1996, grunge was pretty much out, punk rock was still on the rise and the face of horror movies was changed forever. 12 Year old me moved up to high school and became a big boy.
35.Less Thank Jake-Losing Streak
The Florida band’s upbeat brand of trumpunk is enough to keep a smile on most people’s faces with the horn section complimenting the fast beats and punky chord progressions.
34.A Tribe Called Quest-Beats, Rhymes,And Life
Darker in atmosphere and tone than their previous albums and that reflected the state of hip hop at the time. The east vs west coast nonsense was in full flow and people were dying over a fabricated bollocks and although the mainstream was pushing hip hop to the moon the industry was killing itself both figuratively and literally.A dark album to depict a dark time.
Highlights-“Phony Rappers” “Motivators”
A mostly instrumental album using only samples that create an ambient, often moody atmosphere. Wearing his love of hip hop firmly on his sleeve it’s clear that this guy is firstly, talented as hell but secondly, deeply respectful of the roots of the music he loves.
Highlights-“Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt” “Stem/Long Stem
32.Anti-Flag-Die For The Government
A fiercely left wing punk band make their debut and although it doesn’t beat their later stuff it’s still a very strong start to their career. Anti war, anti government, anti police brutality…..Anti-Flag ladies and gents.
Highlights-“Drink, Drank, Drunk” “Rotten Future”
How something this accomplished came from a 17 year old lassie I’ll never know. I was still writing dirty limericks at 17 dammit!. The hit song Criminal became a controversy mainly for it’s sexually suggestive music video that left parents watching MTV with their kids squirming in their chairs. So here’s a 17 year old girl speaking about feeling bad for getting boys so easily by turning on her sexuality….yea it’s gonna cause a stir.
Highlights-“Criminal” “The First Taste”
Another solo Wu Tang record and another killer one pardon the pun. Ghostface always had the most aggressive, in your face vocal delivery and this album is a force of nature with inventive rhymes, harsh beats and that typically awesome production from Wu leader RZA.
Highlights-“Iron Maiden” “Assassination Day”
29.Social Distortion-White Light, White Heat, White Trash
Returning to their heavier roots and having much less of a punkabilly sound their fifth album is one of their most popular.Some would say it’s a cash in on the punk boom of the time but that’s incredibly harsh as they’d been a punk band that experimented with different sounds for years.
Highlights-“I Was Wrong” “Dear Lover”
BOOM, not since the 1990 list have I had to defend my love of Poison but here we go. They’re catchy….deal with it. I don’t care about how uncool they are or how overplayed they were I just find some of their stuff…and I stress some of their stuff….infinitely listenable. So there we go….I like Poison.
Highlights-“Fallen Angel” “Cry Tough”
27.MXPX-Life In General
More songs of relationships, high school bullies and friends from the Californian pop punk mainstays. Often regarded as their best album with a large number of songs and the crowd favourite “Chick Magnet”
Highlights-“Doing Time” “New York To Nowhere”
26.The Bloodhound Gang-One Fierce Beercoaster
The kings of toilet and shock humour mix hip hop, rock and techno in a big horrendous, offensive cocktail of greatness in this, their best album. Featuring a genuinely awesome turn from Vanilla Ice and incredibly funny lines that no matter how offensive don’t fail to make me laugh. No topic is off limits but it’s just idiots goofing around, no malice is intended.
Highlights-“Lift Your Head Up High (And Blow Your Brains Out” “Boom”
25.Rage Against The Machine-Evil Empire
Filled with the same hyper political commentary as their first album and continuing Tom Morello’s inventive guitar experimentation, Evil Empire has funk, groove and lyrics worth paying attention to. Anyone not interested in aggressive left wing politics will not get anything from this unless they don’t listen to the lyrics and just rock out to the music.
Highlights-“People Of The Sun” “Tire Me”
24.Swingin’ Utters-A Juvenile Product Of The Working Class
Street punk with a great melodic edge. This was the band’s first record released on Fat Wreck Chords and nearly everything that came from that label in the 90s was strong. Fast, gruff singalong punk is never a bad thing.
Highlights-“Keep Running” “(O f) One And All”
The 4th album from New York hardcore/metal/rap/groove band Biohazard has more focus on punk and hardcore than their previous effort but there’s still that crazy mix of tempos in most songs. They’ve always had a knack for incredibly catchy choruses which is hard in metal.
Highlights-“Authority” “Modern Democracy”
22.The Exploited-Beat The Bastards
Scotland’s most popular contribution to punk from the 1982 2nd wave are fast, heavy as hell and full of anger. Songs about Thatcher and her legacy, working class Britain and other anti government type songs. They’ve been touring forever and for the most part embody the true meaning of punk. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt over mistakes they’ve made over the years. They deserve that.
Highlights-“Beat The Bastards” “Law For The Rich”
One of the best solo rappers ever, Redman kept his usual high standards up on Muddy Waters which had a more ambient feel in it’s sound with laid back beats and bassy music. Redman’s flow is so constant and consistent that you wander how he keeps going without constantly running out of breath.
Highlights-“Whateva’ Man” “Rollin'”
20.Type O Negative-October Rust
Slower and more ballad heavy than previous releases but Type O Negative deliver ballads in an unconventional way. Booming vocals and goth atmosphere with effect heavy guitars are the ingredients here and let’s be honest….most of their love songs are about zombies and stuff like that.
Highlights-“My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend” “Die With Me”
19.Screeching Weasel-Bark Like A Dog
Yet again the Chicago punk band make it onto the list. There’s just a catchy likeability to their music and that continues in Bark Like A Dog. Their first release on Fat Wreck Chords and although that relationship ended up going sour it was good while it lasted.
Highlights-“Stupid Girl” “The First Day Of Summer”
18.Geto Boys-The Resurrection
Graphic, violent and dark, The Resurrection keeps up the Geto Boys’ tradition of hard beats and detailed storytelling depicting the harsh life of living in poverty stricken areas. Often cited as their best album and a song making a memorable appearance in the excellent Mike Judge’s movie Office Space.
Highlights-“Open Minded” “Still”
After spending a few years as a solo artist with little fanfare, Mark Everett or “E” as he’s known got a band together and created some of the most beautifully depressing songs oozing with melancholia. Despite being a band on tour, E performed the majority of the music on the record himself. Eels would go on to have several excellent albums.
Highlights-“Susan’s House” “Guest List”
16.Weston-Got Beat Up
A lot of bubblegum punk bands are able to evoke that feeling of being a teenager and the struggles that go with that. Social anxieties, bullies, first love, unrequited fondness etc. Many of these bands got their break in the 90s like Blink 182, MXPX and plenty more but one band that never got the break they deserve is Weston. A musical journey through a non existent John Hughes movie.Fun songs, funny lyrics, great backing vocals and harmonies and even an emotional song about getting a new shirt for school……..great band.
Highlights-“Retarded” “New Shirt”
15.Busta Rhymes-The Coming
The debut of the wonderfully unique, bizarre and super talented Busta Rhymes has stop start beats, heavy bass and different vocal deliveries than had been heard before. There really wasn’t anything like him out there and his videos just upped the ante in terms of weirdness and originality.
Highlights-“Woo Ha (Got You All In Check)” “Ill Vibe”
14.Marilyn Manson-Antichrist Superstar
Oh boy, the controversy when this came out was hilarious. Manson had already been making waves in the underground with their anti religious message and perverted performances. This was the album that broke them into the mainstream and had terrified parents and idiots everywhere crying about the end of the world and how this monster was corrupting the youth because they were dressing differently now. The whole fishnet thong scene wasn’t for me but I love how much it terrified the christian right and the poor poor parents of these kids. My Mum who is no music aficionado by any means wandered into the living room when I was watching MTV and The Beautiful People video was playing…..she started nodding her head and dancing saying it was an excellent tune. ……MUUUUUUM YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE SCARED AND HATE IT!. Ah she’s so dorky and cool at the same time.
Highlights-“The Beautiful People” “Irresponsible Hate Anthem”
13.The Suicide Machine-Destruction By Definition
The Suicide Machines mix punk, ska and hardcore all driven on by energetic but melodic and upbeat vocals. This was their debut and flies through at a good keeping the energy up with an audience switching between moshing around and skanking.
Highlights-“Islands” “So Long”
I said in my list of 1993 that their previous albums split listeners by slowing down a little and branching out from their death metal…..roots. Well this album was the flat out breaking point for some fans as it slowed down considerably and even embraced the burgeoning nu metal era with two note groove riffs. The experimentation with Brazilian traditional music continued too with tribal drums and African xequere and other world music instruments.Produced by nu metal mainstay Ross Robinson.
Highlights-“Ratamahatta” “Roots Bloody Roots”
11.Bad Religion-The Gray Race
Recorded without longtime guitarist Brett Gurewitz due to his record label Epitaph achieving more success than was expected and coming off the highly regarded previous album, The Gray Race didn’t quite receive the same acclaim. That said, it’s all comparative and a lesser Bad Religion album is still better than most albums out there. That much is clear because look….it’s this high on the list so it must be true.
Highlights-“Them And Us” “Parallel”
10.Bouncing Souls-Maniacal Laughter
In the many sub genres in the punk rock world I don’t think any band epitomises my style more than The Bouncing Souls. A perfect blend of heart, emotion, anger, fun, romance and of course rip roaring music. The scary thing is this is one of their weaker albums and it’s still fantastic!. I remember seeing them support Green Day many years ago and it was in a huge venue here in Scotland. It seemed nobody in the pit knew who they were and were just waiting for Green Day but I was yelling every word of every song at the top of my lungs. I got some odd looks from people that night.
Highlights-“Lammar Vannoy” “The freaks, Nerds And Romantics”
9.Korn-Life Is Peachy
Another Korn album, another incredibly cool and ominous cover. I got this not long after it came out after hearing a song on a free Metal Hammer cd and it took me a while to get into it. The downtuned, treble heavy guitars and bizarre, emotional delivery wasn’t something I was used to as a 12 year old but it’s gone on to become a classic for me. An even darker atmosphere than the first album and that’s saying something, it’s incredibly eerie for the most part with a lot of songs focusing on singer Jonathan Davis’ childhood abuse.
Highlights-“Good God” “Chi”
IT CAME IN A COFFIN!! Talk about playing up to your gimmick, brilliant. That Dave Mckean inlay pic as well….ooft nice. Collecting the material from the early Misfits days when Glen Danzig was with the band before their split in 1983 and the then unreleased Static Age album which is the real meat here. Cool extras like booklets and art just add to the greatness and IT CAME IN A COFFIN!
Highlights-“Astro Zombies” “Last Caress”
A monster hit that changed the game in terms of mainstream hip hop. Tracks still had that dark edge and the lyrics certainly didn’t hold back but there was variety like a beautiful cover of Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry and an acoustic song from Wyclef.Lauren Hill always brought her singing chops along with her considerable talents as an MC and all three members brought something different to the table. An exemplary hip hop album.
6.The Queers-Don’t Back Down
Mixing Ramone-Core punk and 50s doo wop nostalgia, Don’t Back Down was where the band really started to find their voice and separate themselves from some of the others in their genre like Screeching Weasel. They left the more hardcore roots in favour of harmonies, layered backing vocals and large dollops of melody and it’s a formula they’d stick with all for the better.
Highlights-“Always Knew” “Don’t Back Down”
5.NOFX-Heavy Petting Zoo
The one with the controversial cover…..there was an even worse one that got banned so go look at that because I’m not putting it here.. This album was given some stick at the time by fans because of the slower pace of many of the songs but I don’t care about that, good music is good music and this is one of my favourite NOFX albums. It helps that it was my first one but it stands the test of time. A lot of their albums are one paced and it gets old after a while.
Highlights-“Whatever Didi Wants” “Hotdog In A Hallway”
Originally not received as well as their first album, it’s gone on to be better regarded as the years have gone by and that’s a good thing because I prefer it. There’s less of a light, geeky feel to this one and more about isolation, loneliness and the trappings of becoming a star and struggling with the pressure. The production has a less glossy feel too and that’s a deliberate choice and happens a lot with bands who want a more live and raw sound.
Highlights-“Across The Sea” “Why Bother”
One of the greatest bands to come out of the wonderful country of Japan released their debut on my 12th birthday and it’s one of the best debuts of the 90s. Flying by at a rapid pace with intricate guitar work from Ken Yokoyama, white hot drumming from Akira Tsuneoka and energetic vocals from Akihiro Nanba. Something incredibly odd I’ve always wondered is how they hell they manage to sing slightly out of tune but still harmoize in an almost perfect way…..it’s bizarre but somehow it works. The broken English provides some great lines too.
Highlights-“Who’ll Be Next” “Maximum Overdrive”
2.Reel Big Fish-Turn The Radio Off
I surprised myself with this. I knew it would be high but it very very nearly topped the list. I’ve got to look at everything though including the impact it had on me, the amount of times I bumped this record and how much I enjoyed it at the time. I adored this album and from the sea of sub par 3rd wave ska punk bands that flooded the scene at the time they were head and shoulders above everyone else for me. So much fun, a great horn section and funny songs just put a massive smile on my face for the longest time. It’s just a great summer, feel good album.
Highlights-Alternative Baby” “Everything Sucks”
The comeback of the greatest band of all time was a strong one and after a few years away from the game it was time for them to come back and show the newcomers how it’s done. Let’s be honest how fair would it have been if the type of music they invented became supremely popular years after and they never got a piece of the action? Singer Milo Aukerman had been away working as a biochemist while the rest of the band were releasing records as ALL. It’s like they were never away as the album is so strong and they fit right back into their rightful place as the godfathers of this style of punk.
Highlights-“Coffee Mug” “Rotting Out”
Another one down and another list of incredible albums of all kinds of genres. I’m having a blast with these so I hope you’re enjoying them. As always cheers for looking in and I’ll see you back here for 1997.