Remember 1997? I sure do. It was the year when we realized that the ’90s were on the outs, and good ol’ Alternative Rock music, the at-once greatest and most wishy-washy gift the ’90s ever gave us, was in a confusing state of flux.
It finally set in that, despite the claims of my older brother’s pot-smoking musician friends, Kurt Cobain probably wasn’t murdered after all; Fred Durst hadn’t yet reared his chump-ass, redcapped head to usher in the egregious rap-metal era that ruled the last two years of the millenium; and EZ Alternative acts like Tonic, The Wallflowers, and The Verve Pipe seemed to be ushering in a brand of... well, downright watered-down, light-beer wussiness.
I don’t know about you, but I wore a constant frown on my face for the first half of that year. A lot of the girls that I knew were pretty heavily into Jewel, which baffled my prepubescent brain, and my little 13-year-old, hairless ass couldn’t have been more pissed-off at a musical nation that seemed to be thriving on such blatant atrocities as Lilith Fair (you remember Lilith Fair, don’t you?), Meredith Brooks’ Alanis-copping girl-power anthem, and, oh yeah, don’t forget fucking Matchbox 20!
Where was the DUDE rock, man??? What the fuck happened? I was too young to be seeking out music that the radio didn’t provide for me, and I was at an absolute loss. I needed something to latch onto, something to thrash around to in my bedroom. But it seemed like the musical world had turned its back on seething pre-teen males for good.
All hope was lost.
And then, seemingly out of nowhere . . .
The cathartic screaming... the kick-ass riffage... the balls-to-the-wall drumming... the mindless yet vaguely angry subject matter. Dave Grohl had brought it ALL to the fucking party! Kurt WHO?????
That first single off the monumental The Colour and the Shape absolutely blew my young mind. I camped out in front of my stereo for hours with a cassette tape poised and ready to record the song off the radio. I made my dad (yeah, this is lame) RUSH to Best Buy after work that May when the album finally dropped to pick up a copy for me on the very first day it came out.
And the hit parade ensued: “Hey, Johnny Park!” had old girl from Veruca Salt on vocals, so I loved it. “My Hero” was “totally about Kurt, man,” so I loved it. “Everlong” was the first song I’d ever heard that made 16ths on the hi-hats actually sound badass, so I loved it. “February Stars” was emo before emo ever even hit the suburban malls, so I loved it. The album as a whole one-upped Grohl’s self-titled debut considerably, and I was hooked.
Now in 2007, Dave Grohl may have become a tired and painful-to-watch imitation of himself, but hey... I’m not about to let the fact that he’s gotten old and fallen off the wagon taint some of his best and most idealistic work. And apparently, I’m not the only one.
While most of us wait with comfortably and decidedly un-baited breath for the newest Dad-rock schtick-fest from the current line-up of Grohl, Hawkins, and company, that landmark album of albums The Colour and the Shape is getting its just desserts for being the pre-teen boy-rock album of the year that we all know it was by receiving a deluxe makeover and 10-year anniversary reissue via Legacy/RCA.
The album will feature the same ol’ 14 tracks of testosterone-packed jams that you knew and loved, plus a handful of potentially tough-to-track-down cover songs and B-sides, including Killing Joke's "Requiem," Gary Numan's "Down in the Park," (off of The X-Files Soundtrack, which I fucking OWNED, natch!), and Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street," as well as B-sides "Drive Me Wild," "Dear Lover," and "The Colour and the Shape." The only difference is that now you can listen to “Monkey Wrench” and be pissed at your boss or your wife instead of your 7th grade teacher or your mom! Isn’t life sweet?
Representative of a young band in its prime, The Colour and the Shape featured the work of not only a maturing Grohl, but also the former Nirvana/Germs Guitarist Pat Smear and the unholy Sunny Day Real Estate rhythm section of bassist Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith. (Sure, good ol’ Davie might have... uh, “tweaked” most of Goldsmith’s drum tracks, thereby booting him back to Jeremy Enigk-ruled Godville. But hey, nobody’s perfect, right?)
Anyway, the deluxe, 10th anniversary (yes, take a second to consider how old that makes you) The Colour and the Shape will be hitting “Pop/Rock/Alternative” shelves at giant, impersonal record stores everywhere July 10, just in time to soundtrack all of our midsummer barbeques and ’90s-themed beach trips. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to give my dear old dad a call to see if he can pick it up for me after work...
Fall In/Fall Out:
Get ready for a whole new round of “Dude, I know for a FACT; all of these songs are TOTALLY about KURT!”
I can’t wait.