30 Years of Albums in My Wheelhouse: 1994

Was 1994 crazy or what?!?! Generation X lost its voice when it was announced that Nirvana singer/songwriter/guitarist Kurt Cobain had committed suicide back in Seattle after disappearing from an LA drug rehab facility. Next, you throw in the Olympic skating scandal after American ice princess Nancy Kerrigan was knee-capped by some bumbling associates of American figure skater Tonya Harding. And to top off the craziness of the year, O.J. Simpson, America’s sports hero of the Seventies, was arrested in the grisly murders of his former wife Nicole Brown Simpson and friend Ronald Goldman in what many thought was a passion killing involving a steroids and cocaine rage. And those events all took place by the end of June!

Scott Weiland and Stone Temple Pilots

Of course, the music of 1994 reflected this insanity. Things were all over the place. Alternative music was running out of steam at this point and beginning to mutate in many different directions. Also, hip hop was coming out of its gangsta rap and jazz-influenced stage and moving into the era of the East Coast versus the West Coast. From the time that N.W.A burst onto the scene in the late-Eighties, rap was dominated by the sounds emanating from the West Coast thanks to Dr. Dre and the whole Death Row crew put together by Suge Knight. Yet, back on the East Coast, particularly in New York City where the whole phenomenon started, Bad Boy Records and its founder/producer/impresario Sean “Puff Daddy” (or is it “Puff,” “P Diddy,” “Diddy,” whatever!) Coombs picked up the reigns with Mary J. Blige and The Notorious BIG. All of a sudden, the hangers-on of the two scenes began a beef that would end tragically in a couple of years.

The Cranberries

All kinds of other genres were competing for the mighty US dollar. Phish and the Dave Matthews Band were selling out concerts with their jam band sounds. Punk finally went mainstream in the US with Green Day and a whole bunch of pop punkers in their wake. Heavy sounds were being made in electronic music in the hands of The Prodigy. Plus, there was teeny bopper pop, metal, nu metal, power pop and post grunge music all becoming popular. Hell, even country music was flexing its muscles as it began to incorporate classic rock sounds into their formulas, explaining the success of acts like Garth Brooks.

Jeff Buckley

Perhaps the biggest sign of the schizoid nature of 1994 was the out-of-nowhere success of Hootie & the Blowfish. The band consisted of some genial college buddies who played commercialized music influenced by all the right artists such as R.E.M., Gin Blossoms and Toad the Wet Sprocket. Their music was a terrific pop/rock  mix that offend few, not unlike The Doobie Brothers back in the Seventies. Unfortunately, the boys were only able to touch the zeitgeist once and have not been anywhere near the Top 40 ever since. But, in 1994, Hootie & the Blowfish captured lightning in a bottle and subsequently gave America just the tonic it needed during its Lollapalooza hangover.

Mary J. Blige – MJBD

As I said, 1994 was a crazy year. In my household, I finished up my student teaching assignment at a small rural high school in central Indiana in the spring, clearing the last hurdle in my attempt to change careers. In August, I took my first teaching job at another rural high school to teach biology, botany and environmental science, which I did there for two years before switching over to chemistry. But the insane part of this career change was that I took a 50% annual salary pay cut, all the while putting in WAY more hours of work as I coached three sports. All of a sudden, I went from a well-paid 7-to-3:30 laboratory job to teaching teens biology then coaching cross country, basketball, baseball or track for a few hours after school. Still, the change saved my sanity even though I did not get to stay in the field as long as I hoped I would.

The Velvet Crush

And, there you have it, a small taste of 1994 from my perspective. Now, let’s check out my Top 50 albums for the year.

50. Dave Matthews Band – Crash

49. Pink Floyd – Division Bell

48. Sebadoh – Bakesale

47. Pantera – Far Beyond Driven

46. Pavement – Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain

45. Brandy – Brandy

44. The Prodigy – Music for the Jilted Generation

43. The Black Crowes – Amorica

42. Korn – Korn

41. Blues Traveler – Four

40. Veruca Salt – American Thighs

39. Manic Street Preachers – The Holy Bible

38. Portishead – Dummy

37. Bush – Sixteen Stone

36. Live – Throwing Copper

35. Morrissey – Vauxhall and I

34. Pulp – His ‘n’ Hers

33. The Rolling Stones – Voodoo Lounge

32. Aaliyah – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number

31. Neil Young – Sleeps with Angels

30. Oasis – Definitely Maybe

29. The Offspring – Smash

28. Seal – Seal

27. Tori Amos – Under the Pink

26. Alice in Chains – Jar of Flies

25. Boyz II Men – II

24. Madonna – Bedtime Stories

23. OutKast – Southernplayalisticadillicmuzik

22. Blur – Parklife

21. The Cranberries – No Need to Argue

20. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Let Love In

19. Beck – Mellow Gold

18. Jeff Buckley – Grace

17. Mary J. Blige – My Life

16. Stone Temple Pilots – Purple

15. Pearl Jam – Vitalogy

14. Nine Inch Nails – Downward Spiral

13. Hole – Live Through This

12. Hootie & the Blowfish – Cracked Rear View

11. Nas – Illmatic

10. The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready to Die

9. R.E.M. – Monster

8. TLC – CrazySexyCool

7. Soundgarden – Superunknown

6. The Velvet Crush – Teenage Symphonies to God

5. Tom Petty – Wildflowers

4. Beastie Boys – Ill Communication

3. Nirvana – MTV Unplugged in New York

2. Green Day – Dookie

1. Weezer – Weezer [a.k.a. The Blue Album]

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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