The Best and Worst of 1999 in from GuitarAttack World Headquarters

I like to comment on current trends as they relate to we "artists"!  Here is a short rant on some of the best and worst of the final year of the 90's.

Best Movie -- I liked the special effects of Star Wars Episode One, but The Spy Who Shagged Me was just plain funny. No analysis required -- no big issues.  As a side note, my eight-year old son asked me if I was old enough to have seen the original Star Wars movies in the theater. I changed the subject and bought him some more popcorn -- was it that long ago? I remember girls wearing their hair like Carrie Fisher as the Princess at school. That was back when you could also see Van Halen live for about nine bucks.

Worst Movie -- Notting Hill. I force my wife to sit through it because of the grief she gave me over seeing the second Austin Powers movie. Hugh Grant kills me -- he has become the Matthew Broderick of the late 90's -- he always plays the same hand-wringing characters, no matter where he is working.

Best CD -- Millenium Funk Party by Rhino. Lots of happening 70's funk cats. Those guys were so good. No digital anything. Killer. We can all take a lesson from Jungle Boogie by the hardcore, pre-bubble gum Kool and The Gang. Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters get a big thumbs-up for their new album, also. They rock, and are unapologetic about it. Cheap Trick's contribution to the 70's Show Album is awesome (Hello, Wisconsin!); my son loves the song, and Cheap Trick just keeps getting better. One of my favorite bands shows they still have it.

Worst CD -- You name it. There were so many bad ones that it is nearly impossible to single one out. There is one that is still way up there on the list.  Lets go back a year to the day I bought Van Halen III -- a day that will live in infamy. I was in Phoenix attending the Longbow course, and drove to a local record store to buy it the day it was released. I listened to it one time, used a bunch of bad language, and stuck in an easily forgotten place. What a let down. I'm ready for Dave Lee…and a band again. This was, no doubt, Eddie's solo album.  Oh yeah..back to 1999. What was up with Sean "Puffy" Combs busting a rhyme over Kashmir? A true low point for civilization.  NOTE:  I read that there were over 30,000 albums released last year, and less than 200 sold over 100,000 copies.  This is not hard for me to believe.  Just because something is recorded on a digital workstation doesn't mean it is good.  See next entry.

Worst Recording Trend. Digital for the masses.  Don't get me wrong -- I believe in everyone having access to great recording gear.  However, just because something is recorded on a digital workstation doesn't make it worth listening to.  Now that everything has digital outs and multiple models, it is easy to see how people can be lulled into believing that because their song sounds great, it is great.  I believe that if you focus on the song and the presentation, that it really doesn't matter what you record it on as long as it meets that "threshold quality" standard.  I remember the first time I heard Sheryl Crow's "If It Makes You Happy".  I was driving back from Kansas City to Leavenworth, Kansas, and we were listening to the big rock station in KC.  The song came on and it blew me away.  Was it that it was recorded on digital?  No -- it was a great song that would have been killer on a 4-track cassette Portastudio.  Refer back to the 30,000 number above -- concentrate on the song writing!

Best Recording Trend.  Digital for the masses.  It is great to have a great song and be able to make a near master quality recording of it in your bedroom or garage.  Don't get wrapped up in the technology, though.  See the entry above...

Best New Guitar -- Gibson continues to crank out great guitars. I think my favorite is that AAAAA (or is that 6 or 7 As?) top aged Les Paul by Tom Murphy. NOTE: I don't think Tom Murphy actually exists -- he is likely just a creation of Mr. J's marketing machine. I believe the guy posing as Tom Murphy on the Gibson site actually works at a BP station on Donelson Pike in Nashville. Do I like it because it is better than any of my Les Pauls? No -- I like it because it shows that (1) American is a great country, and (2) PT Barnum was right. My advice remains -- Invest in the stock market, and play yer guitar. I like that new Danelectro 12 string, though…

Worst New Guitar -- Still thinking on this one. I saw this one with a removable module with the pickups installed. The hype was that you could have multiple guitars -- no, you have one bad guitar with some really expensive "modules". I also played several new 7-string guitars. I like some of the 7-string bands, but just sticking an extra string on a cheap electric is probably not the way to go. Oh by the way…Korn did not invent the 7-string…I'm serious, dude…

Best new effect. The Line 6 POD is killer, and I think it came into its own in 1999. Great engineering, great concept, great shape, and great sounding. What is not to like? I like the new crop of Boss/Zoom/ DoD/Digitech floor units. Dude -- S/PDIF outs on that new Digitech unit. Who woulda thought….

Worst new effect. There are plenty. What makes them so unbearable is the practice of chaining a bunch of cheap pedals together to get sick tones ala Coal Chamber. I prefer practicing, but I am an old guy. Sonic Youth tried it once, and they are still really…. relevant, aren't they? Just because something looks retro and is expensive doesn't mean it is killer.

So what do you think? Send me an email or post it on the Forum. Your opinion is interesting!

I'm looking for opinions on the above subjects, as well as input on amps, recording gear, and general trends.  Thanks!

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