Thursday, 7 October 2004

Top 10 Years For Album Releases - #8

And here we are at position number 8 in the top 10 best years for album releases.

So far we have had a year from the noughties, and a year from the sixties. Quite a range of years there. So now it's time to choose a year where I spent most of my teen years, the nineties.

#8: 1995

Ahh...1995. It was Year 11 at school, the year of the work requirement. A stepping stone to the big one, Year 12. This was probably around the time when I started buying more CDs. Not religiously, but my CD purchasing certainly started increasing. So a lot of the albums I will discuss here have a lot of nostalgic value (because I have fond memories of first hearing them), but many still get heavy rotation to this date.

In tradition of the previous posts, I will start with the masterpieces of the year. Firstly, a little known band called Radiohead released their 2nd album, the brilliant The bends this year. Now I didn't actually buy this album in 1995, so I won't pretend that I have a really cool story about how I felt when it first came out, because I don't. I don't think I actually bought it until OK Computer had already come out in 1997. My brother had purchased it before me (possibly in 1996 when I was in Year 12), and I remember borrowing it off him and listening to it in my room, marvelling at the brilliance of tracks like Street spirit. In fact, I remember falling asleep on the floor of my room one afternoon (after school) to that particular song. Such a masterpiece of a song, and what a brilliant way to end a superb album. I also remember thinking that Black star was a really underrated song, and I still do to this date. Nobody seems to mention that song when discussing the merits of The bends.

Another superb album that was released in 1995 was Different class by Sheffield band Pulp. Now I distinctly remember when and where I purchased this album - it was in first year uni (1997) at the CD shop in the Monash University Union Building. I remember getting it for about $16 (at the same time as Portishead's self-titled album which had just been released if I remember correctly). I also remember what prompted me to buy this album - Pulp had included a song of theirs called Mile end on the Trainspotting soundtrack, and it was a really cool song with a great vibe. I had to know more about this band. This was before the days of easy Internet access and the All Music Guide (well at least before I knew about it) so often the best you could do is see an album by a band you've heard of in the shop, assume it's their definitive album and take a risk. Which is what I did with Different class (not that $16 was much of a risk).

Anyway, I'm rambling now. I'd also heard Common people on the 1995 Triple J Hottest 100 which I'd previously purchased during the year, and enjoyed it. I'd also heard of a song called Disco 2000 but hadn't actually heard it. Different class was a first listen album for me, I absolutely loved it on the first listen. And while most albums that sound pretty amazing on the first listen don't have the same shelf life as "growers", I still love Different class to this day. It has the perfect combination of fantastic melodies and sleazy lyrics. It's the epitome of the Britpop movement (1995 was already deep into this movement), and it's still in my top 50 albums of all time.

Now on to some other great albums from 1995:
  • Alanis Morisette - Jagged little pill (I remember being absolutely blown about by the quality of this album when it came out. Then it was killed by overplay on the radio. Which is sad, because it's still a pretty great album, even if she doesn't know the meaning of Ironic)
  • The Whitlams - Undeniably the Whitlams (the last Whitlams album with the late Stevie Plunder on it, and it's a brilliant, ramshackle, fun album. Sounds like a completely different band to what they have become now. Although Eternal nightcap is probably their masterpiece, this one comes pretty bloody close, and it's certainly a lot more fun)
  • Elliott Smith - Elliott Smith (this list is starting to get pretty sombre. This was the 2nd album from the late singer/songwriter. Very low-fi, but who cares? The quality of the songwriting shines through on these brilliant tracks. Production would have only killed them. This contains one of my absolute favourite Elliott Smith tracks, Good to go)
  • You Am I - Hi fi way (many consider this to be their best album. It's up there, but Hourly daily still takes the cake for me. Still, many absolutely brilliant cuts on this album, including Purple sneakers which was also on the aforementioned Triple J Hottest 100 compilation)
  • Ben Harper - Fight for your mind (I didn't get into Ben Harper until a lot later, and this was actually the first album of his that I bought. A very diverse, excellent album including the classic stoner anthem Burn one down)
  • Blur - The great escape (very similar in style to its predecessor Parklife, but less consistent in my opinion. With their smash hit Country house included on it, this would be their last album in the Britpop style. They would start to reinvent themselves on their eponymous 1997 album)
  • Ben Folds Five - Ben Folds Five (includes the classic mid-90's alternative hit Underground)
  • Teenage Fanclub - Grand prix (13 nuggets of melodic beauty from these legendary Glaswegians. I'll glass ya if you don't listen to this album, laddy!)
  • Wilco - Being there (their most ambitious album, this double album still hints at their country past but also points the way towards their more experimental future)
  • Tricky - Maxinquaye (did I also mention that trip-hop was pretty big this year? have grown up in the mid-90's. Oh wait...I did)
Some other notable moments of 1995:
  • Presidents of the United States of America released their self-titled album of novelty songs like Lump. It was a big hit, but who honestly listens to this album still? They still (barely) had another album in them before they broke up.
  • Bjork released her second album Post this year, which had one of her biggest hits on it, It's all so quiet. Of course is was a completely unrepresentative song in her discography, nothing like anything else she has ever released.
  • Michael Jackson, who was still recovering from the child abuse allegations (phase #1), released his album HIStory. It was a double disc set encompassing one disc of greatest hits (to remind people how good he once was), and another disc of fairly decent tracks that were nevertheless in a completely different ballpark to the songs on the first disc.
  • Supergrass released their immature debut album I should coco. This contained their breakthrough hit Alright, as well as Caught by the fuzz. They would mature heaps by their second album In it for the money, but their debut album epitomised the sound of Britpop in the mid-90's.
  • The Verve released their 2nd album A northern soul. They broke up after this album, and reunited for their swansong, the brilliant Urban hymns, before breaking up again.
And that's 1995 for you. Quite an interesting range of music, lots of the music from that era brings back lots of memories for me, and it will always hold a special place in my heart. sweet.


  1. Reading over your entry, 1995 was a good year for music. In particular, as you mentioned, The Bends is still such an awesome piece of work (just so beautiful start to finish) and Elliot Smith blows me away with its fragility and emotion-laden lyrics. My favourite album of Mr Smith's. Such a pity that I didn't get into those albums until much later.

    Incidently, Portishead didn't come out till 1997 (though Dummy was out in '94). Thanks AMG. :)

    '95 was also the first year that I _really_ started getting into music, beginning with my first ever CD purchase (I was a very late bloomer). Roachford's Permanent Shade of Blue is the oldest (by purchase date) CD to grace my humble collection. And you were right to ignore it in your honorable mentions of '95. :)

    A couple of others you missed:

    Silverchair's Frogstomp. A huge debut by the Aussie youngsters. An album of pure unadulterated (what a double pun!) energy. Sure, it ain't a well produced classic but hey! The lads were only 16 and they went on to deliver on the promises this album gave.

    Apparently, according to the AMG bible, Live's Throwing Copper came out in '94. I was pretty sure that the Australian release was '95 - I could be wrong, it's happend (once) before. Regardless, this album was H U G E (at least for me) in '95. I distinctly remember listening to it for hours on end and, although I don't come back to it often these days, it holds a special place in my heart as the first album I, well, went spastic over.

    Finally, even though it's a soundtrack, it's gotta be noted that the score for Forest Gump was released in '95. Everyone seemed to buy it. Calm yourself lest you go into sudden apoplexy Jiggy, I know it's a soundtrack but it _was_ pretty big.

    Oh, Merril Bainbridge's single Mouth was all over the radio in '95 too. She followed up that wonderfully catchy jingle (OMG! It's in my brain! Get it ooouuutt!!!!!) with that other song...what was it called? Oh wait a minute. No, she didn't do shit ever again. Thank god.

    Ahh '95. What year have you got lined up next Jiggy? :)

  2. Has anyone else noticed that Elliot Smith's self titled album has lyrics for all the songs except Cupids Trick (choice cut incidently!)?


  3. Thanks for the reply Matty :-)

    I must say that I am surprised when you say that Elliott Smith's self titled 2nd album is your favourite. I always picked you as more of an Either/or man myself. But maybe his self-titled album has recently grown on you. It is a superb album. I just feel so sorry for anyone who is only just getting into him now because his CDs are so damn expensive at the moment (sorry Mark!).

    And regarding Portishead's self-titled 2nd album, I know that it was released in 1997, that's why I mentioned that I bought it in 1997, in first year uni. I mentioned it just because I'd bought it at the same time as Pulp's Different Class, which _was_ released in 1995, but I only purchased in 1997. Confused yet?

    Regarding your comments on other albums released in '95 - I haven't actually heard Frogstomp in its entirety. I obviously know Tomorrow and Israel's Son and it's amazing how far they have come with their latest album Diorama. Daniel Johns definitely has the whole Brian Wilson thing happening at the moment (even more considering his work with Paul Mac in The Disassociatives).

    Regarding Live's Throwing Copper, I am pretty sure it would have come out in '94 here as well, but I may be wrong. That was one of the earliest non Billy Joel albums I purchased, and I still love it to this date and consider it a five star album. Anyway since I'm pretty sure this _is_ a '94 album, I will discuss it no further in this posting :-)

    Good call on the Forrest Gump soundtrack - truly a brilliant collection of songs, and an absolutely beautiful score written by Alan Silvestri. Obviously all of the songs were written and recorded in the decades spanned in the movie itself, but it's one of the few soundtracks which transcends the fact that it's a compilation, so I'll allow it in the discussions of '94. Some other notable superb soundtrack compilations include Pulp Fiction from '94 and Trainspotting from '96. Anyway, I have many memories of listening to the Forrest Gump soundtrack - some notable choice cuts include Fortunate Son by CCR, California Dreamin' by the Mammas and the Pappas (Michelle Phillips from this band is HOT!), Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd, One The Road Again by Willie Nelson and Against The Wind by Bob Seger.

    And I'll forget that you mentioned Merril Bainbridge's song. I had wiped that out of my memory. I was happy. You were happy. EVERYONE was happy! Except for you. Oh yeah, and Dean (who also likes some of her stuff).

  4. Okay Matty, just read your Cupid's Trick posting, and sorry to say but you still seem to get your Elliott Smith albums mixed up. Cupid's Trick is off Either/or. Either/or was released in 1997, and was not the Elliott Smith album I mentioned in this post. In this post, I was mentioning his self-titled album from 1995.

  5. Man I feel dumb. My only excuse was that it was late and I was tired when I posted. You are of course right and I somehow mixed up Elliot Smith and Either/Or. The latter is brilliant and my favourite, the former is only brilliant. :)

  6. Hey, you guys leave Merril Bainbridge alone. I did actually like that album, and she does have a great voice. She did release a second album, it was Ok, not as good as the first, and I heard that she released an awful song in 2004. But I did like Mouth at the time, still do actually.

    In terms of your comments about Jagged Little Pill, I agree with you completely. It is a shame that FM radio choose to bombard us with the same songs over and over again for a month or two, and then move on to the next song to destroy. Mostly it doesn't matter because they are ordinary songs to start with, but it is kind of sad when it is a great song that they are spoiling.

    And don't bag the Presidents, that album was huge at the time, and its still a bit of fun for novelty value.


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