Oldschool Sunday: CORE

(By Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Senior Writer/Editor, RiffRelevant.com)

After recently running into Finn Ryan (currently of The Atomic Bitchwax) at the Maryland Doom Fest, I thought it’d be great to fire Oldschool Sunday back up with a spotlight on Core.  

See, Core was the band that Finn (guitar/vocals), his brother Tim Ryan (drums) and Carmine Pernini (bassist) had prior to Finn’s involvement with The Atomic Bitchwax.

In my opinion, Core were one of the best psyche/ stoner/ hard rock bands to emerge from the burgeoning New Jersey stoner band scene of the ’90s. Call me biased, but I believe Core were as good, and in some cases better, than their peers within The Garden State… ones like Monster Magnet, Solace, Solarized, Halfway To Gone and others.

The trio named above began Core in the early Nineties and quickly established themselves as a band-based force to be reckoned with. So much so, in fact, that before long, the major label Atlantic Records scooped them up for the eventual release of their début album. That album was the superbly stunning, Billy Anderson-produced “Revival”  full-length, issued in 1996.

With a somewhat sludgy, super fuzzed style of energetic heavy rock, melded with elements of heady psychedelia, the record ranks with me as one of the greatest debuts of all time. Its’ ten songs emanated a seemingly endless amount of riffs, grandiose grooves and superior musicianship.

Core also landed spots on several prestigious tours at the time, including runs with the likes of Clutch, Orange 9 Millimeter, Fu Manchu and many others. However, despite the critically acclaimed album’s popularity and highly successful road treks, the band and LP both suffered from quite mediocre promotion from the record label. In fact, not long after, Atlantic Records would soon (foolishly) drop the band.

Not to be deterred nor discouraged, the band would return in 1999, with their second album, “The Hustle Is On“, via Tee Pee Records. This outing possessed a noticeable difference in the trio’s fundamental sound, perhaps due to the fact that they produced the record themselves.

Still every bit as amazing and ass-kicking as its predecessor, the sophomore LP featured a cleaner sound quality, along with a bit more outside influences in the songs. Elements of jazz and punk rock were noticeable, as was an increased amount of psychedelia and all-out jamming.

The Hustle Is On” contained album artwork from one of the best alternative illustrative artists in any industry (one of my all-time favorites, too), Arik ‘Moonhawk’ Roper.

The record seemed to capture the band’s more care-free and improvisational nature of their live sets. Those qualities would be thrust into the stage’s spotlight again, as Core embarked on the Riff Rock Railroad tour with The Atomic Bitchwax and Nebula around this time, as well.

During these years of Core‘s activity, they also contributed songs to several compilations. Some of these were “Rallen” on ‘Kill The Rock Star’ (TARR Records 1996), “Vacuum Lite” on ‘Welcome To Meteor City’ (Meteor City Records, 1997), “Soul Shaker” (a cover of Aerosmith’s “Soul Saver“) on 2000’s Small Stone Records tribute compilation ‘Right In The Nuts: A Tribute To Aerosmith‘, and “Fleetwood” on ‘Guerrilla Jukebox Vol 1‘ (Tee Pee Records, 2003).

The last contribution to the compilations listed above would come after the break up of Core in 2002. The “core” members of Core would go on with their lives of course, as Tim Ryan retired from music. His brother Finn would join The Atomic Bitchwax, where he remains to this day.

If you are not familiar with Core, then I highly suggest you seek out both of their magnificent studio releases and discover for yourself why they are such a highly revered band.

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