ELEPHANT – WHITE STRIPES
Jack White fulfilled a vision of a back-to-basics recording technique for The White Stripes’ fourth album. The entire album was recorded without computers, on recording equipment that dated back to 1963 at the earliest. The result is an astonishing garage/blues rock classic. Elephant received five Grammy nominations and earned the band their first of three straight wins for Best Alternative Music Album.
TRIVIA: The White Stripes’ biggest hit got its name from Jack White who thought as a kid, that The Salvation Army was called “The Seven Nation Army”.
WATCH: The Big Interview with Dan Rather: Jack White – Jack White discusses his love for the blues, listening to music on vinyl, making the move from Detroit to Nashville and more. Watch on YouTube.
READ: Fell in Love with a Band: The Story of The White Stripes by Chris Handyside (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2004)
LISTEN: Elephant on Spotify
THE COLOUR AND THE SHAPE – FOO FIGHTERS
Foo Fighters brought in perfectionist producer Gil Norton (Pixies, Counting Crows, Jimmy Eat World) for their second album (first as a full band). Norton’s production resulted in better performances and improved songwriting. The resulting album earned the band two Grammy nominations, three Top Ten mainstream rock singles (“Monkey Wrench”, “My Hero”, “Everlong”) and two Platinum albums.
TRIVIA: The title of the album is an inside joke regarding their tour manager who purchased a second-hand bowling pin because he liked “the colour and the shape.”
WATCH: Foo Fighters: Back and Forth – this 2011 documentary takes you from Nirvana’s Nevermind through tense The Colour And The Shape recording sessions and the band’s first US #1 album, Wasting Light. Watch on YouTube.
READ: This Is a Call: The Life and Times of Dave Grohl by Paul Brannigan (De Capo Press, 2013)
WAR IS THE ANSWER – FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH
Prospect Park, 2009
Five Finger Death Punch’s first Platinum album, War Is the Answer, debuted at #7 on the Billboard 200, and peaked at #3 on Billboard’s US Hard Rock Albums chart. Producer Kevin Churko had a big hand in shaping FFDP’s sound and receives a writing credit on all of the album’s twelve original songs. Originally intended to be a bonus track, their cover of Bad Company’s “Bad Company” would become their biggest selling single, and has nearly 200 million streams on Spotify.
TRIVIA: War Is the Answer is Five Finger Death Punch’s first Top 10 album, first to go Platinum, and is the album from which they’ve released the most singles (6).
WATCH: Pablo reminisces with Zoltan Bathory from Five Finger Death Punch about their 2009 record, War Is The Answer. Hear more about the blood, sweat & ass-kicking it took to complete their sophomore album, some of the crazy stories along the way, and what success means to the band. Watch or Listen on 93X.com
READ: Death Punch’d: Surviving Five Finger Death Punch’s Metal Mayhem by Jeremy Spencer (Dey Street Books, 2015)
LISTEN: War Is the Answer on Spotify
DR. FEELGOOD – MÖTLEY CRÜE
Mötley Crüe’s fifth album is their biggest, and arguably, best album. The #1 hard rock album featured the monster singles “Dr. Feelgood” and “Kickstart My Heart”, both of which earned Grammy nominations. Bob Rock’s production caught the ear of Metallica who tapped him to produce their eponymous “Black Album”.
TRIVIA: “Dr. Feelgood” and “Kickstart My Heart” were nominated for Grammys in 1990 & 1991, respectively. Mötley Crüe lost to Living Colour both times.
WATCH: Mötley Crüe: Dr. Feelgood The Videos – in typical un-PC, NSFW style, the Crüe discuss (sort of) the Dr. Feelgood music videos. Watch on YouTube.
READ: The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Mötley Crüe with Neil Strauss (Dey Street Books, 2002)
LISTEN: Dr. Feelgood on Spotify
BLOOD SUGAR SEX MAGIK – RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS
Warner Brothers, 1991
The Red Hot Chili Peppers really came into their own with their Rick Rubin-produced fifth album. One major change was Flea’s bass playing. He took a more simplified and melodic approach after reading an article where Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon ripped the macho-jock way white guys play funk. Blood Sugar Sex Magik became their first Top 5 record, peaking at #3 in the US. It features “Under the Bridge”, “Suck My Kiss” and the Grammy-winning “Give It Away”.
TRIVIA: Two years sober, Anthony Kiedis wrote “Under the Bridge” as a poem to express his loneliness and alienation from his partying friends. Producer Rick Rubin found the poem in Kiedis’ notebook and encouraged him to try singing it.
WATCH: Chad Smith Talks Anniversary of Blood Sugar Sex Magik – the drummer talks about why the album was his favorite to make, and releasing the album on the same day as Nirvana’s Nevermind. Watch on YouTube
READ: Acid for the Children: A Memoir by Flea (Grand Central, 2019)
LISTEN: Blood Sugar Sex Magik on Spotify
DIRT – ALICE IN CHAINS
Alice In Chains’ second album mixing “grunge” and metal included some of the finest rock singles of the era. The multiplatinum Dirt featured “Would?”, “Down in a Hole” and “Rooster” and earned them their first Grammy nomination. They currently hold the record for most Grammy nominations (8) without a win.
TRIVIA: The model on the cover of Dirt is Mariah O’Brien, former wife of actor Giovanni Ribisi. O’Brien previously appeared on the cover of Spinal Tap’s “Bitch School” the same year.
WATCH: Gibson TV – Icons: Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains – the guitarist discusses his early influences, playing with Eddie Van Halen, the origin stories behind songs like “Rooster” and so much more. Watch on YouTube
READ: Alice in Chains: The Untold Story by David de Sola (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2018)
LISTEN: Dirt on Spotify
WHEN LEGENDS RISE – GODSMACK
With When Legends Rise, Godsmack successfully shed the metal label (heavy, alternative, nu, or otherwise) for a more desired hard rock sound. It’s their sixth album to go Top 10, and all four singles topped the charts for a combined 12 weeks.
TRIVIA: Godsmack are number four on the list of bands with the most number ones (11) on the Mainstream Rock charts. The bands with more are Van Halen (13), Three Days Grace (15) and Shinedown (16).
WATCH: Sully Erna’s 2020 Interview with Woody – Sully chats about quarantine life, his YouTube show, a timeline for Godsmack’s return to touring, and their video for “Unforgettable.” Watch on 93X.com or YouTube
READ: The Paths We Choose: A Memoir by Sully Erna (Bartleby Press, 2011)
LISTEN: When Legends Rise on Spotify
ÆNIMA – TOOL
Ænima has the distinction of having gone Top 10 twice, with a 23 year gap between appearances. The album’s eventual release to streaming platforms in 2019 resulted in streams that equated to 33,000 units sold. Tool’s sophomore album featured three Top 10 singles in “Stinkfist”, “Forty Six & 2” and “Ænema”.
TRIVIA: The lyrics to “Die Eier von Satan” are spoken in German, and are a recipe for cannabis cookies.
WATCH: Tool’s Ænima: 10 Facts Superfans Probably Already Know – including the double entendre behind the album’s name, the aforementioned cookie recipe and more. Watch on YouTube
READ: A Perfect Union of Contrary Things by Maynard James Keenan (Backbeat, 2016)
LISTEN: Ænema on Spotify
DOOKIE – GREEN DAY
The success of Green Day’s third album, Dookie, helped shine a spotlight on punk rock and bring it to the mainstream. The 20 million selling (worldwide) album boasts five Top 10 Modern Rock singles, including three that went to #1. The landmark album earned Green Day their first Grammy when they took home the prize for Best Alternative Music Performance.
TRIVIA: The album cover features drawings of the woman on the cover of Black Sabbath’s debut album (center left), Angus Young (rooftop, center right) and Patti Smith’s Easter (in a window, lower right). The original release of the album also featured an “Ernie” puppet from Sesame Street, on the back cover.
WATCH: VH1 Ultimate Albums: Dookie – the documentary details Green Day’s risky major label signing and unexpected rise. Watch on YouTube
READ: Smash!: Green Day, The Offspring, Bad Religion, NOFX, and the ’90s Punk Explosion by Ian Winwood (Da Capo Press, 2018)
LISTEN: Dookie on Spotify
BACK IN BLACK – AC/DC
Arriving only 5 months after the death of previous singer, Bon Scott, Back in Black was completed in the Bahamas in only seven weeks. Back in Black has sold 50 million copies worldwide thanks to the incredible classic/modern rock of “You Shook Me All Night Long”, “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution”, “Hells Bells” and “Back in Black”. It’s the second biggest album of all time behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
TRIVIA: Back in Black has sold over 25,000,000 copies in the US, but never made it to #1. It peaked at #4
WATCH: AC/DC: Dirty Deeds – taking an in depth look at the history of one of the greatest rock bands in history. From their inception in 1973 through the Black Ice World Tour. Stream on Prime Video.
READ: AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll: The Ultimate Story of the World’s Greatest Rock-and-Roll Band by Murray Engleheart with Arnaud Durieux (It Books, 2008)
LISTEN: Back in Black on Spotify