Top 40 – A Retrospective – 1991

What a year! Oh, so much good music that I remember fondly, and still listen to — some of these albums I count among my very favourites. We would only have Freddie Mercury one last time — he died in November of this year, but left us with one of the best Queen albums.

The birth of Grunge — as Pearl Jam & Nirvana made their way to the top. I remember head-banging at a dance so hard I gave myself whiplash — true story. Between Smells Like Teen Spirit and Metallica’s Enter Sandman, it was like a self-induced car accident.

Queen – Innuendo

Freddie Mercury was dying as he recorded this album. Think about that. What an amazing voice.

REM – Out of Time

This song was EVERYWHERE, and later, when I visited Venezuela and did some busking, I would invariably open with this song, because it was instantly recognizable anywhere.

Crash Test Dummies – The Ghosts that Haunt Me

You MAY have heard Superman’s Song, but this whole album is just gorgeous — very few baritones could carry a band like this, but Brad Roberts’ voice is like black coffee.

Elvis Costello – Mighty Like a Rose

You know, I missed out on this one until a few years later. Elvis had gone soft in the 80s… and then I heard this and it blew my mind.

Siouxsie & The Banshees – Superstition

It was the beginning of the ’90s, and everyone was evolving. Check out this perfect pop piece from a formerly post punk princess.

Marillion – Holidays in Eden

Like I said.. everyone was evolving. Marillion were desperately trying to shake their reputation as a dinosaur prog band that had songs about Jester’s Tears and Grendel. They were still trying to find their own voice with their new lead singer, and while this album isn’t everyone’s favourite, I quite enjoy it.

Massive Attack – Blue Lines

Oh, how I love this album. So many cool grooves. I love British trip hop almost as much as I loathe American hip-hop (sorry…) Give me Tricky or Portishead any day over anything by Kanye West etc…

Metallica BLACK

Hush little baby, don’t say a word….

I’m not a Metallica fan. Not that they’re not a great band, I just.. meh… whatever. But this album is magical.

Pearl Jam – Ten

You know EVERY SINGLE SONG OFF THIS ALBUM. Or if you don’t, you need to listen to it.

Nirvana – Nevermind

We would only have Kurt Cobain with us for a short while, but what we have would launch a hundred other bands. They were like the Velvet Underground of grunge — a good comparison, actually, considering Dave Grohl’s success post-Nirvana.

U2 – Achtung Baby

OH my god I hated this album the first time I heard it. I’d been listening to Rattle and Hum, enjoying the Americana influence on their music, and then Zoo Station opens with what Bono later referred to as “the sound of four men chopping down The Joshua Tree” and I cringed. It’s now my very favourite U2 album of all time, and opened my mind up to other sounds. This would also, however, be the beginning of the end for them. Once they started pushing barriers and boundaries, they divided their fans, many of whom saw this album and everything going forward the same way Dylan fans must have when he “went electric” at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.

I ended up loving their changes, and was disappointed when they hit the wall after POP and started looking backward. How can you not love a lyric like “Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief. All kill their inspiration, then sing about the grief.”?

I think I may have stolen a bit of that line at one point in my writing…

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12 responses to “Top 40 – A Retrospective – 1991

  1. So much good music!!
    Pearl Jam and Massive Attack made the year for me. Though, in truth, I didn’t find Unfinished Symphony until much, much later.

  2. Thanks for the Massive Attack samples. I’m going through a trip-hop phase lately, after finding Zero 7 and Groove Armada, and MA will be great to fold in. Great sound palettes in these tunes…

  3. Ohhhhh THE BLACK ALBUM. ‘Nothing Else Matters’ is more or less my theme song and will probably be played at my funeral.

    I can’t make myself like U2, though.

  4. Another awesome retrospective, U2 reinvented themselves with Achtung, there’s no denying their songwriting genius. One of my all-time favorite albums, thanks for sharing awesome music!

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