10 '90s Bands Who Deserved Better Than They Got
The Toadies are about a lot more than "Possum Kingdom," you know...
Photo by Matt Cooper/Courtesy of Kirtland Records
Last weekend, fans of radio-ready rock music were treated to their annual celebration, known in Houston as Buzzfest. Staples of 94.5 FM's playlist like Papa Roach, P.O.D. and Our Lady Peace headlined, while other emerging bands like Bring Me the Horizon led the charge on the undercard. This weekend, Buzz listeners might be excited to know that they can catch Soul Asylum and the Meat Puppets on a single bill at House of Blues on Sunday night.
It's a shame if you only know those two bands from the radio, though. Though both are highly influential and possessed of rich discographies, the majority of their crowd will probably show up to hear "Runaway Train," "Backwater" and the three Meat Puppets tracks Nirvana covered on MTV Unplugged in New York. While it's a genuine gift for these bands to be able to tour on that material, it's a shame they never got the chance to shine in the spotlight a little more. In honor of their upcoming show, we're looking back at ten others who suffered the same undeserved fate and deserve a few more minutes (or hours) of your time.
10. BEN FOLDS FIVE
Thanks to the Internet's brief obsession with front man Ben Folds' comedic, solo cover of Dr. Dre's "Bitches Ain't Shit," these guys are a little more well-known in certain circles. On the other hand, the general public will probably only ever recognize them for "Brick," which first propelled them to modern-rock fame in the late '90s.
9. EAGLE-EYE CHERRY
Coffeehouse '90s acoustic rock is unabashedly one of my personal guilty pleasures. Artists like Tracy Chapman and Eagle-Eye Cherry just tapped into something special. Eagle-Eye, unfortunately, couldn't keep the hits rolling after "Save Tonight." His other songs are of a similar nature and quality, though.
8. DEEP BLUE SOMETHING
Outside of "Breakfast at Tiffany's," Denton's Deep Blue Something was a pretty respectable emo/indie-rock band, coming in the wake of Weezer's success and building upon it well. They were too mainstream to fit into the underground emo scene, but not quite catchy enough to latch onto the coattails of its more successful bands, they found themselves in the one-hit-wonder hole. As of 2014, their guitarist was working at a seafood restaurant in Fort Worth. I'd much rather see them back on tour. No one deserves to end up that close to Dallas.
7. HOUSE OF PAIN/EVERLAST
House of Pain lands on this list for "Jump Around," obviously, and their front man has never made much of an impact on his own aside from the classic "What It's Like" and a minor feud with Eminem. On the other hand, both have a pretty lasting legacy. With classic hip-hop becoming the new dad-rock, House of Pain is only growing in esteem. Everlast's sole hit, "What It's Like," and his solo albums, which consist of a hip-hop/acoustic-rock blend, have also only become more influential over time. It's hard not to hear the beginnings of modern indie hip-hop, such as that made by Atmosphere, in Everlast's late-'90s work.
6. GREEN JELLŸ
The former Green Jellö was a dominant comedy-rock force when Headbanger's Ball and Beavis and Butt-Head were at the peak of their relevance. With bands like GWAR and Dethklok still wildly popular, it's odd that Green Jellÿ's work hasn't grown in esteem, but maybe that's just because they were so damn weird. If you actually go back and listen to them, though, they were pioneers in parodying metal and hard rock, genres in which they actually came to be pretty talented writers. Their albums also featured a few future superstars like Tool's Maynard James Keenan and Danny Carey. That's no small endorsement.
5. DUNCAN SHEIK
With a song like "Barely Breathing," a natural-born hit from the very first chords, you'd think Duncan Sheik would have made a larger name for himself. Well, he did, just not in any realm having anything to do with pop music. His work in musical theater has been successful enough to launch a musical version of Spring Awakening on Broadway. He also wrote the touring musical adaptation of American Psycho.
A real quote from a friend when "Tubthumping" came on at the bar the other day: "Fuck this song. I hate Chumbawamba." I asked him if he'd ever actually listened to the band. "Tubthumping," while in my estimation a great pop song, is so far removed from everything else in their very punk, borderline anarchist discography that judging them based on that one song is the biggest mistake one could make.
If I ever met the Toadies in person, I'd probably apologize for that earlier dig at Fort Worth, then make a joke about "Possum Kingdom" actually being a pretty good name for that city. I'd also like to tell them that they definitely deserved more attention and acclaim. They've always been staples in Houston, but outside of Texas, not many seem to realize just how awesome this band was back in the day. [Toadies play the world-famous Luckenbach dance hall tonight if anyone's up for a little driving — ed.]
It's sort of stunning to me to even refer to Eels as a one-hit wonder. Frankly, I can't remember ever hearing "Novocaine for the Soul" on a radio station anyway, but it was a Top 40 hit in 1996. Then the band quietly built one of the best sad-sack indie rock discographies in the game and established a legacy in the underground far beyond that song or Beautiful Freak. I suppose if it paid the bills back then, though, it was all for the best. Still, if you only know them for that, try Electro-Shock Blues and call me back.
1. HARVEY DANGER
Though they'll be forever remembered for "Flagpole Sitta," which most probably think is called "I'm Not Sick, But I'm Not Well" anyway. Improbably, Harvey Danger was actually one of the great indie-rock bands of the '90s. Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone? remains a classic of the genre, and this year No Sleep Records finally re-released it with the proper fanfare.
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