My 100 Favorite Albums of the 1990s

For me, the Nineties were all about changing professions. When I graduated from Ball State in 1985, I had a degree in Biology, with the Microbiology option. Instead of going to graduate school, medical school, dental school or work, I opted for an internship in a little-known profession known at the time as medical technology. For nine years (one as an intern/student and eight as a full-blown med tech), I was a round peg trying to pound himself into a square hole. For the last three years of my clinical laboratory career, I went to back to Ball State to obtain my teaching license in biology/chemistry/general science for grades 5 through 12 while working full-time. It was a crazy time or my life arriving at work at 4 AM, leaving around 8 AM for a couple of classes, only to come back to work around 2 PM and finish my day around 6 PM. Then, I would race home to catch the ending of my boys’ activities.

Well, I became a teacher, my days now lasted from 5 AM to 8 PM when my teams’ practices were finished. Then, in the summer of 1999, while training to run the Chicago Marathon in order to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, I discovered that the lumbar region of my spine was a mess. Not only did I have a bulging disc and spinal stenosis, I also had a Parrs defect and a broken vertebra from injuries to my back while playing neighborhood and high school sports. From that summer onward, I began my chronic pain and back spasms journey. My teaching career ended in 2012, after only 17 years, at the tender age of 49, retired due to a disability.

But, the Nineties were noteworthy since I associate the music of the decade with the growth and development of my boys. So, much of the music has memories not of my school days or tastes, instead this music is something that I shared with my family. So, music actually went to a whole new level in my life which still resonates today.

With that all said, let’s do the countdown.

100. Janet Jackson – janet. (1993)

99. PJ Harvey – Rid of Me (1993)

98. Beck – Odelay (1996)

97. Erykah Badu – Baduizm (1997)

96. Liz Phair – Exile in Guyville (1993)

95. Snoop Doggy Dogg – Doggystyle (1993)

94. Jay-Z – Reasonable Doubt (1996)

93. Wilco – Being There (1996)

92. Phish – A Live One (1995)

91. Foo Fighters – Foo Fighters (1995)

90. The Verve – Urban Hymns (1997)

89. Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral (1994)

88. Blink-182 – Enema of the State (1999)

87. Madonna – Ray of Light (1998)

86. Hole – Live Through This (1994)

85. Elvis Costello with Burt Bacharach – Painted from Memory (1998)

84. Foo Fighters – The Colour and the Shape (1997)

83. Fugees – The Score (1996)

82. Santana – Supernatural (1999)

81. The Notorious B.I.G. – Life After Death (1997)

80. R.E.M. – New Adventures in Hi-Fi (1996)

79. Hootie & the Blowfish – Cracked Rear View (1994)

78. Fountains of Wayne – Utopia Parkway (1999)

77. Daft Punk – Homework (1997)

76. Nas – Illmatic (1994)

75. A Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders (1993)

74. The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready to Die (1994)

73. The Black Crowes – Shake Your Money Maker (1990)

72. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Let’s Face It (1997)

71. D’Angelo – Brown Sugar (1995)

70. R.E.M. – Monster (1994)

69. Ice Cube – AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted (1990)

68. Counting Crows – August and Everything (1993)

67. Rage Against the Machine – Evil Empire (1996)

66. Bruce Springsteen – The Ghost of Tom Joad (1995)

65. Jane’s Addiction – Ritual De Lo Habitual (1990)

64. TLC – CrazySexyLove (1994)

63. Beastie Boys – Check Your Head (1992)

62. Soundgarden – Superunknown (1994)

61. LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out (1990)

60. Pearl Jam – Vs. (1993)

59. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Change of Seasons (1990)

58. En Vogue – Funky Divas (1992)

57. The Velvet Crush – Teenage Symphonies to God (1994)

56. The Lemonheads – It’s a Shame About Ray (1992)

55. Oasis – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory (1995)

54. Sheryl Crow – Tuesday Night Music Club (1993)

53. U2 – Zooropa (1993)

52. Pulp – Different Class (1995)

51. Material Issue – International Pop Overthrow (1991)

50. Neil Young – Harvest Moon (1992)

49. Michael Jackson – Dangerous (1991)

48. Paul Weller – Stanley Road (1995)

47. Prince & the New Power Generation – (The Love Symbol) (1992)

46. Beastie Boys – Hello Nasty (1998)

45. Various Artists – Singles [The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] (1992)

44. Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream (1993)

43. Sheryl Crow – Sheryl Crow (1996)

42. Prince – Emancipation (1996)

41. Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion II (1991)

40. Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion I (1991)

39. Nirvana – In Utero (1993)

38. Primal Scream – Screamadelica (1991)

37. Hole – Celebration Skin (1998)

36. Sleater-Kinney – Dig Me Out (1997)

35. Rage Against the Machine – Rage Against the Machine (1992)

34. Tom Petty – Wildflowers (1994)

33. Paul Weller – Wild Wood (1993)

32. Gin Blossoms – New Miserable Experience (1992)

31. Beastie Boys – Ill Communication (1994)

30. A Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory (1991)

29. Nirvana – MTV Unplugged in New York (1994)

28. Sugar – Copper Blue (1992)

27. R.E.M. – Out of Town (1991)

26. Sinead O’Connor – I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got (1990)

25. Rage Against the Machine – The Battle of Los Angeles (1999)

24. Prince – The Gold Experience (1995)

23. Paul Weller – Paul Weller (1992)

22. George Michael – Listen Without Prejudice Volume 1 (1990)

21. No Doubt – Tragic Kingdom (1995)

20. Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995)

19. Green Day – Dookie (1994)

18. TLC – Fanmail (1999)

17. Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)

16. Jellyfish – Spilt Milk (1993)

15. Pearl Jam – Ten (1991)

14. Depeche Mode – Violator (1990)

13. Weezer – Pinkerton (1996)

12. Metallica – Metallica (a.k.a. The Black Album) (1991)

11. Weezer – Weezer (a.k.a. The Blue Album) (1994)

10. U2 – Achtung Baby (1991)

9. Jellyfish – Bellybutton (1990)

8. Eminem – The Slim Shady LP (1999)

7. Paul Weller – Heavy Soul (1997)

6. Dr. Dre – The Chronic (1992)

5. Nirvana – Nevermind (1991)

4. New Radicals – Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too (1998)

3. Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill (1995)

2. Teenage Fanclub – Bandwagonesque (1991)

1. R.E.M. – Automatic for the People (1992)

My 100 Favorite Albums of the Eighties

When compiling my Seventies list, I basically referred to my lists of favorite albums of each year to determine my list. So, when the countdown was finished, I was quite satisfied with my choices. Did I rank important albums low or left off historically important albums? Yes, I did in retrospect. But, I basically wanted to pimp the albums that find their ways onto my turntable, into my CD player (less often these days as I have purged most of them while slowly replacing them with vinyl) and onto my Amazon streaming service. Sure, I still love Jackson Browne, David Bowie’s Berlin trilogy and Nick Drake, among many others, I just did not have room for everything I love. Therefore, I went with my favorites.

And, believe me, the Seventies were BRUTAL to rank. Absolutely, the Sixties laid the ground work for the concept of a total piece of art called the “album.” But, man, the Seventies definitely pushed the boundaries of the recording studio, the musical technology and instrumentation, the live presentation of the music and, perhaps most importantly, the definition of this modern music labelled as rock & roll. When touring through the music of the Seventies, you hear just how far and wide the umbrella of rock & roll would become. It’s because of the Seventies that we have to recognize disco, country, rap, techno and all other genres and subgenres as part of rock & roll. Some of this stuff rocks like Aerosmith or AC/DC, while others roll like Eminem and Kendrick Lamar. And in between, there’s room for everything else.

Which leads us to my personal favorite decade, the Eighties. To be perfectly honest, Eighties music, when compared to the sounds of the Seventies, seems to be less organic and a little more sterile. Historically speaking, the Eighties were the decade in which we as a society were beginning to transition from the analog days of recording to the future of digital recording, for better or worse. So, the Eighties has certain robotic sounds associated with it that both dates it and endears it to the listener. At the time, the feeling was blues-based rock was becoming only for the virtuosos and not the garage musicians. So, punk set out to change that. While the form actually lasted only two years, the attitude remained. Punk was rooted in the sounds of the Fifties rockers and Sixties garage rockers, so it burnt itself out. But, post punk, followed by New Wave (it’s pop form), alternative and the like, turn up the mantle for a more longer lasting approach to music with angular guitar and keyboard sounds (Thank you David Bowie and your aforementioned Berlin trilogy!), funk/disco/reggae/dub-like grooves and a total disregard for the blues. And it did take a while for the music to catch on, particularly in the States, these ideas in sound and production are still ringing true today in all forms of rock & roll.

With all that said, here are MY 100 favorite albums of the Eighties. I tend to lean toward the non-traditional side of music, since that was what I was listening to. Plus, I feel like The Jesus & Mary Chain sound much more fresh than anything Bon Jovi or Poison have ever recorded. And now, on with the countdown!

100. Metallica – Master of Puppets (1986)

99. Midnight Oil – Diesel and Dust (1988)

98. Janet Jackson – Control (1986)

97. The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead (1986)

96. Prince – Parade (1986)

95. The Cure – Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (1987)

94. Tina Turner – Private Dancer (1984)

93. John Hiatt – Bring the Family (1987)

92. Sade – Diamond Life (1984)

91. Robbie Robertson – Robbie Robertson (1987)

90. U2 – War (1983)

89. George Clinton – Computer Games (1982)

88. De La Soul – 3 Feet High & Rising (1989)

87. Marshall Crenshaw – Field Day (1983)

86. Michael Jackson – Bad (1987)

85. Kate Bush – Hounds of Love (1985)

84. Van Halen – 1984 (1984)

83. Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes (1983)

82. Joe Jackson – Night and Day (1982)

81. Tom Petty – Full Moon Fever (1989)

80. New Order – Low-Life (1985)

79. David Bowie – Let’s Dance (1983)

78. The Jam – Sound Affects (1980)

77. Rick James – Street Songs (1981)

76. INXS – Kick (1987)

75. Prince & the Revolution – Around the World in a Day (1985)

74. Eurythmics – Touch (1983)

73. Brian Eno & David Byrne – My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (1981)

72. Sting – The Dream of the Blue Turtle (1985)

71. Madonna – Like a Prayer (1989)

70. The Smiths – The Smiths (1984)

69. Billy Squier – Don’t Say No (1981)

68. Rush – Permanent Waves (1980)

67. Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation (1988)

66. Peter Gabriel – So (1986)

65. Joy Division – Closer (1980)

64. R.E.M. – Reckoning (1984)

63. Beastie Boys – Licensed to Ill (1986)

62. The Police – Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)

61. Madonna – Madonna (1983)

60. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Big Bam Boom (1984)

59. Run-D.M.C. – Raising Hell (1986)

58. Eric B. & Rakim – Paid in Full (1987)

57. Cyndi Lauper – She’s So Unusual (1983)

56. The Time – What Time Is It? (1982)

55. Tears for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair (1985)

54. John Cougar Mellencamp – Uh-Huh (1983)

53. Bruce Springsteen – Nebraska (1982)

52. Daryl Hall & John Oates – H2O (1982)

51. Paul Simon – Graceland (1986)

50. Daryl Hall – Three Hearts in the Happy Ending Machine (1986)

49. The Cure – Disintegration (1989)

48. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Private Eyes (1981)

47. John Cougar Mellencamp – Scarecrow (1985)

46. Rush – Moving Pictures (1981)

45. The B-52’s – Cosmic Thing (1989)

44. The J. Geils Band – Freeze-Frame (1981)

43. Bruce Springsteen – The River (1980)

42. N.W.A – Straight Outta Compton (1988)

41. Talking Heads – Speaking in Tongues (1983)

40. The Waterboys – Fisherman’s Blues (1988)

39. Bruce Springsteen – Tunnel of Love (1987)

38. Roxy Music – Avalon (1982)

37. Stone Roses – Stone Roses (1989)

36. New Order – Power, Corruption & Lies (1983)

35. Madonna – Like a Virgin (1984)

34. Dexys Midnight Runners – Too-Rye-Aye (1982)

33. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Voices (1980)

32. R.E.M. – Document (1987)

31. The Police – Synchronicity (1983)

30. David Bowie – Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) (1980)

29. The Go-Go’s – Beauty and the Beat (1981)

28. AC/DC – Back in Black (1980)

27. The Police – Ghost in the Machine (1981)

26. Prince – Dirty Mind (1980)

25. Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique (1989)

24. Culture Club – Colour by Numbers (1983)

23. XTC – Skylarking (1987)

22. The Cure – The Head on the Door (1985)

21. Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction (1987)

20. George Michael – Faith (1987)

19. Janet Jackson – Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989)

18. John Cougar Mellencamp – The Lonesome Jubilee (1987)

17. Hüsker Dü – New Day Rising (1985)

16. Michael Jackson – Thriller (1982)

15. Marshall Crenshaw – Marshall Crenshaw (1982)

14. Bob Mould – Workbook (1989)

13. Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel (III: Melting) (1980)

12. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Hard Promises (1981)

11. Pixies – Doolittle (1989)

10. Tracy Chapman – Tracy Chapman (1989)

9. R.E.M. – Lifes Rich Pageant (1986)

8. The Style Council – My Ever Changing Moods (1984)

7. U2 – The Joshua Tree (1987)

6. Prince – 1999 (1982)

5. R.E.M. – Murmur (1983)

4. Talking Heads – Remain in Light (1980)

3. Bruce Springsteen – Born in the U.S.A. (1984)

2. Prince & the Revolution – Purple Rain (1984)

1. Prince – Sign ‘o’ the Times (1987)

Ranking My Favorite Albums of the Seventies

Often, I am asked by my friends what’s my favorite album, or what’s my favorite album of some decade or year. So, I did this big series that covered my 50 favorite albums over a 30-year period that I considered to be my wheelhouse back when my age was 7 through 36. Then, I got the bright idea to cover each decade, from the Sixties through the 2010s. Who knows? I might get a wild hair and list my Top 100 or so albums of all-time?!?! I’m crazy like that.

What I do know is that I am preparing another wheelhouse musical topic to cover, and that would be my favorite songs for each year during the same time period as before. Then, covering the best of each decade, as I am currently doing with the albums. Perhaps, I will tackle the big lists of albums and songs all together after the songs lists.

Whenever and whatever I do in future blogs, just realize that I am attempting to do a little entertainment and actually stimulate a little thought within each of you, my readers.

So, now, let’s get on with the countdown of the Seventies. Peace everybody!

100. AC/DC – Highway to Hell (1979)

99. Chic – Risqué (1979)

98. The Jam – All Mods Con (1978)

97. Devo – Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo (1978)

96. Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures (1979)

95. Bee Gees – Main Course (1975)

94. Cheap Trick – Cheap Trick (1977)

93. Funkadelic – One Nation Under a Groove (1978)

92. Michael Jackson – Off the Wall (1979)

91. Rush – 2112 (1976)

90. Roxy Music – Siren (1975)

89. David Bowie – Station to Station (1976)

88. Elvis Costello & the Attractions – Armed Forces (1979)

87. Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)

86. Boz Scaggs – Silk Degrees (1976)

85. Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977)

84. Fleetwood Mac – Fleetwood Mac (1975)

83. Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (1971)

82. Parliament – Mothership Connection (1975)

81. The B-52’s – The B-52’s (1979)

80. Ramones – Road to Ruin (1978)

79. Paul Simon – Still Crazy After All These Years (1975)

78. Alice Cooper – School’s Out (1972)

77. Electric Light Orchestra – Eldorado (1974)

76. Heart – Dreamboat Annie (1976)

75. Paul McCartney & Wings – Band on the Run (1973)

74. The Stooges – Fun House (1970)

73. Raspberries – Fresh (1972)

72. Sly & the Family Stone – There’s a Riot Goin’ On (1971)

71. The Who – Quadrophenia (1973)

70. Joni Mitchell – Blue (1971)

69. Ramones – Ramones (1976)

68. Todd Rundgren – Runt: The Ballad of Todd Rundgren (1971)

67. Blondie – Parallel Lines (1978)

66. Ramones – Rocket to Russia (1977)

65. Grateful Dead – Workingman’s Dead (1970)

64. Alice Cooper – Billion Dollar Babies (1973)

63. Talking Heads – Talking Heads: 77 (1977)

62. Kiss – Destroyer (1976)

61. Queen – Sheer Heart Attack (1974)

60. Stevie Wonder – Innervisions (1973)

59. Paul Simon – Paul Simon (1972)

58. Kiss – Alive! (1975)

57. Cat Stevens – Tea for Tillerman (1970)

56. Stevie Wonder – Talking Book (1972)

55. Chic – C’est Chic (1977)

54. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Daryl Hall & John Oates (1975)

53. Van Morrison – It’s Too Late to Stop Now (1974)

52. Steely Dan – Can’t Buy a Thrill (1972)

51. Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath (1970)

50. Boston – Boston (1976)

49. Raspberries – Raspberries (1972)

48. Van Morrison – Moondance (1970)

47. Paul & Linda McCartney – Ram (1971)

46. George Harrison – All Things Must Pass (1970)

45. Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On (1973)

44. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Déjà Vu (1970)

43. The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street (1972)

42. John Lennon – Imagine (1971)

41. Elton John – Elton John (1970)

40. Bill Withers – Just as I Am (1971)

39. Talking Heads – Fear of Music (1979)

38. Queen – A Day at the Races (1976)

37. Neil Young – Harvest (1972)

36. Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)

35. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (1976)

34. Bruce Springsteen – The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle (1973)

33. Elvis Costello & the Attractions – This Year’s Model (1978)

32. Grateful Dead – American Beauty (1970)

31. The Knack – Get The Knack (1979)

30. Stevie Wonder – Fulfillingness First Finale (1974)

29. Van Halen – Van Halen (1978)

28. Supertramp – Breakfast in America (1979)

27. The Rolling Stones – Some Girls (1978)

26. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Abandoned Luncheonette (1973)

25. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Damn the Torpedoes (1979)

24. Chicago – Chicago II (1970)

23. Bruce Springsteen – Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)

22. David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)

21. Todd Rundgren – Something/Anything? (1972)

20. Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977)

19. Cheap Trick – Cheap Trick at Budokan (1978)

18. Big Star – Radio City (1974)

17. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV (1971)

16. Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True (1977)

15. The Who – Who’s Next (1971)

14. Carole King – Tapestry (1971)

13. Simon & Garfunkel – Bridge over Troubled Water (1970)

12. The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers (1971)

11. Bee Gees & Others – Saturday Night Fever [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] (1970)

10. Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life (1976)

9. Pink Floyd – The Wall (1979)

8. Big Star – #1 Record (1972)

7. The Cars – The Cars (1978)

6. Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On (1971)

5. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (1977)

4. Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)

3. Queen – A Night at the Opera (1975)

2. Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run (1975)

1. The Clash – London Calling (1979)

I have an inkling that this list might cause some controversy, especially my friends who love hard rock. Remember, this countdown is simply one man’s opinion. Also, I have always swam against the current in all matters of life. It’s my modus operandi. What can I say?

Ranking My Favorite Albums of the Sixties

What better way to follow up my 30 years of albums in my wheelhouse than to do a countdown for each decade, beginning with the Sixties and ending with the Twenty-Teens. I won’t bother you with much background; if you follow this blog, you are currently a music nut like me. So, if the Rock & Roll era began with Bill Halley & His Comets’ hit “Rock Around the Clock,” then the Rock era probably began in 1965, with all kinds of genres and subgenres coming at us over the years. And, although the music of today gets a bad reputation thrust upon it, rest assured that rock & roll IS evolving. Where, I am afraid that jazz, country, blues and gospel, all part of the melting pot known as rock & roll, were limited in their vocabularies, rock is only held back by the musician’s imagination (as well as the industry’s conservative nature).

So, let’s celebrate the music of each decade that I find to be primo! Here’s my picks from the Sixties.

100. Nick Drake – Five Leaves Left (1969)

99. The Kinks – Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) (1969)

98. The Monks – Black Monk Time (1966)

97. The Left Banke – Walk Away Renée/Pretty Ballerina (1967)

96. Blue Cheer – Vincebus Eruptus (1968)

95. The Rolling Stones – The Rolling Stones/England’s Newest Hitmakers (1964)

94. Link Wray & the Wraymen – Link Wray & the Wraymen (1960)

93. The Shirelles – Baby It’s You (1962)

92. Cream – Wheels of Fire (1968)

91. The Sonics – Here Are The Sonics!!! (1965)

90. Bo Diddley – Bo Diddley is a…REVOL (1961)

89. The Beatles – With The Beatles (1963)

88. Dick Dale & the Del-Tones – Surfer’s Choice (1962)

87. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Trout Mask Replica (1969)

86. The 13th Floor Elevators – The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators (1966)

85. Booker T & the MG’s – Green Onions (1962)

84. Elvis Presley – Elvis Is Back (1960)

83. The Lovin’ Spoonful – Do You Believe in Magic? (1965)

82. The Meters – The Meters (1969)

81. The Pretty Things – S.F. Sorrow (1968)

80. Ike & Tina Turner – The Soul of Ike & Tina Turner (1961)

79. Otis Redding – Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul (1966)

78. John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers – John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton (1966)

77. The Rolling Stones – Out of Our Heads (1965)

76. The Impressions – People Get Ready (1965)

75. Elvis Presley – From Elvis in Memphis (1969)

74. The Beach Boys – The Beach Boys Today! (1965)

73. Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention – Freak Out! (1966)

72. The Impressions – The Impressions (1963)

71. The Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour (1967)

70. Traffic – Mr. Fantasy (1967)

69. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Willy and the Poor Boys (1969)

68. The Kinks – The Kink Kontroversy (1965)

67. The Yardbirds – Five Live Yardbirds (1964)

66. Bo Diddley – Bo Diddley Is a Gunslinger (1960)

65. Blood, Sweat & Tears – Blood, Sweat & Tears (1969)

64. The Small Faces – Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake (1968)

63. The Beatles – Please Please Me (1963)

62. Cream – Fresh Cream (1965)

61. Leonard Cohen – Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967)

60. The Moody Blues – Days of Future Past (1967)

59. The Byrds – Mr. Tambourine Man (1965)

58. Santana – Santana (1969)

57. Jefferson Airplane – Surrealistic Pillow (1967)

56. The Beatles – Help! (1965)

55. Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere (1969)

54. Jeff Beck Group – Truth (1968)

53. Love – Forever Changes (1967)

52. The Who – The Who Sings My Generation (1965)

51. Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963)

50. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Green River (1969)

49. Pink Floyd – Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967)

48. Cream – Disraeli Gears (1967)

47. The Flying Burrito Brothers – The Gilded Palace of Sin (1969)

46. Isaac Hayes – Hot Buttered Soul (1969)

45. The Kinks – Something Else (1967)

44. MC5 – Kick Out the Jams (1969)

43. The Who – Tommy (1969)

42. Crosby, Stills & Nash – Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969)

41. The Who – The Who Sell Out (1967)

40. The Kinks – Face to Face (1966)

39. James Brown – Live at the Apollo (1963)

38. The Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

37. Otis Redding – Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul (1965)

36. King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)

35. Etta James – At Last (1960)

34. Jimi Hendrix Experience – Axis: Bold as Love (1967)

33. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin (1969)

32. Chicago – The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)

31. The Zombies – Odessey & Oracle (1968)

30. Simon & Garfunkel – Bookends (1968)

29. Aretha Franklin – I Have Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967)

28. Johnny Cash – At Folsom Prison (1968)

27. Ray Charles – Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music (1962)

26. The Monkees – The Monkees (1966)

25. Sly & the Family Stone – Stand (1969)

24. Aretha Franklin – Lady Soul (1968)

23. The Doors – The Doors (1967)

22. Van Morrison – Astral Weeks (1968)

21. Phil Spector (and Others) – A Christmas for You (1962)

20. Bob Dylan – Bringing It All Back Home (1965)

19. The Beatles – Rubber Soul (1965)

18. The Stooges – The Stooges (1969)

17. The Kinks – The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (1968)

16. Jimi Hendrix Experience – Electric Ladyland (1968)

15. The Band – Music from Big Pink (1968)

14. Dusty Springfield – Dusty in Memphis (1969)

13. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin II (1969)

12. The Rolling Stones – Beggar’s Banquet (1968)

11. The Beatles – The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album) (1968)

10. The Band – The Band (1969)

9. The Velvet Underground – Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)

8. Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited (1965)

7. The Beatles – Revolver (1966)

6. The Rolling Stones – Let It Bleed (1969)

5. Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced (1967)

4. The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

3. Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde (1966)

2. The Beatles – Abbey Road (1969)

1. The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (1966)

30 Years of Albums in My Wheelhouse: 1999

background design element

This series eventually had to come to an end, and here we are. We are standing on the cusp of a new decade, a new century, a new millennium, and things were changing. I was turning less often to new music for solace and more often to the music of my youth, essentially the first decade of this series. Now, my boys were into their teenage years, and their music was beginning to sound a little foreign to me. Certainly, there were strains of my music in theirs (They hated it when I was constantly telling them that their pop punk bands were just watered down Cheap Trick, though they both agree now.). But, now it was all morphing into something that I did not recognize. I found that realization both sad and frustrating. However, it is all part of evolution.

TLC

Once the 21st century began, I could no longer choose 50 albums that I liked each year. Unfortunately, rock and roll, which had been based upon the new technology of the day from its rudimentary sounds up through the CD and digital recording techniques was initially befuddled by the internet and music-sharing sites such as Napster, Limewire and the like. At first, the music industry attempted to fight this new technology, the first time a new technology was not embraced first by the rock world.

Blink=182

Simultaneously, television began to dive full force into reality-based programming, ironically enough started by MTV with The Real World. During the reality TV boom of the late-90s and early-2000s, American Idol debuted. It was a success right out of the gate, which promised singers from backwoods America riches and an entertainment career. And, that first was magical, because the program did discover one of the millennials’ own voice of a generation with champion Kelly Clarkson. But, in the intervening years, fewer and fewer contestants and champions became household names, like Jennifer Hudson, Adam Lambert and Carrie Underwood. Also, in the wake of AI‘s success, there was a glut of singing shows with little long term talents coming out of them.

Britney Spears performs in concert at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium to a sell out crowd Wednesday night, August 18, 1999. (© James D. DeCamp | http://www.JamesDeCamp.com | 614-367-6366) [Photographed with Canon EOS D2000 cameras in RAW mode with L series lenses.]

So, the local bar circuits were decimated by these programs. The record companies and many artists (Metallica!) were alienating their fans by fighting Napster and the file-sharing sites. And, recording studios were becoming obsolete as artists could now record their music on their iPhones, allowing them to string bits of performances of a song into a whole new hit. No longer was musicianship nor high quality vocals necessary for pop success. And, since little of these technologies were initially embraced by the rock community, rock began to die, or in my mind, go dormant.

Christina Aguilera

Therefore, to me, 1999 represents one of the last full breaths of rock music before it embraced the whole nostalgia touring mentality. Nu metal, kind of a hip hop-infused form of metal took center stage with the likes of boy bands and teen girl superstar singers. It made for strange bedfellows on MTV and came to a head at Woodstock ’99 in New York, when everything turned violent after being pummeled all day by the likes of Metallica, The Offspring, Korn, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Limp Bizkit, DMX and the like until the fans could no longer hold back their anger and started a Lord of Flies-esque riot.

Moby

And, much like Altamont in 1969 put a metaphorical dagger in the heart of the Peace & Love era of Sixties rock music, so to Woodstock ’99 struck a blow to rock in the new century. And, thus, rock was moved to a backburner. Will it come back? Who knows? I hope so. It would be cool if my grandkids’ generation became enthralled by the music collections of their grandparents and great-grandparents and inspired to pickup rock instruments to start garage bands all over the world. At least, that’s my dream.

Foo Fighters

So, was the music of my wheelhouse better than anyone else’s? Well, Boomers had the 50s, 60s AND 70s covered, while the 80s and 90s were not too alienating to them. Us Gen X-ers ran the 70s, 80s and 90s hard and believe our music has legs and is every bit as important as the Boomers’ music. But, the music of the millennials right now appears that most of it is made only for the moment. Seriously, is anyone nostalgic for “Blurred Lines” or “Boom Boom Boom”? And, where is Flo Rida these days? Or is Pitbul really bigger than Menudo? Sure, Kendrick Lamar, Brandi Carlile, Lady Gaga, Halsey, Arcade Fire, My Morning Jacket and The Killers are just a few of the legit millennial stars, but they are no way as deep of a list as the superstars of the Boomers or Gen X.

Ricky Martin

So, let’s raise a glass to rock and roll! May it live on, and may it find its way into the blood of future generations. Now, let’s take a look at 1999.

50. Creed – Human Clay

49. Mariah Carey – Rainbow

48. Wilco – Summerteeth

47. Nine Inch Nails – The Fragile

46. Tom Waits – Mule Variations

45. Jay-Z – Vol. 3: The Life & Times of S. Carter

44. Counting Crows – This Desert Life

43. Le Tigre – Le Tigre

42. Destiny’s Child – The Writing’s on the Wall

41. Sisqo – Unleash the Dragon

40. MF Doom – Operation: Doomsday

39. Low – Christmas

38. Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals – Burn to Shine

37. Aimee Mann – Magnolia [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

36. Mary J. Blige – Mary

35. Metallica – S&M

34. Dido – No Angel

33. Ricky Martin – Ricky Martin

32. Magnetic Fields – 69 Love Songs

31. Korn – Issues

30. Blur – 13

29. Beck – Midnite Vultures

28. Tal Bachman – Tal Bachman

27. Sigur Rós – Ágætis byrjun

26. Backstreet Boys – Millennium

25. Incubus – Make Yourself

24. Christina Aguilera – Christina Aguilera

23. Limp Bizkit – Significant Other

22. The (Dixie) Chicks – Fly

21. Moby – Play

20. Sting – Brand New Day

19. Dr. Dre – 2001

18. Macy Gray – On How Life Is

17. DMX – …And Then There Was X

16. Britney Spears – …Baby One More Time

15. Slipknot – Slipknot

14. The Merrymakers – Bubblegun

13. Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin

12. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Californication

11. Shelby Lynne – I Am Shelby Lynne

10. The Roots – Things Fall Apart

9. Len – You Can’t Stop the Bum Rush

8. Fiona Apple – When the Pawn…

7. Foo Fighters – There Is Nothing Left to Loose

6. Blink-182 – Enema of the State

5. Santana – Supernatural

4. Fountains of Wayne – Utopia Parkway

3. Rage Against the Machine – The Battle of Los Angeles

2. TLC – Fanmail

1. Eminem – The Slim Shady LP

30 Years of Albums in My Wheelhouse: 1998

While President Clinton was impeached after he obstructed justice and perjured himself during his testimony concerning a sexual relationship he had with a White House intern in the Oval Office, I was completing my final year of teaching at Alexandria Monroe High School in Alexandria, Indiana. Back when I was in high school, Alexandria was a 4-A football sized school. But after the mass exodus of General Motors from the county, Alexandria began an unfortunate death march. By the time I arrived in 1994, the school had half the student population it had just 15 years earlier. Yet, the concentration of academic and athletic students still remained exceptionally high.

New Radicals

As the 1997-98 school year ended, our small school became the first school in state history to win 2-A state championships in two of the three biggest sports, basketball and baseball. But, those athletic teams were not the only powerhouse teams in the building at the time. The cross country teams both finished second in the conference. The softball, volleyball and girls basketball teams were all highly successful. While most of these teams were expected to succeed that year, one team achieved something that no other did that year. The boys track & field team won the school’s only team conference championship, before or since.

The (Dixie) Chicks

In Indiana, track & field is a single-class sport, so we competed with the big schools, some of which are upwards of seven times bigger than we were. While some of these bigger schools had 120 boys on their team, we actually had a record 35 boys on that track team. Still, those guys went down to the Regional meet where nearly half of the state’s Top 20 ranked teams were competing and finished 13th behind some outstanding efforts.

DMX

If those kids only had the resources that my team at Hamilton Southeastern had in the early 2000s, my Alex kids would have been a Top 20 team themselves. However, they did win that conference championship meet by one over the second place team, two points over third, three points over fourth, six points over fifth and seventh over sixth. That finish remains the closest conference final standings in conference history.

Pulp

The cool thing about coaching is after all the wins and losses, the arguments, motivational speeches, the hugs and tears, and all the other forms of life that take place during an athletic career, you end up with a group of adopted sons and daughters. I have great relationships with so many of those people, who are either in their 40s or pushing it, from all of my educational stops.

98 Degrees

The one thing I truly remember about 1998 was hearing a song on the radio while driving to a basketball practice around Christmas time called “You Get What You Give.” At first, I thought Todd Rundgren had a new song out. Finally, upon the conclusion of the song, the on-air personality said the band’s name was New Radicals. Immediately, I went to a department store to purchase the CD. This CD became the last long playing record that I ever got emotional about.

Rob Zombie

So, while others were praising the hell out of Lauryn Hill, and my boys were bombarding the house with the sounds of Beastie Boys, DMX, Lenny Kravitz and Kid Rock, I was pushing play on New Radicals. I kept hearing all the things that I loved about Seventies music: power pop, blue-eyed soul, punk anger all filtered through a Gen X sense of cynicism.

Myracle Brah

With that said, let’s see who’s playing for #2 through 50 on my countdown for 1998.

50. Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

49. Air – Moon Safari

48. 98 Degrees – 98 Degrees and Rising

47. System of a Down – System of a Down

46. Massive Attack – Mezzanine

45. Monica – The Boy Is Mine

44. Brandy – Never Say Never

43. Faith Evans – Keep the Faith

42. Marilyn Manson – Mechanical Animals

41. Goo Goo Dolls – Dizzy Up the Girl

40. Elliott Smith – XO

39. Queens of the Stone Age – Queens of the Stone Age

38. Rufus Wainwright – Rufus Wainwright

37. Semisonic – Feeling Strangely Fine

36. Cher – Believe

35. Dru Hill – Enter the Dru

34. Sheryl Crow – The Globe Sessions

33. Rob Zombie – Hellbilly Deluxe

32. Beck – Mutations

31. Tori Amos – From the Choirgirl Hotel

30. Garbage – Version 2.0

29. Whitney Houston – My Love Is Your Love

28. Jay-Z – Hard Knock Life, Vol. 2

27. Smashing Pumpkins – Adore

26. The Offspring – Americana

25. Metallica – Garage Inc.

24. Fatboy Slim – You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

23. The (Dixie) Chicks – Wide Open Spaces

22. DMX – Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood

21. Everlast – Whitey Ford Sings the Blues

20. Billy Bragg & Wilco – Mermaid Avenue

19. Natalie Merchant – Ophelia

18. DMX – It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot

17. Alanis Morissette – Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie

16. Bob Dylan – The Bootleg Series Vol. 4 – Live 1966: The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert

15. Pearl Jam – Yield

14. R.E.M. – Up

13. Myracle Brah – Life on Planet Eartsnop

12. Kid Rock – Devil Without a Cause

11. Barenaked Ladies – Stunt

10. Korn – Follow the Leader

9. Lenny Kravitz – 5

8. OutKast – Aquemini

7. Pulp – This Is Hardcore

6. Madonna – Ray of Light

5. Elvis Costello with Burt Bacharach – Painted from Memory

4. Beastie Boys – Hello Nasty

3. Hole – Celebrity Skin

2. Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

1. New Radicals – Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too

30 Years of Albums in My Wheelhouse: 1997

1997 appeared to be a decent year, as OJ Simpson lost the civil lawsuit in which Ron Goldman’s family sued the former star running back for the wrongful death of Ron, whose criminal trial ended in the acquittal of Simpson. Additionally, Timothy McVeigh, the ultra-right wing radical who was the mastermind behind the bombing the FBI Building in Oklahoma City, was convicted in the bombing and sentenced to death. And 1997 was the year of the film Titanic, although Good Will Hunting is the one remembered today.

Spice Girls

The music world was still in an all-comers phase, meaning there was no clear leader nor leading trend. Anything and everything was up for grabs. All of a sudden, magazines and the radio were full of one-hit wonders like Chumbawamba, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Corrs, Savage Garden, Ma$e, to name a few artists. Perhaps, 1997 was a much better year for singles on the charts than perhaps albums. Or, and hear me out, we were beginning to witness the technology behind creating music ripping the soul out of the whole creative process. No longer were mistakes acceptable magic moments during the recording process. Suddenly, those human moments could be easily excised from the recording, along with any out-of-tune vocals straightened out by a new program called AutoTune.

Natalie Imbruglia

With the new technology came perfection. If perfection was not met by one producer, another may be called in to “improve” the sound of the single. Now, instead of a producer or two and the band working together with the singer to create a magical studio performance in one take with some touchups added in the overdubbing process, several producers will have the fingers in the pie in order to obtain pop perfection and hopefully an immediate hit song.

Radiohead

Beginning around this time in musical history, the whole songwriting process began to be flipped. Once again, in the place of a band jamming to create and sound that surrounded some lyrics, producers are able to create tracks from sampled beats, basslines, horn squawks, background singers’ “ooohs” and “aaahs,” along with added instrumentation from studio professionals or themselves. It is not uncommon these days for the tracks to be completed and passed around current artist until someone decides to add some lyrics to said track and have their treated vocals added at a later date. When the track is released, the label will have maybe half-a-dozen producers and another dozen or so songwriters listed. Nowadays, you can when a Grammy award and receive a large chunk of change if you have a success hit song that sampled your minor hit from 1978 or 1983.

Shania Twain

Basically, an artist in 1997 and to the present can use the technology in a current iPhone to create a whole album in his or her bedroom without ever setting one foot in a recording studio to work long hours in order to discover a new sound from the interaction. So, while this technology has given MORE freedom to the artist, it has also reduced the need for many talented studio and touring musicians as long as the artist has a computer and the necessary programs needed to replicate a near-perfect backing sound for a concert, thus never needing to split profits or the stage with needy musicians.

Erykah Badu

And, that, my friends, may be just a part of the reason as to what happened to the rock world that we used to know. New technology has taken the place of jam sessions, as well as interpersonal relationships. But, so have other things conspired to change rock & roll. There was Napster, a Supreme Court and FCC rulings allowing one person or group of investors to own multiple radio and television stations in markets throughout the country. In the past, a wealthy person or group could only own a single radio or television station, thus allowing for more diversity and competition. But now, all radio pretty much sounds the same, with only the music slightly tweaked to distinguish a country song (added twang) from a hip hop song (cranked up bass) from a dance song (hyperinflated beats per minute) from a pop song (combine all of those sounds in a mellow, non-threatening minor, better known as Ed Sheeran). Finally, YouTube killed MTV’s original vision as America’s Jukebox, with help from streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora and Amazon Music, which is still a couple of years from taking off in the form of Napster.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

I call this the sterilization of rock music. From this point in time, the music will become generally more bland and much less dangerous than just four years earlier during the heights of grunge and gangsta rap.

Mighty Mighty Bosstones

However, like any other year, there are musical geniuses who broke through with brilliant albums full of terrific music. And, it is those artists and their magnificent albums whom we are celebrating. Of course, it is time for the countdown.

50. Master P – Ghetto D

49. Ma$e – Harlem World

48. Wyclef Jean – The Carnival

47. Third Eye Blind – Third Eye Blind

46. Eagle-Eye Cherry – Desireless

45. Elliott Smith – Either/Or

44. Chumbawamba – Tubthumper

43. Limp Bizkit – Three Dollar Bill, Y’all

42. The Corrs – Talk on the Corners

41. The Dandy Warhols – …The Dandy Warhols Come Down

40. The Prodigy – The Fat of the Land

39. Spice Girls – Spiceworld

38. *NSYNC – *NSYNC

37. Hanson – Middle of Nowhere

36. Savage Garden – Savage Garden

35. The Chemical Brothers – Dig Your Own Hole

34. Mansun – Attack of the Grey Lantern

33. Sarah McLachlan – Surfacing

32. Meredith Brooks – Blurring the Edges

31. Natalie Imbruglia – Left of the Middle

30. Blur – Blur

29. Aqua – Aquarium

28. Everclear – So Much for the Afterglow

27. Janet Jackson – The Velvet Rope

26. Mariah Carey – Butterfly

25. Cotton Mather – Kontiki

24. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Marigold Sky

23. Bob Dylan – Time Out of Mind

22. Faith No More – Album of the Year

21. Shania Twain – Come on Over

20. Paul McCartney – Flaming Pie

19. U2 – Pop

18. Missy Elliott – Supa Dupa Fly

17. Green Day – Nimrod

16. Radiohead – OK Computer

15. Will Smith – Big Willie Style

14. Led Zeppelin – BBC Sessions

13. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – The Boatman’s Call

12. Fleetwood Mac – The Dance

11. Whiskeytown – Stranger’s Almanac

10. Puff Daddy & the Family – No Way Out

9. Blink-182 – Dude Ranch

8. Erykah Badu – Baduizm

7. The Verve – Urban Hymns

6. Foo Fighters – The Colour and the Shape

5. The Notorious B.I.G. – Life After Death

4. Daft Punk – Homework

3. Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Let’s Face It

2. Sleater-Kinney – Dig Me Out

1. Paul Weller – Heavy Soul

30 Years of Albums in My Wheelhouse: 1996

1996 was a fairly uneventful year. Status quo appeared to be the name of the game, personified by the re-election of Bill Clinton for a second term as President of the United States of America. Yes, there were some great things that occurred, such as South Africa’s new constitution. And, to counter-balance that several “bad” things happened as the Taliban seized control of the capital of Afghanistan Kabul as well as ethic-influenced murders taking place in the former Czechoslovakia.

Cake

While the music world was still attempting to sort through the demise of the alternative rock that dominated the first half of the decade, everything seemed primed for hip hop to begin exerting its creative muscle. Unfortunately, the whole East Coast versus West Coast rivalry began to come to an ugly and tragic conclusion. For better or for worse, the two coast’s reputations in the hip hop world became associated with two young men whose rapping abilities and songwriting skills were far and away light years ahead of their competitors and colleagues. While source are on the record stating that the two rappers, The Notorious BIG from NYC and 2pac from LA, were friends, the posses each man represented were not.

Toni Braxton

Things between factions kept the temperature rising until one night Tupac Shakur was gunned down by a drive-by shooter, whose identity remains a mystery. This incidence will not squelch the rivalry until the West Coast plays its revenge card next year with the murder of Biggie Smalls. When the smoke clears next year, the two biggest rappers in the world, both talents for the ages, were gone, perhaps being the final nails in the whole thing that I grew up loving called rock & roll. The three biggest voices of a generation or two (Gen X AND the Millennials) were lost in a matter of four years, combining with new technologies about to emerge to change and, ultimately, kill rock & roll.

Tool

Then again, maybe rock & roll is truly evolving into something completely unrecognizable. Who knows, maybe some of our grandkids might discover our record collections, become inspired and start the whole process over again. Yeah! And monkeys might fly out of my butt!

Fiona Apple

Looking back, 1996 was the last gasp of many of the biggest acts of the past twenty years. REM released its final LP as a quartet with drummer Bill Berry calling it a day as a band member. A Tribe Called Quest and Soundgarden, two of the more innovative artists of the first half of the Nineties, released lackluster albums. George Michael was having trouble maturing his sound as well as being accepted as a gay man. Arguably the biggest star of the Eighties, Prince, changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol and released a triple-CD set of new music under this new moniker. And, for Christ’s sakes, Metallica cut their hair! WTF!?!? What’s happening here?!?!

Reel Big Fish

Bottom line, everything was changing, and, at the time, no one knew how it was going to shakedown. Let’s take a look at my favorite albums of 1996.

50. Dave Matthews Band – Crash

49. DM3 – Road to Rome

48. Soundgarden – Down on the Upside

47. Metallica – Load

46. The Cardigans – First Band on the Moon

45. Backstreet Boys – Backstreet Boys

44. Maxwell – Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite

43. Manic Street Preachers – Everything Must Go

42. Dru Hill – Dru Hill

41. A Tribe Called Quest – Beats, Rhymes and Life

40. Lil’ Kim – Hardcore

39. Spice Girls – Spice

38. Paula Cole – This Fire

37. The Wallflowers – Bringing Down the Horse

36. Kula Shaker – K

35. Eels – Beautiful Freak

34. Susanna Hoffs – Susanna Hoffs

33. Belle & Sebastian – Tigermilk

32. Me’Shell NdegéOcello – Peace Beyond Passion

31. Toni Braxton – Secrets

30. Sublime – Sublime

29. Ash – 1977

28. Aaliyah – One in a Million

27. Pearl Jam – No Code

26. Stone Temple Pilots – Tiny Music…Songs from the Vatican

25. Belle & Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister

24. The Roots – Illadelph Halflife

23. Counting Crows – Recovering the Satellites

22. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Murder Ballads

21. Jamiroquai – Travelling Without Moving

20. OutKast – ATLiens

19. Fiona Apple – Tidal

18. George Michael – Older

17. DJ Shadow – Entroducing…

16. Tool – Ænima

15. Marilyn Manson – Antichrist Superstar

14. Cake – Fashion Nugget

13. Matchbox 20 – Yourself or Someone Like You

12. Reel Big Fish – Turn Off the Radio

11. Fountains of Wayne – Fountains of Wayne

10. 2pac – All Eyez on Me

9. Beck – Odelay

8. Jay-Z – Reasonable Doubt

7. Wilco – Being There

6. Fugees – The Score

5. R.E.M. – New Adventures in Hi-Fi

4. Rage Against the Machine – Evil Empire

3. Sheryl Crow – Sheryl Crow

2. Prince – Emancipation

1. Weezer – Pinkerton

30 Years of Albums in My Wheelhouse: 1995

By 1995, I was loosing my once firm grip on music. No longer was I immersing myself in the new sounds of a new generation of musicians and artists. Slowly, I began to witness my patience for listening to new music to be shortening. Suddenly, I was finding the newer music to be annoying rather than uplifting. And that was making me a cranky older man at the tender age of 32.

D’Angelo

So, I began to follow the lead of my students as I was now a full time teacher. I gave their music a critical listening. Truth be told, I was able to better understand the influences in the popular music of the mid- to late-Nineties almost as well as the music of the Eighties. I began to notice a small pattern. In the Seventies, most of the big rockers of the decade looked back to the Fifties, or the music of their youth, for the inspiration for their sounds. Then, in the Eighties, my musicians looked back to the Sixties for that same inspiration.

Paul Weller

By the time the Nineties rolled around, my age group were exerting our musical muscle by reaching into the sounds of the Seventies for much of their inspiration. Let’s take Nirvana who took the sounds of the punk and post punk eras and filtered them through a little Black Sabbath and Beatles, and viola, grunge. Or, how about Dr. Dre diving head first into George Clinton’s P-Funk empire for many of the samples he used on The Chronic or Snoop’s Doggystyle. Shoot, even Billy Corgan’s Smashing Pumpkins’ sound began its roots in the arena rock sounds of Boston and Cheap Trick, sprinkled in a little Sabbath, and out comes Siamese Dreams or the sprawling masterpiece Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Finally, there’s the whole pop punk movement led by Green Day, who obviously loved Seventies punk, as well as the power pop from the same era.

Jewel

When I began to take a more academic approach to the music of the day, I began to enjoy it more. Oh, nothing to ever reach me again like Born to Run or London Calling did since everything was fresh then. Then, one day you wake up in your thirties and realize that your albums and records are no longer your best friends. But, now, they are more important than friends. They are now the soundtrack to my life, the sounds that made my life fuller with the ability to conjure memories no matter what my age was. Therefore, I hope and pray that I got my dad’s genes that will prevent me from getting mom’s Alzheimer’s disease. It’s such a terrible disease to witness up close and personal, knowing that mom’s life was no longer being enriched by the music she so loved.

Flaming Lips

So, it was in 1995, the year in which the OJ Simpson trial began, in which I learned how to enjoy music from a more academic level as opposed to an emotional response. And that slight change brought the joy back that had seemed to be leaving me at the time. Plus, these last five years represent the final years that housed the music that I consider to be in my “wheelhouse.” When the new millennium came around, I was no longer enjoying en masse. Instead, my focus has narrowed drastically as music today no longer holds the same magic as the music of the 20th century. Sure, a My Morning Jacket pops up here or a Halsey there, but the artistry seems to be waning.

The Jayhawks

With that poetic waxing and self-indulgency over, let’s get to the countdown!

50. Queen – Made in Heaven

49. Goo Goo Dolls – A Boy Named Goo

48. Various Artists – Waiting to Exhale [The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

47. Sonic Youth – Washing Machine

46. Mad Season – Above

45. Ol’ Dirty Bastard – Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version

44. Flaming Lips – Clouds Taste Metallic

43. Elliott Smith – Elliott Smith

42. The Cardigans – Life

41. Jars of Clay – Jars of Clay

40. Faith Evans – Faith

39. Neil Young – Mirror Ball

38. The Presidents of the United States of America – The Presidents of the United States of America

37. Everclear – Sparkle and Fade

36. Genius/GZA – Liquid Swords

35. dc talk – Jesus Freak

34. Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx

33. Elastica – Elastica

32. Tracy Chapman – New Beginning

31. Björk – Post

30. Annie Lennox – Medulla

29. Son Volt – Trace

28. Matthew Sweet – 100% Fun

27. White Zombie – Astro-Creep: 2000

26. Radiohead – The Bends

25. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – E 1999 Eternal

24. 2pac – Me Against the World

23. PJ Harvey – To Bring You My Love

22. Natalie Merchant – Tigerlily

21. Joan Osborne – Relish

20. Blur – The Great Escape

19. AC/DC – Ballbreaker

18. Jewel – Pieces of You

17. Rancid – …And Out Come the Wolves

16. The Verve – A Northern Soul

15. Garbage – Garbage

14. The Jayhawks – Tomorrow the Green Grass

13. Mariah Carey – Daydream

12. Supergrass – I Should Coco

11. Phish – A Live One

10. Foo Fighters – Foo Fighters

9. D’Angelo – Brown Sugar

8. Bruce Springsteen – The Ghost of Tom Joad

7. Oasis – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory

6. Pulp – Different Class

5. Paul Weller – Stanley Road

4. Prince – The Gold Experience

3. No Doubt – Tragic Kingdom

2. Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

1. Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill