Music Disc Reviews

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Mike Mettler  |  Jan 29, 2024  |  3 comments

Burning Dinosaur Bones

Soundgarden was catching fire. The proto-headbanging Seattle-bred foursome began to emerge from the misnomered grunge ooze with their second LP, September 1989’s aptly named Louder Than Love, with tracks like “Loud Love” and “Big Dumb Sex” deftly adding observational tact to the band’s already thunderous bouillabaisse. And then, in October of that forever-hallowed alt-rock emergence year of 1991, Soundgarden swerved into even more progressive-leaning hard-metal lanes with the unrelenting Badmotorfinger.

Mike Mettler  |  Dec 26, 2023  |  0 comments
Photo: Trinifold Archive


Life House was intended to be Pete Townshend’s life’s work, so to speak, following the somewhat unexpected runaway success of The Who’s May 1969 groundbreaking 2LP rock opera,Tommy. But for various reasons, portions of Life House were instead transmogrified into the nine songs that comprise one of the truly seminal albums of the rock era, August 1971’s Who’s Next.

Mike Mettler  |  Nov 21, 2023  |  0 comments
Photo by Martyn Goddard


40th Anniversary Monster Edition & Vinyl Edition Box Sets

Like many rock bands that initially emerged from the free-flowing nether-reaches of the 1960s, Jethro Tull had a decision to make upon entering the 1980s — namely, stick with their signature sound, or embrace the emerging technology of the new decade? Tull mastermind Ian Anderson chose the latter, initially going all-in on the electronic-tinged aural front with August 1980’s A. While A was certainly an eclectic and challenging jumping-off point, its follow-up, April 1982’s The Broadsword and the Beast, was a much better marriage of classic neo-Tull with the more modernized electro-Tull. Two new 40th anniversary box set offerings for Broadsword — a 5CD/3DVD smorgasbord subtitled the Monster Edition, and a relatively extensive companion 4LP collection — tell the album’s expanded sonic-swashbuckling tale quite well in their respective ways.

Mike Mettler  |  Oct 24, 2023  |  1 comments
No one does self-loathing, despair, and existential angst quite like Trent Reznor. Right from the outset of his then one-man band Nine Inch Nails’ October 1989 TVT debut album Pretty Hate Machine and the unforgiving, snarling manifesto of its opening track “Head Like a Hole,” Reznor threw down the gauntlet of NIN’s take-no-prisoners aural template. Within NIN, he enmeshed industrial synthesizer clank, metal-riff drang, searing layered instrumentation, and sneering vocals all into an unapologetically abrasive style that came to define one particular slice of 1990s alt-rock culture.
Mike Mettler  |  Sep 21, 2023  |  0 comments
I hesitate using trendy acronyms when writing reviews — but in this case, saying I had a clear-cut case of FOMO when Eric Clapton’s slightly misnamed 24 Nights 2 CD clamshell collection first came out in October 1991 actually might be an understatement. The 15 tracks on that release — five culled from E.C.’s 18-night 1990 Royal Albert Hall residency in London, and the remainder from his 24-night 1991 stretch there — seemed more like a tease. Hence, I resigned myself to being somewhat content at the time. But now, E.C.’s 1990-91 live largesse at “The Hall” has gotten considerably fuller on The Definitive 24 Nights.
Mike Mettler  |  Aug 15, 2023  |  0 comments
Tears For Fears vaulted into the international big leagues with the take-no-prisoners layered-sound approach to their February 1985 sophomore album, Songs From The Big Chair. It was a calculated production leap from the aural cocoon of their more minimalistic, electronic-leaning debut, March 1982’s The Hurting — and it was a move that paid off handsomely with multi-platinum sales and upper-echelon chart domination around the globe.
Mike Mettler  |  Jul 17, 2023  |  0 comments
No one could have predicted how a guitar band from Athens, Georgia would turn into the biggest international alt-rock darlings of the 1990s — and yet, that’s exactly what R.E.M. did. The lo-fi genius of their eternally mumbly/jangly first single, “Radio Free Europe” essentially reset the song-arrangement table for what became known as college rock. Year by year, R.E.M. planted more than enough sonic seeds about where the latest crop of DIY U.S. bands was heading on each of their ensuing mid-1980s LP releases on the indie I.R.S. Records label until they jumped to the majors with their November 1988 effort on Warner Bros., Green. Though Green’s expansive sound palette took full advantage of a much-bigger recording budget, R.E.M.’s world domination vision instead came to fruition on their more refined, more stripped-down second Warner Bros. release, the unequivocal worldwide smash hit, March 1991’s Out of Time.
Mike Mettler  |  Jun 09, 2023  |  0 comments
Steven Wilson has long been a man with a mission to push musical boundaries and stretch the limits of our listening expectations with his own music. He also has a passion for championing releases from other artists who have been underexposed or overlooked entirely, so is it really any wonder Wilson is behind a new and quite, well, intriguing import-only box set compilation Intrigue — Steven Wilson Presents: Progressive Sounds in UK Alternative Music 1979-89? All told, Intrigue presents 58 tracks spread across 5-plus listening hours on a 4CD set from Edsel Records.
Mike Mettler  |  May 15, 2023  |  0 comments
The Doobie Brothers are the consummate 1970s band. Their Northern California-bred sound consists of a harmonious amalgamation of rock, R&B, soul, and blues — a veritable melting-pot musical blend that continues to galvanize audiences the world over five-plus decades later, especially given The Doobies are currently on the road all summer long in continuation of their pandemically delayed 50th anniversary tour.
Mike Mettler  |  Apr 04, 2023  |  First Published: Apr 05, 2023  |  0 comments
Bob Dylan hit a bit of a rough patch as the freewheelin’ 1980s gave way to the dour 1990s. Dylan ended the MTV decade on a high note with September 1989’s Oh Mercy—a visceral, smoky triumph produced by Daniel Lanois—but he stumbled out of the new-decade gate with the half-hearted mish-mosh sheen of September 1990’s Under the Red Sky.
Mike Mettler  |  Mar 27, 2023  |  3 comments
Any Kind of Love Is Alright

XTC was indeed riding high following the both-sides-of-the-Pond success of February 1989’s psychedelically fulfilling Oranges & Lemons, but far be it from Andy Partridge, Colin Moulding, and David Gregory to even think of doing the same thing twice.

Mike Mettler  |  Mar 13, 2023  |  0 comments
John Mellencamp was making waves. Unfortunately saddled with the stage name “John Cougar” when he came onto the scene in the late-1970s, once he began climbing the singles and sales charts, he asserted his artistic identity much more forcefully by crediting his hit October 1983 LP Uh-Huh to John Cougar Mellencamp. He did so again on his full-artistic breakthrough album, August 1985’s Scarecrow, before dropping the Cougar moniker entirely when the ’90s rolled around.
Mike Mettler  |  Jan 26, 2023  |  0 comments
In the early-1970s, two new VIP members of The Beach Boys not sporting the surnames Wilson, Love, or Jardine came to the forefront of the band — namely, guitarist/vocalist Blondie Chaplin and guitarist/drummer Ricky Fataar. Though their tenure in The Beach Boys was short-lived, the energy and creative verve these two artists of South African descent injected into this consummate California band’s era-transitional gambits were noticeably palpable for a decade, often overshadowed by the sheer magnitude of their groundbreaking 1960s recordings.
Mike Mettler  |  Oct 20, 2022  |  0 comments
Just Turn On With Me

"To be played at maximum volume." So went the listening instructions appearing in all caps near the bottom left of the back cover of David Bowie's June 1972 career-defining dystopian space-glam saga, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars.

Mike Mettler  |  Jul 27, 2022  |  0 comments
Elton John could do no wrong as the calendar came to the close of 1971. Madman Across the Water, his third album in that calendar year alone, came out in November, and it was considered to be the best entry in his Trident Studios orchestral trilogy, featuring production by Gus Dudgeon and arrangements by Paul Buckmaster. (The previous two releases in said trilogy were April 1970's self-titled Elton John and October 1970's Tumbleweed Connection.)