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1991 Albums

1991 is arguably the best year for music in the last generation. It’s incredible when you look at the number of quality albums to come from that time. I was going to do albums, songs and one hit wonders all in one day, but the albums themselves are simply too big. So big, I had to leave out such works as Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Blood Sugar sex Magic, Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger, A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory and Mirah Carey’s Emotions (if only because her biggest hits that year came from an album released in 1990), as well as all the dance music that made big impact that year.


#10 R.E.M. (Out of Time) – Though Shiny Happy People and Losing My Religion are probably the only two songs you can name, this was a total quality album, and launched them into the stratosphere

#9 Michael Jackson (Dangerous) – Admittedly a much weaker effort than the previous three smash albums, but even lesser MJ is still a quality thing. Dangerous gave us Black or White, Jam, In the Closet, Remember the Time, and Heal the World.

#8 U2 (Achtung Baby) – The experts like to say Joshua Tree is their best, but for my money it’s right here. The hits included One, Who’s Going to Ride Your Wild Horses, Even Better Than the Real Thing and of course Mysterious Ways, but the whole album from top to bottom is playable.

#7 Boyz II Men (CooleyHighHarmony) – Though the the blockbuster that the second album was, the Boy’z debut was still a sight to behold. Not only did we get MotownPhilly and everyone’s favorite graduation song It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday, but a whole new sound was ushered into the R&B world

#6 Pearl Jam ( Ten) – Back then, even I liked these guys. A transcendant album easily their most accessible and least self-conscious (before Eddie Vedder thought he was the second coming of Thoreau), including the tracks Once, Even Flow, Alive, Black, and of course Jeremy

#5 Metallica (Metellica) – Also known as the Black album. Check it out: Enter Sandman, Sad But True, Wherever I May Roam, Nothing Else Matters and Unforgiven all come from this record. Most bands would kill to have that much quality in an entire career

#4 Nirvana (Nevermind) – I’m not a fan, but even I have to admit the preeminence of this album, perhaps the most important of the decade. Besides giving us Lithium, Come as You Are and the immortal Smells Like Teen Spirit, Nevermind touched off a revolution that was to shake the music world for years to come

#2 (tie) Guns ‘N’ Roses (Use Your Illusion Volumes 1 and 2) – Appetite For Destruction will go down as their classic, but put together this might top it. Volume 1 brought us Live and Let Die, Don’t Cry, and November Rain, while Volume 2 had Civil War, 14 Years, Yesterdays, Knocking on Heaven’s Door, Shotgun Blues, Pretty Tied Up, You Could Be Mine, and Estranged. Imagine if they’d put it all on one album….

and the number one album of 1991....

#1 Garth Brooks (No Fences and Ropin' the Wind) – It is impossible to overestimate the significance of these two albums on the music scene, and virutlaly unprecedented. Though techincally No Fences came out in the last couple of months of 1990, 1991 saw Garth Brooks explode out of the Country Music scene and onto the pop charts. Pretty soon everyone was singing Friends In Low Places, along with Two of a Kind, Wild Horses, Thunder Rolls and Unanswered Prayers. Then, while No Fences was still ruling the charts every single week, Ropin' the Wind came out. While at the time it was unheard of for a Country album to top the pop charts, for two simultaneously…..Rodeo, What’s She Doing Now, Papa Loved Mama, Shameless and The River….in a very real sense this was the biggest happening of the decade, and paved the way for all the Shanias, Dixie Chicks, Kenny Chestnuts Gretchen Wilsons and dozens of others who now take their places in the popular music world.

Up next: Either the big finale I'd planned for the week, or more of 1991