Rock And Roll Time Machine –
Rock And Roll Time Machine takes a journey back in time to feature a variety of songs that date back as far as the late ’60s.
In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlist below, all songs featured on Rock And Roll Time Machine can be listened to individually by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles above each review.
By Adam Waldman
Looking back in hindsight, 1993 was certainly not the best of times when it came to rock and metal. The grunge movement had all but washed away any hint of ‘80s hard rock and hair metal, and in an ironic twist, alternative became mainstream. Record labels were tripping over themselves to find the next Nirvana or Pearl Jam, usually to no avail. What ensued was a rather dark period for rock music fans.
Although established artists struggled to find their footing during this paradigm shift, it doesn’t mean that no memorable music emerged. It’s just that the quality suffered greatly.
I’m not going to say that this was an easy task, but I was able to put together a list of 20 songs from 1993 that rose above the din, and still resonate to varying degrees today. Rather than bothering to rank the songs, or even put this eclectic collection of tracks into a playlist that flows, I decided to just create the list in alphabetical order by artist. Though it may feel like a bit of a disjointed rollercoaster ride when you listen to it straight through, I think that you’ll find this list to be interesting at the very least.
AEROSMITH – “Livin’ On The Edge”
The debut single from the band’s commercially successful album Get A Grip tackles social issues that existed long before social media drove a wedge between the masses. The song was inspired by the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Though the message is serious, “Livin’ On The Edge” still has an upbeat vibe to it.
ANTHRAX – “Only”
With John Bush replacing longtime frontman Joey Belladonna, Anthrax transitioned from a thrash metal band to one that started to infuse some grunge elements. Though the sound was a departure from the band’s early work, “Only” still maintains the heaviness of classic Anthrax, and the tribal beats that appeared in songs like “Indians.” It’s a different side of Anthrax, but one that should still be appreciated.
BLIND MELON – “No Rain”
Before Blind Melon became known for the girl in the bumble bee costume on “No Rain,” frontman Shannon Hoon had everyone wondering who the other guy was singing in the Guns N’ Roses video for “Don’t Cry” (the original version, not the strange alternative lyrics). Hoon had a special voice, and Blind Melon had an interesting upbeat vibe that stood out during a time of mostly depressing music. Sadly, Hoon died of a cocaine overdose at the age of 28. You can’t help but wonder what would have been if not for his tragic premature demise.
BROTHER CANE – “Got No Shame”
Though it may seem that 1993 was nothing but grunge music, Brother Cane made a strong debut with a sound that eschewed the trend of the moment for a bluesy, southern sound that was more in the GNR wheelhouse than Nirvana or the like. Enhanced by the harmonica work of Topper Price and shredding guitar of Roman glick, Brother Cane was a band that was more a victim of bad timing than anything else.
CANDLEBOX – “Far Away”
While so many of the alternative grunge bands of 1993 were just a poor man’s versions of the leaders of the genre, Candlebox had something different to offer. In fact, the debut album from this Seattle quartet (led by frontman Kevin Martin) was one of the best releases of the year. There was something more special about Candlebox than the rest of the bands of the era. Many bands wallowed in the darkness, but Candlebox used dynamics to allow a melodic light to shine through. “Far Away” is one of the most memorable songs of the era.
COLLECTIVE SOUL – “Shine”
Collective Soul founder/frontman Ed Roland came close to giving up on his musical dreams altogether after not gaining any traction with his music after graduating from Berklee College of Music. Roland studied songwriting and guitar, in addition to engineering. He released an indie album in 1991 to showcase his ability to compose, record, and produce original music. Collective Soul’s first album was released independently as a collection of demo songs. College stations starting jumping on “Shine,” the labels took notice, and the rest (as they say) is history.
CRY OF LOVE – “Peace Pipe”
In 1993, Cry Of Love topped the Mainstream Rock chart with their bluesy, southern rock single, “Peace Pipe.” In the midst of the grunge movement, Cry Of Love was able to breakthrough with their debut album, Brother. Unfortunately for the band, their debut would also be their pinnacle. It wouldn’t be long after the successful debut that original frontman Kelly Holland left the band. He died tragically at the age of 52 in 2014.
GIN BLOSSOMS – “Hey Jealousy”
When you think of Gin Blossoms, if you’re like many people, your thoughts begin and end with their infectious hit, “Hey Jealousy.” The song was originally included on the band’s 1989 debut album, Dusted, but didn’t achieve commercial success until it was re-recorded for their album New Miserable Experience. The song was written by lead guitarist Doug Hopkins, who was fired from the band shortly after the second album was released. Though the song has an uplifting vibe, it touches upon Hopkins’ constantly self-medicating in the face of depression.
LENNY KRAVITZ – “Are You Gonna Go My Way?”
Lenny Kravitz brought a unique, compelling blend of rock, funk, soul, reggae, R&B, psychedelic, and pop to his music. A unique combination of influences for any era. Though he was born into fame (his mother is actress Roxy Roker of The Jeffersons), and he married one of the most famous actresses of the ‘80s (Lisa Bonet), there has always been a humility to Kravitz that is complemented by a smooth swagger. A supreme talent, Kravitz has been known to play every instrument on his albums. “Are You Gonna Go My Way?” is a perfect example of his unique style.
LIFE OF AGONY – “River Runs Red”
It’s a quick blast of high energy, angst-ridden metal with a punk edge, but “River Runs Red” delivers the message like a sledgehammer. There’s an attitude to the song that borders on aggressively scary at times. With a unique vocal delivery of Keith Caputo, these Brooklyn rockers offered a no-holds-barred approach to alternative metal. The ballsy (almost intimidating) vocal style of Caputo made it that much more shocking when Keith transitioned into Mina Caputo in recent years. Regardless of gender, the singer still has an edge that rises above the din.
MEAT LOAF – “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)”
In 1977, Meat Loaf burst onto the scene as the perfect complement to Jim Steinman’s writing with Bat Out Of Hell. The album remains one of the greatest of all-time by most peoples’ standards. Though the duo did other work together following their smash debut, it wasn’t until they released Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell in 1993 that they truly recaptured the magic that made them so special. The lead single off of the album, “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” is everything that you love about the duo. Steinman’s flair for writing epic theatrical songs were once again brought to life by one of the most emotive rock voices ever. There’s even a female vocal part that takes you back in time to the original Bat Out Of Hell Days. Though it doesn’t get the accolades of the original, this album is brilliant in its own right.
PEARL JAM – “Dissident”
Following on the heels of Nirvana’s monster breakout, Pearl Jam helped to show that the grunge movement had some legs. Unfortunately, most of the bands didn’t live up to the legacy of either of these bands. Pearl Jam’s debut album, Ten, is still regarded as one of the best hard rock albums ever. Though I liked the album, my favorite song by the band (“Dissident”) came on their sophomore release, Vs. There’s something about the emotional wailing of the opening guitar riff that sets the tone for Eddie Vedder’s vocals. The riff (which carries throughout the song) adds nuance to the storytelling lyrics.
POISON – “Stand”
In all honesty, my appreciation for “Stand” (off of Poison’s fourth studio album – Native Tongue) didn’t come until recent years. By the time that the band released the album, I had already moved on from them to a large degree. The song was written by Richie Kotzen before he joined the band to replace C.C. Deville. Though he also had a stint with Mr. Big, it wasn’t until Kotzen made his debut with the Winery Dogs that I fully appreciated his immense talent. Knowing now that Kotzen wrote the song, it’s not surprising that “Stand” is still as relevant today as it was 25 years ago. Poison was the ultimate hair band, so by 1993, they had no choice but to deliver songs like this with more depth and less superficiality if they wanted to survive.
QUEENSRYCHE – “Real World”
While there was no Queensrÿche release in 1993, the band did have a song featured on the soundtrack of The Last Action Hero. Written with orchestral composer Michael Kamen, “Real World” was recorded during the sessions for the band’s 1994 release, Promised Land. It wasn’t included on the original release, but did make it onto the 2003 remastered release of Promised Land. In some ways, it feels like a natural fit on the album, but because of the theatricality and orchestral elements, it actually makes more sense as a standalone song on the soundtrack. It’s something of a hidden gem to casual Ryche fans, but most diehards are probably well aware of this powerful tune.
SAVATAGE – “Edge Of Thorns”
This is the song that introduced me to this incredible, theatrical, progressive band. Unfortunately, they may have been too intricate for the masses. Though the entire album is brilliant, it’s the title track that has stuck with me through the years. Selfishly, I kind of liked when it was unique to be a Savatage fan. Nowadays, the band (in some ways) appeals to a wide swath of the population ranging from children to senior citizens. Not as Savatage, mind you, but as the immensely popular Trans-Siberian Orchestra (a band that has become synonymous with the Christmas holiday). They are so popular that there is actually an east and west coast version so that they can span the country during each holiday season. While I appreciate TSO, I still favor what Savatage brought to the table.
SOUL ASYLUM – “Runaway Train”
Back in 1993, with hard rock acts becoming harder and harder to find, I started to gravitate towards quality alternative bands like Soul Asylum. While I always enjoyed their music, I never thought of them as particularly heavy. Having been to numerous heavy metal concerts dating back to the early ‘80s, I thought that I had experienced as much volume as possible. Boy, was I wrong? Although their music isn’t as heavy as most metal bands, Soul Asylum’s live show featured an absolutely mammoth sound. If not for the fact that Jones Beach is an open amphitheater stadium, the band would have blown the roof off of the place if it was indoors. I appreciated their music (especially “Runaway Train”) before seeing them live. My appreciation grew by leaps and bounds after that concert experience.
STONE TEMPLE PILOTS – “Plush”
Their legacy has only continued to grow through the years, but in the early days of Stone Temple Pilots, many referred to them as a “poor man’s Pearl Jam.” With all due respect to Pearl Jam, I always found STP to be the more interesting band. Though he had his fair share of problems before his untimely demise, Scott Weiland was simply one of the greatest frontmen that I’ve ever seen in a live setting. I chose “Plush” to feature here, but I just has easily could have picked a number of songs off of the band’s 1993 release. Their concert at Jones Beach featured one of the most interesting stage shows that I’ve ever seen. It was a like an enormous living room, and we were all the guests invited to his private party. Who knows how big the band would have been today if they were able to stay together for the long term in their original incarnation?
TOOL – “Sober”
During the grunge movement, so many bands had a (boring) interchangeable sound. Not so with Tool. Yes, there was a bit of a melancholic darkness to them, but when you peeled back the layers, you discovered a band with a haunting quality with thought-provoking lyrics. Maynard James Keenan is a true original vocalist that has a way of penetrating your soul with his delivery of powerful lyrics. Musically, “Sober” is fairly straightforward, but Keenan finds a way to turn a blank canvas into a work of art. Over the years, they have become one of the more enigmatic bands as far as releasing new music, but this classic has stood the test of time for the past 25 years, and will for some time into the future.
TYPE-O NEGATIVE – “Christian Woman”
Type-O Negative is unlike any band that I’ve ever experienced before, and likely will ever again. With a (literally) larger-than-life, gothic frontman in Peter Steele, at 6’7”, he was a menacing presence on stage. His gothic delivery, and vampire-like image, only added to his mystique. As the saying goes, “you should never judge a book by its cover.” Despite his daunting image, I always found a vulnerability to his unique vocal style. Backed by a band that could deliver a mixture of industrial force and the softness of a bedtime lullaby in a single song (like “Christian Woman”), along with sweet, innocent backing vocals, Type-O Negative was truly a one-of-a-kind band.
URGE OVERKILL – “Sister Havana”
Though most people are probably only familiar with Urge Overkill’s incredible cover of Neil Diamond’s “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon” from Quentin Tarrantino’s classic Pulp Fiction, the band actually had a pretty decent success with 1993’s “Sister Havana.” Though they’re labeled as alternative hard rock (a sign of the times), there was something straightforward about this song that seemed to be rooted in the ‘70s and ‘80s. The riffs are crunchy, the rhythm driving, and the vocals melodic and fun. “Sister Havana” is not a song that a lot of people probably remember, but it was one of the better songs of 1993 that is worth rediscovering.
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