50. THE SMASHING PUMPKINS- MELLON COLLIE AND THE INFINITE SADNESS (1995)
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Over long, overblown and self-indulgent? Without a doubt! But this album, the last great one of the Pumpkins’ career, also has a plethora of great moments. If you pared this down to a single disc it could even give “Siamese Dream” a run for its money. 5 singles strong with some awesome deep cuts as well. Over 2 hours and 28 songs. Wow!
49. JEFF BUCKLEY- GRACE (1994)
“Grace” is the only full length release from this honey throated singer songwriter before his pre-mature death from drowning in the Mississippi River at age 30. The son of cult hero singer songwriter, Tim Buckley (also an early death casualty), Jeff Buckley’s voice simply defies logic. He was unafraid of bombast and grand gestures in a time when most of modern alternative rock frowned on both. His haunting cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” has become a modern day classic- even sound tracking the final episode of the hit teen show “The O.C.’
48. PEARL JAM- TEN (1991)
An even bigger record (sales-wise at least) than “Nevermind”, “Ten” was the album that truly took Seattle-based grunge music into the stratosphere in early 1992. This was Pearl Jam’s first and best record with alternative rock staples “Alive”, “Even Flow” and “Jeremy” and plenty of deep album cuts as well. Not a bad song on it really.
47. GUIDED BY VOICES- BEE THOUSAND (1994)
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GBV seem to carry the spirit of the early Who & Kinks more than any other 90’s band. Robert Pollard, Tobin Sprout and company deal out passion and hooks in equal measure-keeping all songs under 3 minutes and most of them under 2. There are many misses on this album but they are over and done with so quickly that you will pay them no mind. And the great songs do more than make up for them.
46. PORTISHEAD- DUMMY (1994)
Massive Attack created trip hop with 1991’s “Blue Lines”, but Bristol, England’s Portishead furthered the genre with this release by substituting MA’s dance oriented grooves with beats that seem to come from an imaginary film noir soundtrack. As experimental is this music is it was also an unexpected hit and catapulted the trip hop genre into the mainstream thereby creating a ton of imitators who would go on to soundtrack many a yuppie dinner party in the late 90’s and early 00’s.
45. OUTKAST- AQUEMINI (1998)
The bridge album between the crazy space funk of ”ATLiens” of 1996 and the world conquering “Stankonia” in the first year of the new century. “Aquemini” is a masterpiece in its own right. The album thrives on diversity as Outkast and production team Organized Noize bring in elements of hard rock, psychedelia, live orchestration and reggae into the hard hitting funky Atlanta rap beats.
44. SLEATER-KINNEY- DIG ME OUT (1997)
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SK’s best album of the 90’s, “Dig Me Out” takes the hard charging feminist punk of the previous year’s “Call the Doctor” to greater levels- more consistency, better and more creative musicianship and more classic songs. All told more bounce per ounce.
43. SOUNDGARDEN- SUPERUNKNOWN (1994)
“Superunkown” is probably the last great grunge album. Soundgarden moves further into the mainstream by writing tighter and more accessible songs than on previous albums. “Spoonman”, “Black Hole Sun” and “Fell on Black Days” were all over the radio airwaves and MTV throughout the whole year and into 1995. And those weren’t even the best songs. Soundgarden would have a few more great songs in them after this, but “Superunknown” was their last great statement. It’s a shame that Chris Cornell’s amazing yowl of a voice has been wasted on such sub-par bands since Soundgarden’s demise.
42. PJ HARVEY- RID OF ME (1993)
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An album just as raw as her “Dry” debut a year earlier, but also better produced (you don’t have to strain your ears to hear the songs!) and all around better. PJ makes her mark here with her best album of one of the best musical legacies of the 90’s/00’s.
41. OASIS- (WHAT’S THE STORY) MORNING GLORY (1995)
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Oasis’s celebratory album of itself! ‘What’s The Story’ explores what happens to a working class band after it becomes successful. Although this theme has certainly been done before in rock n’ roll, Oasis crafts their songs to sound like the best night of your life. And this album certainly did sound track many a night out in the mid 90’s in Britain, America and all over the world.