Monday, September 12, 2011

Some Notable 20th Anniversaries Are Coming Up

1991 was a good year for music. A lot of great albums from some amazing bands were released. A few incredible debuts were also released during. Some of those albums are receiving the 20th anniversary deluxe edition treatment. Some of them have already received it (notably, Pearl Jam’s Ten). And then there are some albums that deserve the extended treatment, but probably will not see any anniversary edition released (Red Hot Chili Peppers anyone?).

1991 also brought with it some sad moments in rock and roll history. Both Eric Carr and Freddie Mercury passed away that year. I remember hearing the news for each of their deaths and being devastated. They passed away on the same day, and seeing how they were both members of my favorite bands at the time, it was a horrendous week for me as a fan. To lose the drummer of Kiss was hard enough, but then to find out that Freddie Mercury passed away, well, it was almost more than I could bear. I actually walked around in a depressive state for a while.

1991 was also the year that one of my favorite bands, The Dave Matthews Band, formed and embarked on their first tour. This would become a tradition that lasted until just this year, when the band decided they needed a break from touring and instead headlined a series of festivals (dubbed the DMB Caravan) across the USA.

1991 brought with it a lot of albums that would be added to my seriously growing record collection. By that year, my collection was well in the hundreds, and I couldn’t stop adding to it. Some of the notable records that I bought that year are listed below. All of these albums are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year.

N.W.A. – Niggaz4Life
I bought N.W.A.’s Niggaz4Life shortly after its release and promptly played the hell out of it for the rest of the year. As a senior in high school, I was just starting to really appreciate rap music, hip-hop, and other types of music outside of the hard rock/heavy metal mainstream. Although I was a fan of Public Enemy (and still am), it was N.W.A. that really spoke to me and showed me what hip-hop could be when taken to the level of gangsta rap. I loved Niggaz4Life in a way that I had not loved many albums in a long time. Even to this day, I can remember almost all of the lyrics on the record. And while I don’t necessarily agree with or praise the misogyny and violence that it contained, back when I was 18, it was a pure love affair.

U2 – Achtung Baby
With the release of Achtung Baby, U2 not only provided us with one of their greatest albums ever, they also provided us with one of their greatest songs ever---“One.” This song was a ballad to end all ballads, and to this day, it can still be played numerous times in a row without getting old. However, that wasn’t the only gem on U2’s magnificent Acthung Baby. “The Fly,” “Mysterious Ways,” and the rarely praised (but equally fantastic) “So Cruel” all were included on Achtung Baby. Other than The Joshua Tree, this may have been the band’s greatest release to that point.

Guns N Roses – Use Your Illusion I & II
The epitome of rock and roll was released in 1991 when Guns N Roses gave the world two massive albums --- Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II. These records were nothing short of perfection, and rivaled albums that even the late greats (like Led Zeppelin) had ever released in their career. If Appetite For Destruction put Guns N Roses on the map, it was Use Your Illusion I & II that launched the band into the untouchable superstardom ionosphere. Never had a band’s album release been so highly anticipated. And when the records came out, they did not disappoint. Each album is a specially crafted work of art and a brilliant beauty. If Guns N Roses hadn’t imploded shortly after the Use Your Illusion Tour, there’s no telling what additional magic they could have made. Thankfully, they left us with two of the greatest rock records to ever be recorded.

Nirvana – Nevermind
Often referred to as the band that marched in the grunge explosion (and executed the death of hair metal at the same time) Nirvana released their major label debut, Nevermind in 1991. Nevermind was an album unlike any other. Never before had we heard such magnificent noise emulating from a rock band. From "Smells Like Teen Spirit" to "In Bloom," Nirvana changed the entire culture of music with one small record. The world of rock and roll would never be the same.

Pearl Jam – Ten
One of my favorite bands unleashed their debut album on the world, and ironically enough, I wasn’t even sure I was going to buy it. I felt that Pearl Jam was an overhyped band trying to cash in on the success of Nirvana. Back in 1991 I was more of a Nirvana fan than a Pearl Jam fan, which seems rather comical to me now. When I finally did purchase a copy of Ten, I wasn’t all that impressed. Sure, “Alive” was a great song, and “Black” was a ballad to be remembered forever, but overall, I wasn’t certain about the disc. Thankfully I gave it a chance, and over time it became one of my favorite albums as Pearl Jam became one of my favorite bands.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik
Sell outs. That’s how many of their fans labeled the Red Hot Chili Peppers when they released one of their best albums ever (and their greatest album up until that point in their career), Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik. It wasn’t necessarily the band’s fault that their new sound caught on with such a vengeance. The Red Hot Chili Peppers were searching for a new vibe to take their music to the next level. With producer Rick Rubin, they found that sound and shortly after the record’s release, scores of new fans found the band. With stellar tracks like “Under The Bridge,” “Suck My Kiss” and the title track, The Red Hot Chili Peppers showed the world that they were poised to be the next great thing in rock music.

R.E.M. – Out Of Time
When R.E.M. released their massive single, “Losing My Religion,” it was obvious that this album had to be part of my collection. Here was a song that you couldn’t get away from in 1991. If the radio was turned on, “Losing My Religion” was heard. If MTV was tuned in, “Losing My Religion” was heard. It was a monster hit for a magnificent band and it was the heart to one of their greatest albums. While Document may have brought the band a lot of new fans, and Crush led them into the pop revolution, it was Out Of Time that showed the depth of the band. R.E.M. was more than just a pop hit producing group--- they were a band with soul. That message was delivered on Out Of Time.

Metallica – Metallica (The Black Album)
“Enter Sandman.” “Sad But True.” “Unforgiven.” The list of great songs goes on and on. In 1991, Metallica released an album that went on to become one of the greatest selling records of all time. While the hardcore Metallica fans were somewhat disappointed by the commercialism of the album, there can be no denying how sensational the black album is. Even after all these years, the album holds up and could conquer most records that are being released today. If there is any album that deserves a 20th anniversary edition, it is Metallica’s self-titled disc.

20 years later, the memories of the music are still going strong. There haven’t been many years like 1991 in regards to so much elite music being released. What was your favorite album of 1991? What albums do you think need the 20th anniversary treatment?

Comments are open. Feel free to post some.

1 comment:

They keep calling me said...

VH1 is airing an hour long Nirvana concert on Friday Sept 23rd at 11 p.m. EST/PST