Song Of The Day - 15 Dec 2008: High Hopes (AotY 1994)


25 Ene 2009, 7:34

Pink Floyd / High Hopes / The Division Bell (11) / Mar 1994

sablespecter's Album of the Year for 1994 (RDF: 81.8%)

Fifteen years after scoring their first AotY Award for The Wall, Pink Floyd came back to the top of the list with an album that I don't think gets enough props. I didn't think that they still had one final studio album in them seven years after A Momentary Lapse of Reason, and I think lots of fans were surprised at both the sound and the quality, if not the tone and continued "us vs. you" theme. All said, I think it's deserving of more listens than it probably gets.

The wide, open sound and slow pace give it a feeling of emptiness and reflection on what was and what might have been, and the guitar work of David Gilmour - check Marooned - leaves me wanting more. Lost for Words finds David resigning himself to the fact that reconciliation would never come, and moving on in the interest of letting go and finding a future without a single minute more lost to recrimination and bitterness. Today's selection is a moving, despondent album- and catalog-closer that always leaves me feeling a bit dejected over how much more could have come from Floyd if not for egos, divisiveness, etc...ending with the sound of a lone bell tolling in the distance.

Rounding out the Top Five of 1994 (in order of descending RDF):

Fu Manchu: No One Rides For Free (75.0% RDF)
The Fu had started about seven years prior as a punk band, and went through a number of member changes before this debut even came out, by which time they'd drifted to the SoCal stoner rock band that they are today. But this ain't sludgy stoner rock, this is suitable for surfers and skaters, with fast-paced 70s-style rocking with lots of fuzz and distortion. After a couple more albums, Eddie Glass and Ruben Romano left and formed Nebula. Be sure to check them out, too. Lots of good stuff there, though it leans more psychdelic jam rock.

ØCorrosion of Conformity: Deliverance (64.3% RDF)
The first album with Pepper Keenan as full-time lead vocalist, and by now the punk roots are gone. This is full-on stoner metal with no hidden nods to Sabbath.

Black Sabbath: Cross Purposes (60.0% RDF)
The Sabbath albums with Tony Martin aren't the greatest works, but certainly better than the Glenn Hughes/Ray Gillen disasters. Tony Martin needs a nod of thanks and due credit, because without him I don't think that Tony Iommi could have kept Black Sabbath as a going concern that allowed for the temporary return of Ronnie James Dio for Dehumanizer after the first couple of Tony Martin albums, and for the good-for-everyone reunion with Ozzy after the next two. This isn't to discount Tony Martin's talent. I think more of the issue was the general drift in direction. Tony is a solid contributor on lyrics, and has good, strong vocals to deliver them. He's certainly Sabbath's third-best vocalist (Ian Gillan is a great vocalist generally, but not for Sabbath, despite my liking of Born Again.) and in fact, until the new Heaven And Hell album comes out, he's done more Sabbath albums than Dio! I was surprised by how much of this album I did like. Maybe it's because Martin does kinda sound like Dio at certain times...have a listen to Cross of Thorns...withouy writing from the same relatively narrow fantasy canon that Dio writes from. And of course, Iommi has some great meandering, bluesy guitar work here, such as on Dying for Love.

Megadeth: Youthanasia (58.3% RDF)
Could Dave Mustaine keep his successful run going after the previous two killer albums? Well, not quite, but it does have some proven favorites (mine is the cool, insanely self-referential Victory). He lost some fans after this album (not me), but in this weak period for metal in general, it's an album that still stands out and stands the test of time.

Honorable Mentions (in roughly alphabetical order by band/artist name):
ØBurzum: Hvis lyset tar oss
ØEmperor: In the Nightside Eclipse
ØKyuss: Welcome to Sky Valley
Pantera: Far Beyond Driven
ØPride & Glory: Pride & Glory
Queensrÿche: Promised Land
Tesla: Bust A Nut

Is your favorite album from 1994 on this list? Are there any others you would add?

\m/ (ò_ó) \m/

Ø: For the 1990s AotY Awards, albums which were discovered after the 1990s have been noted with an "Ø" This provides a perspective on how much thinner the album lists were at the time.

*Since Deliverance - and several of the Honorable Mentions - wasn't discovered until after the 1990s, had I assigned the awards at the conclusion of 1994, Bust A Nut would have would have slipped into the fifth slot with a 57.1% RDF. This year had only a couple more highlights than 1993, but still a weak year in general.


  • GrantRS

    Like '93 I only have one album from your list, in this case Youthanasia. Unlike '93, however, I consider '94 to be a strong year. Freak Kitchen's debut: Appetizer is my clear winner for this year. Dream Theater's Awake and Soundgarden's Superunknown are, IMO if not yours, very, very strong albums with little to pick out as weak points and plenty of strong tracks that I can lose myself in the magnificence of. While I haven't decided on an exact order yet, I rate King's X - Dogman and Helloweeen's Master Of The Rings as solid albums also with a couple of standout tracks each. Youthanasia maybe ranks just behind these two, with plenty of good tracks but little that really jumps out as a standout, save for A Tout Le Monde. For something quite different, there's also The Offspring's breakthrough album Smash. While Fates Warning's Inside Out and NWOBHM band Raven's Glow (which features a cover of Thin Lizzy's The Rocker, that instrumentally, particularly the drums, sounds quite Motorhead) are good efforts that maybe if I judged them on another day could outrank Youthanasia.

    25 Ene 2009, 14:14
  • sablespecter

    So here is where my list of "bands I know I need to evaluate but never have" shows my ignorance: Dream Theater and Fates Warning from that list especially. We do differ on [i]Superunknown[/i] but can't say on [i]Awake[/i] - I just don't know but doubt we'd disagree on it. [i]Master of the Rings[/i] I bet I will like - it's still "on the scroll" from your first recommend last year! [i]Smash[/i] I didn't forget. It just barely bubbles under the HM list with 6 out of 14 tracks getting dots. One more and it would make the 50% minimum. There's actually lots of albums across the years that are like that, and that's one failing of these AotY lists. As a follow-on to the AotY Awards, I am going to introduce a new topic later on in 2009: a "Year Rewind" I'll just pick a year and run down all of my favorite songs from the year. Not exhaustive, but maybe the Top 25. Or maybe one favorite/infrared dot track from each of 25 groups or something like that. And I likely won't do them in strict chronological order like the AotY Awards, and definitely not all together. This theme will allow me to give props to all of the contributions to the collection from all the albums that didn't make the cut on an album basis but have songs that are individually strong that I really like. So, if I was doing the 1993 Rewind, I might put "Gotta Get Away" on the list from [i]Smash[/i], for example.

    11 Feb 2009, 6:02
  • GrantRS

    Interesting. [i]Awake[/i] is pretty awesome. Probably one of the best places to start a Dream Theater collection, though 92's [i]Images and Words[/i] or 97's Falling Into Infinity would be equally good places, in my opinion. If you want help deciding, Images and Words is probably the best of those three, but the production on it sounds quite dated for a 1992 release. 2002's Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence is my favourite of theirs, but I wouldn't really have thought it a good starting place. Then again, I don't think you're the type of person who needs to be gently eased into anything. Still, probably less likely to go wrong with the 90s ones.

    11 Feb 2009, 12:56
  • sablespecter

    Wait, isn't [i]Falling Into Infinity[/i] the one that had Desmond Child's paws all over it?? Of these three, I have heard [i]Images and Words[/i] (a lot of people have, but I also have a dubbed copy my cousin made for me back in the day - DT is his fave). So I think I will probably start with [i]Awake[/i]. [i]Systematic Chaos[/i] is the only other album that I am familiar with.

    4 Mar 2009, 4:11
  • GrantRS

    Oh yeah, he re-wrote the lyrics to one song. :( That album gets a lot of unfair criticism, it's actually a lot better than most of the stuff they've done since. The Child meddled-with (that sounds wrong) You Not Me isn't all that bad or all that commercial compared to his Alice Cooper/Bon Jovi meddlings, but any inadequacies that song has are eclipsed by the longer and better tracks on the other 73 minutes of the 78 minute album. You could easily program out that track and still think it a long album. A few of the tracks may also have been trimmed for length, but Hollow Years, most likely the biggest loser from length trimming is still a great ballad of ample length and one of the best the band have done (clocking in just under 6 minutes, though live versions recently have run around 9). A lot of the stuff they've done since though they made too instrument heavy to really stand up as songs and it's been really hit and miss, unless you're listening mainly for the instrumental passages rather than a balance between the instrumental passages and the songwriting - in which case you'd be better off with some pure instrumental technical prog/metal/jazz/mind-messing-up stuff like Liquid Tension Experiment[/artst] or spastic ink.

    4 Mar 2009, 13:17
  • sablespecter

    Hahahaha! Ah, I'm just messsing with ya! I wouldn't just throw out 73 minutes of an album because Child meddled with 5 of them (everything gets its fair trial). And anyway, I really should confess: I CAN listen to stuff that he's had a hand in. That would be apparent from some of the KISS tracks in my charts, since Child and Paul Stanley spent so much time in the 80s attached at the hip. With DT, you're right, I'm looking more for balance between instrumentals and songs. When I look for instrumentals, I tend to listen less to prog and more to jazz fusion. So knowing that I like, say, early Journey, or Steely Dan, or even Bitches Brew (on occasion), would I like either of those last two suggestions?

    9 Mar 2009, 5:13
  • GrantRS

    Sorry, I managed to mess up both those artist links, it should have been Liquid Tension Experiment and Spastic Ink. If I remember correctly, I think they're both streamable on so you can easily check them out yourself. However, both of those are sort of straddling the prog metal/jazz fusion line, rather than being the Miles Davis kind of proper jazz fusion. Liquid Tension Experiment, it should be noted, consisted, at the time of the first album, of two members of Dream Theater (Petrucci and Portnoy), Tony Levin and Jordan Rudess (who has since joined Dream Theater), it's not really progressive metal as we know it (except for one or two of the faster tracks (eg. Acid Rain), but it's not really proper jazz fusion either. Spastic Ink, on the other hand, was an off-shoot of Watchtower and is extremely technical, very insane, very jazzy, but quite metal at the same time. Apparently one of their songs A Wild Hare was written to fit a compilation montage of all the scenes from Disney's Bambi that featured the character of Thumper, so you can get an idea how crazy it is from that, right? Souns like you should probably check out Allan Holdsworth if you haven't already though, and all associated projects, including Bruford (You remember Bill Bruford from Yes, King Crimson and Genesis, right? You may even have already tried this project) and The New Tony Williams Lifetime...Allan was also briefly a member of Soft Machine, allegedly turning the group into a jazz fusion band for one album, though I haven't yet found that album to listen to it. recent Tony MacAlpine, recent Greg Howe and planet x[artist] are other rock/jazz fusion balancers if you're interested in any more, right away. With Dream Theater though, the balance between technical wizardry and songwriting seemed to end after Falling Into Infinity and their output has been leaning more toward the technical wizardry side. Systematic Chaos (IMO) was just going through the motions of recording an album for them, as was Train of Thought, but SC was even more so.

    11 Mar 2009, 11:20
  • sablespecter

    No, I've heard of none of these, let alone tried any of them! I'm going to have to simply copy this whole last piece onto the investigate list and just spend an evening poring over the tracks...sometime. <sigh>

    13 Mar 2009, 4:11
  • GrantRS

    You don't know Soft Machine and Watchtower? Interesting. I would've thought you'd know those two. Soft Machine were (probably) one of the ten or so most succesful original prog bands from the late 60s/early 70s. Associated with the 'Canterbury scene'. One of the more keyboard focused ones, bit like Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Allan Holdsworth joined the band in the middle of the 70s and (reportedly) transformed them into a straight jazz fusion band before leaving barely a year later. Watchtower began more in the (mid) 80s and are most commonly described as technical thrash metal. I'd probably describe their music as a very fast (though less satisfying) version of Priest but displaying a strong aversion to using 4/4.

    13 Mar 2009, 12:34
  • sablespecter

    No, true confession: I haven't. At least not that I recall. I'll put 'em on the list and report back to this space once I've checked them out.

    17 Mar 2009, 3:22
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