A few days ago I was out for a couple of beer with an old mate of mine and as usually we started talking about music. I can't explain why but suddenly we were talking about record labels and that a lot of them stand for a unique sound. We are not talking about classic labels like Sun Records, Motown or major companies. More about independent labels. The more time we talked the more we stuck in this theme. One named a label and the other had to add the artists the label signed or are formative to it. So I think it it will be now the start for a new series.
SST Records were formed by Greg Ginn in the late 70's in California to release material of his band Black Flag. SST's merit was to be a platform American underground music in the pre-Nirvana era. Originally featuring classic hardcore-punk they spread their spectrum during the years into alternative music.
Black Flag was the first band on the label and they sounded like The Ramones on speed with atonal guitar solos. They maintained their attitude as angry nonconformists and got their highest level when Henry Rollins joined the band.
The Meat Puppets started as another punk band from Arizona and changed their style from their second record on. Instead of noise there was suddenly alternative rock and country in their sound. Nirvana played years later three songs from their second album on their legendary MTV appearance.
Another band that made SST Records famous was Dinosaur Jr. The first three albums are all classics in alternative rock music. J. Masics's drawling vocals and distinct guitars sound with the extensive use of feedback were highly influential for many bands in the 90's.
Minutemen started as a punk band as well. But all members were so highly talented so that this post will not be complete if I won't name then. True pioneers of alternative music. Their first records are a legacy that I listened often during the last decades.
Sylvia Juncosa played guitar in SWA (the band of Chuck Dukowski after he left Black Flag) before she started a career with her own name. Her only record Nature from 1987 was one of the records I loved these days. Simply forward going aggressive hard rock.
Probably the best selling SST-artist was a trio from Minneapolis. Hüsker Dü started like many other artists as hard-core punks and developed their own unique sound album by album. Flip Your Wig was the completest record they made and it is still a timeless beauty.
Also Sonic Youth started their career on SST. Evol is probably the first record on that they created their very individual sound. Still a classic record from these days.
Probably the first cross-over record in this genre. Bad Brains made a great melange out of ingredients of hard-core punk, reggae, funk and soul. Massive basses and heavy guitars made this record a classic.
At the end a band that never got the credibility they should have. Firehose started as the following band after Minutemen was history. Instead of D. Boone Ed Crawford, a Minutemen fan played guitar.