When I was a young man, I read Frank Zappa's book, The Real Frank Zappa Book, a number of times. Endless amount of times. I've honestly got most of the thing memorized. It led me down some interesting paths, and introduced an important concept to me: What Is Art? Zappa's theory, via John Cage, was that Art is whatever you say it is. You've just got to put the frame around it, so you can tell it apart from the real world. Doesn't matter what it is itself, whether it's good or bad, anything. If you say it's art, it's Art. An important, freeing concept. Is it empirically true? Nah, probably not. But the idea is important.
In the book, Zappa also presents a fear/idea of Death By Nostalgia. He feared that the cycles of nostalgia, seemingly ever shorter, would eventually slim down to nothing, so that humanity could not take a step without feeling nostalgic for the previous one. Well, luckily enough I suppose, things haven't gotten that bad. Luckily, in fact, because WE ARE GOING TO INDULGE IN SOME SERIOUS NOSTALGIA RIGHT ABOUT NOW.
The year was 1995, and the possibilities were endless. I was 17, and my dreams hadn't been crushed yet. Plus, I didn't have to pay rent. And the music was THE BEST EVER.
Okay, not really. There is, and always has been and will be, good music. But 1995 was a good time for it! Indie was in the mainstream, the waters had yet to reject the oil. And there was a show on Sunday nights, on MTV, called 120 Minutes. It had been around for a while, sure. But one summer, most of the network headed to Florida (or California, or something, who knows) for Spring Break. And 120 Minutes, the weirdo kids who stayed back in New York, had the studio all to themselves. So they spent the summer inviting bands over to play on the show.
Back in 1995, I used to tape almost EVERYTHING. I paid attention, kept lots of blank VHS around, and recorded, knowing that the future me would like to see this shit. And sure enough, I was right. I particularly kept an eye out for the live compilation episodes of 120 Minutes, wherein they'd broadcast performances from a bunch of bands they'd have in the studio. They did it at least twice in 1995, and I had the tape rolling.
It's kind of mindboggling to look back now, and realize there's nothing on TV that really covers this kind of ground, nor how wide. Here you'll find the good (Hum! Radiohead! Shudder To Think!) and the bad (Oasis! Sugar Ray! Goo Goo Dolls!) and the completely forgotten (Complusion? Seed? Love Spit Love?) in a solid cross-section of what was going on aboveground and under. And the good stuff here is SO GOOD. I once had the Spearhead song stuck in my head for a solid week and a half, and never got tired of it. I stole the opening bass riff from the Lush song for a song on our first album, and still have never been called on it. I can see my tastes forming, somewhere in here.
These are mp3 files, from DVD, transferred from VHS. They don't sound pristine, but you can deal with it. They just get a little crackly during the quiet songs (doesn't matter too much, apart from the Tori Amos song.)
1) Weezer - the Sweater Song
2) Bob Mould w/ Lou Barlow - Believe What You're Saying
3) the Jesus and Mary Chain w/ Hope Sandoval - Sometimes Always
4) Iggy Pop - Untouchable
5) Bad Religion - Stranger than Fiction
6) L7 - Stuck Here Again
7) Love Spit Love - Am I Wrong
8) Compulsion - Delivery
9) They Might Be Giants - Snail Shell
10) the Cramps - Ultra Twist
11) Victoria Williams - Crazy Mary
12) Cracker - Get Off This
13) Blur - Parklife
14) Liz Phair - Supernova
15) Sunny Day Real Estate - Seven
16) Grant Lee Buffalo - Mockingbirds
17) Spearhead - People in the Middle
18) Lush - Hypocrite
19) Helmet - Biscuits For Smut
20) MC 900 Ft. Jesus - If I Only Had A Brain
21) Seed - Rapture
22) Luna - California All the Way
23) Oasis - Supersonic
1) Radiohead - Just
2) Toadies - Possum Kingdom
3) Hum - Stars
4) Blind Melon - Galaxie
5) Bush - Come Down
6) Babes in Toyland - Sweet '69
7) the Verve - On Your Own
8) Goo Goo Dolls - Burnin' Up
9) Veruca Salt - Seether
10) Catherine Wheel - Judy Staring at the Sun
11) Alanis Morrisette - Hand in my Pocket
12) Shudder To Think - X French Tee Shirt
13) Better Than Ezra - In the Blood
14) the Charlatans - Just Lookin'
15) Buffalo Tom - Summer
16) Sugar Ray - Mean Machine
17) Tori Amos - Horses
18) Jill Sobule - I Kissed A Girl
19) Smoking Popes - Need You Around
20) Morphine - Honey White
21) Luscious Jackson - Here
Yes, I do have video of these, if you really want it. But trust me, they look pretty crappy. Fifteen years on VHS will do that.