1993 doesn’t seem all that far away to me. But when you stop and think about it, a lot has happened in the world of rock music over the past two decades. Twenty years ago the glam rock acts of the eighties were desperately trying to hold on as the spotlight moved towards Seattle and the bands associated with grunge rock. Music was shifting from light-hearted hair-metal, to introspective music by bands like Pearl Jam, and Nirvana. Here are ten huge tracks from 1993.
Lenny Kravitz - “Are You Gonna Go My Way”
Lenny Kravitz had been building a steady following with his first two releases, but it was with his third album Are You Gonna Go My Way that he became one of the biggest rock acts on the planet. The title track, which was written by Kravitz, and his long-time guitarist Craig Ross, reached number 4 on the charts in the UK. “Are You Gonna Go My Way” has become one of Kravitz’ biggest hits and is a must at all his concerts
Nirvana - “Heart-Shaped Box”
“Heart-Shaped Box” was the first release from what was to become Nirvana’s last studio album, In Utero. The band was under pressure to follow up the hugely successful Nevermind; an album which basically set the tone for a whole new generation of band’s. Courtney Love has said that Kurt Cobain would lock himself in the closet while working on the riff to “Heart-Shaped Box.” The song’s name was apparently inspired by an actual heart shaped box that Cobain had gotten from Love.
Pearl Jam - “Daughter”
Just like Nirvana, fellow Seattle band Pearl Jam had the daunting task of recording the follow up to a successful album. The resulting Vs. is a much more introverted affair than their debut Ten, but it nevertheless retains the band’s sense for great melodies, and guitar solos. “Daughter” was Pearl Jam’s first Top 40 hit, peaking at number 28 on Billboard’s Top 40 Mainstream chart. Guitarist Mike McCready, who usually tend to come up with guitar solos on the spot, has said that the solo in “Daughter” is one of few that he actually sat down and worked out beforehand.
Aerosmith - “Livin’ On The Edge”
Aerosmith released their 11th album, Get A Grip, in 1993. The album was a huge success, producing several massive hits, like the ballad trio “Cryin’,” “Amazing,” and “Crazy.” But the big rocker from the album was “Livin’ On The Edge.” This was when MTV still played music, and Aerosmith put a lot of effort in to making over-the-top videos to accompany the singles.
Stone Temple Pilots - “Plush”
Although Stone Temple Pilots released their debut album Core in 1992, the single that would make them a household name, “Plush,” was released in 1993. The song, which is characterized by its slow rock-groove by the DeLeo brothers and drummer Eric Kretz was a huge hit for the band. The slow riffing in the song make it a great tune for beginners to learn on acoustic guitar.
Spin Doctors - “Two Princes”
Spin Doctors gained international fame in 1993 mostly thanks to their mega-hit “Two Princes” from their 1991 album Pocket Full of Kryptonite. It’s hard not to sing along to the infectious chorus. The song reached number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. For guitar players, the biggest appeal is the solo by Eric Schenkman on his Gibson Les Paul.
The Smashing Pumpkins - “Today”
With their sophomore effort Siamese Dream The Smashing Pumpkins gained international fame, much thanks to the melodic singles “Today,” and “Disarm.” Pumpkins main man Billy Corgan had now found his trademark guitar style, using heavy distortion and fuzz. Corgan’s brilliance lies in the fact that he knows how to make really melodic music that still retain a heavy sound, something he perfected on The Smashing Pumpkins third album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.
Soul Asylum - “Runaway Train”
When Soul Asylum reached international fame thanks to the song “Runaway Train” in 1993, it wasn’t an overnight success for the band. Having formed in Minneapolis in 1983, the band had released five albums before hitting the big time with Grave Dancers Union. The band’s singer David Pirner started dating Winona Ryder, and was even featured in the nineties drama-comedy Reality Bites. Since then Soul Asylum has sort of faded back in to obscurity. They still tour and release new music, but it is hard to imagine them ever returning to the success of 1993.
Bon Jovi - “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead”
Bon Jovi had a lot to prove in 1993. They released their fifth album Keep The Faith in the fall of 1992, and initially didn’t have the same success they’d become accustomed to with their past couple of albums. But the band deserve credit for daring to adapt to the new musical climate. Bon Jovi dropped the hair-rock image and focused on making a great rock album. Thanks to songs like “Bed of Roses,” and “Ill Sleep When I’m Dead,” Keep The Faith eventually ended up selling over 2 million copies in the US. A testament to the album’s success is the fact that “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” is now a staple at any given Bon Jovi show.
Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Soul to Squeeze"
You know you have a good thing going when a rejected song from a previous album becomes a number one hit. Red Hot Chili Peppers originally recorded "Soul to Squeeze" during the sessions for Blood Sugar Sex Magik, but it eventually didn't make the album. Two years later, the song was included on the soundtrack for the movie Coneheads, and reached number one on the US Modern Rock Tracks chart, and number 22 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was the last one to feature guitarist John Frusciante during his first run with the band. Frusciante had actually departed the Chili Peppers the year before "Soul To Squeeze" was released.