The Throwdown Lookback: Great Albums of 1991

1991's Top Albums

POSTING BY BIG ANGRY

A lot of hubbub has been given this year over the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind.  While I believe that, yes, some acknowledgement should be given to that album, there were several solid rock releases that came out in 1991. Ok, I’ll admit it, I’m not a huge Nirvana fan.  Their brand of repackaged punk and purposeful sloppiness did not impress me as much of the rest of world.  Though, I will also admit, Nevermind was a needed game changer in a stale music industry. However, arguing about Nirvana isn’t what I’m here to do. My purpose is to bring to light many other good rock releases of that year.  The year 1991 was, as I think back, a very good year in rock music. So without further ado, here’s a few good Throwdown throwbacks for 1991.

  • Ozzy Osbourne, No More Tears: This is, by far, one of my favorite Ozzy albums of all time.  Yes, Randy Rhoades and “Blizzard of Oz” is a masterpiece, but Zakk Wilde and “No More Tears” is right up there.  The title track starts with an amazingly simple yet addicting bass line that leads us into some nice, crunchy guitar work. Other than the title track, this album features several solid songs, including the creepy, and actually very topical, given the Penn State fiasco, “Mr. Tinkertrain”, “Mama, I’m Coming Home,” Hellraiser”, and many others.  We also see songwriting collaborations with Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister and future Alice in Chains bassist, Mike Inez. Get it, it’s damn good.
  • U2, Achtung Baby:  In the 1980’s, U2 was a great band, but one that took themselves WAAAAAAYYY too seriously. On this release, we are privy to an energetic, fun version of U2 that I find rather enjoyable.  There’s nothing wrong with serious songwriting, but after so long it gets tedious and boring, and U2 avoided that with this release.  Some of the more popular songs on this release include “Mysterious Ways”, “One”, “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses”, and JB’s favorite, “The Fly.”
  • Metallica, s/t: Otherwise known as “The Black Album,” this was the one that brought Metallica fully to the mainstream.  Not that Metallica really needed it, they are one of the few bands to ever go platinum with little to no airplay and simple word of mouth. Of course, many would argue that The Black Album was the beginning of the end for Metallica, but that’s neither her nor there.  Ok, it’s not a thrash classic, but it is their last solid rock album. If you haven’t heard anything from this album, then you obviously have been living under a rock.  Don’t judge this band by “Lulu” or “Saint Anger,” but by this self-titled album or their earlier work.
  • Guns ‘n Roses: Use Your Illusion 1 &2: As much as we want to credit grunge with making multiple piercings, tattoos, and raw playing more acceptable in the public eye, GnR is the band that truly brought all of that, and more, to the forefront.  While these two albums boast a more mature version of the gritty, blues infused band we saw with “Appetite for Destruction,” there are many great songs on these releases. Yeah, there’s a few fillers on these, but overall the songs are very well written, angry, and Axl even calls out several people he’s pissed at in the song “Get in the Ring”; something many artists shy away from like the plague. Use Your Illusion even features guest appearances including Alice Cooper and the late Blind Mellon singer Shannon Hoon.  Yes, these albums are best known for the 7 minute “November Rain” and 11 minute “Estranged.”  However, the best of the epic songs is “Coma,” a 10 minute opus that features no repeating chorus and is a great rocker.  Other great songs on these include the classic “Civil War,” “Pretty Tied Up”, “Lost in the Garden of Eden”, and several others.
  • Pearl Jam, 10: Yes, this was the other, and in my opinion, superior game changer that emerged in 1991.  Again, if you don’t know any of the songs off of this one, then you truly are living under a rock. Having been used to the higher register singing that predominated rock at that time, it took yours truly a bit to adjust to Eddie Vedder’s lower tone. However, once I gave this album a good listen, it was easy to see that this is the music that would lead us into the future.  If you’re a youngin’ and haven’t heard it, check it out.  Yeah, it may sound like a lot of stuff you hear now, but back then, like Nirvana, it was totally new.
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blood Sugar Sex Magik: Wow, if you thought the aforementioned bands sounded different in 1991, the RHCP were an entity unto themselves.  Part funk, part rock, part…I don’t know what, the RHCP provided a groove that some of you younger readers may have been conceived to.  Again, the RHCP nowadays are commercial darlings, but in their prime, they were a funky, groove-infused force to be reckoned with.  Hey, I don’t begrudge the RHCP for becoming more pop oriented, hell we all have to pay our bills somehow. Even in their more commercial vein, you can still hear that old edge. However, if you wanna sit back and reminisce on their less commercial days, this album will surely give you that.  Though, to be fair, this album is the beginning of their commercial foray boasting the hits “Under the Bridge” and “Breaking the Girl.”
  • Skid Row, Slave to the Grind: Huh? What? I know what you’re asking, “Big Angry, are you serious? How can you give props to a ‘hair band’ like Skid Row?” Simple, my fair reader, this is a good rock album and is the most underrated album released that year.  Once many bands achieve the level of commercial success that Skid Row did, they continue to make more and more commercial-oriented, and subsequently musically inferior releases.  For an example on that, just look at the travesty that the now musically defunct Nickelback has become.  Yes, Skid Row could have taken that route, and some may believe the probably should have.  However, they didn’t, they went heavier. Want proof? Just listen to the title track, it’s balls out, fast, double-bass drum heavy.  Slave to the Grind is an album that fuses metal, punk, and a couple of very well written mid-tempo songs that, combined, give the listener a very strong package.  Besides for the title track, other strong tracks on this piece includes “Quicksand Jesus”, “Riot Act, “Mudkicker”, “In a Darkened Room,” and the wonderfully written “Get the Fuck Out;” a song JB and I used to quote from quite frequently. If I had to point out any weaknesses on this album, it would be “Wasted Time,” their one attempt to follow-up the success of the power ballad “I Remember You.”  Overall, this is a very strong release that deserves much more credit than it has been given.

Well, that about wraps up Big Angry’s Throwdown lowdown on the releases of 1991.  Yeah, I’m sure I have left a few out. If I have, use the comment section to enlighten us. Maybe you disagree, that’s fine too. Your wrong, but that’s fine, I’m ok with it. Opinions vary, you’re entitled to yours, and I mine. I’m not here to argue…this time. My goal is to enlighten you on some good releases that also deserve their time in the limelight as they celebrate two decades of solid music.

This is Big Angry giving you a Throwdown ending on a musical high note, Jim Gillette style (and if any of you get that reference, you should get a medal).

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3 Comments

Filed under Mishmosh Ranting, Music

3 responses to “The Throwdown Lookback: Great Albums of 1991

  1. Think you’re pretty spot on with most of this, Angry. No More Tears introduced me to Zakk Wylde, the guy changed the way I looked at and played guitar. And I don’t have to tell you what a Slave to the Grind fan I am. One of the most underrated albums of ’91. I’ve ran into so many people that talk about Quicksand Jesus off that release. Although, I’m more of a Livin’ on a Chain Gang guy. 🙂

  2. Perfect list and nice to hear that someone else doesn;t think Nevermind was as grounbreaking as the rest of the world. If he doesn’t die they are no where close to where they are today. Dave Grohl is the superstar from Nirvana!

    • Chip, I couldn’t agree with you more about Grohl. Definitely the true talent there and the staying power of the Foo Fighters is proof of that. Glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks!

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