We’re bang in the middle of the decade now and generation x is in full flow, grunge is on the way out and alternative rock is king. Braveheart is slaying at the oscars and…..I was 11….that’ll do for an intro.
Bremerton Washington’s MXPX were a staple of 90s punk with their fast poppy songs about girls and…..well being a teenager of course. Fun fact, the guitarist Tom Wisniewski was born just up the road from me in Dunoon although he moved to America as a kid. ONE OF US ONE OF US!.
Highlights-“Money Tree” “Punk Rawk Show”
34.Ol’ Dirty Bastard-Return Of The 36 Chambers:The Dirty Version
The second solo album from the members of Wu Tang came from Ol’ Dirty Bastard and it captured his crazy, unique style perfectly. I miss this guy, he was such a fun loving guy with a great personality and by all accounts an absolute sweetheart. His problems just got the better of him like they do for many of us. Wu Tang always had the martial arts gimmick going on with their vocals being their weapons and Dirty was the king of drunken master style. You never knew where he was coming from…..there’ll never ever be another like him.
Highlights-“Shimmy Shimmy Ya” “Damage”
33.Less Than Jake-Pezcore
The debut from trumpunk legends Less Than Jake is choc full of catchy, fast paced ska influence tunes. I say trumpunk because there was never much ska in their sound, especially later on. There’s more elements here on the ska side than other albums and I’m just writing more nonsense to pad this out….I’m tired and rambling……screw Flanders.
Highlights-“My Very Own Flag” “Liquor Store”
Beautiful girl next door Mariah…..what a stunning and talented women she was. I mean she still is talented but my word has she disappeared up her own arse and stayed there for 20 odd years. This was her starting to drop the bubblegum pop in favour of a more RnB sound and she’d go on to do that more and more as the years went on. Let’s just remember her the way she was shall we?
Highlights-“Always Be My Baby” “Fantasy”
31.Millencolin-Life On A Plate
The Swedish punk band’s second album still had signs of growing pains with ska sections seemingly thrown in as was the style at the time but what’s here is a band with huge potential but still very raw. This is often when a band is at their most exciting and the feeling around these guys was that they were so close to being great and songs like Bullion showed this as it’s still one of the greatest punk anthems of the 90s.
Highlights-“Bullion” “Story Of My Life”
30.Raekwon-Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
Largely considered to be a high point in the Wu Tang solo series. Raekwon The Chef is the most streetwise of the clan….and it’s a damn streetwise clan….and his tales from the hard side raps are filled with ghetto fairy tales and a guide to life when you grow up with nothing. Seen as a massively important rap album, many would probably expect this to be higher but as much as I like him I prefer his aggressive flow in doses which makes him perfect on Wu Tang albums.
Highlights-“Criminology” “Ice Cream”
29.Alanis Morissette-Jagged Little Pill
This was EVERYWHERE when it came out. The promotion for it was so strong and it went on to be an absolute smash both critically and commercially. Her unique voice and distorted guitar laden songs connected with people and gave a mainstream voice to scorned women through music. To quote Beavis and Butthead…”This chick is piiiiissed off” and her songs became female empowerment anthems. Apart from that it’s just a good album full of memorable songs with a unique voice leading the way.
Highlights-“You Learn” “One Hand In My Pocket”
28.Atari Teenage Riot-Delete Yourself
The debut of the hyper left wing anti fascist digital punk hardcore noise pioneers from Germany. Thrashing guitar riffs, drum n’ bass beats and shouted vocals about revolution make you want to choreograph some martial arts and flip about all over the place. It’s fight music. One of the songs is recorded live in Scotland which is neat. They also sample the hell out of awesome anime movies like Akira, Legend Of The Overfiend and 3X3 Eyes.
Highlights-“Into The Death” “Speed”
27.The Vandals-Live Fast, Diarrhea
Well, you can judge a book by it’s cover when it’s The Vandals. Nothing high brow here, just juvenile punk rock fun that flies through the album at a hell of a pace and leaves a smile on my face every time.
Highlights-“I Have A Date” “Take It Back”
26.Face To Face-Big Choice
Californian punk mainstays Face To Face were always on the cusp of breaking big but it never quite happened for them, It’s a shame as they were just as good as many that did break and the song writing of Trevor Keith was relatable and strong.
Highlights-“You Lied” “Velocity”
25.Prince-The Gold Experience
He was still in his “Symbol” phase due to a contractual dispute with his label but he managed to have his most critically acclaimed and successful albums in ages when this came out. His usual highly sexual tales are present along with pop ballads, funk and jazz elements and his insane vocal range all on display.
Highlights-“Gold” “The Most Beautiful Girl In The World”
24.Faith No More-King For A Day…Fool For A Lifetime
Singer Mike Patton was clearly having more and more say so when it came to song writing and composition etc as there are element of his other band Mr Bungle here. Experimentation, genre changes mid song and bizarre vocal patters make this a divisive album among fans but it’s probably my favoruite of theirs. Patton is such a great frontman and an excellent singer with great range.
Highlights-“The Gentle Art Of Making Enemies” “King For A Day”
23.Primus-Tales From The Punchbowl
Slightly less avant garde than their last couple of efforts….not by mind. You can even hear elements of the style they were messing around with that went into the theme for South Park that would come a year later.Les Claypool’s bass gymnastics are always fun to hear and the whole band are just a talented bunch. Weird as hell though and that’s a good thing.
Highlights-“Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” “Del Davis Tree Farm”
22.Das EFX-Hold It Down
Produced by a cavalcade of legends like DJ Premiere and PMD, Hold It Down contains all the stylish and slick flow that they are known for. They produce such good beats too, perfect for their vocal delivery to match up with.
Highlghts-“Microphone Master” “Alright”
21.White Zombie-Astro Creep 2000:Songs Of Love, Destruction And Other Synthetic Delusions Of The Electric Head
Their final album before frontman and “YEEEAAAAAA” specialist Rob Zombie fell out with everyone beyond repair and went solo. Full of heavy industrial techno beats, metal riffs and Zombie’s typical shouty, rhythmic vocals.The album that made them, huge…..and the one that tore them apart.
Highlights-“Super-Charger Heaven” “Electric Head pt.2 (The Ecstasy)”
20.No Use For A Name-Leche Con Carne
The third and probably best NUFAN album was the last before a lineup change brought in now Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shifflet to the band. Full of poppy melodies, hardcore riffs and a thunderous pace that runs throught the album it’s easy to see why many in the punk community considered them one of the best in the genre.
Highlights-“Soulmate” “Justified Black Eye”
19.Foo Fighters-Foo Fighter
One of the biggest bands in the world ended when their singer ended his own life, and from the ashes of Nirvans came Foo Fighters. Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl wrote and recorded this album as a distraction to take his mind off of his friend’s death but the album became a success. Nowadays they are one of the biggest bands in the world too….funny how things work out. Grohl pretty much did everything on this one, played every instrument. Talented fella.
Highlights-“Big Me” “Good Grief”
The final album of one of the most influential bands in the world was their best in years and a fitting pay off to an incredible run. As much as I like young fill in bassist C.J Ramone, it would have been nice for Dee Dee to have performed on the last album as he was a mainstay and huge part of the band but his heroin addiction had a tight grip on him at the time. He does provide backing vocals on a couple of tracks though. Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee would all die within a few years of this farewell album and listening to Life’s A Gas nowadays is a beautiful experience.
Highlights-“Life’s A Gas” “Got A Lot To Say”
17.Michael Jackson-HIStory:Past,Present And Future, Book 1
A 2 disc set with one being a compilation of his greatest hits and the second comprising of new material. As usual with Jackson it was a monster hit and spawned several hit singles including the most expensive music video ever made for Scream.The child molestation accusations were still fresh in everyone’s minds and the public were constantly split on him but that didn’t stop the album’s success. There was always a circus of controversy and hype when Jackson was around. Focusing solely on the music it’s a great collection of songs.
Highlights-Disc 1 “Man In The Mirror” “Bad”-Disc 2 “Scream” “Tabloid Junkie”
16.Goo Goo Dolls-A Boy Named Goo
The follow up to Superstar Car Wash is filled with the same catchy and emotional alternative rock songs but with more polish and a maturity in the song writing. Frontman Johnny Rzeznik shares singing duties with bassist Robbie Takac who takes on almost half of the songs on the album. He’s a better backing singer but it’s nothing bad, just Rzeznik is such a distinctive singer.
Highlights-“Flat Top” “Naked”
Often seen as a much darker, heavier album than Dookie and with the exception of maybe one or two songs I just don’t see it. The lyrics are often about boredom, metal issues etc but Dookie had that same motif at times. Anyway it’s pretty much more of the same to me and that’s a good thing by the way.Plenty of relatable songs about being a loser with a messed up head…..well I relate anyway.
Highlights-“86” “Stuck With Me”
14.Smif N Wessun-Dah Shinin’
In the 1993 list I talked about the excellent MCs on the Black Moon album and they went on to become Smiff N Wessun. Dark, ominous beats and samples create a hardcore rap sound but there are catchy chorus hooks and insanely tight flow. A joy to listen to and a spit in the face of people say rap isn’t art.
Highlights-“Let’s Git It On” “Wrektime”
Another for the “I first heard this in the Street Fighter Animate Movie”…man that was a good soundtrack. Pounding industrial rock with digital samples and techno vibes all mish mash into intense and relentless music. Their most successful album.
12.Angry Samoans-The Unboxed Set
A collection of pretty much all of their work at that point, doesn’t get much better than that for collections. Angry Samoans are a fantastic punk band that generally blast through short songs about all kinds of topics like girls or personal vendettas. Great stuff.
Highlights-“Carson Girls” “Lights Out”
The debut from the ultra controversial techno metal legends from Germany is a strong one. Constantly accused of being something of a neo nazi recruitment band on the basis that they are…..German and…..scary? Along with Marilyn Manson, Insane Clown Posse and other outside artists Rammstein were blamed for atrocities like the Columbine massacre by kneejerk idiots. Rammstein flirted with their controversy and went further and further with sexually explicit stage shows with pyro and violent imagery. They have a sense of humour and with a simple grasp of context and storytelling you can see they are playing parts and writing from different perspectives. One of the last couple of decade’s most interesting bands.
Highlights-“Der Meister” “Asche Zu Asche”
10.Insane Clown Posse-Riddle Box
Well here it is, cat’s out the bag. I like ICP and I’m not ashamed to say. Musically I like their 90s stuff a lot more than later records but as guys I think they’re hilarious, self deprecating and well meaning. As said above they used to be seen as scary rebels corrupting the youth into all sort of evil behaviour. The characters they play in the music kill racists, bigots, homophobes and they essentially tell horror fairy tales about a carnival who have come to take the souls of the evil. In amongst all the nonsense and controversy they have some very funny songs even though they are admittedly nowhere near the best rappers out there. They’re great storytellers though and have created a whole cottage industry from nothing. Hardly any promotional help from labels, tv or radio and theyve set up a whole universe of merch and symbolism. If that’s not punk as f#’k I don’t know what is.
Highlights-“Lil’ Somethin’ Somethin'” “12”
Another Wu Tang solo album and another critically acclaimed one. They really are a great bunch of MCs and it’s rare that such a large group produces such an array of unique styles. GZA The Genius is known as the best lyricist of the group. As with Most Wu records it was produced by the legendary RZA who is his cousin.There are several clips from Shogun Assassin, a movie based on Lone Wolf And Cub that I saw on channel 4 as a kid, great movie. As usual with these there are plenty cameos from other Wu members which is always a good thing.
Highlights-“Living In The World Today” “4th Chamber”
A genre defining classic from cyber metal band Fear Factory that acts as a concept album about a government of machines and one man’s struggle to survive and take them down. All of this is set to thunderous metal with crisp riffs, smashing snare drums and machine gun double pedaling. Industrial and techno sounds permeate throughout what is an absolute smasher of a record.
Highlights-“Self Bias Resistor” “Pisschrist”
7.Rancid…And Out Come The Wolves
After the punk boom in 1994 (discussed more in the 94 list) this album just kept things going and broke Rancid out to the big time. With Tim Armstrong incomprehensible singing filled with attitude and Lars Frederiksen’s more considered and frankly better voice they really started gelling very well at this point. Tales of street life, drug addiction and with a heavy Clash influence it went on to be considered a puk classic.
Highlights-“Listed M.I,A” “Olympia WA”
6.Mobb Deep-The Infamous
Although inner city poverty and crime type rap albums are everywhere but when it sounds so real, evocative and is delivered in such a haunting style it’s hard not to appreciate it. The two young rappers were toiling until this album came out and hit the big time with it’s moody and ominous atmosphere. It also features one of the best hip hop songs ever.
Highlights-“Shook Ones pt.2” “Survival Of The Fittest”
5.Lisa Loeb & Nine Lives-Tails
Some friends of mine will tell you of my admiration…nae love of Lisa Loeb. Super talented, great personality and obviously beautiful. Excellent song writing both musically and lyrically and of course the huge hit “Stay (I Missed You)” which is one of the greatest pop songs ever make this an excellent singer/song writer album.
Highlights-“Rose Coloured Times” “Do You Sleep”
4.Reel Big Fish-Everything Sucks
The debut of the best 3rd wave ska band was roughly produced, raw but filled with that melodic, poppy, punk tinged …..well, ska. Even with the changes over the years I’ve always felt they had the most effective brass section in ska punk, all their piece fit so well with the chord progressions. It’s what put them at the top of the tree and they’re a band that have managed to cross over as I have friends who are purely metalheads who love them. That astounds me as they’re poppier and more melodic than half the punk bands that are too poppy for them!. Testament to just how catchy their stuff is. Charismatic singer/guitarist is a hell of a talent to and his riffs add a great deal to the band. You’ll be seeing more of these lads trust me as these lists go on trust me.
Highlights-“Why Do All Girls Think They’re Fat” “All I Want Is More”
Antoher high entry from Germn fun punks Wizo with ace song composition, silly humour and inventive musicianship. Such a great, underrated band. Singing a lot of songs in their native songs probably puts a lot of people off sadly.
2.Bruce Springsteen-Greatest Hits
I mean….come on what needs to be said?. Right so there have been much better Bruce compilations since then and this one is a little anemic in terms of the amount of quality songs he had up to this point but it’s still a fantastic collection of blue collar rock songs from one of our lifetime’s best rock stars.
Highlights-“Born To Run” “Badlands”
1.Smashing Pumpkins-Mellon collie And The Infinite Sadness
The first album I ever bought with my own money when I was 11-12 from Stan’s Record Shop early 1996. The shop is long gone but my memories remain, I would stare at the cassette like it was a son of mine. I prized the hell out of it, my own cassette that wasn’t given to me. Might sound stupid but to someone obsessed with music this was a huge deal for me. Although I really enjoyed the contents of the album it wasn’t until another few years that I fully appreciated what a masterpiece this is. Billy Corgan and company went from alt rock headliners to arty, genre bending operatic concept artists with the double cassette/cd splitting between songs for daytime and songs for night time. I still hold a grudge against my local radio station radio Tay as I phoned them up as an excited kid and asked them to play Bullet With Butterfly Wings and they laughed at me and said they had never heard of Smashing Pumpkins and what a stupid name it was. 15 years later I’m listening in a friends car and the station is doing a list of greatest albums off all time. Somewhere on the list this pops up and it all came flooding back……AYE THEY EXIST NOW DON’T THEY YE PRICKS!…..anyway…..good album.
Highlights-“Tonight, Tonight” “Bodies”
AND ON THAT BOMBSHELL! we move on to 1996. As always let me know your thoughts and thanks for have a wee look. Hopefully you check out the albums you’ve not heard and let me know if you liked them. That’s what I link the videos for, spreading the love. Keep smiling folks, until next time. x