20 years ago, the world was a very different place. Clinton and Blair came into office. Princess Diana died. We cloned a sheep! It was a time of change, upheaval and innovation, and 1997's music certainly reflected that. Game-changing dance records, legacy-cementing classics, endless innovation and the mainstream end of Britpop were the flavour of the year, and in 2017 these revered albums will turn 20 years old. Time to feel old.
Release Date: 20 January 1997
Singles: 'Da Funk', 'Around The World', 'Burnin'' 'Revolution 909'
What we said at the time: "Still, this is a mighty mash-up of a debut which radically redefines France's pop credentials. And Daft Punk probably make a tasty quiche too."
2Blur - 'Blur'
Release Date: 10 February 1997
Singles: ‘Beetlebum’, ‘Song 2’, ‘On Your Own’, ‘M.O.R’
What we said at the time:: “New Blur is about confusion, about what they feel and so it is about scuffed edges, new influences; the same incredible talent for songwriting but twisted into uncomfortable shapes.”
3Pavement - 'Brighten The Corners'
Release Date: 11 February 1997
Singles: ‘Stereo’, ‘Shady Lane’
What we said at the time: "Only trouble is, for too much of the time during ‘Brighten…’ anyone who isn’t a fully paid-up member of the lo-fi lounge club is left shivering out in the cold”
4Mansun - 'Grey-Lantern'
Release Date: 17 February 1997
Singles: ‘Egg Shaped Fred’, ‘Stripper Vicar’, ‘Wide Open Space’, ‘She Makes My Nose Bleed’
What we said at the time: “What we have here is music for an unrealistically massive film script that verges on the awesome with almost every fondled fret.”
5Elliott Smith - 'Either Or'
Release Date: 25 February 1997
Singles: ‘Speed Trials’, ‘Ballad Of Big Nothing’
What we said at the time: “You'll never know the definitive meaning of these songs, but that's perfectly fine, since you can always improvise in this rich place. It's dreamy and extreme: 'Either/Or' has no half measures.”
6Nick Cave - 'The Boatman's Call'
Release Date: 3 March, 1997
Singles: ‘Into My Arms’, ‘(Are You) The One That I've Been Waiting For?’
What we said at the time: “That such barren personal recollections are so moving is in part due to Cave's magnificent lyrics, riddled with comic misanthropy and New Gospel humanity, but also to their starkly beautiful accompaniments.”
7Ben Folds Five - 'Whatever & Ever Amen'
Ben Fold Five - Whatever & Ever Amen
Release Date: 18 March 1997
Singles: ‘Battle Of Who could Care Less’, ‘Kate’, ‘One Angry Dwarf and 200 Sullen Faces’
What we said at the time: “The thing that stays with you, though, throughout ‘Whatever…’ is the impression of Ben as maybe being just a little too smug for our own good, a feeling which isn’t helped by a final, secret track where someone anonymously yells, “Ben folds is a f**in asshole!” to a chorus of cheers.”
8Notorious BIG - ‘Life After Death’
Release Date: 25 March 1997
Singles: ‘Hypnotize’, ‘Mo Money Mo Problems’, ‘Sky’s The Limit’
What we said at the time:“The man called Christopher Wallace is dead. Poverty made him and riches killed him. His sick creation, The Notorious BIG, is however very much alive in these grooves as a malevolent presence and a shit-talking evil spirit. Let both rest in peace.”
9Chemical Brothers - ‘Dig Your Own Hole’
Release Date: 7 April 1997
Singles: ‘Where Do I Begin’, ‘Block Rocking Beats’, ‘Elektrobank’
What we said at the time: “Dig Your Own Hole is the fully-honed full-on block rocking cortex-hammering take-no-prisoners real deal, the album whose party omnipotence will only be matched in ’97 by The Prodigy’s tortuously awaited third excursion.”
10Supergrass - 'In It For The Money'
Release Date: 21 April 1997
Singles: ‘Going Out’, ‘Richard III’, ‘Sun Hits The Sky’
What we said at the time: “Fundamentally, ‘In It For The Money’ is more fun than watching a wombat in a washing machine.”
11Foo Fighters - 'Colour and Shape'
Release Date: 20 May 1997
Singles: ‘Monkey Wrench’, ‘Everlong’, ‘My Hero’, ‘Walking After You’
12Radiohead - 'OK Computer'
Release Date: 21 May 1997
Singles: ‘Paranoid Android’, ‘Karma Police’, ‘Lucky’, ‘No Surprises’
What we said at the time: “Truly, this is one of the greatest albums of living memory - and the one that distances Radiohead from their peers by an interstellar mile.”
13Wu Tang Clan - ‘Wu Tang Forever’
Release Date: 3 June 1997
Singles: ‘Triumph’, ‘It’s Yourz’, ‘Reunited’
What we said at the time: “Wu-Tang have created new channels for hip-hop: when each member having only one name threatens to restrict their style, they invent new ones”
14Spiritualized - 'Ladies And Gentlemen'
Release Date: 16 June 1997
Singles: ‘Electricity’, ‘I Think I'm in Love’, ‘Come Together’, ‘The Abbey Road EP’
What we said at the time:: “it is, quite simply, a seismic tour de force”
15Prodigy - 'Fat Of The Land'
Release Date: 30 June 1997
Singles: ‘Firestarter’, ‘Breathe’, ‘Smack My Bitch Up’
What we said at the time: “As righteous as Rage Against The Machine, as disturbed as Marilyn Manson and as rabid as Discharge, ‘Fat…’ will have all manner of people scrambling to declare it as the first block rockin’ post-Oasis amyl-techno-punk album. Which is precisely what it is.”
16Roni Size and Reprazent - 'New Forms'
Release Date: 30 June 1997
Singles: 'Brown Paper Bag', 'Heroes'
What we said at the time: "It's like Ella Fitzgerald making out with Sun Ra to produce a prodigy which could only truly be described as, you got it, a "New Form" of life. So high."
17Primal Scream - ‘Vanishing Point’
Release Date: 7 July 1997
What we said at the time: “Vanishing Point’ is a landmark for Primal Scream. It finds them all but abandoning their classic-rock shtick and discovering what Gillespie described in NME recently as the band’s real voice.”
18Bentley Rhythm Ace - 'Bentley Rhythm Ace'
Release Date: 12 May 1997
Singles: 'Bentleys Gonna Sort You Out!', 'Run on the Spot'
19Oasis - 'Be Here Now'
Oasis' 'Be Here Now' was released in 1997
Release Date: 21 August 1997
Singles: ‘D’You Know What I Mean?’, ‘Stand By Me’, ‘All Around The World’
What we said at the time: “Because ‘Be Here Now’, the third Oasis album, is one of the daftest records ever made. Like, on a scale of one to comical, this really is Terry F-wit climbing into the cage to stroke the furry tigers”
20Super Furry Animals - 'Radiator'
Release Date: 25 August 1997
Singles: ‘Hermann ♥'s Pauline’, ‘The International Language of Screaming’, ‘"Play It Cool’
What we said at the time: “Musically fractured and dense when its predecessor was cohesive and blatant, ‘Radiator’ is nothing less than the paranoid comedown to ‘Fuzzy Logic’.”
21Stereophonics - 'Word Gets Around'
Release Date: 25 August 1997
Singles: 'Looks Like Chaplin', 'Local Boy in the Photograph', 'More Life in a Tramps Vest'
What we said at the time: "They’ve taken the apparently parochial, provincial and mundane inside-page headlines in the local paper and turned them into massive, rampant, breathless, bog-eyed anthems."
22Cornershop - 'When I Was'
Release Date: 8 September 1997
Singles: ‘Brimful Of Asha’
What we said at the time: "Accordingly, on ‘When I Was Born… for all the high hopes of their providing a sitar-lead cousin to ‘Screamadelica’, Cornershop become both a cultural curio and an endearing shambles of ideas, as well as being a place to get some skins once the pubs shut.”
23Bjork - 'Homogenic'
Release Date: 21 September 1997
Singles: ‘Jóga’, ‘Bachelorette’, ‘Hunter’, ‘Alarm Call’, ‘All Is Full Of Love’
What we said at the time: “'Homogenic', is probably her most weird, it is also her best. You will not have heard much stuff that sounds like this before”
24The Verve - 'Urban Hymns'
Release Date: 29 September 1997
Singles: ‘Bittersweet Symphony’, ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’, ‘Lucky Man’, ‘Sonnet’
What we said at the time: “But 'Urban Hymns' is a big, big record. Its scope and depth is not too dented by boasting two anthems like 'Bitter Sweet Symphony' and the chart-topping, tear-jerking 'The Drugs Don't Work'.”
25Grandaddy - 'Under The Western Freeway'
Release Date 21 October 1997
Singles: 'Everything Beautiful Is Far Away', 'Laughing Stock', 'Summer Here Kids'
What we said at the time: "Under The Western Freeway” is a strangely excellent album and, in some tiny but profound way, the future of rock.”
26Mogwai - 'Young Team'
Release Date: 27 October 1997
Singles: ‘Yes! I Am a Long Way from Home’
What we said at the time: “They aim high, and frequently hit higher. They have fire and grandeur, melancholy and madness.”
27Finlay Quaye - 'Maverick A Strike'
Release Date: 4 November 1997
Singles: 'Sunday Shining', 'Even After All', 'It's Great When We're Together'
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