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Old 02-10-2008, 06:36 PM   #1
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Appreciation of the History of Alternative Rock

I guess you could say this whole forum is an appreciation of the history of alternative rock, but I'm going to make this thread anyway

Alternative Rock is very close to my heart. It's often been used as sort of an umbrella term, so maybe it can be more easily appreciated if we look at the eras that are being umbrellaed(is that a word?).

Please note that the years I'm giving to bookend each of these eras are just rough, basic ideas of when these groups and artists were around. They may not be exactly right, they may not be accurate for every band in a given era/category, but they're generally accurate enough imo.

The Pioneers(late 60s/early 70s) - David Bowie, Velvet Underground/Lou Reed

There's probably a small handful of others that should go in this category, but I'm not thinking of them at the moment. But really, the more I listen to certain Bowie records(The Man Who Sold The World, Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, Diamond Dogs), the more I'm convinced that if there's any one person from the old-old-school that you could apply the label of 'Godfather of Alternative Rock' to, it's him. I haven't really listened to a whole lot of Velvet Underground, but from what I have heard, they were definitely one of the earliest forerunners of alternative rock as well.

Punk(1976-1980) - The Clash, Sex Pistols, Ramones, Elvis Costello, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, early U2(I mean, this is where they started and what influenced their first two or three records), Joan Jett

Does this need any expalantion? This era was short-lived but tremendously prolfiic. It came and went with the blink of an eye but its influence on on rock music all the way up to today is, in a word, immeasurable. Punk was the first 'big bang' of alternative rock.

New Wave(1980-1989) - The Police, Talking Heads, Joy Division, Morrissey, The Pretenders, Blondie, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Eurythmics, Duran Duran, The Buggles, Go-Go's, Tears For Fears, Thompson Twins, INXS, REM, U2(a lot of what they were doing on UF and JT is very new-wave-y), Red Hot Chili Peppers(early, Slovak era), Jane's Addiction

Most of the 'punk' group's big success was contained in a very concentrated period of time, but they opened the door for THIS group, which was much more diverse both stylistically and musically and lasted much longer than 'punk'. I am using the term 'New Wave' rather loosely here because there are some bands that were alternative but maybe not new wave, but who were a little more difficult to categorize...as a result, there are some bands - REM, Jane's Addiction, RHCP(early, Slovak-era), for example - who aren't really new wave per se, but they were definitely around during that time period and wouldn't fit anywhere else. And let's not forget that Jane's Addiction's frontman Perry Farrell is one of THE important figures in the spread and popularization of alternative rock.

Post-Stadium Rock AKA "Grunge"(1989-1995) - Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Silverchair

The second 'big bang' of alternative rock. There is a nice symmetry here, where Grunge was to 'Modern Alternative'/Post-Grunge what Punk was to New Wave - the short, concentrated period of new, generation-defining rock music that opened the floodgates for a second era of countless other acts.

Modern "Alternative" Rock/Post-Grunge(1991[but didn't really explode until 94/95] - ??) - Green Day, Foo Fighters, Oasis, Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, Red Hot Chili Peppers(Frusciante/Chad Smith era), U2(Achtung/Zooropa/Pop era), Weezer, Counting Crowes, Bush, Radiohead, Rage Against The Machine, Tori Amos, Fionna Apple, Beck, No Doubt(they were alternative back then anyway), New Radicals, Garbage, etc

Most of these groups/artists had their heydey in the mid-late 90s, but oh what a heydey it was. This is the first group of bands/artists many of think of when the word 'alternative' is said. Green Day, Foo Fighters, Radiohead, and Red Hot Chili Peppers are all still making relevant records but I think a good handful of them(Pumpkins, Nails, Crowes, Bush, Radicals, even Oasis) will be stuck in the 90s niche.

There are the U2s, the Pearl Jams, the Elvis Costellos, the RHCPs(what a transformation they have made over the years - they started as a joke and ended one of the major influences on a generation of alternative rock), dare I say even the Radioheads that transcend the eras/categories from which they came and remain relevant, but I think most of these bands fit in at least one of the categories/eras/niches I've mentioned.

So, there you have it. Discuss. Appreciate.

Oh, and GnR might belong there somewhere, but they don't make sense in 'New Wave' or 'Grunge'. They were more metal than anything else. I dunno.
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Old 02-10-2008, 06:43 PM   #2
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I think a lot of what pops into your head when you think of "alternative" is predicated on when you were born.

For me, the 90's are not at all about alternative music, but the 80's were. There is no right or wrong here, I just grew up listening to college radio in the 80's, as well as WLIR in NY, which used to break a lot of alternative artists. So, alternative for me is U2, REM, Siouxie and the Banshees, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Smiths, Joy Division, New Order, Replacements, Husker Du, Sonic Youth, etc.

I suspect most people around my age think of the 80's, not the 90's when they think "alternative".

I wonder if shoegazing music deserves a sub-category in your post? I don't know. I just know that Catherine Wheel and Blur were important bands to me in the early-mid 90's.

Either way, though, I appreciate a lot of the artists you mention, and recognize how for someone younger than myself, they represent what alternative means to you.
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Old 02-10-2008, 07:24 PM   #3
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I don't know how you even discuss Alt Rock without mentioning The Replacements or Husker Du.

It's rather inexcusable.
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Old 02-10-2008, 07:26 PM   #4
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Alternative Rock... the only good category left in any award show! Long live alt rock!
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Old 02-10-2008, 07:26 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by No spoken words
For me, the 90's are not at all about alternative music, but the 80's were.
Agreed. Much of what people think of as "90's alternative" was actually very much mainstream.
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Old 02-10-2008, 07:33 PM   #6
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Re: Appreciation of the History of Alternative Rock

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Originally posted by namkcuR


New Wave(1980-1989) - The Cure,

Really? I don't think I would ever classify The Cure as New Wave. If anything they and Siouxsie & The Banshees were in a unique category. Goth rock for a lack of a better term. I think The Smashing Pumpkins would be in the same category. Maybe put The Smiths there too.
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Old 02-10-2008, 07:37 PM   #7
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Re: Re: Appreciation of the History of Alternative Rock

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Originally posted by Screwtape2


Really? I don't think I would ever classify The Cure as New Wave. If anything they and Siouxsie & The Banshees were in a unique category. Goth rock for a lack of a better term. I think The Smashing Pumpkins would be in the same category. Maybe put The Smiths there too.
That's why I specifically said that I put some artists under new wave that weren't exactly new wave.

If the only Pumpkins' record you've heard is Adore, maybe you might think they're goth rock, otherwise...imo, they have nothing to do with goth rock.

And I realize that much of 90s alternative music was mainstream, it was still categorized as alternative by everyone.

And I didn't pigeonhole alternative music to any one decade...I spread over many decades.
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Old 02-10-2008, 07:41 PM   #8
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Re: Re: Re: Appreciation of the History of Alternative Rock

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Originally posted by namkcuR
And I realize that much of 90s alternative music was mainstream, it was still categorized as alternative by everyone.
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Old 02-10-2008, 07:52 PM   #9
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Re: Re: Re: Appreciation of the History of Alternative Rock

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Old 02-10-2008, 07:57 PM   #10
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Re: Re: Re: Appreciation of the History of Alternative Rock

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Originally posted by namkcuR


That's why I specifically said that I put some artists under new wave that weren't exactly new wave.

If the only Pumpkins' record you've heard is Adore, maybe you might think they're goth rock, otherwise...imo, they have nothing to do with goth rock.
I think there is a clear enough difference between what Siouxsie and The Cure were doing compared to the New Wave genre that it has to be its own category. It isn't even close to New Wave. I think you need to fix your sense of music history.

The Pumpkins have always bordered on goth rock. Everything from Gish through to Zietgiest is heavy and dark. Cherub Rock and Rhinoceros are clearly in the vein of goth rock or what ever you might call this unique subgenre.
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Old 02-10-2008, 07:59 PM   #11
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Well, as Laz said, he did not even mention the Replacements or Husker Du. But, maybe he's not all that familiar with either?

Namkcur, if you have not been exposed to either band, I suggest you give both a try. I fairly worship the Replacements.
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Old 02-10-2008, 08:26 PM   #12
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I had never even heard of Husker Du...indeed Wikipedia informs me that they never achieved mainstream success and that they weren't really very well known.

I've heard of the Replacements but I wouldn't know a song of theirs if I heard it.

Perhaps I'll give them a try.

But let's not derail the thread because I may have omitted this band or that. I think I got all the major ones.

Anyway, the fact that I forgot to mention the Pixies is worse than the fact that I forgot to mention either of the other two
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Old 02-10-2008, 08:28 PM   #13
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Well, it's not a derailment if the thread was never on the right tracks.

Hard to talk about alternative music history with someone that does not know it.

And encouraging you to listen to the Replacements and Husker Du should represent a positive result of starting this thread, so instead of saying "perhaps" you'll actually go out and check those bands out.
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Old 02-10-2008, 08:43 PM   #14
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I will check them out.

I just think it's an exaggeration to say 'the thread was never on the right tracks' or that I don't know alternative music history just because I'm not familar with two bands out of a hundred(or whatever), especially when those two bands are relatively lesser known(keyword relatively) in the grand scheme of things compared to many of the other ones mentioned.

Anyway...I don't feel like arguing. Let's just appreciate alternative rock music, whatever you consider it to be.
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Old 02-10-2008, 08:46 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by namkcuR
I will check them out.

I just think it's an exaggeration to say 'the thread was never on the right tracks' or that I don't know alternative music history just because I'm not familar with two bands out of a hundred(or whatever), especially when those two bands are relatively lesser known(keyword relatively) in the grand scheme of things compared to many of the other ones mentioned.

Anyway...I don't feel like arguing. Let's just appreciate alternative rock music, whatever you consider it to be.
Fair enough on the arguing, but I think you're selling the Replacements short. Their impact/stature goes WAY beyond record sales or perceived popularity. That's what makes them alternative in the first place. Take my word for it.

If anyone comes in here and has never heard of the Catherine Wheel, I submit them as a more alternative 90's band...not a lot of radio play except for college radio, etc......I'm a big fan and still love their music and wish they'd have made more albums....though their last album was not all that great.
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