The single greatest year for music didn’t belong to the Boomers but to Gen X.
Brad Hayne @lintmusic
New York City based Andy Warhol disciples Sonic Youth sarcastically proclaimed 1991 to be the year punk broke, naming the documentary film for their European tour alongside Nirvana after the boastful tongue-in-cheek claim.
While they may have been making fun at the fact that punk, having been around for over a decade at that point, was finally being recognized by major labels and the general public, the phrase could be altered to include, well, every heavy or outsider genre around at the time.
1991 spawned a generation of genre breaking, record smashing and influential albums. And as we are about to close off the 30th anniversary celebrations for all these albums, it’s worth taking another quick look over some of the standout gems.
Obviously the aforementioned Nirvana released Nevermind, one of the greatest albums ever made. If you sewed the flannel shirts of every Nirvana fan in the world together, the resulting piece of pine tree smelling fabric wouldn’t be big enough to bind the book written on how amazing that album is.
But staying in that same neck of the woods, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam put out Badmotorfinger and Ten respectively, and Seattle godfathers Mudhoney unleashed the unreal Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge.
Not too far from Grunge’s home, Indie legends Dinosaur Jr breakthrough to the mainstream with Green Mind, as do Hole with Pretty On The Inside. And The Smashing Pumpkins’ debut Gish kick starts a long and sometimes questionable career still going strong today.
Acts accustomed to playing stadiums didn’t take time off to count their millions either. Guns ‘n Roses, Metallica, Bryan Adams and the Red Hot Chili Peppers all released their highest charting and best selling albums. Even U2 somehow got bigger with Achtung Baby.
On the opposite end of the fame spectrum (but some would argue more influential) were underground acts that quietly put out albums which would go on to be cult favorites, spawning imitations worldwide.
Melvins’ Boris, Slint’s Spiderland and possibly the most infamous album of all time amongst audiophiles, My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, all came out within a few months of each other.
From R.E.M to Roxette, The KLF to Crowded House, it’s quite simply insane how many career defining, influential albums came out of a single year in modern music history. It’s one hell of a potential playlist. Hey, there’s an idea…