« Caption Contest | Main | Today's Required Reading »

Best of the 90's Poll Phase 1: Albums

Weapons of Mass Distraction. That's exactly what I need right now. I'm betting that quite a few of you feel the same way. That is why I am unveiling the ASV Best of the 90's Pop Culture Awards. This is all the fault of VH1, which is presenting it's I Love the 90's series starting next week. Here's how it works. Each day I will announce a new category. I'll take nominations all day for that specific category. Eventually, I'll add up the nominees and present a very unscientific poll to come up with the final winners. The categories will be the usual; Best of books, movies, music, video games and whatever else comes to mind. I'll probably do a Worst Of award as well for reach category. I'm open to suggestions. It will pretty much run the same way I ran the video game awards: at my whim. I'm not going to be bothered with breaking down each category into genres. Just don't have the time or patience for that. Besides, who really cares about the best disco album of the decade? We're going to start right here, right now, with albums of the 90's. I already blogged this subject before and you can find my own nominees right here (just scroll down). The nomination process goes like this: Pick your favorite albums from the 90's (no more than three, please) and put them in the comments. You may include commentary if you so desire, which may come in handy at final voting time. Easy enough, right? Let the Nirvana v. Pearl Jam bickering begin. Nominations open until midnight tonight. Tomorrow brings a new category and the best album finalists. Below are some links to get your memory in gear.
Select Best of the 90's Top ten of the 90's In the 90's Important 90's rock albums


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Best of the 90's Poll Phase 1: Albums:

» A parable of VH1-ness from Arguing with signposts...
First, you have a fruit tree. You pick a bushel of fruit off the tree, take them to your friends and family and they really like them. "Wow," they say, "that's sure some good fruit. Where did you come up... [Read More]

» Poll at Michele's from Sheila A-Stray's Redheaded Ramblings
Best albums of the 90s. Poll open until midnight this evening.... [Read More]


Pretty Hate Machine, by Nine Inch Nails

(I checked Amazon, and it said it was from 1989, but I figure that it was the 90s when it got play)

Um, isn't this kind of like choosing the best ice skater in Panama?

Everything Sucks - Descendents
Where Blood and Fire Bring Rest - Zao
Isola - Kent

Core: Stone Temple Pilots
Purple: Stone Temple Pilots

OK Computer-Radiohead
Siamese Dream-Smashing Pumpkins
Chocalate & Cheese-Ween

I can't spell...

I had to put that last one in as an oddball. We all know Nevermind is probably the best. It's only a technicality that keeps the greatest Pixies albums out.

I'm with Ken - ten years of sucky music. I blame Clinton (Bill, not George).

"August and Everything After"--Counting Crows

"OK Computer"--Radiohead

"Bringing Down the Horse"--Wallflowers

I figured it'd be too obvious to jump on the Nirvana/Pearl Jam/Soundgarden train. So I decided to show some love to a few non-grungy but still pretty great albums.

They may not be "masterpieces" to everyone, but I still listen to each of these at least once every week or two.

I second Bringing Down The Horse.

It may be the only album that I actually bought during the 90's, now that I look back.

Eric Clapton - Unplugged.

Automatic For The People by R.E.M.
Whatever and Ever Amen by Ben Folds Five
Mezzanine by Massive Attack

Why? All three are timeless, are my favorites by those bands, and have stood up against anything that's come since.

The Tragically Hip, Fully Completely - 1992
Foo Fighters, (Self Titled) - 1995
Jane's Addiction, Ritual de lo Habitual - 1990

All energy, all the time.

"Best of the 1990's"


"Jumbo Shrimp"
"Rap Music"
"New York Culture"
"Safe Sex"

Talk about your contradictions in terms...

Music fell off the quality chart as soon as grunge came into being.

Nothing beats the 70's some 80's music; 90's doesn't even rate...

TV (Harry)

Radiohead, "The Bends"
Smashing Pumpkins, "Siamese Dreams"
Nine Inch Nails, "Pretty Hate Machine"

(And my vote goes to Pearl Jam's "Ten" in the PJ v. Nirvana debate.)

I third Bringing Down The Horse.

Gordon -- Barenaked Ladies
Bachelor No. 2 -- Aimee Mann

Megadeth - Countdown To Extinction
It was tough to pick just ONE 'Deth CD, but this one narrowly edges Rust In Peace and Cryptic Writings because it's a turning point. The Friedman/Menza/Mustaine/Ellefson lineup had an album and a world tour to gel and bring commercial appeal to thier unique metal sound.
Metallica - Metallica (the "black album") Does this one need any explanation? Classic and unmatched by anyone, particularly any subsequent Metallical releases.
Black 47 - The Fire Of Freedom. A blistering mix of traditional Irish, Regaee, punk, Ska and whatever else they feel like throwing in there.

runner up (because I just can't follow rules!): Rollins Band The End of Silence. Where were you when you first heard this one? It's one of those CD's that you remember where you first heard it. Blistering from beginning to end. It's an absolute classic.

Nirvana - 'Nevermind' 1991

Sonic Youth - 'Dirty' 1992

Beck - 'Mutations' 1998

Sehnsucht - Rammstein
Smash - Offspring
Play - Moby

These are three of a very small number of albums that I can listen to from start to finish and really like just about every song. Kid Rock's Devil Without a Cause is also on that short list, but I don't think it quite matches up with any of these three. Rammstein are a bunch of freaks, but don't let that influence the decision- their music rocks.

Kevin's absolutely right--if I could offer a fourth, it would be BFF's "Whatever and Ever, Amen."

And kudos to Hei Lun for doing the brave thing and offering up BNL. I'll admit it, I enjoy them quite a bit.

'TEN' by Peal Jam

'Siamese Dream' by Smashing Pumpkins

'Enema of the State by Blink-182

Chemical Brothers--Dig Your Own Hole
Sugar--Copper Blue
Pearl Jam--Ten

Notice no Nirvana. So, Michele, you need to have a "Most Overrated Album" poll. Nevermind gets my nomination.

I'm with Summers.
That whole damned decade just gave me a case of the heebies.

Nirvana - 'Nevermind'
Pearl Jam - 'Ten'
Harry Connick Jr - 'We are in Love'

The Trainspotting Soundtrack Album
Blur-The Great Escape

That's about it

Buddy Guy - Damn Right I've Got The Blues (Belongs in every record collection. No exceptions)

Drivin n Cryin - Fly Me Courageous

John Hiatt - Perfectly Good Guitar

Soul Asylum - Grave Dancers Union

Willie Nile ~ Beautiful Wreck of the World (1999 - maybe not really in the spirit of a 90's album though)

Dan Baird - Love Songs for the Hearing Impaired

I'll add a vote for The Wallflowers too.

Radiohead, "OK Computer"
Garbage, "Version 2.0"
Tori Amos, "Under the Pink"

Ah, the 1990s. The decade where I gave up on rock music and found country. Seriously. I looked at all of the "Best of" links you provided and didn't find one album I liked. The 70's and '80 were great, but rock died in 1989 as best I can tell. Country, on the other hand, began to get good at about the same time. So here's my list (in no particular order):

Garth Brooks - No Fences
Garth Brooks - Ropin' the Wind
Faith Hill - Faith
Blackhawk - Blackhawk
Dixie Chicks - Wide Open Spaces
Alan Jackson - Don't Rock the Jukebox
Alan Jackson - A Lot About Livin' (and a Little 'bout Love)
Tim McGraw - Everywhere
Restless Heart - Big Iron Horses
Hal Ketchum - Past the Point of Rescue
Brooks and Dunn - Brand New Man
Brooks and Dunn - Hard Workin' Man

I'm sure I've missed a few, but that's a good start.

Nirvana: Never Mind

Foo Fighters: Color and the Shape

Radiohead: OK Computer

October Road - James Taylor

Nevermind, Nirvana
Play, Moby
Time Out of Mind, Bob Dylan
Dig Me Out, Sleater-Kinney
Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, Lucinda Williams
August and Everything After, Counting Crows
The Ghost of Tom Joad, Bruce Springsteen
Automatic for the People, REM
Ragged Glory, Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Ray of Light, Madonna

1. Guns n' Roses, Use Your Illusion I & II
2. R.E.M., Out of Time
3. Throwing Muses, University

Albums superior to the above in quality but not notable for being typical of any '90s genre:

Leonard Cohen, The Future
Dar Williams, Mortal City
Roger Waters, Amused to Death
Tori Amos, Under the Pink
The Murmurs
Neil Young, Sleeps With Angels

OK, I feel kinda guilty about it, but I have to add Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morrisette on the grounds that I got months of enjoyment out of almost every song on the thing before they became annoying.

Yeah, for my second, I'm going to have to go with Tori Amos, "Under the Pink"

My top ten albums of the 90s, in alpahbetical order. Mostly "indie" rock ;-)

Beastie Boys - Check Your Head
Beck - Odelay
Dismemberment Plant - Emergency & I
Faith No More - Angel Dust
Pavement - Slanted and Enchanted
Portishead - Dummy
R.E.M. - Automatic For The People
Sonic Youth - Goo
Ween - Pure Guava
Weezer - Pinkerton

A few runner ups/almost made its :

The Cure - Wish
Jane's Addiction - Ritual de lo Habitual
Morrissey - Bona Drag
Pearl Jam - Vs
Pulp - This is Hardcore

There you have it...

Sugar "Copper Blue"
Liz Phair "Exile in Guysville"
Archers of Loaf "Vee Vee"
Sleater Kinney "Dig Me Out"
Lucinda Williams "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road"

Siamese Dream.................Smashing Pumpkins
Moon Safari.......................Air
The Bends.........................Radiohead
Dog Man Star....................Suede
The Angel Pool..................The Autumns
Different Class..................Pulp
Mezzanine........................Massive Attack
Heaven Or Las Vegas.......Cocteau Twins

In no particular order (except the 1st one which towers above), here are a random top 5.

Electro Shock Blues -- Eels
I've Seen Everything -- Trashcan Sinatras
Reading, Writing and Arithmetic -- Sundays
Wish -- The Cure
Cheating At Solitaire -- Mike Ness

Thankfull I'm not the only one to post country albums :) I pretty much gave up listening to Top 40 stuff in the 90s and almost exclusively listened to Country.

Ropin the Wind.....Garth Brooks
Here In the Real World.....Alan Jackson
All I Want.........Tim McGraw
Blue.....LeAnn Rimes

1) Foo Fighters, The Colour and the Shape
2) Alice in Chains, Dirt
3) Portishead, Dummy

"Facelift" and "MTV Unplugged"- Alice in Chains
"Superunknown" - Soundgarden

Pearl Jam - Ten. "vs" was also a very good album, but Ten was more consistent.
U2 - Achtung Baby. Can't believe I'm the only one to nominate this album, which stands up with the band's best stuff.
Gin Blossoms - New Miserable Experience.

1. OK Computer--Radiohead
2. Good Dog, Bad Dog--Over The Rhine
3. Achtung Baby--U2

I also am with Summers. The 90s sucked as no decade has ever sucked.

Also I think Ritual de lo Habitual came out in the 80s.

Nothing's Shocking came out in 1988, but according to All Music Guide, RdlH came out Aug 21, 1990 :)

Alice in Chains - Jar of Flies
Pearl Jam - Ten
Robert Miles - Dreamland

To show that I can count, and to remain within the rules, I won't list the other half-dozen that I considered. But don't think I wasn't tempted.


First of all, Nevermind is not the best album of all time. I will love Nirvana til I die, and seeing them in concert is one of my treasured memories. But as a fan of all music, its not the best. It IS the most IMPORTANT album of the 90s, for reasons I won't rehash, one of the most important albums ever. The thing about it is, it was so big there was this backlash, "Oh its overrated." Sorry people, somethings really are that good. Nobody says, 'Shakespeare, man he's so overrated' or 'inventing the wheel, that aint no thing.'

Second, the perennial comparing of Nirvana and Pearl Jam is like comparing apples and Volkswagens. (Why not 'apples and oranges' you ask? Ever think about it? Apples and oranges have a lot in common: fruit, round, skin, seeds, aroma. Now apples and Volkswagens...)
Anyway, Nirvana is grunge, a somewhat lo-fi punk inspired genre with groups like Tad, Mudhoney, Sonic Youth. Less radio friendly, less guitar driven. Pearl Jam is rock, only they happened to come from the seattle area too. Just look at their roots. green river, mother love bone, they sound like -- rush or something. They just should not be compared cause they wore flannel you know? Besides, Kurt was a true artist and Eddie Vedder is a ... singer.

OK, five people have nominated The Colour and the Shape album from Foo Fighters. You people are high. Buy a better CD player! The self titled album kicks Shape's ass!

Don't make me kill some underprivileged people to prove my point! I'm a Republican, and I'll do it!

1. Sarah McLachlan: Fumbling Towards Ecstasy -- the best album by the best singer/songwriter of the last 20 years. Visceral and lilting, angelic and carnal, a modern masterpiece.

2. Toad the Wet Sprocket: PS A Retrospective -- OK it only came out in 1999 but I include it to signify the body of Toad's work throughout the 1990s. The greatest pop band since the Beatles, the most under-rated band ever.

3. Counting Crows: August and Everything After -- is it pop? Piano rock? Whatever it is, it's a brilliant debut and a brilliant album.

Honorable mention: Offspring/Smash and Green Day/Dookie, two pop-punk albums that are not only fantastic in their own right but helped pave the way for a slew of others.

For "Best of 90's Pop Culture: Music" I have to echo a couple of previous mentions.

1) Nirvana - Nevermind. Never mind that it's not necessarily their best work, this album rang in a new era and changed what Pop Culture in the 90's was planning to be. You just can not talk about the 90's without talking about this album.

2) Garth Brooks - No Fences. Again, this album changed whatever plans Pop Culture had for itself. Before GB came along, Country music was quietly riding off into the sunset. Garth single-handedly put it back on the map. I don't care how hardcore you are, how anti-country music you are, how city-fied you are...you know who Garth Brooks is on sight.

3) Wayne's World Soundtrack - Come on...Bohemian Rhapsody, need I say more?

Alice in Chains, Dirt

Crash Test Dummies, God Shuffled His Feet

Sarah McLachlan, Surfacing

Core, Stone Temple Pilots

Vulgar Display of Power, Pantera

Pearl Jam - Ten
Matthew Sweet - Girlfriend
Mother Love Bone - Apple

and just to confuse all of you even more,

Counting Crows - August and Everything After

Those are four CDs I can pop into the CD player, put on rotation, and not get annoyed (before too long, anyway).

Three, Twelve, what's a four times the limit among friends? Sorry Michele, next time I'll read more carefully. :-) No Fences, Faith, and Everywhere are my top three. Laura - thanks for not leaving me alone in this strange group of rock people. Who is this Nirvana person anyway? (grin, duck, run).

Really the very best was Jeff Buckley's Grace. There was also Crowded House's pinacle of pop: Woodface.

Smashing Pumpkins - Gish
Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral
PJ Harvey - Rid of Me

- and about a dozen others, some of which were already nominated.

Metallica Metallica
Chemical Wedding Bruce Dickinson
Metropolis Part II Dream Theater

Overall it was a pretty rubbish decade for music.

Mother Love Bone: Apple did not come out in the 90s, but the late (very) 80s.

"Running with Scissors" -- Weird Al Yankovic

Pearl Jam - Ten
Achtung Baby - U2
Metallica - Black Album

I think Metallica easily rates as one of the best albums of the 90's, but Pearl Jam and U2 rate higher as far as "ownership" of the 90's.

And because I can...

Rush - Counterparts (come on, did you really think we could talk music and I wouldn't bring up Rush?)

aw, dammit. Okay, my fifth nomination is "Grace" by Buckley. You really should have asked for Top Fives, anyway.

And Mike J., bravo for the Weird Al nomination. Geeks of the world, unite!

REM-Automatic For The People
Sugar-Copper Blue
Dave Matthews Band-Under The Table And Dreaming
Ben Folds Five-Whatever And Ever Amen
Chris Isaak-Forever Blue
Blink 182-Enema Of The State
Green Day-Dookie

69 Love Songs - Magnetic Fields
I think it came out in 1999.

And I agree that Metallica stopped making music worth listening to after Justice.

Bikini Kill - Pussy Whipped
The Donnas - The Donnas
Spice Girls - Spice World