Top 10 Albums of 1991
With bands like Pearl Jam, U2, Metallica and Nirvana all releasing landmark albums in 1991, the year is one of the most important ones in rock 'n' roll history. Two decades later, the influence of these discs remains as strong as ever. In celebration of the 20th anniversary of one of the biggest years in music, and as part of 'Time Travel' Week, here's Ultimate Classic Rock's list of the 10 Best 1991 Rock Albums:
Chris Cornell joined forces with his Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron and future Pearl Jam members Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard and Mike McCready for this tribute to Mother Love Bone singer Andrew Wood, who died of a heroin overdose. Eddie Vedder, who then was auditioning for Pearl Jam, contributed backing vocals on the disc and traded verses with Cornell on 'Hunger Strike.'
Following two modestly received albums in the '80s, Soundgarden broke through with 'Badmotorfinger' on the heels of the grunge craze in the early '90s. The album, powered by Chris Cornell's massive vocals and the band's heavy brand of guitar rock, features the singles 'Outshined' and 'Rusty Cage.' After breaking up in 1997, the band reunited last year.
With the eyes of the rock world focused on Seattle at the time, Ozzy Osbourne was still able to make his mark with this 1991 album, 'No More Tears.' Ozzy's guitarist Zakk Wylde co-wrote the music on every track, while Motörhead's Lemmy Kilmister contributed lyrics to four songs. Highlights on 'Tears' include the title track and the hit ballad 'Mama, I'm Coming Home.'
R.E.M. went from college-radio sweethearts to international superstars with 'Out of Time,' thanks in most part to its hit single 'Losing My Religion.' The song rocketed to No. 1 on Billboard's Modern and Mainstream Rock charts, while it's artsy video garnered heavy rotation on MTV. 'Time' also featured one of R.E.M.'s most maligned tunes -- the poppy 'Shiny Happy People.'
'Blood Sugar Sex Magik' helped propel Red Hot Chili Peppers from funk-rock fringe artists to worldwide wonders. The disc features the rock hits 'Give It Away' and 'Suck My Kiss' alongside the crossover smash 'Under the Bridge.' The band's subsequent popularity proved too much for guitarist John Frusciante, who quit the band in 1992 before returning in '98.
With Matt Sorum replacing Steven Adler on drums and the addition of keyboardist Dizzy Reed, Guns N' Roses explored classical instrumentation and more melodic sounds on two of the top albums of 1991, the simultaneously released albums 'Use Your Illusion I' and 'II.' While Axl Rose & Co. still got down and dirty, ballads 'Don't Cry,' 'November Rain' and 'Estranged' were among the biggest hits on the discs.
Pearl Jam's debut disc, 'Ten,' received little fanfare when it was released in 1991. But with songs like 'Alive,' 'Even Flow' and 'Jeremy,' the album's success could not be denied. The disc blew up in '92, and the band became a touring powerhouse. The album's title was inspired by the jersey number of NBA player Mookie Blaylock, for whom the group was originally named.
After dominating the '80s with epics like 'War' and 'The Joshua Tree,' Irish rockers U2 took a dramatic turn on their 1991 album, 'Achtung Baby.' The band introduced dance beats and electronic music to its sound with tunes like 'The Fly' and 'Mysterious Ways.' But it is the beautiful ballad 'One' that has become the disc's signature song and a staple of the group's legendary live shows.
By the time the '90s rolled around, Metallica were already kings of the thrash-metal scene. With 'Metallica' (aka The Black Album), the band became mainstream-rock royalty. The combination of heavy-metal riffs and melodic verses on tracks like 'Enter Sandman,' 'Nothing Else Matters' and 'Sad But True' has helped the disc move 15 million copies in the United States alone.
Nirvana's 'Nevermind' is not just the top disc of 1991, it's the most influential album of the decade. At a time when boy bands and hair-metal acts were dominating the airwaves, Kurt Cobain & Co. changed the face of music. With anthems like 'Smells Like Teen Spirit,' 'Come As You Are' and 'Lithium,' the disc took the world by storm and started a musical revolution in the process.