10 Classic Albums That Are 30 Years Old In 2019
It’s been remarked that previous entries about classic albums have been top-loaded with bleak world events that occurred in 2009 and 1999.
So, without shovelling death and destruction into your face before celebrating notable rock, punk and metal releases from 1989, let’s concentrate on the more positive things that informed that year.
The Berlin Wall came down. That’s one! Erm…
Stephen Hawking melted minds with his book A Brief History of Time, while Coming To America, Big, Good Morning Vietnam and Die Hard were all released at the cinema.
The Cosby Show and Roseanne were the most popular TV shows in the U.S. and… oh. Right.
We tried. Let’s take a look at 10 releases which celebrate their 30th birthday this year.
Sepultura – Beneath The Remains (Roadrunner)
After gaining a cult following in the tape trading community with their debut Morbid Visions and its follow-up Schizophrenia, it was with the release of Beneath The Remains that brought the Brazilian four-piece global recognition in the metal scene. Sepultura’s Roadrunner debut was an aggressive collection of death metal-tinged riffs with thunderous drumming from Igor Cavalera, particularly on the savage Inner Self. “I think it was a success because we had so much energy and so much truth to our music,” guitarist Andreas Kisser told Kerrang!. “We were talking about more realistic topics on BTR, like the chaos of the big city and living in stress.”
Nirvana – Bleach (Sub Pop)
Produced by Jack Endino at Reciprocal Studios in Seattle, Nirvana’s debut cost a paltry $606.17 and just 30 hours to make. It was paid for by Jason Everman, who was credited in the album’s liner notes, even though he didn’t record a note. Despite being overshadowed by its monstrous follow-up Nevermind, there are many examples of Kurdt Kobain’s knack for grunge earworms on Bleach: the jangle of About A Girl, the adolescent howl of School and the overdriven lurch of Negative Creep. It had an effect on one particular drummer back in DC. “I loved Bleach the first time I heard it,” remembers Dave Grohl. “It had everything that I really loved in music - it had the big Beatles influence on About A Girl, songs like Paper Cuts and Sifting were heavy as balls and Negative Creep was just amazing. I also remember the first time I was in the same room with them and I was thinking, ‘What? That’s Nirvana? Are you kidding?’, because on the cover of Bleach they looked like psycho lumberjacks! I was like, ‘No way!’.”
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Mother’s Milk (EMI)
Following the death of guitarist Hillel Slovak and departure of drummer Jack Irons, Red Hot Chili Peppers mainstays Anthony Kiedis and Flea recruited Chad Smith and 18-year-old guitar prodigy John Frusciante for their fourth studio release. Boasting more crunch, focus and verve than their previous album, The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, the band achieved chart success with a cover of Stevie Wonder’s Higher Ground and their own punk-funk single Knock Me Down. During the sessions, the group recorded not one but two songs dedicated to their Los Angeles Lakers heroes: Magic Johnson and Salute To Kareem (an instrumental named for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, which was included on a 2003 remastered version). The album – which became their first to move over half a million copies – may have hinted at a more mature direction, but, by and large, the majority of the songs were still about humping.
Bad Religion – No Control (Epitaph)
One of Bad Religion’s faster albums, No Control opens with the Greg Graffin-penned Change Of Ideas, which clocks in at just under a minute. It sets the pace for a landmark punk album which is free of filler, pulling in disparate influences from the ‘Father Of Modern Geology’ James Hutton’s 1788 paper Theory Of The Earth on the album’s title track and on the song You, there’s even a nod to The Beatles’ We Can Work It Out. Stimulating, illuminating and simply emotionally-charged, No Control stands as a landmark album in an already consistently great back catalogue.
Fugazi – 13 Songs (Dischord)
Washington DC quartet Fugazi – which featured members of Minor Threat and Rites Of Spring – embodied the spirit of DIY, releasing records on guitarist and vocalist Ian MacKaye’s own label, playing all-ages shows for $5 and selling absolutely no merchandise. This album, a compilation comprising their self-titled EP and Margin Walker, sounds as vital today as it did upon its release in September 1989. Featuring the anthemic Waiting Room – a boisterous singalong which has since been covered by Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Wildhearts, Pearl Jam and Arcade Fire – the release features in the upper echelons of every Greatest Punk Album roundup, due to its masterful songwriting and execution. The album was later fused with Wu Tang Clan’s 36 Chambers for an astounding mashup album called 13 Chambers. Proof, if proof were needed, that Fugazi is for the children.
Faith No More – The Real Thing (Slash/Reprise)
Mike Patton marked his debut as vocalist for these San Francisco oddballs on their third studio album. A tasty stew of catchy pop, crunching metal and elastic basslines, The Real Thing – which featured From Out Of Nowhere, Epic and a cover of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs – inspired the likes of Korn and The Black Queen’s Greg Puciato, who told the Radio 1 Rock Show that the album changed his life: “Mike Patton was one of the first guys I saw being a like a pure singer, and just being weird and aggressive and punk and funky.” The album was ranked as our Album Of The Year in 1989, which is not to be confused with the band’s own Album Of The Year, which was released eight years later.
The Offspring – The Offspring (Nemesis)
This Garden Grove punk four-piece recorded and released their first album in the summer of 1989. Their label pressed up 5,000 copies on tape and vinyl and reportedly took over two years to sell them all. This scrappy, raw debut features Jennifer Lost The War (which also appeared on the Epitaph compilation Punk-O-Rama Volume 1) and Tehran. The track Kill The President was pulled from subsequent re-releases and replaced with four seconds of silence. Probably best with the FBI keeping an eye on that sort of thing. Interesting fact: Dexter Holland was credited as Keith Holland on the original vinyl release.
Pixies – Doolittle (4AD)
This Boston quartet released their second album just weeks before Nirvana’s Bleach. With abrasive songs inspired by religion (Dead and Gouge Away), environmental destruction (Monkey Gone To Heaven), murder-suicides (Wave Of Mutilation), and Luis Buñuel’s surrealist short film Un Chien Andalou (Debaser), the band’s propensity for a quiet/loud dynamic had a profound impact on the alt.rock landscape. Kurt Cobain, for one, was taken with Black Francis’ approach to songwriting when it came to writing Smells Like Teen Spirit. “When I heard the Pixies for the first time, I connected with that band so heavily that I should have been in that band — or at least a Pixies cover band,” he told Rolling Stones’ David Fricke. “We used their sense of dynamics, being soft and quiet and then loud and hard.”
Soundgarden – Louder Than Love (A&M)
Following the release of their debut, Ultramega OK, Soundgarden signed with a major label and recorded Louder Than Love while Nirvana were wrapping up their brief studio sessions for Bleach. With dense, down-tuned psychedelic riffs which owed much to Black Sabbath, The Beatles and The Cult, Louder Than Love spawned two singles: the brooding, heavy Loud Love and the grinding Hands All Over. Bassist Hiro Yamamoto quit before the band toured in support of the album, to complete his master’s degree in physical chemistry. He was briefly replaced by Jason Everman, before settling on Ben Shepherd, solidifying the band’s classic line-up up until frontman Chris Cornell’s tragic death by suicide on May 18, 2017.
Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine (TVT)
Trent Reznor wrote Nine Inch Nails’ debut while playing keyboards for a horrifically cheesy Cleveland pop group Slam Bamboo. Influenced by Skinny Puppy and Cabaret Voltaire, Pretty Hate Machine was a bleak industrial album played through a mangled pop filter, providing a soundtrack to his darkest, torturous thoughts. “I opened up my journal,” he told Kerrang!. “It was full of bad feelings, honest feelings. At first I thought, ‘I can’t fucking say these things’, but I also realised it was this honesty that made it important.” It’s sheer intensity and power, combined with its irresistible hooks make Pretty Hate Machine a landmark album, no matter the genre.
Words: Simon Young