Check out a selection of hidden gems from the mid-90s…
1995 was a hell of a year.
Canadian butchers in Kitchener, Ontario set the world record for the longest sausage ever, at 28.77 miles, Toy Story wowed us with computer generated visuals, and the PlayStation hit our British shores. We’ll leave you to rank the cultural significance of these landmark events.
But among all this hullabaloo, some truly amazing music albums were released, with a few criminally falling under the radar. Whether they’ve since garnered a cult following or have remained in relative obscurity, we think it’s about time they received the kudos they deserve.
So turn off the copy of GoldenEye, finish up your Dairylea Dunkables and join the UDS team on a nostalgic trip down memory lane.
‘Dopes to Infinity’ – Monster Magnet (Tom)
Monster Magnet were one of the first bands I ever called my favourite, and I still hold such a soft spot for them to this day. Their sleazy, groovy, over-the-top take on stoner rock captured my formative ears, and Dopes to Infinity might be their crowning achievement.
The band’s third album is littered with riffs, charm and choruses you can’t help but headbang to. It combines the attitude of 70s hippy culture with pulp sci-fi in a way that shouldn’t work, but just does. You’ll have to listen to get what I really mean, but song titles like Ego, the Living Planet, King of Mars and Look to Your Orb for the Warning should give you a flavour. Aside from the, at the time, obscure Marvel reference, I’d definitely read a book with a title like any of these songs.
In fact, the Marvel connection with this album goes both ways. The character Negasonic Teenage Warhead was named after arguably the best song on the album. Legendary comic book creator Grant Morrison has admitted he was indebted to the band for the character, who has since gone on to appear in the insanely popular Deadpool films.
That’s why it’s such a shame that the album that featured it turned out to be a bit of a flop, even for a quite niche act like Monster Magnet. If you haven’t already, I can’t recommend it enough. Play it as loud as you can, and raise those horns for one of rock’s unsung heroes.
‘The Presidents of the United States of America’ – The Presidents of the United States of America (Tom)
An album I remember my old man playing on cassette when I was still in nappies, The Presidents of the United States of America’s debut, self-titled album has been with me for pretty much my entire life, and what a treat that is.
The alternative grunge trio combined the catchy, self-deprecating and downright bizarre to make a truly unique record. Song themes range from a bog woman sitting in the mud, to the risks of owning a pet cat, all the way to a desire to move to the country to eat a lot of peaches. It’s unconforming and uncompromising, while never veering into inaccessibility.
While it enjoyed success upon release (including the ultimate accolade, a Weird Al parody), it’s an album I never hear anyone talk about nowadays, which is a real shame. With 90s culture coming back in the form of fashion, new wave grunge and Brendan Fraser, I think there’s plenty of Room of TPOTUSOA to have another 15 minutes of fame.
P.H.U.Q. – The Wildhearts
1995 has proven to be a very hard year to choose underrated albums from. So much great stuff came out across a wide range of genres, and almost all of it could at the very least be described as ‘rated’. So while I’d love to sit here and try to convince you Pulp’s Different Class is an underrated masterpiece, I just can’t. NME ranked it at number 6 in a list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. It’s a masterpiece, definitely – but not an underrated one. I could go a more obvious route and shout about how One Hot Minute is my favourite Red Hot Chili Peppers album, but that doesn’t seem to be that controversial a take nowadays either. Heck, if you know me then you know I love the band Garbage with all of my being and think their Self-Titled debut from this very year is astoundingly good and massively overlooked by anyone who’s become a fan of music in the last 10-15 years. But alas, I’ve already written a whole piece about it for the site and do so hate to repeat myself (you can read that here, by the way).
I listened and relistened to a bunch of albums trying to pick anything to write about in this article, but nothing really stuck. In fact, all I’m left with really is the only album I knew I immediately wanted to pick. P.H.U.Q. by The Wildhearts.
For those unfamiliar, The Wildhearts are a staggeringly great Rock band. I’d love to try and wax lyrical about them but the best way to describe them is to shoot straight and honest really – Fucking great Rock songs with incredibly catchy choruses that sometimes have riffs that come so close to Heavy Metal you might need a hard hat just to be in their vicinity. Better yet, the songs are so good that they’d sound massive on the biggest stages in the world or even from a shitty PA down at your local pub. Frontman Ginger Wildheart knows his way around a Pop-hook, and there’s a real argument to be made that he’s one of the best songwriters of the last 30 years (and certainly one of the most prolific when it comes to his solo career).
Truth be told, P.H.U.Q. is mostly here because I think The Wildhearts themselves are massively underrated. A great-time Rock band, the sort of band you’d see on a Festival lineup and immediately know you’re in for an hour of incredible fun. I will, however, talk about the album as well. It’s my favourite Wildhearts album at present (although it flits between several options depending on my current mood) and opens with my favourite Wildhearts songs, I Wanna Go Where The People Go. Some songs you just can’t imagine anyone disliking and this is very much one of them (although incidentally, one of my friends doesn’t like it, believing it to be too generic, and I’ve been considering removing him from my life ever since finding this out). An amazing chorus, shout-along verses and a swagger to make Jagger jealous, if you’ve never listened to The Wildhearts then this song is your starting point.
Other personal favourites include Just In Lust, a song about realising your infatuation wasn’t love at all, and the raucous Whoa Shit, You Got Through which quite hilariously is about someone penetrating your personal bubble and becoming quite important to you. Elsewhere, a song like Jonesing for Jones could easily be imagined in the vocal stylings of one of the bombastic divas of yesteryear. There’s not a dull moment on P.H.U.Q., and I’d highly recommend it to anyone as a gateway to one of the most fun catalogues of music out there.