Last time, we took a look at some classic heavy ’70s artwork from Atomic Rooster and Buffalo, and that was fun, but let’s face it, there’s bigger fish to fry. For example, now that Californian desert legends Kyuss have been (mostly) resurrected in the form of the appropriately-exclamatory Kyuss Lives!, it becomes more necessary than ever to examine the legacy they left behind them in their first run. Kyuss: The gods of the ’90s desert!
The question in part comes down to lineup. For 1992’s Blues for the Red Sun, Kyuss consisted of drummer Brant Bjork, guitarist Josh Homme, bassist Nick Oliveri and vocalist John Garcia. Of those four, it was Bjork and Oliveri principally responsible for the songwriting. That remained true for 1994’s Kyuss, which would later adopt the unofficial title Welcome to Sky Valley (often shortened as just Sky Valley), but the swapping out of bassist Scott Reeder in place of Oliveri — a process which, it could be argued, is under way again now in Kyuss Lives! — had a huge impact on the band’s sound, accordingly with an increase in confidence, establishment of aesthetic, etc.
What’s not up for debate, however, is that these are two of the most classic and pivotal desert rock albums of all time. With landmark songs like “Thumb,” “Green Machine” and the truly post-punk “Allen’s Wrench,” Blues for the Red Sun helped set in motion the genre that would be centered around Palm Desert and the surrounding area, but the vision wasn’t completely realized until two years later, when Sky Valley was released. Broken into three larger movements, tracks like “Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop,” “100 Degrees,” the softer “Space Cadet” and the instrumental “Asteroid” solidified the sound that the prior album had proposed, arguing not just for its artistic relevance, but for the imperative blend of atmosphere and classic influence that has come to typify true desert rock.
But as much as that’s true, you couldn’t have had the one without the other. I know where my heart and listening habits place me, but what about you? Desert island scenario (or maybe just desert, if that’s more appropriate), you can only have one or the other. Which is more pivotal in terms of its influence, and which would you rather just hear for the rest of your life to the exclusion of the other? These seem like big questions — because both records are so great — but that’s why The Debate Rages.
Please cast your votes in the comments.Tags: California, Kyuss