Paul Heinz

Original Fiction, Music and Essays

Basic Rock from the 80s and 90s

A few weeks ago, my friends are I challenged each other to a difficult task: select songs from our record collections from 1980 to 2000 that had – as a minimum and a maximum – only guitar, bass, vocals and drums.  No strings.  No brass.  No tuned percussion.  No harmonica.  No accordion.  You name it.  Just the basics.  This was a much harder endeavor than any of us had expected, especially as we challenged each other to represent all twenty-one years – not so easy during the 80s when even the biggest rock and rollers resorted to filling in the soundscape with a synthesizer, an organ or a violin (yeah, I’m talking to you, Mellencamp).  For me, 1982 was the most difficult year to represent.  I started off all cocky: “No problem, I’ll pick U2, REM or The Replacements.”  Well, Mr. So-Sure-Of-Himself, U2 and The Replacements skipped 1982, and R.E.M. didn’t put out their first album until the following year.  That I was never into heavy metal or big-hair bands (or grunge, for that matter) made the task set before me seem impossible at times.  With a week to go until the big unveiling of our lists, I managed to find an LP from 1982 with a tune that provided the very basics.  Thank you, Cheap Trick.

The evening was a bit haphazard, and we ran out of time to represent each year, but here’s what I documented.  For each year, my selection is listed first, then John’s, then Kevin’s.  Yes, the Replacements and the various iterations that resulted from the band are over-represented, but that ain’t bad; the song by Bash and Pop was one of the highlights of the evening for me.

1980

Billy Joel, Close to the Borderline

Cheap Trick, Baby Loves to Rock

Kenny Loggins, I’m Alright; John Wetton, Turn on the Radio

1981

Pat Benatar, Take it Anyway You Want it

The Church, a song whose title I forgot to document

4 selections from Kevin: Romantics, In the Nighttime; Stray Cats, Runaway Boys; Billy Squire, I Need You; Adam Ant, Beat My Guest

1982

Cheap Trick, Time is Runnin’

Marshall Crenshaw, Mary Ann

Kevin, opted for another 1981 release!

1983

The Pretenders, Time the Avenger

John passed

Black Sabbath, Trashed

1984

Big Country, Where the Rose is Sewn

Replacements, I Will Dare

Scorpions, Leaving You

1985

John Mellencamp, Rain on the Scarecrow

REM, Kohoutek

Anthrax, Medussa

1986

Joe Jackson, Hometown

Smithereens, Strangers When We Meet

Violent Femmes, Heartache

1987

The Bears, Fear is Never Boring

Replacements, (a bunch from Pleased to Meet Me)

Jesus and Mary Chain, April Skies

1988

The Pursuit of Happiness, Walking in the Woods

Pixies, Where is my Mind

Kevin passed

1989

Blake Babies, Dead and Gone

Lou Reed, Stawman

Gene Loves Jezebel, It’ll End in Tears

1990 We didn’t get to this year, but my pick was…

Replacements, Attitude

1991

Lloyd Cole, Weeping Wine

Meat Puppets, This Day

Concrete Blonde, Joey

1992

Keith Richards, Eileen

Paul Westerberg, Waiting for Somebody

Kevin passed

1993

Judy Bats, Simple

Buffalo Tom (entire CD of Big Red Letter Day); Bash and Pop, Friday Night (Is Killing Me)

L7, Scrap

1994

Green Day, Basket Case

Neil Young, Piece of Crap

Nirvana, The Man Who Sold the World

1995 We didn’t get to this year, but my pick was…

Emmy Lou Harris, Where Will I Be

1996

Barenaked Ladies, The Old Apartment

Rage Against the Machine, Bulls on Parade

Kevin passed

1997

Old 97s, Time Bomb

Sun Volt, Picking up the Signal

Kevin passed

1998

Fastball, Fire Escape

Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road

Beck, Bottle of Blues

1999  We didn’t get to this year, but my pick was…

Indigo Girls, Cold Beer and Remote Control

2000  We didn’t get to this year, but my pick was…

Steve Earle, Another Town

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