So we come to 1993, the year of Jurassic Park, Schindler’s list, alternative rock and…….Last Action Hero? Rupaul brought drag to the mainstream and confused kids like me….her album nearly made the list too. Whatever your memories of 1993 I’m going to dive in and discuss my favourite albums as the 90s are in full flow.
Produced by longtime James collaborator Brian Eno, Laid is a solid album from the Manchester jangle pop rock band. Featuring a nice mix of upbeat bouncers and sombre, slower efforts it’s typical James fare and that’s just fine.
Highlights-“Out To Get You” “Laid”
34.Van Halen-Live: Right Here Right Now
Controversial due to it not being entirely live, Sammy Hagar had to overdub his vocals and there were tweaks to the sound in the studio. Nonetheless it’s a good collection of Van Halen songs and I always liked Hagar’s voice. Most of the classics and most of the 1992 album are represented in fine fashion from 2 sets over 2 days in California.
Highlights-“Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love” “Right Now”
33.Funkdoobiest-Which Doobie U B?
Another one introduced to me as a young lad by my neighbour. Fun, fast pop culture ridden hip hop from the Latin American group. They were more interested in referencing Lex Luger than talking about how many guns they had and that works for me.
Highlights-“The Funkiest” “Who’s The Doobiest”
32. Janet Jackson-Janet
A huge departure from her status of abstinence advocate, this album explores Janet’s sexual side with RnB soft spoken hot jams. Instead she’s fiercely promoting sexual health and safety through songs about safe sex etc. Oh and that famous cover……
Highlights-“That;s The Way Love Goes” “If”
After unfavorable reviews and cries of sell out from their previous album (although Hellraiser is a cracking song) Motorhead went back to basics for Bastards. Full on rock and punk with fast beats, heavy bass and Lemmy’s signature gritty, strained vocal assault. Even a change in pace to discuss child abuse through an acoustic song adds to the power of the album.Great stuff.
Highlights-“Burner” “I Am The Sword”
30.PJ Harvey-Rid Of Me
The character Harvey plays in her songs is about as dark as it gets. Songs about drowning babies and other depressing topics are a constant for her and there’s a certain amount of black humour that goes along with it. Rid Of Me is an extremely raw album for a major label release. It’s aggressive at times, darkly atmospheric at others but always enticing with her eerie wails and attention grabbing lyrics.
Highlights-“50 ft Queenie” “Missed”
29.Del Tha Funkee Homosapien-No Need For Alarm
One of underground hip hop’s best kept secrets. Del should have been huge with his varied vocal patterns, his well written lyrics and his head bopping beats. An incredibly polished and slick album with excellent songs from start to end. He’s far more than just Ice Cube’s cousin, he’s a supremely accomplished M.C.
Highlights-“Worldwide” “Wack M.Cs”
28.Enigma-The Cross Of Changes
I always thought the chanting in Return To Innocence was Native American but it turns out it’s Amis who are the indigenous people of Taiwan. Learn something new every day eh? Incredibly relaxing world music influenced dance music from the Romanian/German group. I once sang Return To Innocence at increasing volume in Chemistry class when I was around 16…..the teacher waited for me to finish and then threw me out. I am a strange person.
Highlights-“Return To Innocence” “Out From The Deep”
27.The Mr T Experience-Our Bodies Our Selves
MTX are a weird one in the sense that they’ve always been bubbling under the surface of the melodic punk scene. Even in the mid-late 90s when the genre exploded and almost every band was getting a push they never quite got the break they deserved which is a shame as they are better than a lot of bands that did.
Highlights-“Swallow Everything” “Even Hitler Had A Girlfriend”
26.De La Soul-Buhloone Mindstate
De La Soul are back on another list and with good reason. Their 3rd album was probably their most polished mixing the first album’s sense of fun with the slightly darker sound of the second to create a solid balance of the two styles. Jazzy saxophone samples and chilled dub bass help create a smooth atmosphere.
Highlight-“En Focus” “Area”
Leaving singer Tim Armstrong’s previous band Operation Ivy in the dust, Rancid exploded onto the punk scene with street level dirtiness and studded leathers with intention to take over. They were a three piece at the time of recording as Lars Frederiksen joined a wee while after and although it’s still a strong album they improved vastly when Lars joined the band.
Highlights-“The Bottle” “Union Blood”
24. Primus-Pork Soda
Continuing their bizarre journey through Frank Zappaesque, funk metal musicianship, Primus get more and more peculiar. This is the 3rd album of theirs on my lists and each one has increased in it’s oddity but the incredible tightness of the band is shown off with aplomb.
Highlights-“DMV” “Wounded Knee”
23.Snoop Doggy Dogg-Doggystyle
Snoop’s debut became a worldwide smash and gave the G-Funk movement a shot in arm. It’s weird to think how he’s gone from dangerous murder suspect, gangsta reppin’ media pariah to lovable, self deprecating weed advocate with a smile for everyone. This was the album that started it all for him, a playful, sexually explicit one mind you.
Highlights-“G-Funk Intro” “Who Am I?(What’s My Name?)”
22.Smokin’ Suckaz Wit Logic-Playin’ Foolz
I first heard these guys in the Street Fighter Animated Movie and searched for a physical copy of the album and when I did it wasn’t a let down. Unique in that they were a hip hop band who played their own instruments rather than relying solely onsamples. Mixing funk, metal and hip hop they never got the recognition they deserved.
Highlights-“Cuz I’m Like Dat” “Thingz Change”
21.Ace Of Base-The Sign
I know I know it’s kind of awful but there’s something about Ace Of Base’s faux reggae euro dance pop that is so endearing and let’s be honest here, The Sign is absolute banger of a song and I’ll have it out with anyone who disagrees!.
Highlights-“The Sign” “Don’t Turn Around”
20.The Geto Boys-Till Death Do Us Part
What is it about it about The Geto Boys, one of the most hardcore rap groups ever, that is able to produce some of the most emotional and pretty songs along with their plethora of songs about killing and other horrorcore topics? Sampling Easy by The Commodores certainly helps I guess. Another strong entry from the boys.
Highlights-“6 Feet Deep” “G.E.T.O
19. Goo Goo Dolls-Superstar Car Wash
With elements of punk, college and alternative rock in their music, Goo Goo Dolls always had a knack for catchy hooks and choruses and it always had that pleasing rock sound that would fit in well to any teen comedy movie ever. Johnny Rzeznik’s voice and looks always had him set for stardom and although this album was a big success, their would be one song that would turn them into megastars a couple of years down the road. That my friends is a story for another list.
Highlights-“Girl Right Next To Me” “Fallin’ Down”
The thinking man’s British punk band of the 90s. Sunderland’s Leatherface were gruff and heavy but with barrel loads of heart that stood them out from the millions of Sex Pistols knock offs that were doing the rounds at the time. While this album followed their classic third release “Mush” and is considered lesser for it, I actually prefer it.
Highlights-“Wallflower” “Do The Right Thing”
That beautiful Bill Sienkiewicz inlay Wolverine cover, so good. Entombed underwent a rather drastic change in styles as they abandoned their death metal blast beats in favour of groove riffs and slower beats. It’s all the better for it as they really nail the genre . I remember the first time I heard the Swedish metalheads was in a Metal Hammer magazine cd…..killer cuts 1 or 2 I believe. Man, the killer cuts cds were two of the best giveaway compilations ever.
Highlights-“Demon” “Heavens Die”
16.Rod Stewart-Unplugged…And Seated
From Entombed to Rod Stewart! Jesus this list is showing eclectic taste if nothing else anyway. Part of the successful MTV Unplugged series, this album sees Rod team up with his old bandmate Ronnie Wood from the Faces days. This was one that sat in my parents cd rack for ages and I was bored one night and decided to pop it on and see if it was any good. The choice of setlist is excellent with a mix of his own songs and those written by others that he managed to make his own.
Highlights-“The First Cut Is The Deepest” “Have I told You Lately”
The seventh KMFDM album was also the first to feature the heavy guitar sound that they would go on to use along with their industrial beats and distorted vocals. Unlike many industrial metal bands of the time they didn’t take themselves too seriously and had a certain amount of humour in their albums which added a sense of fun to the dance beats and metal riffs.
Highlights-“Drug Against War” “Sucks”
14.Cypress Hill-Black Sunday
Dark, deep basslines give Black Sunday a horror movie feel and it connected big with audiences as it crossed the divide between rock and rap fans. Insane In The Brain became a huge hit and an anthem for the band. By far Cypress Hill’s best album and a high point for 90s hip hop.
Highlights-“I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That” “Lick A Shot”
13. KRS-One-Return Of The Boom Bap
KRS-One’s first solo album after leaving Boogie Down Productions was his best work in my humble bumble. Socially conscious and incredibly proud of the impact hip hop can have, he tries to keep true to the roots of the movement and actually raps about important things in an intelligent manner.
Highlights-“Sound Of Da Police” “I Can’t Wake Up”
The famous story about this album is that they wanted a much grittier, live sound for this album than on Nevermind and that’s what they got. It sounds like a garage band with echoing, booming drums and fuzzy guitar sounds banging out of the speakers. Not their most popular effort but a very solid album nonetheless.
Highlights-“Very Ape” “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter”
11.Liz Phair-Exile In Guyville
Has a fanbase ever turned on an artist the way Liz Phair’s turned on her? It was brutal and it’s up there with Metallica with the backlash after she released an album produced by Avril Lavigne’s team and promoted it with scantily clad photo shoots. Rewind ten years and this album has her as an indie darling with critics raving about her as a brilliant songwriter with indie integrity. I’m not going to get into what I think about the argument but what I will say is Exit In Guyville is a damn fine album.
Highlights-“Never Said” “Glory”
10.Type O Negative-Bloody Kisses
Big sexy Pete Steele and his band of melodic goths pin down the sound that would make them so popular worldwide. Sexually exploratory songs that always has the tongue firmly in cheek.Pete Steele’s tragic death leaves a big gap in rock music and I miss the loveable man mountain.
Highlights-Black No;1″ “Kill All The White People”
9.A Tribe Called Quest-Midnight Marauders
Another strong entry from the group with strong beats and laid back, intelligent flow. Their fusion of jazz and hip hop is excellent and they stand as a unique sound in the swamped world of hip hop.
Highlights-“8 Million Stories” “Midnight”
8.Bad Religion-Reciper For Hate
While it’s not their greatest effort, the fact that it’s still this high is testament to how great a band they are. Beautiful, melodic wall of sound harmonies and fast paced tempos with intelligent lyrics help Bad Religion survive the tests of time over and over again.
Highlights-“American Jesus” “Man With A Mission”
7.Smashing Pumpkins-Siamese Dream
The recording of this album was filled with well documented problems behind the scenes, not least of all drummer Jimmy Chamberin (one of the best drummers in rock) going through a crippling heroin addiction. Two of the band members had just split from a relationship and frontman Billy Corgan was struggling with heavy depression. Not ideal situations to be recording in but a beautiful album was birthed from all the chaos. Alternative rock’s most intelligent and emotional band.
6.The Queers-Love Songs For The Retarded
Similar to Screeching Weasel in that Ramones-Core punk that I was talking about in a previous list, The Queers would go on to become one of my favourite bands. Juvenile, snotty, bratty and full of energy, their second album saw them head in a more melodic direction than their previous one and they would continue in that trend and get better and better.
Highlights-“You’re Tripping” “Teenage Bonehead”
5.Black Moon-Enta Da Stage
Two members of Black Moon would go on to release material the incredibly talented Smif-N-Wessun and their considerable skills are seen here. Fast beats, jazzy samples and tight, rapid vocals contribute to a barnstormer of a debut album that brought about a renaissance in East Coast hip hop but is rarely given the credit it deserves.
Highlights-“Who Got Da Props” “Buck Em Down”
4.Meat Loaf-Bat Out Of Hell 2
A Jim Steinman masterpiece that’s in my opinion surpasses Bat Out Of Hell 1 which most wouldn’t agree with I’m sure. I bought this for my dad’s birthday and ended up listening to it a while after and was blown away. I’d never heard such long songs, which isn’t usually a good thing, and it really helped it come off as a huge rock opera concept album. It’s dramatic, over the top and has big Meat giving it big licks on vocals. It’s more emotional than the original too with plenty of songs detailing unrequited love and beauty and beast themes. Ripping guitar solos, big vocals and the monster hit single I’d Do Anything For Love make this Meat Loaf’s best album by far.
Highlights-“Out Of The Frying Pan (And Into The Fire)” “Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through”
This is where Sepultura started to leave their death metal roots in favour of a more groove orientated sound which put off some fans….man they were in for a shock when Roots came out. Experimentation with Brazilian roots music, tribal drums etc is a nice touch and became the sound they would be more known for. Igor Cavalera’s drumming is particularly epic on this album, stunning stuff. It’s the first Sepultura album I ever heard and it’s always got a place with me.
2.Screeching Weasel-Anthem For A New Tomorrow
Yet another Screeching Weasel album on my lists but hey….they keep nailing it what can I do? More short blasts of fast punk rock with Jughead’s guitar down strokes thrash their way through the album and Ben Weasel’s bratty vocals are always a fun time too. They keep delivering……this won’t be the last time you see them on these lists by the way…..shock!.
Highlights-“Peter Brady” “Falling Apart”
1.Wu Tang Clan-Enter The Wu Tang (36 Chambers)
One of the most influential hip hop albums of all time burst onto the scene in 1993 with a brand new style with a whole group of MCs rapping about their vocal styles representing different martial arts. It went over some people’s heads but holy crap as a martial arts and hip hop fan it connected with me. Every single MC brings something different and has their own breakout personality and the likes of Method Man and MC/producer RZA would go on to have crossover success with movies and collaborations. Just a perfect, grimy, dark and streamlined rap album that gives every member a chance to shine (apart from U-God who was in prison at the time of recording) and every single member takes that opportunity and runs with it.
Highlights-“Protect Ya Neck” “Da Mystery Of Chessboxin'”
1993 is in the bag so it’s onto the next one. Let me know your thoughts folks and as always thanks a lot for reading my ramblings. If you’ve not heard of some of these entries then check the videos out. Trying to get some of my favourite bands out there to a broader audience. Doing my little bit to help…..by giving away their free music…….hmmmm.