April 5this the 23rd anniversary of the death of Kurt Cobain, which really sucked. But April 5th is also the 12th anniversary of the death of the equally iconic, and oft-overshadowed Alice In Chains frontman, Layne Staley. Staley’s voice is instantly recognizable as the wailing cry for help that it came to be. His rail thin frame moved the air in locomotive sized gusts and coupled with Jerry Cantrell’s baritone brought a harmonic tone to aggressive music that has yet to be matched.
1994 – Rock Albums
It was twenty years ago today… I remember the summer of 1994 being a great one for concert going, and the more I think about it, perhaps a year for the ages when you look back on the year’s rock music releases.
There are certain years in rock music history that standout as Generation-Defining years, should 1994 be added to that list?
- 1956 – This was the first of these years, and really the first real year for rock ‘n roll:. Until rock ‘n roll burst onto the radio, we were stuck with Patti Page, Pat Boone, Ella Fitzgerald and Perry Como. In ’56, thankfully, we got Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent, Bill Haley and His Comets, Carl Perkins and The Platters.
- 1967 – Growing up in the eighties, this was the first year that really resonated as a classic rock year. The Moody Blues Days Of Future Passed was my personal favorite, we also saw debuts from Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and The Doors, and a crapload more, including two classics from The Beatles: Magical Mystery Tour and our #1 album ever Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
- 1975 – In 1975, we saw a few American bands grab the torch from the Brits. Bruce gave us Born To Run and Dylan offered Blood On the Tracks, and a little band from Boston exploded into the mainstream with Toys In the Attic. Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Rush and The Who also released classics. It might just be the most balanced year of rock ever.
- 1984 – To me, this year legitimized alternative rock. Seminal albums from U2, Replacements, Smiths, R.E.M., Husker Du, Depeche Mode and The Talking Heads. But, it wasn’t just about alternative rock, we also had Bob Marley’s Legend, Van Halen’s appropriately titled 1984 and Prince’s Purple Rain.
There were a few other good years since, 1987, 1989 and 1991 for instance, but none of them were truly influential years, but then, we rang in 1994.
Green Day’s Dookie, Weezer’s blue album, Offspring’s Smash and Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy are all-time classics, and interestingly, one name titles. Our ears were also treated to excellent offerings from Nine Inch Nails, Oasis, Hole, Blur, Alice in Chains, Live and Soundgarden all of which helped us redefine alternative rock.
But there were other non-Alternative offerings that were pretty damn good. Pink Floyd’s Division Bell was excellent, even if under-appreciated, and we heard great offerings from Nirvana (posthumously) Johnny Cash, Tom Petty and Beastie Boys.
Like most things rock ‘n roll related, there are no rules regarding generation-defining years. I think it’s just one of those things where you know it when you feel it. I’ve been on the fence, but I think I’m ready to make the leap. In any case, there’s no doubt it was a great year, with a tremendous amount of good music. So, what are your thoughts, was this one for the ages? Or, just another decent year? And, what were your personal favorites from 1994? We’d love to see your thoughts in our Comments section.