Saturday 9 March 2019

Back to the 1990's

After the brilliant 1980’s my life changed once more in the 1990’s and it will remain a turbulent, yet ultimately enjoyable decade – particularly towards the end.

So much changed in the 1990’s in terms of music and fashion with new forms of music evolving from the legacy of the previous decade; at least that’s how it was for me personally. I suspect that as I matured, so did my musical taste. The elements that had shaped my musical choices  thus far were still evident but I was starting to enjoy a deeper appreciation of the actual tones and lyrics of the songs I enjoyed instead of being a young man bouncing away to your average pop song.

The 1990s gave us Indie Rock, particularly in the Madchester scene which was centred on Manchester itself. Some of the bands that erupted onto the music scene from my adopted city became famous overnight and were ubiquitous in the city centre bars and clubs.

Pop music was now rather boring for me apart from some aspects of the Britpop scene and Indie Rock and I sought solace in other genres including my old favourites and grunge.

Here are some examples of the music I liked in the 1990’s.

Tasmin Archer – Sleeping Satellite

Some pop music still appealed to me, particularly the more melodic songs that graced the charts. In the 1990’s I was still listening to the radio in bursts and occasionally a song like Sleeping Satellite would attract my interest with its soulful lyrics and it would stir an emotion in me that reflects the rollercoaster I endured in that decade. Such songs had a distinctive 90’s feel to them, something I struggle to elucidate, so the best thing I can do is let you listen to the song in the hope that you will see what I mean.

The Verve – Bittersweet Symphony

Indie Rock became prominent in the 1990’s and plenty of new British bands erupted onto the scene and shared some success in the charts with other genres that, sadly, didn’t interest me. The 1990s was the decade when I sadly felt that I was beginning to lose touch with tastes of younger people for the first time. I suppose I was growing up a little bit even though you might say that in my 30’s I should have been an adult. Adulthood is a state of mind in my opinion and not something that defines you just because your body is older. Anyway, enough philosophy; Bittersweet Symphony was one of the many Indie songs I enjoyed in the 1990s.

Air – All I Need

Towards the end of the decade, I rediscovered ambient electropop as my life started to settle down again. I found it relaxing and a far cry from some of the heavier music I still enjoyed. In particular, an album called Moon Safari, by French duo Air, completely blew me away in terms of its emotional appeal. This song is from that album. I discovered it by accident while I was working in Hong Kong thanks to a free CD that appeared on Q magazine. I popped into HMV and listened to the album on headphones and fell in love with it. The album is one of my all-time favourites and would be one of my desert island disks. That surprises people who know that I love heavy metal but I like to think it shows my taste is quite diverse.

Nirvana – Lithium

I can’t mention the 1990s without mentioning Nirvana, the band that personified grunge. I liked grunge but for a while it threatened to take over the rock scene completely pushing heavy metal and similar genres out into obscurity. Thankfully it slotted in alongside similar genres. I actually had a ticket to see Nirvana in Manchester when tragically the lead singer, Kurt Cobain, committed suicide. I was deeply saddened by this because the band came from nowhere to be globally famous and the pressure took its toll. This is one of my favourite songs by the band.

Queensrÿche – Out of Mind

Progressive rock was still a niche genre in the 1990’s with a cult following. Rush, my favourite band were still going strong but others were popular on the rock scene. One band in particular, Queensrÿche, appealed to me because their albums in the early part of the decade were intelligent and very well written with thought-provoking lyrics, ranging from melodic ballads to heavy hard rock songs. Out of Mind is an example of the band’s more melodic offerings.

Metallica – Enter Sandman

Any rumours that heavy metal was dying in the 1990’s were totally false. In the 1980’s Metallica burst on the scene as an antidote to the “hair” metal of that decade, with songs and albums that were hard, fast and heavy. As pioneers of thrash, Metallica were responsible for face-melting heavy metal. In the 1990’s however, they released The Black Album and adapted their style to be more appealing to the mass market. Enter Sandman is a heavy song – there is no mistaking it – but it certainly grabbed my attention. It was – and still is – a great song to drive to.

And finally...

The 1990’s was a rollercoaster for me but the music certainly helped me cope with those stormy years. I learned a lot, suffered a lot but left the decade a better man and that makes me happy. I still look back with fondness at the music.