30 Years of Albums in My Wheelhouse: 1991

My goodness! It sure has been awhile since I’ve written an entry. It’s been a bit hectic in the family lately, headlined by my daughter-in-law having some postpartum complications that put her in the hospital for a few days. But, my son stepped up to take care of the girls, especially the baby, so we were pretty happy to see that he handled this crisis with calm and great leadership. He made me a very proud papa to witness that. She is better but still being monitored. Fingers crossed.

Mariah Carey

I hated this delay because I was kind of excited to cover 1991, perhaps one of the last classic years for music in my ears. As far as I was concerned, 1991 marked the year in which my type of music finally became popular with the masses. Over the previous 15 years or so, I had been yelling into the wind about artists like Patti Smith or Black Flag, only to be ignored by those around me. Yet, one day I awoke to the news that Nirvana had knocked Michael Jackson from the Number One slot on the Billboard Album Chart around Christmas of 1991, suddenly and abruptly signaling a change in the collective musical tastes of a nation.

Smashing Pumpkins on 5/10/91 in Chicago, Il. (Photo by Paul Natkin/WireImage)

Suddenly, the underground was becoming mainstream. The cartoonish bands of the late-80s, like Poison and Mötley Crüe, were being knocked off the charts and being replaced by artists from the alternative scene like Metallica, Pearl Jam and A Tribe Called Quest. This change was seismic in nature and very unexpected at the time, causing rock radio programmers to decide whether AOR rock should add a band like Red Hot Chili Peppers or go full-on into Classic Rock programming. Gen X assumed the role of tastemakers of modern music, pushing the Boomers out of their long-held position. For the first time in the rock and roll era a new generation was exerting its power and youthful rebellion to the rock genre and change was in the air.

Teenage Fanclub

Gen X was not beholden to the blues- and country-based influences that the Boomers enjoyed in their rock sounds. Now, Gen X had around 35 years of blues, jazz, punk, metal, rap, funk, jazz, post punk, avant garde and whatever else piqued their interest to influence their vision of rock music. The canvas upon which these artists would paint was wide open and even three-dimensional as the internet opened more exposure to sounds from all over the world. And MTV, along with a cheap technology called the Compact Disc (CD), were poised to push this generation’s music to even greater heights stylistically and commercially.

PM Dawn

It’s crazy to go back through old magazines (Millennials and Gen Ys, they are those book-like things at Walmart in which older people like me buy to read articles about rock stars our ages or older which are printed on glossy pages with color photographs, or pics.) to see just how sudden this change was because it was not limited to the music, but also affected fashion, photography, art, film, hell even body art and piercings find their ground zero in this change. It was cool to witness in real time as I was back in the college classroom studying to change careers from being a medical technologist to becoming a high school chemistry and biology teacher, so I observed my younger brethren of my Gen X nation butting up against the status quo of the moment.

Material Issue

Unfortunately, like all music-based pop cultural revolutions, it was short-lived. The whole alternative/grunge look and sound was quickly assimilated by the larger population and watered down until all that was left were a few artists attempting to grow beyond their original sound or burning (or checking) out until all that was left were the lesser bands like Creed and Nickelback who co-opted the sound but not the attitude. Plus, all revolutions face a backlash, which came in the form of the pop-based teen girl princesses and the boy bands, which all were studio concoctions, followed by the singing shows and the rise of YouTube that led to the demise of MTV and the rock artist.

A Tribe Called Quest

Perhaps, we really needed this long streak of boring prefabricated music to influence my grandchildren’s generation to pick up their instruments to create a totally new version of rock music. Maybe, my modest album collection could become the source of influence upon a new group of rockers. That, along with my dream of one of my decedents becoming a member of the SNL cast are my dreams, replacing the siring of a great Olympic athlete. 

A man’s gotta dream! Now, let’s do the countdown!

50. Skid Row – Slave to the Grind

49. Spin Doctors – Pocket Full of Kryptonite

48. Marc Cohn – Marc Cohn

47. Queen – Innuendo

46. The KLF – The White Room

45. Paula Abdul – Spellbound

44. Amy Grant – Heart in Motion

43. Mudhoney – Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge

42. Dinosaur Jr. – Green Mind

41. Pixies – Trompe le Monde

40. Naughty by Nature – Naughty by Nature

39. DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince – Homebase

38. Cypress Hill – Cypress Hill

37. Seal – Seal

36. De La Soul – De La Soul Is Dead

35. Julian Cope – Peggy Suicide

34. Van Halen – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge

33. Massive Attack – Blue Lines

32. Talk Talk – Laughing Stock

31. Boyz II Men – Cooleyhighharmony

30. Public Enemy – Apocalypse 91

29. Lenny Kravitz – Mama Said

28. Mariah Carey – Emotions

27. Ice-T – OG: Original Gangster

26. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik

25. Sting – The Soul Cages

24. Bonnie Raitt – Luck of the Draw

23. PM Dawn – Of the Heart, of the Soul & of the Cross

22. Ice Cube – Death Certificate

21. Smashing Pumpkins – Gish

20. Temple of the Dog – Temple of the Dog

19. Soundgarden – BadMotorFinger

18. Simply Red – Stars

17. Saint Etienne – Foxbase Alpha

16. Matthew Sweet – Girlfriend

15. My Bloody Valentine – Loveless

14. Prince – Diamonds & Pearls

13. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Into the Great Wide Open

12. Material Issue – International Pop Overthrow

11. Michael Jackson – Dangerous

10. Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion II

9. Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion I

8. Primal Scream – Screamadelica

7. A Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory

6. R.E.M. – Out of Time

5. Pearl Jam – Ten

4. Metallica – Metallica (a.k.a. The Black Album)

3. U2 – Achtung Baby

2. Nirvana – Nevermind

1. Teenage Fanclub – Bandwagonesque

Author: ifmyalbumscouldtalk

I am just a long-time music fan who used to be a high school science teacher and a varsity coach of several high school athletic teams. Before that, I worked as a medical technologist at three hospitals in their labs, mainly as a microbiologist. I am retired/disabled (Failed Back Surgery Syndrome), and this is my attempt to remain a human. Additionally, I am a serious vinyl aficionado, with a CD addiction and a love of reading about rock history. Finally, I am a fan of Prince, Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, R.E.M., Hall & Oates, Springsteen, Paul Weller & his bands and Power Pop music.

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