20 years ago today the remaining members of Nirvana released MTV Unplugged in New York. Released a little more than a half a year after the tragic suicide of singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain, the scaled down versions of the band’s usually bombastic songs showed their power lay in the writing, not in the volume with which they were originally performed. The album was an immediate hit and a fitting final tribute to one of the greatest songwriters of the era. Read more…
Next to picking a name for your group, choosing an album title is one of the harder things for a rock band to all agree upon. I mean, in a perfect world this is going to be your magnum opus, the album that will elevate you into the stratosphere, and then you ruin it with some lame ass title that sound like something out of Spinal Tap’s imaginary discography? Perhaps it’s no wonder then that so many rockers opt to use their actual band name as their album title (thus doubling down on the importance of picking a super cool band name). In the worlds of hard rock and heavy metal, these are often, though not exclusively, the province of debut records. Led Zeppelin started the trend with their first album from 1969 and the trend continues to this very day. Notable exceptions are Metallica‘s breakthrough “Black Album,” their fifth full length and actually titled Metallica, and Alice In Chains‘ self-titled third release. But really, it’s not the title that makes the album but the music that makes. Anyway, enough of this jibber jabber, check out 20 awesome eponymous (that’s the fancy way of saying self-titled) albums in hard rock and heavy metal history that let the music do the talking.
Hear Metallica singer James Hetfield talk about what influences went into the making of the band’s eponymous fifth album.
It’s debatable as to who actually coined the term “grunge”. Some accredit it to Mark Arm of the band Mudhoney; others attribute it to various music journalists or Sub Pop records founder Bruce Pavitt. At the end of the day though, grunge was just a word. A word used to categorize a very diverse set of rock bands that just so happened to originate from the Pacific Northwest and played loud, electric guitar rock. For better or worse, these bands were all lumped together, even though each one had its own unique style, sound and influences. Nirvana was influenced by punk. Pearl Jam took cues from classic rock. And then there were the metal guys. The sludgy, dark, heavy bands – like Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Tad. Read more…
Halloween is on the horizon and with it horror movie marathons, celebrity costume galleries and most terrifying of all, candy binge eating. To keep you in the holiday spirit we’ve put together this list of super creepy music videos which will keep you up with night terrors and seeking solace in that extra large bag of mixed chocolate bars.
The VH1 Classic America’s Hard 100 Countdown Poll is nearing its end but we’ve still got more classic hard rock and heavy metal tunes that need sorting and we need your help! We’ve put together a list of 100 essential rockers but we need you to vote on them to let us know where they should fall in the America’s Hard 100 Countdown when it airs this November.
IMPORTANT NOTE: You can vote AS MANY TIMES and for AS MANY SONGS as you want, simply click on “Return To Poll” after your initial ballot. If your favorite hard rock jam is missing from today’s list please click on one of the previous days polls which are still open and keep checking back daily as we add new songs to new lists.
Today shock rocker Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People” faces off against “Motorhead’s speed rock standard “Ace Of Spades,” unstoppable blooze rockers Aerosmith’s poetic power ballad “Dream On” and rabble-rousing rap-metal pioneers Rage Against The Machine’s “Bulls On Parade” among others.
Welcome to Day 3 of VH1 Classic’s America’s Hard 100 Countdown Poll where YOU, the FANS, determine the 100 best hard rock and metal songs of all-time! Each day we’ll be posting a new list of classic hard rock and heavy metal tunes for you to vote on to help us with the rankings.
PLEASE NOTE: If you don’t see your favorite bands or songs on today’s list (or on Day 1 or Day 2‘s list), don’t fret! Be sure and check back daily at noon, as we’re going to be adding new songs for you to vote on each day!
The Seattle scene of the late eighties and early nineties produced some of the most beloved rock bands not just of the last twenty years, but of all-time. The influence and impact that acts like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains had on the world of music, both artistically and commercially, cannot really be overstated. However, there is far more to the “grunge” story than just the rise and fall of these four bands, as author Mark Yarm goes to very impressive lengths to chronicle is his new book Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History Of Grunge (now available in handy paperback form!)
Over the course of three years and change, Yarm interviewed over 250 key players in the Seattle scene of that now historic era, everyone from superstars like Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) and Courtney Love, to the owners of the storied Sub Pop record label, to bands like the U-Men and the Melvins that were very influential in the scene but never quite broke on a national level in the way that the Big Four did. The book was named one of the Top Ten Nonfiction Books of 2011 by no less an authority than Time Magazine, and is full of so many entertaining stories and thrilling anecdotes that we have read it cover-to-cover TWICE. You should do the same!
We recently sat down with ELOT author Mark Yarm over a cocktail or two in Brooklyn and talked about many subjects relating to the book, everything ranging from what it’s like to receive manic phone calls from Courtney Love, to Seattle’s well-documented infatuation with heroin, to the “missed opportunity” that was Cameron Crowe‘s Pearl Jam Twenty.
VH1: One of the things that everyone, including myself, finds so impressive about this book is the comprehensiveness. You talked to virtually every major player in the Seattle scene. How did you go about convincing people that you were the person who could tackle this story?
Mark Yarm: The general rule of thumb was that the further away from the white hot epicenter of the grunge explosion of the early nineties, the easier it was. I had the Blender piece that this emerged from, which was an oral history of Sub-Pop on the occasion of their 20th anniversary in 2008. I had already spoken to a lot of the players, and that was a good calling card for me. Some people didn’t talk to me, most notably Pearl Jam since they had their own book coming out. They’re usually not the most accessible guys, anyway. I had spoken to Jeff [Ament] and Stone [Gossard] for the Blender piece, and I also talked to Matt Cameron through the Soundgarden people. I spoke to all their previous drummers, who, if you’ve seen the Cameron Crowe documentary [PJ20], they didn’t bother talking to those guys. They just kind of gloss over them in a funny interstitial.
Chris Cornell is one of the figures in the book that gets some crap because he was always ripping his shirt off. A lot of people, including people in his own band, didn’t like that he presented himself in that way. What was your sense of him, and did he ever tell you why he chose to be the shirtless guy?
There was a Mudhoney song, the song that this book gets its title after, called “Overblown.” It takes kind of a veiled jab at him (“And you’re up there, shirtless and flexin’ / Display of a macho freak”). I asked him about that song, and it didn’t really bother him. If you’re gonna be The Shirtless Guy, you gotta own it, I guess?
I don’t know, I’ve never been The Shirtless Guy!
Me neither! Not since infancy. But yeah, it was a small bone of contention because it was so ostentatious, and this was a scene that in many ways —not all ways, but in many ways— rejected that as “rock star behavior.”
Terrible news to pass along. TMZ is reporting that Mike Starr, former Alice in Chains bassist and cast member on Celebrity Rehab 3 and Sober House 2, has passed away at the age of 44. His cause of death is currently unknown, but it’s worth noting that Starr was arrested in Salt Lake City last month for possession of a controlled substance.
As we saw during the third season of Celebrity Rehab, Starr continued to harbor enormous feelings of guilt and regret over the death of his friend and Alice in Chains bandmate, Layne Staley, up until the time of his passing.
We’ll continue to share more information with you as soon as it comes in.