Thursday, January 19, 2017

Facebook Challenge: Personal Top 10 Albums of the '90s

A bunch of my friends over on the Book of Face decided to do this top 10 albums that influenced us in the '90s. Sounds like fun. But since I want to give a bit more explanation than Facebook allows, here's the full version.

10. Ricky Martin – Ricky Martin (“Livin’ La Vida Loca”)
This is on here for one reason, and on reason only: Continentals Tour K in summer 1999 (link is not to my tour, but that was our program). “Livin’ La Vida Loca” was one of the hottest songs of the summer, and when you put a bunch of teens on a tour bus for six weeks, well, we all could sing along (and sounded great) by the end of tour. Picture the tour bus scene in Pitch Perfect, only with a mixed group of guys and girls.

9. The W’s – Fourth from the Last (“Frank”)
Swing and Ska are going to show up several times on this list. Ska more than Swing, but of the various Swing albums that I listened to (and still do), The W’s seem to have had more staying power in my head than Flight 180, The Brian Setzer Orchestra, or Squirrel Nut Zippers.

8. Sonicflood – Sonicflood (“I Want to Know You”)
The contemporary worship scene has jumped so far over the shark as to become a joke, but in the late ‘90s, albums like Sonicflood bordered on revolutionary for showing a lot more people that Christian worship didn’t have to be a stodgy, bland, singalong to nothing but hymns written before anyone in the congregation was born, and played in a style that someone in the 1940s had arbitrarily decided was “appropriate.”

7. Switchfoot – New Way to Be Human (“Company Car”)
One of my favorite late ‘90s alternative bands. I still play this album, and “Company Car” still reminds me that there’s more to life than being 2 under par and having a company ride.

6. Weird Al – Running With Scissors (“All About the Pentiums”)
Before “White and Nerdy” there was “All About the Pentiums”. While I spent most of the ‘90s listening to bands that could generally be categorized as “Christian”, there was an exception given to parody. And despite being in a conservative Christian college, with a dress code and music standards locked in the 1950s, almost every Computer Science student could sing along to “All About the Pentiums”.

5. Broomtree – Transparent (“Reckless Life”)
Loud, hard, alternative rock with a female lead. This album holds up to continued listening. Transparent still gets thrown into my car’s CD player on a regular basis.

4. Audio Adrenaline – Bloom (“Memoir”)
Audio Adrenaline has released a lot of albums over the years, and gone through a lot of different sounds. Bloom is a perfect time capsule of mid ‘90s grunge rock, and just keeps getting better with age.

3. DC Talk – Jesus Freak (“Jesus Freak”)
Much like AudioA above, DC Talk went through quite a musical evolution from early 90s hip-hop to grunge, to more of an alt-rock style on their final album. Jesus Freak is their no apologies grunge rock anthem. My memories of them may be colored just a little bit by the fact that the Jesus Freak tour (with Audio Adrenaline opening with Bloom) was the first concert I took a date to.

Jesus Freak is a great album though. The titular song, "What if I Stumble", asking a question too many Christians in the public eye never do; and their cover of Charlie Peacock's "In The Light" were some of the best music those three ever made.

2. Five Iron Frenzy – Quantity is Job 1 EP (“The Untimely Death of Brad”)
Five Iron is one of the few Ska bands that while being basically a Christian music focused group, broke out to some mainstream recognition (at least among Ska kids) on the pure quality of their music. There isn’t a bad album in their discography, but the Quantity is Job 1 EP stands out for songs like “Riot Gear” (about a Denver riot) “The Untimely Death of Brad” (about believing rumors on the internet), and "My Evil Plan to Save the World" that stand out today as almost prescient in their messages. Plus there’s the Pants rock opera!

1. The O. C. Supertones – Chase The Sun (“Chase the Sun”)
Of course a Ska band was going to be #1 on this list. Fire up a ska album. Any ska band and album. When those horns come in, then the guitars start jamming, you can't help but smile and start wanting to dance. But where Five Iron has gained some mainstream recognition, I don't believe the 'Tones ever did. Which is too bad, because their style is fantastic.

Chase the Sun was my college anthem.

"One Voice" was my cry whenever the petty, divisive politics of Christian fundamentalism reared their ugly head at school.

"Dedication", has a bridge that goes:
"Will you be there for me, say seven years from now?
And where will we be then?
Well, I'm here for you now!"
That song has only gotten more true for me as time has gone by, and time, moves, and distance push once close friends in acquaintances separated by time and distance.

But above them all, "Chase the Sun" comes back again and again. I may never live in California again, but I'll be from the Mighty West Side until the day I die!

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