Top 10 Albums of 1998
Boy bands and girl power may have ruled the pop universe in 1998, but classic rockers like John Mellencamp, Eric Clapton and others proved that they were just as vital to music’s big picture. Our list of the Top 10 Albums of 1998 is all about guitars, legacies and cranking it up loud.
Not surprisingly, much of the material found on the debut solo album by Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell could have passed for the band’s material. With the group’s singer, Layne Staley, in a declining state of health, Cantrell had a musical itch to scratch. ‘Boggy Depot’ helped tide over Alice in Chain fans who were hoping they hadn’t heard the last from the band. Sadly, fans wouldn’t hear new music from them until 2009’s ‘Black Gives Way to Blue,’ with William DuVall replacing the late Staley.
With his former Van Halen bandmates reeling from their 1998 bomb ‘III’, David Lee Roth delivered an album that would have made a great Van Halen record had their reunion plans worked out. Taking a page from Van Halen’s early playbook, Roth went over the top with his terrific vocals and great backing band.
New Jersey’s Monster Magnet rose incrementally with their first three albums, but they’d finally achieve some mainstream success with ‘Powertrip.’ Driven by the record’s bombastic first single, ‘Space Lord,’ Monster Magnet brought stoner-rock to the masses — but only for an all-too-brief moment.
John Mellencamp’s self-titled 1998 album marked a new beginning of sorts for the singer-songwriter. He had recently switched record labels for the first time in his career, and delivered solid songs like ‘I’m Not Running Anymore’ and the introspective ‘Your Life Is Now.’ Even though the album didn’t return him to the commercial glory of the previous decade, the growing maturity in Mellencamp’s music was evident.
Eric Clapton had a pretty good 1990s. His lengthy career was given another boost thanks to ’92’s ‘Unplugged,’ and ’94’s ‘From the Cradle’ proved that ol’ Slowhand still had the chops that brought him fame three decades earlier. To keep his growing fan base happy, Clapton delivered the radio-friendly ‘Pilgrim.’
It was almost 20 years in the making, but after their wildly popular reunion tour of 1996-97, all four original members of Kiss got back together in the studio for ‘Psycho Circus.’ Reports of hired guns on the album began to circulate soon after the record’s release, but ether way, it boasted a steady lineup of old-school rockers like ‘Into the Void,’ ‘You Wanted the Best’ and the title track.
After 1998’s reflective and spiritual ‘No Code,’ Pearl Jam got back to guitar-driven basics on their fifth album, ‘Yield.’ And the radio track ‘Do the Evolution’ gave Pearl Jam fans their first music video (albeit an animated one) since 1992’s breakthrough ‘Jeremy.’
‘Walking Into Clarksdale’
After their 1994 album ‘No Quarter’ — on which they resurrected Led Zeppelin classics — Robert Plant and Jimmy Page decided to write an album of new material together. Even if it somewhat lacked the ferocity of the music they made together in the past, ‘Walking Into Clarksdale’ reflected a more mature and diverse palette of sounds by the duo.
After years of seeing his outtakes and unreleased songs show up on pricey bootlegs, Bruce Springsteen finally gave fans a four-disc treasure trove of his terrific leftovers. Encompassing his career from the beginning through 1992’s ‘Human Touch’ and ‘Lucky Town,’ ‘Tracks’ is an essential part of Springsteen’s catalog.