The Rise of Alt-Rock in the Early 90's: A Revolution in Music

Was the rise of Alt-Rock in the Early 90's a Revolutionary Event?

  • Yes

    Votes: 13 56.5%
  • No

    Votes: 10 43.5%

  • Total voters
    23
  • Poll closed .
May 2012
846
Puerto Rico
#1
Besides being a history lover, I'm also a huge rock fan. Be it metal, prog, prog-metal, alt-rock, I genuinely like most kinds of it (save for metal core and possibly black metal). As a lover of both history and rock n' roll, I like to analize the history of rock n' roll. And one of the particular events in rock music's history that gets my attention is the rise of alt-rock in the early 90's.

It all started in the early 80's. Bands like REM, Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine carried out experiments with the music. They sought a less conventional sound which de-emphasized instrumental soloing and made a greater focus on punkish structures coupled with distorsion (although REM generally had a cleaner guitar sound). the Red Hot Chili Peppers also developed around this time, soon to make a major breakthrough in 1991.

But it was grunge that truly defined that revolution. In Seattle, bands sprouted that sough to mix the density of 60's and 70's hard rock/heavy metal with the distorsion of the rising alt-rock mentioned earlier. In 1992, Nirvana's Nevermind came out, selling millions of copies. Pearl Jam's Ten, which was released a year earlier, soon outsold it. Other prevalent albums of the period were Soundgarden's Superunknown, Alice in Chains's Dirt, The Smashing Pumpkins's Siamese Dream, Stone Temple Pilots's Core and, of course, Red Hot Chili Peppers's Blood Sugar Sex Magik (and yes, of these, only the first 4 album titles mentioned are considered grunge).

What makes this all the more fascinating was that it basically destroyed the hair metal trend of the late 80's. Those spandex suits, leather jackets and dyed manes were replaced by flannel shirts, battered jeans, ugly beards and unkempt hair. In short, a more down-to-earth image was adopted.

So, my question to you is this: was the rise of alt-rock revolutionary? What impact do you think it had on the public conscience? And, in which ways is that event relevant today?
 
Last edited:

okamido

Forum Staff
Jun 2009
29,885
land of Califia
#4
I think that alt-rock can be considered to have started in the 70s, out of Punk, way before REM blew up. We are leaving out the contributions of acts like Joy Division/ New Order and Siouxsie Sioux and others. To the question, I don't really count Grunge as having sprung from Alt as something evolutionary, and I don't personally believe that there was really anything all that revolutionary about it....it was simply derivative. You have Cobain and maybe one or two songs from Pearl Jam, but not much else. What real alt was, springing from Punk, was more original. Grunge just put a whiny American spin on a primarily English sound.
 
May 2012
846
Puerto Rico
#5
I think that alt-rock can be considered to have started in the 70s, out of Punk, way before REM blew up. We are leaving out the contributions of acts like Joy Division/ New Order and Siouxsie Sioux and others. To the question, I don't really count Grunge as having sprung from Alt as something evolutionary, and I don't personally believe that there was really anything all that revolutionary about it....it was simply derivative. You have Cobain and maybe one or two songs from Pearl Jam, but not much else. What real alt was, springing from Punk, was more original. Grunge just put a whiny American spin on a primarily English sound.
Interesting points. I've never listened to Siouxsie Sioux or Joy Division.
 
Mar 2010
1,325
Ohio
#6
Revolutionary? Coming of age at the tail end of the golden age of alt-rock I thought so, but in retrospect I'd say not. The whole grunge movement was a throwback to 70's rock. Start off with some Black Sabbath, mix in a bit of the Sex Pistols, and sprinkle a bit of Neil Young on top for good measure.
 
Apr 2013
430
spirits in a material world
#7
Besides being a history lover, I'm also a huge rock fan. Be it metal, prog, prog-metal, alt-rock, I genuinely like most kinds of it (save for metal core and possibly black metal). As a lover of both history and rock n' roll, I like to analize the history of rock n' roll. And one of the particular events in rock music's history that gets my attention is the rise of alt-rock in the early 90's.

It all started in the early 80's. Bands like REM, Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine carried out experiments with the music. They sought a less conventional sound which de-emphasized instrumental soloing and made a greater focus on punkish structures coupled with distorsion (although REM generally had a cleaner guitar sound). the Red Hot Chili Peppers also developed around this time, soon to make a major breakthrough in 1991.

But it was grunge that truly defined that revolution. In Seattle, bands sprouted that sough to mix the density of 60's and 70's hard rock/heavy metal with the distorsion of the rising alt-rock mentioned earlier. In 1992, Nirvana's Nevermind came out, selling millions of copies. Pearl Jam's Ten, which was released a year earlier, soon outsold it. Other prevalent albums of the period were Soundgarden's Superunknown, Alice in Chains's Dirt, The Smashing Pumpkins's Siamese Dream, Stone Temple Pilots's Core and, of course, Red Hot Chili Peppers's Blood Sugar Sex Magik (and yes, of these, only the first 4 album titles mentioned are considered grunge).

What makes this all the more fascinating was that it basically destroyed the hair metal trend of the late 80's. Those spandex suits, leather jackets and dyed manes were replaced by flannel shirts, battered jeans, ugly beards and unkempt hair. In short, a more down-to-earth image was adopted.

So, my question to you is this: was the rise of alt-rock revolutionary? What impact do you think it had on the public conscience? And, in which ways is that event relevant today?
There was some goodstuff in the 90's I liked Soundgarden a lot but imho the 90's didnt produce as much good quality music in rock and pop as the 3 decades that preceded it. I was not all together overly impressed with the grunge scene although I liked some bands from that era.
 
Mar 2012
18,030
In the bag of ecstatic squirt
#8
I voted yes. Nirvana and Alice in Chains are my bands.
I also voted yes, on the basis of the power chords that these bands use to put a spin on their music, and yes to those bands, especially, Alice in Chains. I used to love Nirvana a lot but, until now I am never tired of listening to the music of Alice in Chains.

Revolutionary? Coming of age at the tail end of the golden age of alt-rock I thought so, but in retrospect I'd say not. The whole grunge movement was a throwback to 70's rock. Start off with some Black Sabbath, mix in a bit of the Sex Pistols, and sprinkle a bit of Neil Young on top for good measure.
You have a point there, but, take note that during the 80's it was the New Wave that ruled the air and the glam rock bands such as Poison, GnR, Warrant, Bon Jovi to name a few, and Nirvana, STP and other Seattle influenced bands came into show that rock music sounded differently in the 90's.
 
May 2012
846
Puerto Rico
#9
Love the enthusiasm on here. I'm not a big Nirvana fan, but I love Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. I enjoy Alice in Chains as well, though at first I didn't like them much. Also love The Smashing Pumpkins, especially the early stuff.

And yes, I do believe it was revolutionary, but I think my first post pretty much gives that away.
 
Mar 2012
18,030
In the bag of ecstatic squirt
#10
Love the enthusiasm on here. I'm not a big Nirvana fan, but I love Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. I enjoy Alice in Chains as well, though at first I didn't like them much. Also love The Smashing Pumpkins, especially the early stuff.

And yes, I do believe it was revolutionary, but I think my first post pretty much gives that away.
I also like Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam. Collective Soul, Dishwala, Silver Chair and Candle Box are also those that comes to my mind.
 

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