting to hear. These guys know what it means to play together, each giving his all without stepping on anyone's toes!

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Into the Great Wide Open-1991 Tom Petty returns to the Heartbreakers after his successful solo stint in Full Moon Fever, bringing his shiny new formula to the band. Here's where the songwriting and the story telling takes on a new light. It's laid back and easy on the mind, yet thought provoking and personal. The title track tells a story of Midwestern boy trying to make in L.A., while "Learning to Fly" is very personal as I was going through a tough time...

Spin Doctors Pocketful of Kryptonite-1991 With quirky lyrics, a funky rhythm, bombastic guitar solos and catchy hooks, it's hardly a surprise this album became a hit. While considered the Grateful Dead lite, it's the Eric Schenkman's Page like guitar solos that attracted me to this band, especially on the 12 minute epic, "Shinbone Alley". It's the quirkier, humorous tunes like "Little Miss Can't be Wrong", "Jimmy Olsen's Blues" and "Two Princes" became smash hits.

Soundgarden Superunknown-1994 Soundgarden's finest hour! Superunknown is a 70 minute magnum opus that pushes the band beyond any previous boundaries. Soundgarden had always been a little mind-bending, but the full-on experiments with psychedelia give them a much wider sonic palette, paving the way for less metallic sounds and instruments, more detailed arrangements, and a bridge into pop. The focused songwriting allows the band to stretch material out for grander effect, without sinking into the pointlessly drawn-out muck that cluttered their early records. The dissonance and odd time signatures are still in force, though not as jarring or immediately obvious, which means that this album reveals more subtleties with each listen.

Queensryche Empire-1990 One of the most praised metal bands of the late '80's, Queensryche powers their way into '90's with their release, Empire. Highly conceptual and anything but redundant, Empire demonstrates beautifully just how imaginative Queensryche can be. Geoff Tate's powerful vocals, Chris DeGarmo's and Micheal Wilton' twin guitar assault combined with inspirational and sometimes dark lyrics leaves no doubt how talented this band can be!

Blind Melon (s/t)-1992 Managing to be equally mellow and introspective as well as rough and rocking, Blind Melon's 1992 self-titled debut remains one of the purest sounding rock albums of recent time. This album holds pretty well standing over the test of time, resembling a classic rock album. The late Shannon Hoon's angelic voice and talent for penning lyrics that examined the ups and downs of everyday life were an integral part of Blind Melon's sound, as well as the band's supreme jamming interplay. Popularized by MTV's heavy rotation of the "Bee Video" of their song "No Rain", Blind Melon made their to the top of the charts.

Rush Roll the Bones-1991 Rush's uncanny ability to change and evolve never ceases to amaze me! Roll the Bones marks further transition from the band's '80's style to their sound in the '90's. The roles of the instruments have been reversed; guitar is beginning to creep to the front of the song arrangements, while bursts of keyboard and organ are played in the background. This album comes with a few surprises thrown in for good measure. These include an amusing rap section in the middle of the title track, a welcome return to instrumentals with "Where's my Thing?," and one of the band's finest songs of the '90s in the gutsy "Dreamline."

Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream-1993 Its was a toss-up between this album and the 1995 double disc release Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. During the recording of Siamese Dream, the band's troubles were threatening to break the band apart. Singer/guitarist Billy Corgan was going through bouts of depression and writer's block while drummer Jimmy Chamberlin was addicted to heroin. Bassist D'Arcy and guitarist James Iha severed their romantic relationship, thus creating a volatile combination for failure. Somehow this band prevailed....Billy Corgan assumed a bigger role by performing most of the album alone except the percussion parts. The final result was an album considered among the finest in the '90's!

Extreme Pornograffiti-1990 Extreme came onto their own in their sophomore conceptual effort, Pornograffiti. With the band's strongest set of songs and an intellectual theme revolving around the struggle for genuine love and romance in a sleazy, decadent society full of greed and corruption. The band shows a strong desire to experiment and push the boundaries of the pop-metal format. Through the ever changing styles of the Queen influenced guitarist Nuno Bettencourt, songs ranged from the censorship pushing "Get the Funk Out" to the folk laden ballads "More Than Words" and "Hole Hearted" proves the band talented indeed!

Arc Angels (s/t)-1992 I ALMOST had forgotten about this album! Luckily, I didn't...There are one-hit wonders throughout the history of music, but very few one-album wonders like the Arc Angels. After the death of blues-rock guitar hero Stevie Ray Vaughan, fellow singing guitarists, Texans, and Vaughan devotees Doyle Bramhall II and Charlie Sexton formed the quartet with Vaughan's rhythm section of bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Chris Layton. Their 1992 debut release would also be their swan song, but the self-titled album would prove to be one of the best rock/pop/blues recordings of the decade as well. The tune "Sent by Angels" became a very personal.

Stone Temple Pilots Core-1992 Once rated as grunge outcasts similar to Pearl Jam, playing like Alice in Chains rejects, somehow this band gained national recognition through their tunes like "Plush", "Creep" and "Sex Type Thing". The album rocks pretty hard, remarkably well even though they carry the torch like their processors...

I know that there are 30 entries here. Like I said before, the music scene exploded here! I could have easily included entries from bands like the Cry of Love. the School of Fish. Temple of the Dog, Masters of Reality and dada. All these are great bands!