Fat Tuesday: Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of an Epic Album Release Day
On this date in 1995, 10 classic albums were released all at once
If there’s anything to be said about how even a once-in-a-century pandemic couldn’t quash the excitement for yesterday’s incredibly strong slate of releases, it’s an acknowledgment to the lost art of anticipation for the day new releases hit your local record shop.
As the frenzy over the new Tool album last year attests, album release days — now on Fridays instead of Tuesdays — remain a somewhat strong pulse in pop culture. But in the mid-90s, it was a weekly ritual for music fans to regularly check the nationally-distributed ICE Newsletter and map out what cassettes and CDs to buy. Then when that Tuesday came, we’d head right to our local spot and cop our choice as soon as humanly possible. Sometimes we’d line up outside of Tower Records late on a Monday night for the store’s midnight sales if the new album was enough to merit such measures — like Sept. 24, 1991, the day when Low-End Theory, Nevermind, Badmotorfinger, Blood Sugar Sex Magic and Screamadelica were all released.
Oftentimes, there would be more than one album coming out that Tuesday, and you find yourself making a tough decision as to which one you are going to get this week and which one you could wait on (strange to recall considering we have everything at the click of a button in 2020).
However, in 1995, there was one Super Tuesday that immediately comes to mind, especially if you were in the thick of the college radio life like I was on March 28. Very few album release days can boast no less than 10 classic recordings like this particular Tuesday, the totality of which we’ve compiled for your pleasure below.
Tank Girl Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Elektra)
The upcoming Margot Robbie-led cinematic reboot of Gorillaz co-creator Jamie Hewlett’s Tank Girl will surely be a major upgrade from the well-intended but very highly corny 1995 adaptation from director Rachel Talalay (best known for her production work on such John Waters faves as Hairspray and Cry-Baby). But the soundtrack, which was put together by Courtney Love for the original movie, is going to be a tough act to follow. Not only did she assemble some of the hottest women-led acts in modern rock and pop at the time with classic cuts from Portishead, Bjork, L7, Veruca Salt, Belly, Hole and Joan Jett (in a duet with Paul Westerberg, no less), we also get the only original track created by Scott Weiland’s all-too-brief secondary band The Magnificent Bastards in “Mockingbird Girl.” As a matter of fact, Ms. Robbie would be wise to just have Love produce the reboot’s soundtrack.
Red House Painters
Ocean Beach (4AD)
Mark Kozelek might get more press these days for his combative public behavior than his steady and vastly unsung output of new music in recent times. But when you bring up the title of this classic fourth album from his old group Red House Painters, no amount of cheap heat in the world can disparage the role of Ocean Beach played as part of the foundation of slowcore along with the likes of Low and Codeine. The last Painters album on 4AD, its pastoral majesty falls somewhere between Simon & Garfunkel and J. Mascis and despite its creator’s present stigma remains a key listen.
Wild Love (Drag City)
Bill Callahan’s fourth LP as Smog saw him expand the base of his spare indie-folk sound for something closer to a pocket Velvet Underground of sorts, foreshadowing the richer textures that would lead him into his fruitful recent years recording under his government name. Wild Love also marks the first time Callahan would collaborate with fellow Drag City lifer/Sonic Youth’s Jim O’Rourke, who plays cello throughout the record. Listening to this album again, especially after soaking in the sounds of such recent triumphs as Dream River and Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest, you can’t help but feel thankful that old Bill began to expand the diameter of his viewpoint on Wild Love.
There has never been an American rock band that has reinvented itself as many times as Wilco has. There are only two men still standing from the original lineup in John Stirratt and Jeff Tweedy. Their duality remains the key thread that connects every other Wilco album to AM, the debut from every member of Uncle Tupelo except Jay Farrar. While country music has always permeated through the structure of every one of their albums this past quarter-century, AM is unrepentant in its Nashville roots. And after listening to a hard quarter-century of Tweedy and Stirratt trying on new sounds over the course of 10 studio LPs under the Wilco brand, that purity only grows more refreshing over time.
Faith No More
King For A Day…Fool For A Lifetime (Slash)
King is perhaps the most distinctive of all Faith No More albums in that it marked the only time Mike Patton’s twin pillars of creativity collided in the studio. The addition of Mr. Bungle guitarist Trey Spruance (whose band with Patton would also see the release of Disco Volante later that year) as a momentary replacement for the departing founding guitarist Jim Martin cracked open an entire new dimension to the band’s ever-evolving metal-wave foundation. The heavy parts on KFADFFAL remain the most brutal in Faith No More lore, especially on the opening salvo “Get Out” and lead single “Digging The Grave.” Meanwhile, Spruance’s multi-hued pedigree on the six-string made it much easier for the band to slide into some Love Unlimited Orchestra shit on “Evidence” and full-blown gospel on the epic LP closer “Just A Man.”
My Brother The Cow (Reprise)
The third album from Mudhoney’s Reprise era is by far the most rooted in their forever home at Sub Pop than anything else they did for the major label. With the help of longtime producer Jack Endino, the Eddie Kramer of grunge, songs like “Into Yer Shtik” and “Crankcase Blues” just blast through your speakers like the most powerful moments on Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge albeit with a bigger budget.
Only Everything (Mammoth)
For her proper follow-up to 1992’s Hey Babe, Hatfield eschewed any of the superfluous scene drama dirtying the water to deliver her crunchiest solo album that still holds true 25 years later. The crunchy, candy-sweet power pop that races through rockers like “What A Life” and “Ok Ok” is a testament to the production team of Paul Q. Kolderie and Sean Slade, who began work on Only Everything shortly after striking gold helming Hole’s Live Through This.
Lifestylez Ov Da Poor and Unfortunate (Columbia)
It might be the MAGA crowd that’s all rah-rah with their gun lust in 2020, but as the recent tragic murder of Pop Smoke sadly alerts, hip-hop still has serious firearm problem in its culture. And you listen to this debut album from Big L — who, like Pop Smoke today, was the one of the most promising young MCs coming out of the Five Boroughs — and you just feel sad about how insane it would have been to watch this microphone whiz kid grow into his 30s and 40s. He was barely out of his teens when Lifestylez had emerged from the depths of the NYC underground, spitting pure improvised fire before he was legally allowed to be in the clubs he tore up. That he was fully supported by the legendary Diggin’ in the Crates crew, who produced his work and happily served as sparring partners for their young lion, only added to the shock of his death in 1999 at the age of 24.
Subhuman Race (Atlantic)
“I was probably the biggest fan of us all as Bob Rock basically took the “chains” off of me / my drumming stylistically and allowed me to really “go for it” across the entire album,” original Skid Row drummer Rob Affuso told SPIN about the band’s third album. “I also loved the way we recorded the drums; In a large garage through a sound system! I loved the ‘live sound’ he got for the album using that technique! Overall, this was the most FUN and rewarding album for me as a drummer.” Back in 1995, Subhuman Race sank like a stone in comparison to the first Skid Row and even its immediate predecessor Slave To The Grind. But 25 years later, you hear songs like “Bonehead” and “Frozen” and mind need to remind yourself this is a Skid Row album yr rocking out to. That Pantera tour definitely wore well on these cats.
Ol’ Dirty Bastard
Return To The 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version (Elektra)
You gotta hear it again straight through. It’s not only that razor-sharp Wu-Tang style straight through, but Dirty’s whole way about him on this record is very dada. There’s an element to this album that sowed the seeds of the 1999 album he did with The Neptunes, which is a funk classic 21 years later. But also his riffing on Carole King and Al Green classics on here also gives huge clues to the depths of his love for music. Nobody would ever seriously try to put Return To The 36 Chambers over Cuban Linx and Liquid Swords as the best Wu related album of 1995. But that’s not to say its unhinged brilliance does not deserve its own notch carved into the highest pillar of the Shaolin totem pole.