Monday, November 28, 2011

1991-20: The 50 Best Albums of 1991 Pt. 2 (25-11)

25. Ice Cube-Death Certificate

Ice Cube’s sophomore release has the rapper going into more extremes in the way he deals with a lot of social and political themes. The song also has Cube firing back at the disses made by his former bandmates in N.W.A. while taking shots at the commercialism of hip-hop in True to the Game. Songs like Steady Mobbin’, Black Korea, and I Wanna Kill Sam features an intensity that hasn’t been replicated in Cube’s later albums. Yet, it’s a record that is truly confrontational without any kind of compromise that is Cube at his finest.

24. Primus-Sailing the Seas of Cheese

Primus’ sophomore album shows a more refined sound to the band’s quirky, funk-based rock sound. Led by the country drawling vocals of Les Claypool, Primus is a band that is truly bringing something that was lacking in rock. The musicianship between Claypool, guitarist Larry LaLonde, and drummer Tim Alexander is really shown on this record in singles like Jerry Was a Racecar Driver and Tommy the Cat which showcase the heaviness of their sound. Particularly as it features Claypool’s warbling bass work that is unlike anything out there in rock music.

23. Orbital-S/T

Orbital’s full-length debut represents a change to the world of electronic music to be more than just something to dance to. Featuring an array of acid-house textures and trance-style keyboards, Orbital’s debut is a great record for raves while providing some of the ambient moods that would become prevalent into their later recordings. Tracks like Chime and Belfast are true cuts that will get people in the dance floor and just let the music take them on.

22. Red Hot Chili Peppers-Blood Sugar Sex Magik

Before they became the soft and uninspired band that wants to appeal to the mainstream, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were one of the most exciting bands to come out of the alternative music scene in the 1980s. The band’s fifth studio album with producer Rick Rubin would have the band broaden their funk-rock sound to new heights. With such rocking cuts as its title track, Suck My Kiss, and Give It Away, the band also go into new territory with the exotic Breaking the Girl and the reflective ballad Under the Bridge. Blood Sugar Sex Magik is truly the best album the band has put out as they would never achieve such great heights after this.

21. Slowdive-Just for a Day

One of the great bands of the shoegaze sub-genre, Slowdive brought a wonderful mix of melodic dream pop and ambient to their sound along with evocative vocals of Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell. The guitar work in such songs as Catch the Breeze, Spanish Air, Erik’s Song, and Brighter features a richness that is sorely lacking in a lot of guitar-driven rock. While their subsequent albums would be more refined and daring, this still a phenomenal debut from one of shoegaze’s great bands.

20. Temple of the Dog-S/T

A project formed by Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell with the then-former members of Mother Love Bone in guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament. The Temple of the Dog album isn’t just one of the key pillars of grunge but also a soaring tribute to late Mother Love Bone vocalist Andrew Wood. Featuring then-future Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, then-Soundgarden/future Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron, and an unknown vocalist named Eddie Vedder. This record is truly one of the most rocking but also inspirational albums that really showcases what great 1990s rock music is.

19. Cypress Hill-S/T

The debut album from one of hip-hop’s most popular acts, Cypress Hill brought a new spin to the world of west coast hip-hop by infusing their Latino-based environment as well as troubling lyrics about life in streets. Featuring a sound that is more exotic that a lot of hip-hop records, the dark elements in the music and the songs they talk about showed something that appealed more to a hip-hop audience. Some of the stoner elements of the record made it appealing enough for rockers as it’s definitely one of the best debut albums ever.

18. 2Pac-2Pacalypse Now

The late Tupac Shakur started out as a dancer/rapper for the group Digital Underground until he emerged with his debut album that would mark the arrival of a new voice. 2Pacalypse Now is a record that reflects all of the themes Shakur would explore from social upheaval, the right to bear arms, the hopelessness for a young black man, and teenage pregnancy. With a sound that ranges from being intense and confrontational to more reflective in a song like Brenda’s Got a Baby. It’s the start of what is truly an unparalleled career one of hip-hop’s unsung heroes.

17. The Smashing Pumpkins-Gish

The debut album from one of alternative rock’s key acts would show what the genre was all about and more. While the Smashing Pumpkins were a band that had lots of ambition towards art rock, Gish showed a sound that was really heavy in songs like Siva, Bury Me, Tristessa, and I Am One. Yet, dreamier cuts like Rhinoceros and Window Paine showed a complexity to the band proving that there was a lot to them as it’s a debut album that still holds up to the rest of their catalog.

16. Ice-T-O.G. Original Gangsta

Ice-T’s fourth studio release would be the pinnacle of his career as the gangsta rap legend would go all over the place to express the many themes on the album. From the song M.V.P. where Ice-T pays tribute to some of the best that he likes to the thrash-metal song Body Count where Ice-T would introduce his metal project of the same name. The rapper also delves into the ills of what was going on in South Central Los Angeles as well as the boiling turmoil that was happening. It’s definitely Ice-T at his best in the way he talks about how it is without any compromise.

15. His Name is Alive-Home is In Your Head

The second studio release from the experimental dream-pop band His Name is Alive, Home is In Your Head is definitely a record that pretty much defies description. Featuring the ethereal vocals of Karin Oliver, the record features lot of short, fragmented material that compliments their oblique yet rich sound led by Warren Defever’s exotic guitar playing. It’s a record that isn’t easy to listen to at first but it gains its worth through repeated listens.

14. The Orb-The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld

The debut album from Alex Paterson’s long-running project is among one of the great albums of the electronic music scene. Ranging from ambient cuts to psychedelic-driven trance material, it is definitely an album that really takes on a trip for more than an hour. Featuring such great cuts as Perpetual Dawn, Supernova at the End of the Universe, and the near 19-minute closing cut A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld. It is the kind of record that is definitive for the world of rave culture while having something to chill out to.

13. Soundgarden-Badmotorfinger

Soundgarden’s third full-length studio release gave the band the breakthrough they needed as they would become one of the 1990s premier bands. Thanks to Terry Date’s sonic production, Badmotorfinger is a monstrous album that is filled with lots of power due to the thundering rhythm section of drummer Matt Cameron and bassist Ben Shepherd along with the driving metal riffs of Kim Thayill and Chris Cornell’s wailing vocals. While Soundgarden was tagged with the “grunge” label but there’s more that to Soundgarden as it’s true hard rock at its finest from the opening cut in the frenetic Rusty Cage to intense yet slow-burn closer New Damage.

12. Spacemen 3-Recurring

The fourth and final album of one of the influential bands of the British indie music scene of the 1980s saw the founding members of Peter Kember and Jason Pierce making an album at a time when their relationship has already soured. With the first half devoted to Kember’s more dreamier and melodic-driven sound that includes experiments with electronic music such as the opening track Big City (Everybody I Know Can Be Found Here). The second half from Pierce would show a more soulful yet experimental side that would reflect the material he would do with his band Spiritualized. The record overall is truly mesmerizing as it’s a fond farewell for one of the great indie bands from Britain.

11. Teenage Fanclub-Bandwagonesque

It’s often said that if the legendary 70s power-pop band Big Star ever made another album, it would’ve sounded like this album. While it’s a raucous record by the Scottish quartet, Teenage Fanclub also proves to be a band that can create something that is very catchy and melodic in songs like December and What You Do to Me. Particularly as there’s guitars that sound quite noisy at times while being balanced by the beautiful melodies they created as it’s definitely one of the best power-pop albums ever made.

1991-20: 1991 in Music: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3

1991-Indie: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3 - Pt. 4 - Pt. 5 - Pt. 6

The 50 Best Albums of 1991: 50-26 - 10-2 - Favorite Albums #1

© thevoid99 2011


  1. I forgot so many great albums came from 1991. I had all of these except for His Name is Alive.

    By the way, you should probably change the hotlinks for those album covers, the Primus one in particular...

  2. The His Name is Alive album is really good though it's not a record that is immediate at first listen.

    It wasn't easy finding links to some of these album covers. I thought about copying them but that would've been more headache-inducing.