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.
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? Ahh...to have grown up in the mid-90's. Oh wait...I did)
- 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.