Our top ten Kyuss songs list looks at the career of a brilliant band with a great sound balanced between the genres of hard rock and metal. The band is also known as the starting ground for two of its members who would go on to have more commercial success with Queens of the Stone Age. They were formed in California in 1987 originally under the name Katzenjammer and then Sons of Kyuss. After the release of their self-titled ep in 1990 they shortened their name to Kyuss.
The line-up consisted of vocalist John Garcia, guitarist Josh Homme, bassist Nick Oliveri and drummer Brant Bjork. The full length debut Wretch was released in 1991. A few songs on the record were re-recordings of songs from the ep and although the album was not a massive seller, the band did get recognition as a live act. In 1992, they recruited producer Chris Goss to produce their next album Blues for the Red Sun. Goss was a producer who understood the band well and was able to successfully capture their live sound in the studio. This album was much more successful, being critically acclaimed and to this day is considered to be a classic stoner rock record.
It was not long before Kyuss were becoming popular, in 1993 they toured with Metallica for nine dates. Despite this, Oliveri left soon afterwards and was replaced by Scott Reeder. 1994 saw the release of their third record Welcome to Sky Valley which was once again produced by Chris Goss, this album was also massively successful and acclaimed for its unique psychedelic sound. However, Bjork left soon afterwards due to becoming dissatisfied with life in the band. He was replaced by Alfredo Hernandez. In 1995 they released their fourth and final album And The Circus Leaves Town which was not as successful and the band broke up soon afterwards.
After the breakup, Homme formed Queens of the Stone Age which in their early days featured both Hernandez and Oliveri. All of the members have since performed in a variety of different bands. A best of compilation titled Muchas Gracious was released in the year 2000. Although there has never been an official reunion, in 2010 Garcia, Oliveri and Bjork got back together and toured under the name Kyuss Lives!, stated that they would not reform as Kyuss without Josh Homme, who by that point had much success with Queens of the Stone Age .
Kyuss were a great band who are somewhat overlooked due to the bigger success of the members subsequent projects. So with this list, we are going to show our readers what their ten best songs are.
# 10 – Thumb
Kicking off out top ten Kyuss songs list is the opening track from their second album Blues For the Red Sun released in 1992. Although the album was well received critically, it was not as successful commercially, selling only 39,000 copies. However, it has gone on to be very influential in the Stoner Rock genre.
# 9 – One Inch Man
This next track is taken from the band’s fourth and final album …And The Circus Leaves Town released in 1995. It is the only Kyuss to feature drummer Alfredo Hernandez after he had replaced Brant Bjork. The album has a more straightforward rock sound than their previous records and was not as successful. This was the only single to be taken from it and it had its own video.
# 8 – Catamaran
This next song is also from the fourth record and is actually a cover of a song by Hernandez’s previous band Yawning Man. It is the final official track on the album not including the three hidden tracks that come after it. There was no actual recording of the Yawning Man version, as they did not release any recorded material until 2005, despite forming in 1986.
# 7 – Black Widow
This song is taken from the first Kyuss album Wretch released in 1991. It is one of several songs on the album that was originally on the Sons of Kyuss ep. Along with the track “Deadly Kiss” this track was recorded by original bassist Chris Cockrell, with the rest of the album being done by Nick Oliveri.
# 6 – Happy Birthday
Next we go way back to the beginnings of Kyuss with this track which is not a cover of everyone’s favourite birthday song, but is in fact taken from the Sons of Kyuss ep. The recording was released independently on vinyl and was limited to 500 copies. The sound here is much more rooted in metal, almost having a thrash feel to it.
# 5 – Space Cadet
Next up is the explosive song “Space Cadet,” taken from the third Kyuss album Welcome To Sky Valley released in 1994. This album was their major label debut after they were moved to Elektra records following the bankruptcy of their record label Chameleon. It was Scott Reeder’s first album with the band after the departure of Nick Oliveri.
# 4 – Demon Cleaner
Here is another song from Welcome to Sky Valley which has been covered live by Tool with slightly altered lyrics. Scott Reeder joined the band on stage to perform the song on both of the occasions that Tool covered it. It is easy to see why Tool decided to cover it, as in many ways it is rather reminiscent of that band’s sound.
# 3 – Into The Void
Up next is a non-album single released in 1996 which, as many people reading this will know is a cover of the Black Sabbath classic that was originally released in 1971 on their album Master of Reality. Kyuss were often compared to Black Sabbath a lot, although Josh Homme stated that at the time he did not know much about them.
# 2 – Gardenia
Just off the top spot is this song which was a single released from Welcome to Sky Valley which is among the band’s most well known songs. It was the album’s second single and was written by Brant Bjork. In 2004, the British rock magazine included it their list of “666 songs you must own” in the heavy metal section of the list.
# 1 – Green Machine
Topping off this list we have a single taken from Blues for the Red Sun that was written by Brant Bjork. It had its own music video that was filmed in the California desert. Although it is Nick Oliveri who plays bass on the recording, it is Scott Reeder playing in the video, as he had replaced Oliveri by the time they filmed it. There is a Japanese band who named themselves after the song and it has been covered by Pelican.
Feature Photo: Gripweed, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Top 10 Kyuss Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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