The albums turning 25 this year, you need to hear
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24th September, 2016 marked 25 years since the release of Nirvana’s breakthrough album Nevermind, a release that launched the grunge legends into the stratosphere instantly cementing their name in music history. But it Nevermind wasn’t the only significant album released in 1991, it was an amazing year for music with incredible releases, and some all time classics, coming from genres. Here are some of the albums released in 1991 that shaped the era following it; all of which need to be on your playlist immediately: Throwing Muses - The Real Ramona Musical cousins to Pixies, Throwing Muses were a staple of the emerging alternative rock genre in the late 80s and early 90s, known for their unique song structures and chord progressions. The fusion of Kristin Hersh’s candid songwriting, Tanya Donelly’s pop enthused harmonies and David Narcizo’s unusual drumming techniques set them apart from similar acts at the time. The Real Ramona was their fourth record, and is arguably their most accessible. It is the last before the departure of founding member Donelly (who went on to the Breeders and Belly) and prominently features her penchant for melody and pop vocal harmonies. The KLF - The White Room One of the most bizarre and notorious groups ascending from the late 80s and early 90s, The KLF (also known as The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu), were rave-pop terrorists of the highest order (and also the biggest selling singles act in the world in 1991. The duo are renowned for taking sampling technology into the charts and the pure anarchy they caused - defacing billboard adverts, posting cryptic adverts in magazines (especially NME) and extremely unusual performances on Top of the Pops. The strangest (and coolest) performance being at the 1992 BRIT Awards. Collaborating with the grindcore metal band Extreme Noise Terror to hijack the event; the musicians preceded to perform a death metal version of ‘3 a.m. Eternal’, with the band firing machine gun blanks into the audience. They also caused a scene at the afterparty, dumping a dead sheep outside the venue with a message wrapped around its waist: “I died for you – bon appetit’ and went on to bury the Brit Award in a field near Stonehenge where it was reportedly found in 1993. The White Room itself was the fourth and final studio album by the band. It was supposed to be a soundtrack to a film of the same name in 1989, but the film and the original soundtrack were eventually cancelled – leading to KLF having to change the album’s original direction. The film was to be a road movie following KLF’s search for the mysterious White Room; to enable them to be released from their contract with Eternity. R.E.M - Out of Time Out of Time pushed R.E.M to mainstream success. The album topped both the American and British charts, spending nearly 300 weeks on both combined. It earned R.E.M three Grammy Awards in 1992; one for Best Alternative Music Album and two for the lead single ‘Losing My Religion’. The record marked an expansion of the bands musical landscape, incorporating the elements of alternative rock of the time and combining them with the likes of pop, folk, classical and country elements; combinations that would continue onto their 1992 record Automatic for the People. Through their breakthrough into the mainstream with Out of Time, R.E.M showed other soon-to-be alternative rock bands how to become successful but still maintain their post-punk, underground ideals. Slint - Spiderland With their emergence in the late 80s teenagers Slint subsequently re-wrote the rock rulebook influencing the post-rock, math-rock and emo scenes to follow. Only releasing two albums, Slint’s impact is colossal with their second and final album Spiderland often being cited as not only one of the best of the 1990s; but one of the greatest records of all time. Slint’s Spiderland is heralded for its use of irregular time signatures, the combination of singing, spoken word and strained shouting and the lyrics being written in a more so narrative style compared to similar bands of the time. It has since gone on to become an extremely influential record, with PJ Harvey citing Spiderland as one of her favourite albums, and Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh) stating that, “It was quite-to-loud without sound like grunge and indie rock. It sound more like a new kind of music.” The Orb - The Orb’s Adventure Beyond the Ultraworld Formed by Alex Paterson and Jimmy Cauty (also of The KLF) in 1988, The Orb were pioneers of ambient house and amassed a cult following amongst clubbers due to their trippy, often drug-related themes, listening to the duo’s music when ‘coming down’ from drug-induced highs. Paterson and Cauty were influenced heavily from pioneering experimental electronic artists of 70s and 80s, namely Brian Eno and Kraftwerk. In their live shows, they were often compared to early Pink Floyd due to the nature of their ‘light shows’; harnessing the use of colourful lights and psychedelic imagery and projections in their performances. Their debut record The Orb’s Adventure’s Beyond the Ultraworld is a two-hour, self-professed psychedelic trip through music genres. The record itself is a continuous progressive journey through the Ultraworld. It was released to critical acclaim in the UK and Europe, rising to No. 29 on the UK album charts. Temple of the Dog – Temple of the Dog This is the grunge supergroup before grunge even hit the mainstream! After the tragic death of Andrew Wood (Malfunkshun, Mother Love Bone), friend and roommate Chris Cornell of Soundgarden approached former Mother Love Bone members Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament about recording some material he had written prior to Wood’s death. The only two songs on the album that are explicitly about Wood are ‘Reach Down’ and ‘Say Hello 2 Heaven’. At the time, Pearl Jam was non-existent. Gossard and Ament were unsure about carrying on Mother Love Bone without Wood. A few months later, Gossard began practicing with Seattle guitarist Mike McCready – and eventually Ament. The trio then recorded a five-song demo tape in order to find a singer and drummer. The tape made its way to former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jeremy Irons, who passed on the invitation but gave the demo to his friend Eddie Vedder. Vedder eventually sent the tape back with his vocals and the rest is history. Before becoming any sort of band, Vedder also contributed to the Temple of the Dog album with backing vocals; also performing a duet with Cornell on ‘Hunger Strike’. The line-up eventually consisted of Cornell, Ament, Gossard, Vedder, McCready and Matt Cameron; Soundgarden’s drummer who would also eventually become Pearl Jam’s drummer. De La Soul - De La Soul is Dead Following their groundbreaking debut and the misconceptions they were levelled with around their ‘D.A.I.S.Y’ (Da Inner Sound, Y’all) age philosophy (namely the ‘hippie’ tag) De La Soul returned with this gem of an album. The title is a jokey nod to them distancing themselves from their debut 3 Feet High and Rising, and their edgier, funkier sound. The album took on darker and more realist subject matter conceptualised around reoccurring skits and social commentary (also prominent on the first record), such as ‘Afro Connections at a Hi-5 (In the Eyes of a Hoodlum), directed at the gangster rap movement of the early 1990s. Seal - Seal Providing the vocals for Adamski’s mega techno-pop hit ‘Killer’ in 1991, Seal was thrust into the public consciousness as a great soul voice. His own breakthrough with a self-titled debut album topping the charts came in 1991. A re-recorded version of ‘Killer’ lead the album and also featured other hits including ‘Crazy’ – all capitalising on the style that he had hit on with Adamski at the helm but bringing a further pop edge through the production of Trevor Horn. In the end it was ‘Crazy’ that garnered the most attention becoming an international hit in 1991 reaching number 2 on the UK Singles Chart. Seal also went on to perform ‘Who Wants to Live Forever’ with the surviving members of Queen in 1992, in tribute to the recently passed Freddie Mercury at Wembley Stadium. The Smashing Pumpkins - Gish Gish was the first full-length statement from one of alternative rock’s most influential bands: The Smashing Pumpkins. Even though the record didn’t chart as high as the band’s second record Siamese Dream, it is one of the Pumpkins most well-critically received albums. Gish channels pain and spiritual ascension, according to front-man Billy Corgan. First single ‘Siva’ is probably the most recognisable track; fraught with a guttural melody via a distorted guitar, Corgan sings of the break-up of a relationship referring to the tantric concepts of opposing masculine and feminine aspects which is also referenced through the songs title. Gish ushered in one of the 90s most inventive rock bands. N.W.A - Niggaz4Life Also known as EFIL4ZAGGIN, N.W.A.’s second and final studio album before the group disbanded later in 1991 due to the departure of Dr. Dre and The D.O.C. is the final statement from one of raps most controversial groups. The departure of Ice Cube in 1989 doesn’t hugely diminish the power of the remaining four members musical output with Dre on top production form. Compared to N.W.A’s debut album Straight Outta Compton, has been criticised for its sexist lyrics making the record extremely infamous. Especially on the second half of the album, through the likes of ‘One Less Bitch’, ‘Findum, Fuckum & Flee’, ‘She Swallowed It’ and ‘I’d Rather Fuck You’. Despite its controversy, Niggaz4Life debuted at number 2 on the US Billboard Top LPs chart, and sold over 954,000 copies. Fugazi - Steady Diet of Nothing Fugazi were the obvious end point for DC hardcore and the development of Dischord records taking elements of the hardcore punk, emo and math rock genres they help pioneer to make the most compelling rock music of the late 80s and early 90s. Steady Diet of Nothing is Fugazi’s second record, and even though it is thought highly of by fans of the band, it is often overlooked by critics and journalists who focus on other records from their discography such as 1989’s 13 Songs and 1993’s In on the Kill Taker. The thing about Steady Diet of Nothing is it was the band’s first self-produced record, and as a result the recording and mixing sessions were extremely tough setting for the band. The result is an album that can be seen as relatively conservative by the bands own standards, and one that is seeing them finding their feet. But many see it as their best album and it is as great a listen as the rest of their discography. LFO - Frequencies Electronic duo LF0 pioneered (and dominated) bass-heavy techno, and helped to start to take dance music from the dancefloor into more ‘intelligent’ realms. Their debut record Frequencies in 1991 gave them the exposure that made them innovators of their respective genres as one of the early groups on the groundbreaking Warp record label. Metallica – Metallica Already titans of heavy metal in the 80s, nothing could prepare for just how big the release of ‘The Black Album’ would make Metallica. The band’s album Master of Puppets (1986) has been regarded as one of thrash metal’s most important records, but it’s through the Metallica’s eponymous fifth album that they received more mainstream success through the expansion of their sound. The album debuted at number one in ten countries and spending four consecutive weeks on the Billboard 200. It is also one of the best-selling albums worldwide, certifying 16x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in 2012, and has sold over sixteen million copies. The album is home to some of Metallica’s best-known songs, including ‘Enter Sandman’, ‘Nothing Else Matters’, ‘The Unforgiven’, ‘Wherever I May Roam’ and ‘Sad But True’. The band’s shift to a more compact sound, leaving the thrash behind is often a talking point in of the record, with the band opting for a simpler approach rather than continuing with long and complex songs in regards to the songs on …And Justice for All. It also enabled fans to create a distinction between Metallica’s two distinct styles, before the rest of 90s where the band’s further changes in direction led to them losing favour with fans. Cypress Hill – Cypress Hill
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