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Bush - Sixteen Stone

On December 6, 1994, "Bush" released their debut album "Sixteen Stone", an album that was a huge success for the small band from the UK just as Grunge peaked and began the downward trend.

It all began at a Brian Adams concert at Wembley in 1991. Following his departure from his initial band, "Midnight," Gavin Rossdale attended Brian Adams' show at Wembley and caught the performance of the opening act, "Baby Animals." Nigel Pulsford, the guitarist in "Baby Animals," left a lasting impression on Gavin, leading to the discovery of their shared love for various bands. Inspired by this common interest, they, along with Dave Parsons on bass and Robin Goodrich on drums, decided to form a band named "Future Primitive."

Despite being unsigned, the new band recorded several songs and opted to release "Bomb" as their debut single. Gavin released it under his independent label, Mad Dog Winston Records. Although the single received minimal airplay and attention, a person named Rob Kahane recognized its potential and signed the band. With the band's new manager having a distribution contract with Hollywood Records (then owned by Disney), they promptly began recording at Westway Records studios in London in January 1994.

Despite Gavin's preference for producer Steve Albini, Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, renowned figures in British pop/rock from the early '80s, were chosen, mainly due to their British background. In retrospect, this decision proved wise, as events unfolded.

Now, addressing the band's name, towards the conclusion of the recording process and during the album cover design phase, David Carson, the entrusted designer, persuaded the band to choose a shorter name for better presentation on CD packaging. Convinced by this reasoning, the band members settled on the name "Bush."

(Photo: Bush)

So, with songs recorded, a new name chosen, a cover designed, and the album seemingly ready for release... an unexpected hurdle emerged.

Following the completion of the recordings, a key Disney executive, Frank G. Wells, who was Rob's connection within the company and a staunch supporter, sadly passed away. His absence had a significant impact, and immediately after his departure, the label's managers decided to shelve the album. They refused to release it, citing the absence of a standout "single" and predicting the album's failure in sales. Devastated, the band members, envisioning the demise of their careers before they even took off, returned to routine jobs.

However, Rob remained undeterred and began searching for a new home for his budding band. Eventually, Interscope Records stepped in and embraced the band, releasing their debut album, "Sixteen Stone," under its Trauma Records label.

Rob, having connections at the renowned KROQ radio station in the US (and globally), sent them the single "Everything Zen" to promote the album. The single received extensive airplay on the station, and along with other singles like "Little Things," "Comedown," "Glycerine," and "Machinehead," "Sixteen Stone" quickly climbed to number 4 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart. The album gained significant exposure and achieved notable success.

The decision to have English producers, Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, proved wise for several reasons.

The band's lead, Gavin Rossdale, initially wanted the renowned American producer Steve Albini to produce the album. However, the choice of Langer and Winstanley, being British themselves, brought a different perspective to the table. In hindsight, this decision turned out to be astute, and the reasons became evident as events unfolded.

Following the album's release and the subsequent success it brought to the band, critics and listeners started accusing "Bush" of riding the grunge wave and attempting to emulate the music emerging from Seattle, particularly bands like "Soundgarden," "Nirvana," and "Pearl Jam." Gavin Rossdale faced accusations of trying to imitate Eddie Vedder, and there were even claims that the song "Bomb" was attributed to Kurt Cobain's writing.

However, the fact that the producers, Langer and Winstanley, were not associated with the music scene in the US, especially in Seattle, served as evidence against these allegations. It emphasized that the band's sound and style were not a result of trying to mimic the Seattle grunge scene but rather a unique approach influenced by their own musical influences and collaborations.

Certainly, despite the aforementioned criticisms and comparisons, we firmly believe that this album possesses a distinctive quality of its own. Undeniably, it echoes the sounds emanating from Seattle, carrying the hallmark grunge roughness. However, what sets it apart is the unique interplay of the rugged guitars, introducing a slightly different dynamic to the genre.

Gavin Rossdale's voice is truly captivating and stands out as a defining element. Whether he's pushing his vocal limits to convey raw emotion or adopting a cleaner tone, the power and emotion he imparts are both wonderful and deeply moving. There's a certain roughness even in his clean vocals that adds to the band's character.

Following the release of this album, "Bush" firmly secured its place among our favorite bands. What further solidified our admiration was the band's commitment to evolution with each subsequent album. Their ability to adapt and grow with each release only deepened our appreciation for their artistry.

Listen to the album on: Spotify, Apple Music

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