These “staff selection” reviews originally appeared in the February 1993 issue of Spin, which was partially written and guest-edited by members of the SNL cast. Read interviews and stories from comedy icons of the era–Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Tim Meadows, Julia Sweeney and others–in our package of highlighted stories from the issue.
Average White Band, Pickin’ Up the Pieces: Best of the Average White Band (1974-1980) [Rhino]
I like to listen to stuff from when I was a kid. What can I say? I loved AWB! This features “Pick Up the Pieces,” which I thought was by James Brown when I first heard it. When Jet magazine published a picture of the band, I was like, oh, it’s not James—hey, white people can be funky!
Skid Row, B-Side Ourselves [Atlantic]
Havin’ a kick-ass party? Crank it up one more notch with this EP on which Skid Row covers classics from Kiss’s “C’mon and Love Me” to Judas Priest’s “Deliverin’ the Goods.” Singer Sebastian Bach sends you drifting with Hendrix’s “Little Wing,” and bassist Rachel Bolan shows off his metal balls as his lead vocals rock you through the Ramones’ “Psycho Therapy.”
Michael Penn, Free-for-All [RCA]
There’s something so incredible about Michael Penn’s voice — the slight vibrato it gets when hitting the lower notes and the yearning quality when reaching the higher ones. Penn’s second album shows a true mastery of his craft — from the Lennonesque sound of “Long Way Down (Look What the Cat Drug In)” to the hard rock riffs in “Bunker Hill.”
Ice Cube, The Predator [Priority]
After watching such actors as Schwarzenegger, I wondered if Cube could handle a role such as The Predator. Oh, sorry, I thought it was a… never mind. Anyway, Cube gave my jeep a reason to smile. We were both getting a little tired of Marky Mark. My jeep wouldn’t stop raving. Finally I had to say, “Shut the fuck up, talking jeep. I put the gas in your tank, not Ice Cube. Okay, yeah, I thought so, punk.
Neil Young, Harvest Moon [Reprise]
Grab a Rolling Rock, kick back on that easy chair, and “get it together” with Neil Young’s welcome throwback to his 1972 Harvest record. Neil doesn’t rock the house with this one, but he doesn’t have to. My favorite cuts: “Unknown Legend” and “You and Me.” It’s vintage Neil with exceptional backup vocals from the likes of James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt.
U2, Achtung Baby [Island]
I have to admit that I jumped on the U2 bandwagon after someone took me to a concert during the Joshua Tree period. I loved that album and I really liked this last one, especially the song “One” because it fully reminded me of a girl who’d recently dusted me. It just kept making me not forget about her. So I guess, in a way, I don’t like this album at all.
— David Spade
G.E. Smith and the Saturday Night Live Band, Get a Little [Liberty]
Up on the SNL bandstand is a sign that reads “All Kinds of Music Played Here.” That says it all. These guys slither effortlessly from style to style like an eel in a muddy creek bed. Lots of vocals (which you’d never expect from their woefully truncated appearances on the show) and great lyrics too. Check out G.E.’s guitar on “Fattenin’ Frogs for Snakes.” Strong stuff that just gets better the more you listen.
— G.E. Smith