…and so we look back at 1997, Hong Kong was given back to the Chinese, millions mourned as Princess Diana lost her life and Britain was promised new life as Tony Blair became Prime Minister……..well that was the promise anyway. On the music front, punk was still on the rise, rap metal was becoming more popular and hip hop was taking a new turn into bling and cars….ugh.
James went with a more experimental sound for a lot of the songs on this one with processed hip hop style beats and effects on the vocals. In truth though they are always at their best writing heartfelt pop rock numbers and there’s plenty of that here too.
Highlights-“She’s A Star” “Lost A Friend”
34.Body Count-Violent Demise:The Last Days
Whilst there was less controversy with this than their last album, Body Count still delivered the same boundary pushing lyrics and tightened up their sound. Rap metal was less of a gimmick at this point and the riffs had the groove to fit the vocal delivery rather than just rapping over random metal riffs.
Highlights-“I Used To Love Her” “My Way”
33.Rollins Band-Come In And Burn
Continuing their jam band feel with heavy blues rock tendencies, this album was probably their most divisive at the time but some of the musicianship in it is outstanding. From Sim Cain’s almost constant drum fills to Melvin Gibbs slick bass jams, it’s an interesting album from a time of tensions within the band.
Highlights-“Starve” “The End Of Something”
32.Stereophinics-Word Gets Around
Jeez oh remember when the Phonics seemed like they were going to be the next great British rock band after this excellent debut? It all went downhill badly after this in my opinion sadly. I mean they went on to have huge success so they did well and all that but musically they never came close to their debut. Songs of working class life in Wales with a simple pop rock backing and the excellent, gruff voice of Kelly Jones mase such a strong impact on it’s release.
Highlights-“1000 Trees” “Local Boy In The Photograph”
31.The Prodigy-The Fat Of The Land
The album that took a dance group from the burgeoning rave scene to the mainstream stratosphere. Not without it’s controversy though as the immensely popular single Smack My Bitch Up obviously caused a stir. The group contend that the saying just means doing stuff with gusto but many people weren’t buying it. Much less rave and more guitar driven, heavy beat dance music.
Highlights-“Diesel Power” “Breathe”
30.The Aquabats-The Fury Of The Aquabats
Right bang in the middle of the phenomenally popular 3rd wave ska revolution, The Aquabats released their best album mixing ska punk with surfing music and experimentation with various instruments. This was their album with Travis Barker as their drummer before he replaced Scott Raynor in Blink 182. They sing songs about giant kaiju monsters while fighting them onstage and the singer created Yo Gabba Gabba which is the most punk rock toddler’s show ever.
Highlights-“Red Sweater” “The Story Of Nothing”
29.No Use For A Name-Making Friends
Singer Tony Sly who sadly passed away in 2012 did some of his finest vocal work on this album, emoting well through the melodic hardcore music. A very solid album and although there is no absolute standouts like on some of their records it’s a very solid effort throughout.
Highlights-“On The Outside” “Invincible”
28.Foo Fighters-The Colour And The Shape
Their first album as a band rather than Dave Grohl playing all the instruments. Not only that, they got Pat Smear of the legendary short lived hardcore band The Germs as their guitarist. He had helped Nirvana out on tour as a second guitarist so they had built a relationship up there. The album deviated from the grunge sound of their debut and focused on more of an Americana rock vibe and became a massive hit.
Highlights-“Monkey Wrench” “Everlong”
27.Dwarves-The Dwarves Are Young And Good Looking
Short bursts of reprehensible hardcore from one of the most disgusting bands in the world. That’s a compliment by the way as they purposefully play with boundaries and try to shock people. This album seemed to concentrate more on the music than previous records where although they were good it just seemed a little more slap dash.
Highlights-“The Ballad Of Vadge Moore” “Pimp”
26.Deftones-Around The Fur
The only Deftones album I liked. It was in between their early nu metal sound and the shoegaze alt metal sound they’d go on to do. This album captured a great balance between the two sounds and while I understand people’s love for their other stuff but it just isn’t for me.
Highlights-“My Own Summer” “Head Up”
25.My own Victim-No Voice, No Rights, No Freedom
I’m calling it, this is one of the most underrated albums of the entire 90s. Hardcore in the mold of Biohazard from Kentucky. Super aggressive songs about racial equality and other songs trying to set the world to rights. Some incredible groove metal riffs and gruff shouty vocals that actually sound legible and coherent. First heard them on the great Metal Hammer Killer Cuts free cd.
Highlights-“Colourblind” “No Regrets”
24.The Offspring-Ixnay On The Hombre
After a very public fallout with Epitaph Records head Brett Gurewitz over the direction they should take after the phenomenal success of Smash they signed with Columbia and released their first album on a major label. Fans needn’t have worried though as they still produced the same thrashy riffs, high pitched and energetic vocals as previously.
Highlights-“All I Want” “Mota”
Often derided as a diet Nirvana (which is not entirely unfair) Silverchair brought something more than just imitations on their second album. They still wear their influences on their sleeves but they have much more of a defined personality on Freak Show. Toady from Neighbours favourite band (bet they never got tired of that one) always came off as pretenders which is a shame. Handsome singer Daniel Johns found it difficult to convey his depressing songs when he was going out with (later married to) Natalie Imbruglia whilst being a fresh face model type in a massive band. I’m not saying I agree with that perception as depression can hit anyone….even beautiful bastards like me but that is certainly what the greater public perception was. Anyway whatever, good band from Australia.
22.AFI-Shut Your Mouth And Open Your Eyes
A blistering punk rock assault with rapid beats, aggressive vocals and great chord progressions. It’s easy to ask what the hell happened to these guys as bands change over time and although it’s sad to fans of their early stuff they have to follow their vision. They’re very hipster rock orientated now and it’s not for me so I’ll thank them for the great stuff they gave us. I miss androgynous Davey Havok, he suited it much more than the hipster look. This kind of bad arseness is what I used to associate with straight edge and vegan, now it’s beards and tight tee shirts.
Highlights-“A Single Second” “Coin Return”
21.Strapping Young Lad-City
A work of art in the extreme metal world. Insanely heavy beats and riffs with band leader Devin Townsend yelling his way through it all. Incorporating synths and using Gene Hoglan “The Human Drum Machine” gave the album an industrial theme and it’s just a blisteringly heavy piece of work. It never loses its purpose though like some albums that go for extreme heaviness and get lost in a sea of blast beats and grumbling.
Highlights-“All Hail The New Flesh” “AAA”
20.Various Artists-Before Your Were Punk:A Punk Rock Tribute To 80’s New Wave
You want to know one of the many things I love about punk? Ok so this album was released by Vagrant records who were still finding their feet and only really had bands local to the company. When they released this album which was a big risk for them, they asked bands on other labels like Blink 182 and No Use For A Name to contribute songs to help out and they happily handed them over to help out. That just doesn’t happen in normal music business practices. The bands had a feeling of “We’re all in this together”. Anyway thi sis just such a fun album and the song choices were great. Most of the new wave I heard was from movies or my buddy Rick who was a big fan of the movement so it always gives me a happy nostalgic feeling. I really struggled picking the highlights, every band brought it.
Highlights-“Down By Law-Peace, Love And Understanding (Elvis Costello cover)” “The Mr T Experience-Crash (Primitives cover)
Billie Joe Armstrong’s strong songwriting continued to grow as the lyrics in Nimrod are some of his strongest. I remember sitting listening to the radio on my ghetto blaster one night late 1997 and Good Riddance ( Time Of Your Life) came on. I’m sitting thinking “That sounds like Armstrong singing” sure enough it was and it was to be released the next day. Off I went to pick it up from Stan’s Record Shop the very next day. I didn’t care that the song wasn’t as punky as their others, all I cared about was the fact it’s a damn beautiful song. Overplayed now but it’s important to remember the effect these things had on you first time. Nimrod even experiment with other sounds like surf rock and polka. Solid album all round.
Highlights-“Redundant” “Hitchin’ A Ride”
18.Roni Size/Represent-New Forms
I might be slightly off with the timing but I’m pretty sure I’m right. I used to obsessively listen to Mary Ann Hobbs rock show back when she played things like Sepultura etc. I’d lie in bed waiting for it to come on and once I fell asleep and woke up after the show had finished. This ambient drum and bass was playing and I loved it. I would record both shows from then on and got a lesson in the genre….I wish I could remember who presented that to give them props. Anyway long story short I got into Roni Size/Represent and realised they were the daddies of the genre. The album holds up so well today and doesn’t seem like other dance relics of the 90s. So relaxing too, if you want to sleep like me in the 90s….before the dark thoughts….pop on some drum and bass and drift away.
Highlights-“Brown Paper Bag” “Matter Of Fact”
17.Biohazard-No Holds Barred Live In Europe
I must have worm this cassette to the bone I played it so much. Surely one of the best live albums of all time.Their energy and passion always made them a live band to experience and the way the bound around the stage and sing while playing their instruments perfectly is incredible. The timing is great as well because the choice selection comes from their best albums and it’s an incredible mix of metal, hardcore punk and groove. Danny Schuler has always been one of the most underrated drummer too, throwing that out there.
Highlights-“Shades Of Grey” “Love Denied”
The album that followed the tragic suicide of original bassist Jason Thirsk is Pennywise’ best effort, taking all their anger and sadness at the loss of their brother and turning it into a fast paced punk rock classic.I’ve always been a bit warm on Pennywise, I always thought they had the perfect ingredients for a great punk band but it never clicked with me. I always liked it but not to the point of being moved by it. Full Circle is the one that caught me. They reworded “Bro Hymn” which Thirsk wrote and dedicated it to him They have finished every show by playing it since then.
Highlights-“Fight Till You Die” “Get A Life”
15.The Mighty Mighty Bosstones-Let’s Face It
The kings of the 3rd wave ska revolution nailed their biggest hit with Let’s Face It and in particular the single The Impression That I Get that was used in about a million movies and tv shows. Less punk and riff heavy than the likes of Reel Big Fish and more in line with The Specials and two tone of the 70s and 80s….which makes sense as they were formed in the 80s. Despite this they are still credited with pretty much inventing ska punk years before it became popular.After years and years of grind they finally got the success they deserved.
Highlights-“The Rascal King” “Another Drinkin’ Song”
14.Me First And The Gimme Gimmes-Have A Ball
The debut album from the punk rock supergroup consisting of members of No Use For A Name (He’s Now In Foo Fighters), NOFX, Lagwagon and Swingin’ Utters is a brilliant collection of nostalgic covers. Before access to the internet and essentially Google, I used to go to record shops with enough money for one or maybe two albums and look around for albums that looked like a punk record. When I laid eyes on this I stared at it like “That looks like…..is that Fat Mike?” again this is pre internet so you rarely knew what band members looked like. So I picked it up and realised that every song was a cover and it was just a brilliant experience that I miss in this world of instant information. They would go on to record many more cover albums of different themes.
Highlights-“Dannys’ Song (Loggins and Messins cover)” “Nobody Does It Better (Carly Simon cover)”
Another strong entry from the controversial German industrial metal band. The thunderous drums, crunchy riffs and eccentric vocals all add up to heavy, tense music that makes you want to take out aggression in a slam dance. This second album shows how tight they were becoming as a band and the song writing waas much better.
12.Machine Head-The More Things Change…
I can clearly remember the hype around this album as Machine Head were seen as the next big thing when bands like Pantera were starting to fall apart. Singer/guitarist Rob Flynn is particular was becoming the charismatic new spokesperson for the new breed of metal with his strong playing and songwriting and outgoing personality. This album is HEAVY!.
Highlights-“Blistering” “Struck A Nerve”
11.Split-Hardcore Heaven 2/Bonkers 3:A Journey Into Madness
Ok so here it is….I’m a punk that loves the 90s rave/happy hardcore scene. It was considered ned/chav music at the time so I used to pretend I hated it as a kid but when my brother was out I would borrow his records and spin them all the time. Don’t get me wrong there is a LOT of crap in there but when it’s good it’s reeeeally good. These two albums captured the best of the scene with a mix of hard hitting beats and melodic, upbeat tunes. It’s the pop punk of the dance world. Often derided but many people reluctantly enjoy it. Fun fact, me and my pal Rick (who’s getting a lot of mentions in these) had an epic wrestling match in my living room in 1997 while we were playing Hardcore Heaven two. He gave me a ddt onto the wood part of the sofa….the end.
Highlights-Hardcore Heaven 2: “Scott Brown-Heaven’s Gate” “Dougal And DNA-Tranquility”
Bonkers 3:”Triple J-Have It All” “4 Tune Fairytales-Take Me To Wonderland”
10.Napalm Death-Inside The Torn Apart
Fans of the band were up in arms when Napalm Death did a couple of albums without non stop blast beats and went for more groove. They missed out on an excellent album that showed their growth as a band and let’s be honest it’s still heavier than a very heavy thing. Barney Greenway growls his way through the album and Shane Embury’s bass is nice and loud showing off that new groove they found.
Highlights-“Breed To Breathe” “Down In The Zero”
9.Ataris-Anywhere But Here
Before Ataris were a not very good rock band they were an excellent punk band singing emotional love songs and about growing up. This debut was at a time where the band was in disarray and leaving due to the stresses of touring for not much money so likeable frontman had to play guitar and bass on the album himself.
Highlights-“Bite My Tongue” “Are We There Yet”
8.Wu Tang Clan-Wu Tang Forever
They had a hell of a job following up their debut as evidenced by it being number one on my 1993 list (which is obviously a huge honour) and as you can see they did a damn fine job. Every MC gets their chance to shine and takes it. They just don’t make em’ like Wu Tang anymore.
Highlights-“Little Ghetto Boys” “A Better Tomorrow”
7.NOFX–So Long And Thanks For All The Shoes
One of NOFX’s most popular albums with several tracks that are still played live today. Song topics vary from nihilism, anti government anthems, relationships and family and it’s all with that snot nosed enthusiasm and speed that we’ve become used to from the band. The title is about all the shoes that fans would throw on stage when crowd surfers lost them.
Highlights-“Murder The Government” “Monosyllabic Girl”
Another great pop album from one of the best singer songwriters in the genre. There’s an innocence about Loeb’s writing that is very endearing and although she opens up her heart in song it’s never in an uncomfortable way that has become the cool thing over the years. Just good solid pop guitar music and that’s all it’s meant to be.
Highlights-“Truthfully” “I Do”
5.The Bouncing Souls-The Bouncing Souls
Their 3rd album and their 3rd entry on my lists, I just love this band so much. It’s one of those albums that just speaks to me as a punk and connects with me in a way that some people just won’t understand. They have the ability to just deliver punk songs with such heart and passion no matter the subject of the song.
Highlights-“Kate Is Great” “Say Anything”
4.Insane Clown Posse-The Great Milenko
Sigh, if you’re going to do the whole “HAHAHAHAHA JUGGALO” thing then I direct you to the 1996 list where I talk about my appreciation for the group and there’s nothing to defend. This is truly their magnum opus and one of the funniest albums ever made with some laugh out loud lines and inventive insults. Constant references to pro wrestling also helps as I’m a fan and songs about the characters they play killing racists and child abusers in their more serious songs make it an album that you’ll not be forgetting after listening to it. It caught me at the right time as I was 13 when this came out and it was my first ICP album so the humour was just right up my alley…..although I still find it funny. Appearances from Slash and Steve Jones are great touches too. The hilarity of Disney signing them based on their underground popularity and not realising their content until it was about to be released will never stop being funny.
Highlights-“Halls Of Illusion” “Piggy Pie”
After years of legal battles between bassist Jerry Only and former group leader Glenn Danzig, Only was able to reform the band without their former frontman. It was a highly anticipated album from punk fans some of whom had already dismissed it on the basis that Danzig wasn’t involved. When it came out and the schlocky B movie horror punk was dialed up to eleven even more of the original fans were put off as it was too cheesy and they couldn’t accept new singer Michael Graves. I have to be honest and I might be losing some punk cred here but the two albums recorded with Graves have some of the best Misfits songs in their catalogue and as a fan horror B movies the whole act is just right up my street. Graves would leave a couple of years later and fade into something of an obscurity until he made waves by campaigning on twitter for Trump votes……my heart sank. All these years of defending you Michael!!!
Highlights-“Don’t Open ‘Till Doomsday” “Resurrection”
The second album from Japan’s premier punk band is an absolute masterpiece of fun, energetic blasts. Produced by Fat Wreck mainstay Ryan Greene and performed with great gusto by the band it’s just everything a fun punk rock album should be. Includes covers of Have You Ever Seen The Rain by Creedence Clearwater Revival that is absolutely spellbinding. A great collection encapsulating a band on top of their game.
Highlights-“Endless Trip” “Pathetic Man’s Song”
1.Blink 182-Dude Ranch
For people who have met me over the last few years this may be a bit of a shock as I do not like Blink’s last few records but their 90s stuff….I was obsessed with as a kid. Dude ranch is one of the best pop punk albums of all time with blistering pace, rapid riffs and plenty of juvenile humour that teenage me couldn’t get enough of. I remember hearing them on an extreme sports show on channel 4, it may have been board stupid, and I went straight out and bought Dude Ranch. This was in 1998 and a coup[le of years later they were one of the biggest bands in the world, it was incredible watching their rise. Although I don’t like their stuff since 2004 I will always be thankful to them for this album and it’s such a shame drummer Scott Raynor was ousted from the band just before their meteoric rise as he contributed to their best work in my opinion. It’s funny how they were so well accepted in the punk community until they became huge and then it was a joke to like them any more. The punk community really is it’s own worst enemy at times. When bands like Pennywise are pushing for them to be signed then maybe you should take notice of that. An absolute milestone in the pop punk genre.
We’re racing through these now and the end is in sight sadly. As always give me your feedback on this list and check out my other ones too. Thanks a lot folks, love yoooouuu.x