After 10 years of pop rock as the central music interest in this country, a man came on to the scene who recombined the wild guitar playing and "bad boy" image of hard rock, punk rock and new wave and brought it back to it's roots: the blues. He brought back the old sounds and feelings of the 60s and infused them with new ideas and new ways of thinking. His name was Kurt Cobain. His band, Nirvana, began what at first was known as the Grunge movement but later became known as the beginning of the alternative music era. His immense success with his music allowed him to spread his powerful messages of self-reliance and tolerance for others. And although it was a title he himself shunned, he became the spokesperson for an entire generation of "Gen X-ers." He began a movement of ideas and music that lasted ten years, one that almost equaled the counter-culture revolution of the 60s. Soon after Nirvana's success came many more such bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, and Alice In Chains and many, many more. Many of them retain great success to this day. Not long after his death there was an explosion of alternative rock bands, and alternative rock is the primary rock music to this day. Philosipher, artist, musician, who can deny that few have been so admired for their views and their struggles in life as Kurt Cobain. His unfortunate suicide (or murder, depending who you talk to) left a whole in the hearts of many, however, his legacy lives on to this day.
Although alternative remains the primary rock sound, the modern versions of heavy metal and hard rock are gaining steadily more and more fans,and soon may replace alternative as the modern representation of Rock n' roll. The original heavy sounds of Osborne, and later Metallica and their contemporaries were kept alive in the 90s by groups like Pantera. However, groups like NIN and Gravity Kills were taking that sound and marrying it with the rising alternative sound to create what is now known as Industrial Rock, which is very impressive in it's versatility. The movement was continued by artists like Marilyn Manson and Rammstein. However, one group that was far ahead of it's time, TOOL headlined by musical genius Maynard Keenan had already touched on a sound similar to industrial rock and brought it in direction all their own, more on them in the "Future" section. Creed is another band that has taken the hard and industrial sound in new and unique directions, they have successfully taken these sounds and added them to spiritualism and deep, meaningful lyrics that has attracted many fans, including myself, this experiment in hard rock and spiritual/religous power is a treat to listen to. Meanwhile, another group, Rage Against The Machine, was taking the hard and industrial sounds and marrying it with the most successful descendant of the blues in the 90s: Rap. Their success with this new style of heavy music inspire others to take this direction, today Korn is the leader in this movement, followed closely by Limp Bizkit, and Kid Rock, however I am eagerly awaiting a new leader to take the stage and bring all this to some ultimate evolution of rock I feel is waiting in the nearfuture.
So where is this all taking us? Well, for a while I thought the heavier sounds would eventually dominate the rock world, a prospect I was fine with. However, I have been noticing a movement by some people to a musical nostalgia, especially concerning blues and blue grass. I see two artists eventually making some major musical changes in rock. On the industrial/heavy side, Maynard Keenan, the already successful and original artist from tool recently formed a second band, A Perfect Circle, which seems to blend the unique sound of industrial rock with slightly more alternative/classic rock sound. What other changes could Maynard cause in the music industry? Only time will tell, however he is a true genius and I suspect with his new TOOL album on the horizon we may see some big changes come his way. The other innovator we may see some major changes come from is a young classic blues/rock guitarist from Louisiana named Chris Thomas King. This man may very well be the heir to the legacies of Johnson, Waters, and Hendrix. He has the styles and soul of the old blues masters, and has learned to blend them with, rap, R&B, Alternative,and even reggae beats. I forsee a great movement coming from this man. Watch him close, If you haven't had the chance yet, get some of his CDs, he's great. Who knows what the future holds for the rock movement, a movement that has come so far from the poor black farmers and former slaves, singing in the cotton fields of the deep south.
Click here to go to a table of popular music from each period and artist I discussed:Music Table
What did you think? Contact me at:LJTSG@Gateway.net