Tied To The 90's Part Four: 1993

Published on 23 January 2021 at 18:14

Tied to the Nineties - 1993  

By Paul Laird - @mildmanneredmax


Farewell to adolescence. 

Farewell and thank God. 

My teenage years were not what one could call a success and after calling time on my missionary  efforts on behalf of the Mormon Church in 1992 I found myself rootless, shiftless and hopeless as  1993 started. I was approaching the end of my teens and twenty sounded terrifyingly…real. I  was going to be starting at University and, incredibly, I was in a relationship. A relationship. Me.  With a real person. 

The object of my affection was a girl with a Frank Sidebottom obsession and the sort of artistic  bent that made her seem, in my humdrum life, a creature of near exotic status. Taller than me,  cooler than me and, if I must be honest, too good for me. This was love and lust and goodness  knows what else thrown into the mix. I accepted a place at a University that would put me within  a 6 minute train journey from her front door…and then she accepted a place at art school on the  opposite side of the country. 

Here I was then, a doomed romantic and a hopeless soul. What, or who, could save me…from  myself? 

“Dusk” The The  

“In our lives we hunger, for those we cannot touch” 

I had taken up residence in my girlfriend’s parents home. I was sleeping in what had been her  older brother’s bedroom. I was in my first year of university. I was miles away from home. I was  lonely. I was scared that I had made the wrong choices in life. I would catch the train to Paisley in the morning, go to my lectures, go to the library and then go to Stereo One to buy records. My  Mormonism meant I didn’t smoke, drink or take drugs and so, unlike so many of my peers, I had  plenty of disposable income. 

Throughout 1993, despite everything that came after this point, I listened to “Dusk” more than any  other album. Always at night. I would pull the curtains, turn off the light, press play and crawl into  bed. Hungering for the touch of…anyone. 

It is the perfect companion for those who sleep alone. 

“New Wave” The Auteurs  

Here is how the story goes. Luke Haines hears about a musician he knows being booked to play  on an album with Gene. Luke doesn’t really care for Gene. Luke pays the musician not to play on  that album with Gene. 

Is it true? 


I really want it to be. 

Not because I don’t adore Gene, because I really do, but because I like pop stars to have a bit of  bite. I don’t need it in everyone I am invested in. I like that lots of the musicians I have got to  know are really lovely. I’m sure Luke Haines is really lovely. But the world needs “edge” and in  Haines we get that. 

Anyway, “New Wave” is the sort of literate, intelligent, careful and fabulous pop as art music that  Britpop seemed to be offering before the label was created and before blokes in parkas sporting 

Paul Weller inspired haircuts ruined things. 

“Suede” Suede  

I don’t know what to tell you. 

I’ll tell you this… 

I had met Stan and Heather outside of the Caird Hall in Dundee on the 15th May, 1991. We were  there to see Morrissey on his first solo tour. We didn’t know each other before that point, they  lived in East Grinstead, the home of Scientology in the UK as well as, at that point, the only  Mormon temple in the country…a place I knew well.  

We bonded over our shared love of the Mozfather. Became pen pals. Ah, writing letters…on  paper, with a pen. The joy of the past, the dangers of nostalgia. 

A few months later they returned to Scotland to visit. Heather was a dangerous presence.  American, a Goth, sexually adventurous and, to my innocent eyes, possessed of a wild and free  spirit that could only spell an eternity in Hell. Don’t judge me. Religion does curious things to the  adolescent mind. 

Heather was full of evangelical fervour for a new band. This was unusual because people like  Stan and I were only really interested in Morrissey. Heather though was unafraid to expand her  horizons and she was convinced that she had discovered, uncovered, a band worthy of her  attentions. They were called Suede she told us…and they were great. 

She was right. 

Thankfully I had listened to her and when the first rumblings about the best new band in Britain  began in the media I was one step ahead. I fell head over heels for Suede. Adored them from the  first. Love them to the last. 

When “Suede” arrived I was at University and I can still see myself listening to it for the first time.  Sat on the sofa of my then girlfriend’s parent’s home in Johnstone, just outside of Paisley. The  sun bursting through the huge windows of the sitting room. Huddled together with the inner  sleeve clasped between us so that we could pore over the lyrics as each song revealed itself. 

I doubt that I will ever feel that way again…the excitement, the thrill, the joy of it all. I’m not sad  about that, I’m glad I experienced it then. 

“The Infotainment Scam” The Fall  

Through it all are The Fall. 

Post punk…check. 




Always ploughing their own furrow, beating their own path, dancing to a different drum. 

I remember laughing at “The League of Bald Headed Men” as I tugged my follicles into this style  and that. I’m not laughing now. The cover version of “Lost in Music” takes a disco classic and  turns it into something thrillingly familiar and still funky…but, at the same time, it becomes  something maudlin and terrifying. That might just be the entire Fall story in one sentence.


“Modern Life is Rubbish” Blur  

There are voices who will try and convince you that it’s “Parklife” or “Blur” or, God help us, “The  Great Escape” but the truth of the matter is that THE Blur album is, and always will be, “Modern  Life is Rubbish”. 

For those of us who were there at the time…and I mean really there, not sort of there and now  trying to rewrite history…”Modern Life is Rubbish” changed everything. From the first moment  we saw those “British Image #1” images to the instant that we put “For Tomorrow” onto the  turntable we were different in every way. Clothes, records, attitudes…all were reshaped and  reconfigured by this one album. 

It sits alongside anything by The Kinks, The Jam, The Specials, The Smiths as one of the great  English albums and marks the moment when Blur became one of the great English bands in their  own right. 






“Gold Against the Soul” Manic Street Preachers  

Following on from 1992’s “Generation Terrorists” which they had loudly proclaimed would be their  first and last album came “Gold Against the Soul” and, in an instant, anyone who had dismissed  them as bigmouths ready to strike again and again but with nothing to say and no real means of  saying it were forced to accept that in the Manic Street Preachers we were dealing with  something very special. 

Roaring anthems of despair and introspection. 

Deeply intimate and, simultaneously, universal. 

Suffering, fear, pain, anxiety, upset and revolutionary fervour all clammer, clamber, for space over  just ten songs. You could write books about some of the subjects covered by the Manics here… they manage to say everything about them in less time than is available on one side of a C-90  cassette. 

This was the moment when I gave in and gave myself over to them. Their are tourists in the world  of the Manics…people who get their kicks from those photographs of Richey proving that he was  4-real or who think that listening to “The Holy Bible” means they understand what it is like to  suffer while they sit on their DfS sofa, crack open a craft ale and watch “The Queens Gambit” on  Netflix with their Stepford wife sat beside them checking her Instagram. Fine. But for others  albums like “Gold Against the Soul” are the sounds of something deep within us, something that  is broken, jagged and painful…hearing that we are not alone is the only solace we can find  sometimes. 

For real.


“Debut” Bjork  

“She’s a bit weird” say the boys who don’t like weird things or weird people…certainly not in their  music. They like the same music over and over and over. They try to hide that by loudly braying  about a great “new” band…who sound exactly like all the other bands they like. 

Bjork isn’t for those boys. 

Bjork is for people who want art, creativity, eccentricity, experimentation and madness in their  music. 

Bjork is for people who want new music to sound…new. 

“Debut” was a manifesto etched in vinyl, this was Bjork laying it all out for us. This was what we  could expect from her…the unexpected. Songs recorded in the toilets of a bar, house music  beats, trip-hop musings and everything else that she felt. That is what lies at the heart of  “Debut”…feeling.  

“Giant Steps” The Boo Radleys  

One of the great lost albums of the nineties. 

Quite why is a mystery. 

It is, in every way, the superior album in comparison to “Wake Up!”, no matter what the sales  figures might tell you. Maybe it was just too…much? Too long, too out of step with grunge and  shoegaze and those early Britpop moments? Maybe by 1993 something as delicate and  wonderful as “Wish I Was Skinny” couldn’t find a place to call home?  

I don’t know. 

What I do know is that a more ambitious, more careful and more beautiful album you would  struggle to find from a British band in the nineties. 

“Wild Wood” Paul Weller  

A lot of people really hate Paul Weller. 

They understand The Jam and they, quite often, really dig the new breed of The Style Council but  when it comes to his solo output they rush to words and phrases like “moribund”, “dull”, “dad  rock” and a whole heap of other less than positive terms. I know because I have used all of those  when discussing the Modfather myself. In large part this is an attempt to provide balance to  those men who have decided that he is more than mere mortal. The rabid, evangelical,  fundamentalist members of the Wellend tribe are every bit as bad as those tragic souls who have  bent themselves out of shape trying to find ways to defend late period Morrissey. 

Guys…he’s just a bloke with a guitar. 

Honestly, that’s as far as it goes. 

Except…”Wild Wood”. 

This is the one moment in the Weller solo era where he really reached the sorts of heights that his  most devout followers shower on M.O.R gubbins like “Heavy Soul” and, whisper this one,  “Stanley Road”. This is his finest moment.


“Pussy Whipped” Bikini Kill  

While Britpop may well have been the cultural movement that defined, for good and for ill, the  nineties the truly revolutionary moments were provided by hip-hope and riot grrrrrl. At the  forefront of the latter was Kathleen Hanna who, with Bikini Kill, provided the sort of riotous, angry,  strident and meaningful musical manifesto that was beyond the reach of any of the Britpop boys. 

“When she talks, I hear the revolution 

In her hips, there’s revolution 

When she walks, the revolution’s coming 

In her kiss, I taste revolution…” 

This is a world away from “…to find yourself a job when there’s nothing worth working for” which  was the most political statement anyone could provide me from the Oasis canon recently. Now,  before anyone gets their underwear all twisted…great pop music doesn’t have to be a political  manifesto, not every band has to be attempting to tear down the patriarchy or be setting the  Communist Manifesto to a 4/4 beat but don’t try and give meaning to the meaningless or, worse,  denigrate the genuinely meaningFULL because the people creating it don’t have a copy of  “Rubber Soul” playing on a loop in their heads. 

Kathleen Hanna is an inspiration for something more than a haircut. 

“Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)” Wu-Tang Clan  

Speaking of revolution. 

Some of you may find what I am about to say unbelievable but it’s true…there are people who  don’t get this album. They say things like “It doesn’t say anything about my life”…to which the  only correct response is to feel great pity for a life lived without poetry or political activity. 

The force of the lyrics here and the power of the delivery is astonishing. Even now, almost thirty  years on, it leaves me breathless. Angry, powerful, hilarious, righteous and boundary pushing this  is a landmark moment in hip hop. 

You can bet your bottom dollar that all of the people who were making the most interesting music  during the Britpop era were listening to this album…it is impossible to listen to anything that  Damon Albarn, for example, has done post-Britpop and not hear the influence of the Clan. 



“Lethal Injection” Ice Cube  

There are problems here, of course, with some of the lyrical content…but, as ever, context is  everything. Gangsta rap isn’t progressive, it is reflective…a mirror to the lives and communities  that spawned it. This is a documentary film in musical form. 

Despite those controversies the album is a master class in rhymes, beats and delivery and is a  much smoother ride than many other gangsta rap albums. I’m not enough of an expert, or any  kind of expert, to offer any detailed analysis of the genre but what I can do is submit this strong,  creative, black voice as one of the best albums of the year.


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