I was 11 in 1994. The move from tapes to CD’s was beginning to boom. I know I listened to Counting Crows August and Everything After on tape and then owned all of the CD’s that you’ll read about. This time period was an explosion of incredible music. You want to understand how people developed massive CD collections? See how many amazing groups are in the honorable mention category below my main 4. It’s important to remember that listening to music was WAY different 25 years ago. The radio played the new singles (not different today) and you listened to albums all the way through. You’d buy an album because there was that one song being played on MTV or the radio, and then you’d see if you liked the band. That’s why having a collection of 12 songs that were all listenable is what set apart my selections. See if you agree.
4. Nirvana – Unplugged in New York
This is cheating because this album is a mix of songs from their prior work, along with a few covers, ignore that. Being acoustic, this isn’t a rocking studio album and more of a slower paced, emotion filled, awesome set. Kurt knocks Bowie’s Man Who Sold The World out of the park. Another extraordinary cover is of the Meat Puppets Lake of Fire. Nirvana / Kurt Cobain was that talented that he turned a arguably shitty song into one worth listening to. All Apologies sounds incredible acoustic. Cobain committed suicide about 6 months after this performance. A known heroin addict, it’s odd to think how he performed at this incredible talent level.
3. Green Day – Dookie
Unquestionably Dookie had the biggest songs of this time. Basketcase was probably spun a million times a day and everyone wondered if the whore was a he . When Basketcase got tired they found Longview, Welcome To Paradise (off of Kerplunk), and When I Come Around. When you go deeper into the tracks you rock out to Burnout, Having a Blast, She, and Sassafras Roots. My cousin even showed me the secret track All By Myself if you let the last track spin for a few minutes on silent. Dookie was owned by every teenager in the 90’s and the songs fit the new age rock generation perfectly. What’s funny about Dookie is that it is Green Day’s 3rd album. So this album was a breakthrough to the main stream of a historic career from Billy Joe Armstrong and the band. On this album though, every song was hard hitting and short which gave the adrenaline rush that youth requires.
2. Dave Matthews Band – Under the Table and Dreaming
The debut, 62 minute, album by the Dave Matthews Band. Talk about an intro song that sets the tone within the first 10 seconds of The Best of What’s Around. We move from hard hitting and fast with Green Day to longer, instrumental songs with lyrics that get found when you want to look for them. The sound was pleasant and Dave’s voice was different. This combination, along with a kick ass band, produced songs that are still worth playing today. I frankly don’t know which ones were the singles because their were so many of them. What Would You Say, Ant’s Marching and Satellite I know for certain were monsters. This album seems like a mixture of perfect song after song and sets a standard for how well an album can be produced. A personal note, even though I liked this album, I hated the kids in school who liked “Dave”.
1. Weezer – Weezer (Blue Album)
This is a perfect album. 10 songs. Most songs around 3-4 minutes and an 8 minute closer of a song that flat out never got the credit it was due. Rivers Cuomo, a Harvard drop out, made a combination of lyrics and music that brought people together. My friends in college used Say it Ain’t So as the ultimate drunk sing along. What most people don’t understand about this album are not the songs everyone knows like My Name is Jonas, Buddy Holly, Undone (the Sweater Song) and Say it Ain’t So, the ancillary songs are just as good if not better! Does anyone listen to No One Else, The World Has Turned and Left Me Here or Surf Wax America? They should. Even In the Garage and Holiday are fantastic. This album is 10 of the greatest continuous songs. I put it up with Dark Side of the Moon. Not quite but it’s still a superb piece of work. This album brings me back to 1994 with lyrics that weren’t trashy and songs that are still listenable. I’m sure I’m overhyping this, but show me 1 other album where all 10 songs are good. I’ll wait.
Honorable Mention – Live – Throwing Copper, Offspring – Smash, Hootie & The Blowfish – Cracked Rear View, Boys II Men – II, Cranberries – No Need to Argue, Pearl Jam – Vitalogy, Bush -Sixteen Stone , Stone Temple Pilots – Purple, SoundGarden – Superunknown
You can see that this is not an easy 4 to pick from. I chose the albums that I found to be the ones I liked listening to through. I tried going back and listening to Vitalogy and aside from Better Man, I don’t think it’s very good. Live had Selling the Drama, Lightning Crashes, and I Alone but the other songs are kind of meh. Offspring used the same formula for 14 tracks that are no doubt well done, but I didn’t think as good as the ones I chose. I probably would have put Hootie instead of Nirvana gun to my head. Hold My Hand, Let Her Cry, and Only Wanna Be With You were tracks 2, 3, and 4. ?