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.


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.


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

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: