2001 was of course released in 1968, and what's up with that monolith? Amirite?
The US elected a barely intelligible hominid to its highest office, the UK got Foot and Mouth, Dennis Tito became the world's first space tourist, we were gifted with Windows XP, and - of course - the World Trade Center was destroyed on the 11th of September, amid a coordinated attack on the USA by al-Qaeda. My grandparents had both just died the previous month and I was returning to London from their joint funeral in Eastbourne when we got the news. I expect you can recall where you were when you heard about it too.
Aside from the thousands lost in those tragic events, we also waved goodbye (as always, among many others) to Robert Ludlum, William Hanna, Joey Ramooooooone, Douglas Adams, Perry Como, John Lee Hooker, Jack Lemmon, Chet Atkins, George Harrison and Nigel Hawthorne.
Musically we were struggling to escape The Dark Times but still albums that failed to make my top 6 arrived from Aerosmith, Alien Ant Farm (very close call, that one), Alice Cooper, Hardcore Superstar, King's X, Megadeth, Tenacious D, Mr. Big and others.
And so, to business.
Backyard Babies - Making Enemies Is Good
I've mentioned these Swedish sleaze pioneers before, and this was the first work of theirs to grace my ears. It grabbed me immediately, and was one of the first lights to truly go on in the darkness. Still great 13 years later. Raw and punky, but slick enough to enjoy on a daily basis. Top track: "The Clash"
Beautiful Creatures - Beautiful Creatures
Around the time I first heard of Backyard Babies, it also came to my intention that Joe LeSte (previously of Bang Tango) had a new outfit on the scene, and I checked out the record. It's great - but it's dated far worse than the Babies' record has. Still has its moments, though. Top track: "1 A.M."
John Butler Trio - Three
Yes! It's not all about hard rock! I had never heard of Mr. Butler or his trio, until my wife's (then girlfriend's) cousin Roland So Real came all the way from Australia to stay with us for a bit and brought a couple of CDs as a gift. This was one of them, and it remains a solid favourite. Real hard, dirty, acoustic grooving with a top soulful voice. Thanks heaps, Rols. Top track: "Betterman"
Muse - Origin Of Symmetry
The Devon mega-trio really broke through with this one - not a bad tune on there. I originally had "Bliss" down as top track, but who am I kidding? Top track: "Plug In Baby"
Nickelback - Silver Side Up
OK. Yes. Yes, you're right. Yes, they are. I know. No please, go on.
Yes, I accept that. Of course not. No.
OK. Try to imagine you've never heard Nickelback, and there's very little decent rock music around. OK? Suddenly, "This Is How You Remind Me" is all over everything, guys with guitars are starting to be back in vogue, and you know what? This is a good album. It is. If you can forget everything that came after, the generic corporate-rock assclowns they turned out to be, the carbon copy albums they churned out after it, that fucking haircut, the lot… it's a good album. Sorry Hrishi, but it is.
I'm listening to it right now as I type this and YOU CAN'T STOP ME. Top track: "Never Again"
And the winner is…
Buckcherry - Time Bomb
I've described the impact this album had on me before, but it bears repeating. Having been brought up on Guns N' Roses, Mötley Crüe, Skid Row, L.A. Guns and all the other sleazesters of the late 80s, I was just laying there begging for Buckcherry to come along, and when I first heard Time Bomb (late one night, having imbibed more than one small sherry, in the company of Rory Dale and Dave To The Grind, if memory serves) something in me - thought long dead - stirred. The all-consuming antipathy I felt towards grunge had dissipated along with most of that music itself, the waves of Britpop and Madchester had finally broken, and it turned out that Hard Rock was pulling its boots on and thinking about finding a beer and trying to find a ride to the next party after all.
Thank you, Buckcherry, from the bottom of my arrhythmic heart. I really can't thank you enough.
Top tracks: "Frontside", "Whiskey In The Morning", "Underneath"
Turkey of the Year
Stereophonics - Just Enough Education To Perform
Awww, no. I loved the previous one, Performance and Cocktails, but this really missed the mark in my opinion. Too self-indulgent. Too introspective, not enough crowd-pleasing. Sorry guys, but this is where I tuned out.
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