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Five Great Gretsch Songs of the 90s

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Ask most people about music in the 1990s, and they’ll probably point to grunge’s dominance during the early part of the decade and bubblegum pop towards the end as main mile markers.

Gretsch artists and their trusty guitars certainly had several standout moments in those areas. But whether it was the straightforward punk from Tim Armstrong and Rancid or the infectious rockabilly of Brian Setzer, Gretsch played a big part in many other genres, as well.

Below, we’ve compiled five great Gretsch moments in the music of the ’90s.

Rancid: “Golden Gate Fields”

Coming off Rancid’s self-titled 2000 album, “Golden Gate Fields” is named for the horse racing track near the band’s San Francisco home base.  The rocker has an autobiographical feel to it, and rightfully so.  Frontman Tim Armstrong sings about hanging out at the track and a friend named Big L who “wasn’t doing so well.”   The album itself sounded like it drew from the Clash and early 1980s hardcore punk.

Brian Setzer: “Jump, Jive an’ Wail”

Riding the high of swing’s resurgence in the mid-90s, the former Stray Cat scored a huge hit with “Jump, Jive an’ Wail.”  From Brian Setzer’s 1998’s The Dirty Boogie, the track was a cover of a 1956 hit by Louis Prima.  Coincidentally, “Jump” hit radios around the same time that clothing retailer Gap placed the original version in a television commercial.

AC/DC: “Thunderstruck”

Peaking at No. 5 in the United States on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock chart, “Thunderstruck” was a standout from the 1990 album The Razor’s Edge. Said to be inspired from an incident when lighting struck an airplane guitarist Angus Young was on, the searing riff kicks off the song with fire. The track remains in heavy radio rotation even today, and it’s rare to attend a sporting event nowadays and leave without hearing the song.

Everlast: “What It’s Like”

Whitey Ford Sings the Blues was the second solo album by former House of Pain member Everlast, and it is still his biggest solo album to date.  “What It’s Like” was a big part of that success. The song crossed genres, blending hip hop, rap, blues and rock, and told the story of three characters – the bum, a pregnant girl who has an abortion and a guy who has an alcohol problem and hangs with the wrong crowd.

The Cult: “Star”

Originally recorded during the band’s Sonic Temple sessions, “Star” was resurrected in 1993 for the Cult’s self-titled album.  It was an appropriate fit for that eponymous album as “Star” has all the trappings of a classic Cult song, with Ian Astbury’s haunting vocals and a searing riff from Billy Duffy.


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