Not everyone from my generation remembers the 80s too well, but all of us do remember the 90s: we witnessed it first-hand, from the Cobain flannel shirts to the everything-denim look, from the strange Doc Martens revival, to Angela Chase’s quite terrifying jumpers as well as her odd obsession with Violent Femmes. Quite frankly said, the 90s had it all, from the terrible fashion statements to the musical melting pot. And twenty years later, thanks to Death To The 90s, a male is seen swimming into the water of an album cover again – not a baby this time, but a well-known face of the local Austrian music scene.
The compilation, which was released a month ago on schoenwetter schallplatten and via rough trade, takes some getting used to. It is filled with great songs that have set a standard in music as well as songs of which the originals soundtracked (some annoyingly) my youth: from Daft Punk to the Smashing Pumpkins, from MC Hammer to Erasure, it covers practically every musical style that was uncovered in the big nine-ohs. I have to admit that the very first track (Wonderwall by Fred Schreiber) scared me a little: a cover very far away from Oasis’ easy-listening brit-pop and closer to the Swinging 60′s than anything else, it however deserves a mention for being a brave and original opener to this eclectic compilation.
Two other songs which made me feel uncomfortable on first listen were Viech‘s U Can’t Touch This and Cannibal Koffer‘s No Diggity. Nothing against the two bands’ redefinition of these radio hits – after all, I found myself humming along despite my will; but being the forward-thinking girl that I am, I firmly believe that some songs should stick to their decade and never be let out of Pandora’s box, which is where the aforementioned songs – along with Hammer Pants – belong. However to be fair, the versions on this album – along with Pilots‘ Brown Sugar – are nothing short of entertaining, unlike Haigh-Hasbury‘s version of Smells Like Teen Spirit, which I found a little forced and bland.
Since we can’t have a good decade without some good old girl rock thrown in there, Luise Pop‘s Fast and Frightening – originally by L7 – is a flawless and well-received tune on my part: gritty, loud, fierce, and wonderfully empowering, it’s better than Geri Halliwell’s girl power monotony could ever be. The absolute surprises of this album, however, are to be found in the second half of the compilation, with two newcomers: Likewise, who released their debut in June, and the (very) unknown Markus&Lukas. For their cover picks, they chose bands that both had their golden times in the 80s, dusted off two semi-classic tracks such as Walking On The Milky Way and Always, and in their very own ways, both made the songs less kitschy and more fitting for our decade, without straying too much from the originals – a delight for the ears!
Thumbs up also for the lovely version of I Will Always Love You by Ian Fisher, because it makes me feel less guilty for singing along to a Whitney Houston song, and for Bernhard Eder‘s Tonight, Tonight, which really makes him shine among the bigger stars of this compilation. Last but not least, Utah Moon – formerly known as Commerce – delivers an impeccable Long December in the middle of summer from across the Pacific Ocean. All in all, this little sampler isn’t flawless, but it’s still a nice way to remember the decade most of us grew up in – without having to endure the bad fashion statements of that era.