Forty '90s Albums That Still Hold Up

U2-Achtung-Baby.jpg
The cover of U2's Achtung Baby

Steve Wiley is Up on the Sun's resident Record Store Geek. He shares stories of great music and wacky characters from his continuing 27 years in Valley record stores and the always zany music biz.

At the end of July, I wrote about Five Reasons I Don't Write About New Music, the most important of which is that new music hasn't stood the test of time. I prefer to talk about the stuff that holds up.

Over the years, I've given you all recommendations on jazz, blues, soul, even Brazilian music. I explained which decade of music was the best ('67-'77), and I even made a list of great albums from the worst decade (The '80s, duh).

But I haven't gotten a chance to lead you through the '90s ... and whether you like it or not, my aging brothers and sisters, that decade started almost 25 years ago! No time like the present, so here's 40 Albums From the '90s That Still Hold Up.

I realize tackling the '90s is going to get me in trouble. It's a high and mighty decade.

All you have to do is go through a couple of the critics' lists to see how many wonder bands made their mark in the 20th century's final decade. The kind of bands critics love. The kind that a huge majority of record geeks idolize.

You know, the alternative bands.

What is now the most ironic term in music was the only moniker that many of the music elitists of the '90s would allow in their ears.

The "A" word, and a good deal of the bands it represented, annoyed me then, and it annoys me now.

Look at the Pitchfork list. See what I mean? It's exactly what I was talking about when I mentioned that critics are full of shit.

Holy alterna-pretentious hilarity, Batman. They all look like that. One of them says they love a band, and they all join in.

So yes, I want to do this.

Now, I'm not saying that I don't like any of the albums on the "Best of the '90s" critics' list, nor am I questioning whether many of my "non-faves" deserve to be on the list.

But it doesn't matter, because no matter how you slice it, the '90s were loaded with quality music.

The list is huge.

FORTY? Never in my life have a made such a monster.

As it is, I had to whittle the list down.

As you'll see, its way off the beaten path of the general critics list. It doesn't include many of the all-time classics (Nevermind, 10, OK Computer, Under the Table and Dreaming), simply because they were worn out so bad with in-store and radio play that I don't listen to them anymore.

I'm not talking about then. I'm talking about now.

And I'm asking the ultimate questions about the creative art of the album: 1) Do they still hold up two decades later? and 2) Do I still listen to them now, or did they wear-out or grow dated?

Let's take a look.


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23 comments
Daniel Morales
Daniel Morales

I see you Philistines didn't include Alice in Chains Dirt. I would not be surprised to know you had Hansen posters in your room in the 90s.

Aaron Abbott
Aaron Abbott

Sonic Youth-Dirty? Pixies-Trompe le Monde?

Anindya Sengupta
Anindya Sengupta

Yeah, looks like now and then the writer lived on Mars in the 90s and missed a lot of stuff happening on planet earth!

Anindya Sengupta
Anindya Sengupta

Pearl Jam - Ten, Radiohead - The Bends, Ok Computer, RHCP - Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Jeff Buckley- Grace, Belle & Sebastian - If You're Feeling Sinister, Nirvana - Nevermind, Oasis- What's the Story, Morning Glory?, Pink Floyd - The Division Bell, Sting - Ten Summoners' Tale, REM - Automatic for the People....

Joshua Griego
Joshua Griego

Yeah it's a matter of experience and opinion. I will probably find great shit I've never even heard of before. Still, my opinion and past thoughts are what will make up what the 'great' albums of the 90s were.

freewheelingvagabond
freewheelingvagabond

Without Nevermind, Ok Computer, The Bends, Ten- this list surely sucks. "If You're Feeling Sinister" by Belle and Sebastian should have been on the list. Another glaring omission is 'Grace' by Jeff Buckley. "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" by RHCP, "What's the Story Morning Glory"- Oasis, "The Division Bell"- Pink Floyd, "Automatic for the People"- REM, "Ten Summoners' Tales"- all these should have been on the list!

Michael James
Michael James

Buddy Guy - Damn Right, I've Got The Blues Gary Hoey - Animal Instinct John Lee Hooker - Don't Look Back Alligator Records released a lot of great blues albums in the 90s. If you (Steve Wiley) like John Mellencamp - Whenever We Wanted, check out Cuttin Heads (2001). Mellencamp seems to always come out with a great album every 10 years. He's primed for another good one soon. He's releasing a new one this month, hopefully it'll be good. Aldo Nova - Blood On The Bricks Patty Smyth - Patty Smyth Henry Lee Summer - Slamdunk

Thomas Comber
Thomas Comber

It's such a rough time to try to pull the best of out of because there was so much going on. My list would have included tool, catherine wheel, and a few of the artists and albums listed.

Leandro Baldenegro
Leandro Baldenegro

Soundgarden SUPER UNKNOWN?... pearl jam TEN, VITALOGY?...this list is as bad as the lists that rag of a magazine Rolling Stone makes...who are these "writers and critics?"

Claudia McCormack
Claudia McCormack

The writer clearly did not live in the same 90's the rest of us did!

d_lane503
d_lane503

Clearly this list was compiled by a straight person who is also deaf.

Jason Mills
Jason Mills

That is one of the shittiest things to ever come out of The New Times

toddharp
toddharp

The 90's were sure a lot different for you. Ive never owned one of those records. And I never will. 

FRONTERA
FRONTERA

U2 live  Slane Castle  anytime. Petty and Stevie Nicks live, yes. Ireland forever ,Wales one day longer...

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