1991 was a vintage year for rock music. So to celebrate we’ve done a gallery of our favourite albums from those 12 months.
Why?: A seminal grunge-pop album that smashed rock in the face and made everyone sit up and take notice.
Who: Primal Scream
Why?: Where rock met acid house and rave hands exploded into the mainstream.
Who: The Jesus Lizard What: ‘Goat’ Why?: Stripped back, produced by Steve Albini and described by one reviewer as “a party in hell”.
Who: Ice Cube
What: ‘Death Certificate’
Why?: Mad, bad and dangerous. Cube continued the bleak rage of NWA and did it in fine, million selling form.
Who: Massive Attack
What: ‘Blue Lines’
Why?: The Bristol collective simultaneously changed the face of mainstream British music and created something timeless in ‘Unfinished Sympathy’.
Why?: Immediate and melodic and immediate, Metallica saw in the new decade by stripping back their sound and creating something universal at the same time.
Who:My Bloody Valentine
Why?: Two years in the making and almost bankrupting Creation in the process, ‘Loveless’ was their masterpiece both voluptuous yet ethereal.
What ‘Achtung Baby’
Why?: Reinvented via melodic distortion, an almost unrecognisable new ‘U2’ was emotionally open as they were anthemic.
Who:A Tribe Called Quest
What: ‘The Low End Theory’
Why?: A key album in the alt. hip hop scene that put jazz and hip hop in touching distance to each other.
Who: Throwing Muses
What: ‘The Real Ramona’
Why? Their surrealism was matched by their wicked pop sensibilies, catchy as it was manic.
Who: The Orb
What: ‘The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Underworld’
Why? It became the defining soundtrack to the ambient house scene. Clever samples met synths nestled in a hazy glow, the highlight of which was ‘Little Fluffy Clouds’.
Who: Talk Talk
What: ‘Laughing Stock’
Why? Complex with nods to modern jazz, its influence today (hello Wild Beasts!) cannot be under-estimated with its steering of the delicately intense waters.
Who: Smashing Pumpkins
Why? Pre-dating ‘Nevermind’ by a few months, Corgan and co mixed metal riffs with confessional lyrics. It was devestating on tracks like ‘I Am One’ and ‘Rhinoceros’ and heralded where grunge would go next.
Why?: Scary and lurching, this post-rock essential also primed the ‘quiet/loud’ dynamic for the coming decade.
Why? Lo-fi finery before Pavement, this contained naive melodies aplenty with Lou Barlow, Eric Gaffney, and Jason Loewenstein all jostling for emo-indie pole position.
Who: Red Hot Chilli Peppers
What: ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’
Why? Rick Rubin got RHCP’s machismo to blend with their more gentle sides, the result was an album that would define their career.
What: ‘Apocalypse 91’
Why? Relentlessly dark, they dropped the more urban side for more rock-hip hop sounds and the result was harder and faster than anything they’d done before.
Who: Prince & The New Power Generation
What: ‘Diamonds And Pearls’
Why? Prince started the new decade with a new backing band and a funky, jazzy hip hop referencing sound. It was also his most determinedly pop for years.
What: ‘Trompe Le Monde’
Why? A crushing, rocktacular goodbye from the increasingly tense quartet. Also contained one of their loveliest tunes (‘Motorway To Roswell’).
Who: Pearl Jam
Why? Metallic and closer to ‘classic rock’ than ‘grunge’ this was an anthemic, accesible, affecting and game-changing album from the ‘anti-Nirvana’.