Discover more from The Aquanaut's Diary
Judgement Night vs The Crow - Round 5
For Love Not Lisa, Biohazard, Onyx, Medicine, Liz Fraser...
Prior to the internet you had certain specific ways of finding new music. MTV actually played music videos back then. For niche genres like Hip-Hop and Metal you had Yo! MTV Raps and Headbanger’s Ball respectively. Later, tv shows like Beavis and Butthead would also showcase music from some of the extreme fringe genres. Radio play (even in Ireland) was exceptionally diverse. I recall hearing Sepultura on a mainstream chart show. Irish DJ Dave Fanning waved the flag for alt-pop and alt-rock, while John Kenny’s The Metal Show dictated what I did on a Sunday evening. Pop still reigned supreme though, as my friend Bernard covers on his This Week in the 90s blog. Power ballads from the likes of Bryan Adams gave way to numerous Boy Bands. The soundtracks to The Crow and Judgement Night gave rock and rap fans a board of crudités to pick from. But here’s the thing, even if you found a band you liked, you might not necessarily be able to access any of their music.
Outside of Ireland’s one big city (Dublin), there were precious few Music shops that specialised in genres like Metal and Rap. The high street music stores sold Bryan Adams singles by the bucket. Bryan was vying for our attention with U2, British and Irish Boy Bands, Rave, NOW compilations, ABBA best of etc.
So, when I wanted to investigate the bands on The Crow soundtrack I could find NIN, The Cure, Pantera, Stone Temple Pilots all on the shelves of the music shops in Cork City and… then it got tricky. I do not recall seeing For Love Not Lisa’s album Merge for sale in any record shop in my home town of Cork City, Ireland. As research for writing this blog I decided to look it up on YouTube. I found it pretty quickly but then discovered an issue.
This album is not on any audio streaming service that I can find (Ok, I checked Spotify and Apple Music and stopped there… but still). It’s only on YouTube because someone uploaded it (possibly after torrenting it). Two of For Love Not Lisa’s other albums are available on the streaming giants, but not this one which contains their most famous track. This fact annoyed me to no end when I discovered it. So much so that I actually went on eBay and ordered a second hand copy of the CD.
Is this where the Aquanaut finally loses it and goes off on an epic rant against the streaming giants? No, not yet. It’s not Spotify’s fault that Merge by For Love Not Lisa is missing from their platform. Presumably there’s a record label curfuffle that has prevented that. It does however make it very clear that Spotify is not a complete music Library, and if you treat it as such you may well miss out on some gems of music.
Merge is a very nice 90s alt-rock album and has been on rotation in the Aquanaut’s watery lair for a few weeks now. ‘Slip Slide Melting’ is a fuzzy alt-rock banger that elevates itself with a beautiful bridge at about the 2:28 mark. It’s a lovely interlude for a few minutes before the track closes with its energetic fuzzy guitar riff. The band almost passed on the soundtrack until they read the script and were enamoured by the ‘darker than Batman’ vibes. It scored them their biggest hit.
So far in our battle of the 90s soundtracks we have had a fairly consistent mix of (on The Crow OST) Goths, Rockers, Metal-heads and (on the Judgement Night OST) Gangsta Rappers and Rockers. Run DMC are probably the only outlier so far. Their music was for the most part non-violent and featured a lot of humour. Sir Mix-a-Lot comes from this tradition of Rap. He had some early success with a nice track called Posse on Broadway. He is also a very early Rap-Metal pioneer due to his collaboration with Bay Area Thrashers Metal Church where they covered “Iron Man” by the legendary Black Sabbath. This should have been on the Iron Man soundtrack (Iron Man III at least right?)! In 1992 Sir Mix-a-Lot would drop a single that he could have happily retired on. It’s the kind of hit single musicians dream of writing. It won a Grammy and it was nominated for Best Rap Video at the MTV VMA’s. The song debuted at number 75 on the US Charts on April 11, 1992 and hit number one twelve weeks later. As Bernard has noted on his Blog about 90’s hits, this kind of trajectory stopped happening in the mid 90s.
The song was called “Baby Got Back” and was about liking big butts on ladies. This tune was absolutely massively successful. It re-entered the public consciousness several times due to a cover version by the cast of Glee and Eddie Murphy’s version as Donkey in Shrek (skip to 0:40). Finally Nicki Minaj sampled it for her signature tune “Anaconda”, which apart from being a banging tune, is literally the definition of Meta.
So what was the obvious next step for Sir Mix-a-Lot? A bouncey collaboration with Cult Seattle Grunge rockers Mudhoney, that’s what! In the late 80s a Seattle band called Green River came to an end after some small success (they got recorded!). If you ever want to be a music snob, tell people the Grunge era died when Green River broke up.
The members of Green River would disperse and form several bands. Mother Love Bone became an excellent Rock band and were destined for stardom until the tragic death of their lead singer. The remnants of that group formed Pearl Jam (thus making some sense out of Pearl Jam being labelled a Grunge band). Other members went on to form Mudhoney. Mudhoney have made a fine career out of writing short fuzzy rock tunes and are considered (along with Melvins) one of the progenitors of Grunge music. Touring with New York alt-rock legends Sonic Youth led to some good exposure and a smattering of singles in the UK and US charts. The next step? Make a single with the Big Butts Rapper Guy obviously!
This track is oodles of fun and showcases Mudhoney’s bouncy upbeat style of fuzz-rock as well as Sir Mix-a-Lots effortless flow as a rapper.
For Love Not Lisa (1) for a great chaotic alt-rock tune
Mudhoney & Sir Mix-a-Lot (1) for showing that not all Rap / Rock crossover needs to be about murdering (even on the Judgement Night soundtrack.
But now back to murdering!
Biohazard and Onyx recorded the title track to the Judgement Night soundtrack. Biohazard from New York were kind of touted as the East Coast Rage Against the Machine by the music press. A Hardcore band, they mixed rapping and hardcore punk with a metal edge. Always courting controversy they were accused of racist lyrics and agendas, though rather like their Punk forebears this was all primarily attention seeking rather than any real politics of the band members (two of which had Jewish backgrounds). Their lyrics actually tackled stories of drug abuse, urban crime, unemployment, and the disenfranchisement of the poor in America. They were hugely popular in the US in the early 90s. Their track ‘Punishment’ was officially the most played video ever on ‘Headbanger’s Ball’.
The Albums ‘Urban Discipline’ and ‘State of the World Address’ sold around a million copies each. Biohazard toured extensively over the years in both the US and Europe and have a loyal if ageing fanbase. They invested their money in studio equipment and expertise. They have been known to produce younger bands and have collaborated with the likes of Cyprus Hill, Sepultura and Fear Factory. These days it’s all a bit up in the air. Lead vocalist Evan Seinfeld became an actor who starred in the prison drama Oz and later became a Porn actor and producer. Reunion rumours abound however and they are still highly regarded by fellow Rappers and Metallers to this day.
Onyx are a hardcore rap group from NY. They pioneered a style of hip-hop dancing, which is showcased in their biggest hit ‘Slam’. It’s kind of like moshing really. Their rapping style is still unique, involving an aggressive and in your face shouting style. On stage they looked like they were on the verge (if not actually) in the middle of a huge fist fight. It’s all very masculine, aggressive, angry, fantastic stuff. Their collaboration on the Judgement Night soundtrack is surprisingly restrained. Don’t get me wrong, it’s heavy and it has enough testosterone in it to fail an Olympics drug test. But the two bands understood each other well. The Onyx rappers are on fire. You genuinely do not hear rapping like this anymore. Biohazard provide the riff and some background rapping.
Is there enough manly macho attitude in this track to sink the below offering on The Crow soundtrack?
Shoegaze is a genre of alt-rock typified by dissonant guitar sounds, unorthodox song structure, and the static movements of the bands while playing live (while gazing at their shoes geddit?). The most famous band in this genre are arguably My Bloody Valentine from Dublin, Ireland. Pitchfork online-zine once hailed Medicine as America’s answer to My Bloody Valentine (as if anyone bloody asked eh?). Jokes aside, Medicine are a very good band.
The scene where Medicine’s track plays in The Crow is a good example of Diegetic music, or source music. In other words, music that is part of the setting and can be heard by the characters in the drama (for example in the 2018 mini-series Sharp Objects, Led Zeppelin are heard by us the audience and by Amy Adams character, whenever she listens to her iPod. This is as opposed to Thor: Ragnarok, where Led Zeppelin are used as a background Score for Thor’s God of Thunder scene in Valhalla).
Below, the ‘hoods’ from The Crow are visiting their boss, who among other things seems to live above a nightclub. The clip is about a minute long and is worth a look.
The track is blisteringly loud and it really rocks. Beth Thompson is the epitome of Goth-chique and it shows the dichotomy of rock fans hedonistically dancing the night away, while more sinister characters prowl in their midst.
This song didn’t make it onto the soundtrack.
For some reason it was remixed by the Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie. The track that made it onto The Crow OST is called ‘Time Baby III’. It is a lighter, dreamier sounding version of the tune. Vocals by Liz Fraser are added instead of Beth Thompson’s. Liz Fraser is easily one of Alternative musics best vocalists of all time. She is most famous for Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’, and you may be familiar with her contributions to Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies. She was the lead vocalist with Cocteau Twins back then and that group made a wealth of dreamy shoegaze type pop that stands the test of time today. It’s a beautiful song. I guess we should be glad that there are now three versions of ‘Time Baby’ in existence. If you ever really want to out-nerd someone musically, tell them you prefer the original demo version with male vocals (this pre-dates Beth Thompson).
So, what are the scores in this round of The Crow vs Judgement Night
For Love Not Lisa’s effort was almost not added until they read the script at the last minute. In the penalty shootout, this is an off the crossbar effort that lands on the scoring side of the line.
Mudhoney & Sir Mix-a-lot run up to kick the ball giggling about asses, and distract the goalkeeper with their antics sending him the wrong way.
Biohazard & Onyx pick the ball up off the penalty spot and open fire with their AK’s and Bazooka’s. When the dust settles, everyone is dead. Var determines the ball went over what’s left of the line.
Medicine prepare to take their penalty but the manager replaces them at the last minute with another penalty taker. For me, it’s a miss! Yes '‘Time Baby III’ is an amazing tune. Yes, the Cocteau Twins are incredible, and of course Liz Fraser is an amazing vocalist… but the version that appears in the movie is, in my opinion, the better version and it should have been on the album too. The first mis-hit on The Crow soundtrack!
If you disagree please post below in the comments.
The Crow 1 (today) 5 (overall)
Judgement Night 2 (today) 5 (overall)
We’re now into sudden death!
Next week: We take a look at the some of the remaining tracks on both albums.