Friday, January 11, 2013

B-sides the '90s: Nirvana, Weezer and Oasis

It’s been too long since I’ve enjoyed the selfish pleasure of a B-sides the '90s post. If you’ll indulge me, I promise not to waste your time. If you’ve checked out my previous installments of B-sides the '90s, you’re familiar with the format – I highlight a few great tracks that never made it onto a proper full length album and instead were tucked away on the flip-side of a single release. To makes things even more special though, this installment has a bit of theme to it. For these b-sides, I chose ones that were sung by someone other than the bands “normal” lead singer. I’ll explain each one as we go, but prepare yourself for a heaping helping of auditory delight and musical minutia!
“Marigold” by Nirvana (1993) – While it’s no news to anyone that Dave Grohl has one of the most amazing voices in rock history, it’s cool to know that Foo Fighters wasn’t exactly his first time in front of the mic. While still the long-haired banshee drumming in Nirvana, Dave recorded an album’s worth of songs he titled Pocketwatch back in 1992. When Nirvana started the recording sessions for what would become In Utero in February of 1993, Dave used a Cobain-less day in the studio to re-record a song from the Pocketwatchalbum he had called “Color Pictures of a Marigold.” Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic played bass on it, but Dave handled everything else - including the vocals. The new recording never made it on to In Utero, but it did show up as the b-side to In Utero’s first single, “Heart-Shaped Box” in August of 1993. With the title shortened to just “Marigold,” this meandering little melody landed on the flip-side of both the 7” and 12” vinyl versions.     

"Marigold" - Nirvana ("Heart-Shaped Box" single)

File:Weezer the good life single.jpg“I Just Threw Out The Love of My Dreams” by Weezer (1996) – After Weezer’s (extreme bias alert) gorgeously perfect self-titled debut in 1994, frontman Rivers Cuomo wanted to follow it up with a concept album he was going to call Songs from the Black Hole. The self-proclaimed “space-themed rock opera” was written and recorded in demo form; but between the pressures of success, pushy label reps and Rivers new found interests while away at Harvard, the songwriting morphed into what would become 1996’s commercial-flop-turned-cult-favorite Pinkerton. The story of Jonas, Laurel, Maria, Wuan, Dondo and their droid M1 traveling through space was shelved for songs about more relevant 90’s fare – isolation, alienation, troubled relationships and unrequited love. While I personally consider Weezer’s first two albums to be genuine sonic gold, I’ve got to admit I would’ve loved to hear those four guys properly knock Songs from the Black Holeout of the park as only they could back then. But alas, a few full-band, quality recordings were released and “I Just Threw Out The Love of My Dreams” is certainly one of them. Found on the b-side to their “The Good Life” single, this track is really unique in that it features lead vocals from Rachel Haden (That Dog) as she was going to represent the character of Laurel in the concept album. However, Rivers unmistakable voice can still be heard joining in at the end.

"I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams" - Weezer ("The Good Life" single)

File:Somemightsay.jpgTalk Tonight” by Oasis (1995) – The constant feuding that took place between the Gallagher brothers during Oasis’ heyday provided endless stories and rumors, along with birthing some really great songs. “Talk Tonight” was written by lead guitarist (and older brother) Noel after a particularly tough fight with lead singer (and younger brother) Liam in the fall of 1994. Noel left the city and his bandmates with the intention of breaking up, but was eventually consoled and talked into keeping things together by a friend of his. The single for “Some Might Say” was released a few months in advance of their monster sophomore album (What’s the Story) Morning Glory, and “Talk Tonight” was the official b-side of the 7”, 12” and cassette releases. While Noel occasionally sang some of the songs he had written for Oasis, the absence of Liam and the emotional intimateness of the performance make this one particularly special. 

"Talk Tonight" - Oasis ("Some Might Say" single)

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