If you stumbled upon this article I you should start at the beginning.
So what of this journey? What of 1993 and where I was at musically vs. where I am at now? What of these three albums?
I can understand why at the time I was not registering most of this music back then. As I said I wanted to know HOW we got to 1993 musically by what came before. So I was busy in other realms. But also I was stunted by a traumatic past and quite possibly the music of my generation especially the alternative music was just too close to the bone. The Cranberries, Smashing Pumpkins, Tori Amos and others all dealing with things that in hindsight I too was struggling with and so maybe I unintentionally dodged it to try and avoid my own suffering until I couldn’t anymore. Or I could be as simple as, during that time I liked pop music and dancing and I didn’t find alternative and rock music of the era something one could really dance to.
Of the three albums presented here, The Cranberries is the one that has the most nostalgia effect on me. Sounding the most of it’s era to me and of a time where my innocence was lost and I was lost. Yes I Am is just a great rock record that I feel like has no time stamp. In fact in many ways it sounds fresher and rawer in today’s rock world and yet also sounds like something that could’ve come out in the 70s. However it terms of my personal connection to it. It had it’s time and place and some songs still hit but I have moved on (largely to country music when it comes to guitars).
Club music is in my experience is always in constant flux with old and new styles ever present so an album like Debut I can see certainly holding nostalgia for those who came of age when it was released. But also it would sound totally otherworldly and new and fit right in with the club music young people today are swirling to. Of the three I give Björk the edge. Partly, it’s my happy place dance music bias. Yes, I still go clubbing most weekends. But mostly, I am in a different place. My legacy is no longer silent, I am not lingering on regrets and past mistakes. I totally fully in love with the self. So it just resonates with the current me more than the others. Also, these days when I need to get out out with the emotions emotions that are not on the spectrum of love and joy I go to the reliable as ever country music genre. But in the end you can’t really compare the three albums as they are so vastly different and doing different things.
One very noticeable commonality though is album length. All three albums hovered close to a neat ten tracks. Unlike today where every song dreamed up in a session is vomited out for consumption because one stream on a bad or mediocre is song better than no streams on a good song. And so despite some of my issues with The Cranberries album needing a few “darlings” killed, there was clearly some thought about it being a proper album. So that alone marks higher it than many mainstream albums of the past five plus years with there 15+ track count.
“Silent Legacy”, “Dreams”, “Big Time Sensuality”… these are songs that will stay with me to my death bed. Yes I Am as I said is a great rock record and again it is the starting point for me reckoning with the power of lyrics and journey to country music. But in the end I came out loving Björk even more. There was such a clear unique identity present. Being “late to the game” where Utopia was the first of her albums I listened to, hearing Debut it is clear she would be in her own lane no matter what. You hear a little of all future albums on Debut.
I find her career to parallel Bowie’s in some ways. Many Bowie fans all have their favorite eras and not every Bowie fan likes everything he did, so too Björk has a little something for everybody, even the mainstream folks who just want something sugar filled and catchy.
And for the younger or maybe casual music fan who wants to know some of what the early 90s sounded like before everything was overshadowed by Morrisette’s 90’s defining Jagged Little Pill and the TRL era of bubblegum; Debut, Yes I Am, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We are pretty good places start that journey. And I personally look forward to revisiting other albums of my teenage years I passed up on the first round. Who knows, maybe Doggystyle is better than I remember it.
This is part of a 5 part series exploring my connection to music of my youth, specifically three albums from 1993. So click and album and let’s get to it.