Saturday, September 10, 2011

20 From 20 Years Ago

I have to admit that 1991 has been on my mind a lot lately. I suppose that is to be expected since I graduated from High School in '91 and my twentieth class reunion just came and went (I didn’t attend btw). It’s fitting that it has been the music of that 12 month period that has been gathering so much attention as of late because, when I think about my life if ’91, it is the music that first crosses my mind. My God, what a pivotal year it was and I was the perfect age for everything that was gathering steam that year from Grunge to Trip-Hop to Shoegazing. Looking back at the recordings that were released in 1991 I am dumbfounded by just how many great albums came out (the list below is just a small sample) and how much my memories of the period are wrapped up in them. I must admit that it has only been recently that I started listening again to so much of the music that obsessed me in that period because I have so many mixed-emotions about my life in the early nineties. I have happily found though that reintroducing myself to a lot of the music again from that important year has proved a rather healing and celebratory experience for me.

I made mix-tapes (remember those) constantly in 1991 for friends, girlfriends and myself. I was John Cusack in High Fidelity struggling for the perfect mix that would somehow communicate whatever particular message I was trying to get across. Thinking back to those tapes and looking at all of the amazing albums released that year brought a flood of memories back. Everything from sitting in sixth period science class passing notes with my long-lost (and much-missed) friend Allyson in that final run of high school, to driving to the first Lollapalooza in Chicago with my friends Brian, Dave and Bryan, to entering college with all of the confusion and expectations that any 18 should have…and through it all was the music and the year that my time finally, for a brief period, caught up with my tastes.

So to pay tribute to a pivotal year in my life, now twenty years gone, I thought I would present my personal picks for the twenty best albums of 1991 and my favorite songs off them. Hopefully some of these titles might bring back some memories for my readers here as well, as I know many of us are about the same age and might be going through the same sort of nostalgia. Perhaps some of my musical heroes from the early nineties might have failed me (turning up dead before their time or, worse, on reality TV shows) but, to paraphrase Iggy Pop, at least when they played their music they played it like nothing else mattered...and, for a time, nothing did.

1. My Bloody Valentine: Loveless

Favorite Track: "Sometimes"

2. Massive Attack: Blue Lines

Favorite Track: "Safe From Harm"

3. Hole: Pretty on the Inside

Favorite Track: "Pretty on the Inside"

4. Throwing Muses: The Real Ramona

Favorite Track: "Hook in her Head"

5. Pixies: Trompe le Monde

Favorite Track: "Letter to Memphis"

6. The Smashing Pumpkins: Gish

Favorite Track: "I'm Going Crazy"

7. Pearl Jam: Ten

Favorite Track: "Black"

8. Dinosaur Jr.: Green Mind

Favorite Track: "I Live for that Look"

9. Fugazi: Steady Diet of Nothing

Favorite Track: "Exit Only"

10. Lydia Lunch and Rowland S. Howard: Shotgun Wedding

Favorite Track: "Endless Fall"

11. Feelies: Time for a Witness

Favorite Track: "What She Said"

12. Guns n' Roses: Use Your Illusion 1+2 (I have always considered this a Double Album)

Favorite Track: "Coma"

13. Nirvana: Nevermind

Favorite Track: Territorial Pissings"

14. Blur: Leisure

Favorite Track: "There's No Other Way"

15. Elvis Costello: Mighty Like a Rose

Favorite Track: "Couldn't Call It Unexpected No. 4"

16. Diamanda Galas: Plague Mass

Favorite Track: "Confessional (Give Me Sodomy Or Give Me Death)"

17. Butthole Surfers: Pioughd

Favorite Track: "Hurdy Gurdy Man"

18. B.A.D. II: The Globe

Favorite Track: "Innocent Child"

19. Pigface: GUB

Favorite Track: "Weightless"

20. Mudhoney: Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge

Favorite Track: "Let it Slide"


Iren said...

I also graduated in 1991.... and I have been thinking about the music of the time a lot lately... my best friend and I have a music blog ( )and have been writing about the music of that time... but for me it was all about: Queensryche - Empire, King's X - Faith, Hope, Love and Drivin'n'Cryin- Fly Me Courageous. The last of which I think holds up the best these days. I find it interesting that Black is the song from Ten that everyone recalls, it's maybe my fave from that album as well..

Oh, and my High School isn't into reunions for each class, we tend to have a whole school reunion every 5 years or so, I have gone to a few and missed a few, but I think it's a much better way to do that dance.

Mr. Centaur said...

A bit late here but just wanted to say I really enjoyed this Jeremy. I love the first seven on your list, haven't heard the rest yet. Gish, Pretty on the Inside and The Real Ramona are pretty unbeatable IMO. I had my 10-year school reunion recently (like you I didn't go), and I've always felt a bit at the mercy of the raw sense-associations and emotional memory certain music can tap into – MBV's Sometimes is probably my favourite song ever, yet I haven't been able to listen to it since 2006. I would feel skinless. But hey, maybe in another 10 years huh? :) Keep it up.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks to you both for the comments and thoughts. I really appreciate it!