Considered by many fans to be a classic, this debut on Fat Wreck Chords (originally released on Doctor Strange, with only a few thousand copies shipped before the company went out of business) qualifies as a '90s punk must-have. The first (and by far the rawest) of three Face to Face recordings to include alt-rock radio mega-hit "Disconnected," this 13-track disc reveals a band on the brink of punk stardom. Don't Turn Away features original members Matt Riddle on bass, Rob Kurth on drums, and singer/guitarist Trevor Keith – the one constant in what would become an ever-shifting lineup.
Riding a wave of popularity just about to crest, Face to Face released this self-titled disc for A&M Records in 1996. Although their fourth release, Face to Face, is the first that did not contain the alt radio smash "Disconnected." The single "I Won't Lie Down" more than fills the vacancy left by the ultra-catchy "Disconnected" and even generated intense – but brief when compared to its predecessors' – airplay of it's own. Singer/guitarist Trevor Keith's songwriting prowess reaches its highest level without compromising the band's speedy aesthetic. Rhythms shift through manic turns as Keith and co-guitarist Chad Yaro double up on punk power chordings just before splitting apart into expansive counterparts.
The success of the hit single "Disconnected" on Los Angeles radio station KROQ catapulted Face to Face to a new level of popularity, causing their 1995 release, Big Choice, to sell more than 100,000 copies – a first for the southern California punk band. "Disconnected" had appeared on their previous album Over It, but the band redid it for Big Choice, making it a bit heavier and adding a somewhat humorous exchange with a "record producer" about whether to include the song on the album because they didn't want to be labeled sell-outs. The conversation ends with the band declaring "there's no way in hell this song is going on this record" and then launching right into "Disconnected."
While Van Morrison is, to be kind, an erratic and temperamental live performer, he's in stellar form throughout the double album It's Too Late to Stop Now, a superb concert set that neatly summarizes his career from his days with Them (represented by scorching renditions of "Gloria" and "Here Comes the Night") through 1973's Hard Nose the Highway ("Warm Love," "Wild Children"). In addition to the hits, including "Caravan," "Domino," and "Into the Mystic" (the final line of which gives the album its title), Morrison even pulls out a handful of R&B chestnuts ("Bring It on Home to Me," "Ain't Nothin' You Can Do") before capping off the collection with a show-stopping rendition of Astral Weeks' "Cyprus Avenue." An engaging, warm portrait of the man at the peak of his powers. [This double-live set was re-released on CD in 2016.]
After two pure party albums, the inevitable had to happen: it was time for Van Halen to mature, or at least get a little serious. And so, Women and Children First, a record where the group started to get heavier, both sonically and, to a lesser extent, thematically, changing the feel of the band ever so slightly…