1996 was a real doozy. Throughout the year we saw a whole record collection worth of music released which changed the landscape of the British and international music scene drastically. From Beck’s funky-nerd-rapping on ‘Odelay’, to Suede’s mammoth ‘Coming Up’ and Tupac’s final album ‘All Eyez On Me’, ’96 was a corker. Take a look at the 20 albums turning 20 in 2016 and prepare to feel very, very old.
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - ‘Murder Ballads’
Release Date: 5th February
What We Said Then: "'Murder Ballads' dispenses with niceties like character, in-depth motivation, and - sometimes - retribution, instead setting on a mission to collect ten of the sickest songs ever recorded and make your stomach turn with its grisly malevolence."
The Bluetones - ‘Expecting To Fly’
Release Date: 12th February
What We Said Then: "Understandably, then, "Expecting To Fly" is a record that conducts itself with all moves between a deceptively casual shuffle and an occasionally rightful preen, with all moods between the celebration of the closing "Time And Again" and the bitterly lovelorn "Slight Return"."
2Pac - 'All Eyez On Me'
Release Date: 13th February
What We Said Then: "'All Eyez On Me' is an immense sewing of indignation and provocation, set to a brilliantly varied range of G-funk grooves"
Fugees - 'The Score'
Release Date: 20th February
What We Said Then: "The Fugees were fresh - their critical stance on the black community that had ostracised them and their rallying call against American society upset both camps. Which on balance, was a good thing"
Fun Lovin' Criminals - 'Come Find Yourself'
Release Date: 20th February
What We Said Then: "the honey-buttered soul of 'Methadonia' drips off the stylus, punk rock theory can be told to sod right odd. This stuff is smooth."
Neutral Milk Hotel - 'On Avery Island'
Release Date: 26th March
What We Said Then: "Post-psychedelic, post-folk, post-grunge, post pretty much everything, think Butthole Surfers if they’d grown up listening to nothing but Four Volts. More fuzz than a teddy bear and 10 times cooler to leave lying about when Sarah from philosophy is coming round."
Shed Seven - 'A Maximum High'
Release Date: 1st April
What We Said Then: "Indeed, parts of it are good enough to pass as someone else's second album: chiefly, the record The Stone Roses should have made instead of 'Second Coming'."
Ocean Colour Scene - 'Moseley Shoals'
Release Date: 8th April
What We Said Then: "there's plenty to be admired on 'Mosely Shoals', their follow-up to '92's House-Of-Love-gone-slightly-wonky eponymous debut. The musicianship, especially Craddock's fluid guitar, is immaculate"
Rage Against The Machine - 'Evil Empire'
Release Date: 16th April
What We Said Then: "The few exceptions come near the start of the album the electronically-charged 'People Of The Sun', where Tom's guitar cares enough to think, and 'Vietnow' (clever wording, cheers) where jarring, jerky neurotica is allowed to penetrate the relentless single-minded onslaught."
Orbital - ‘In Sides’
Release Date: 29th April
What We Said Then: “'In Sides' is the best of Orbital thus far. It refines their previous tricks further taking them into the realm of what now feels dangerously close to perfection, while also standing tall and utterly distinct from both its contemporaries and historic predecessors.”
Super Furry Animals - 'Fuzzy Logic'
Release Date: 20th May
What We Said Then: "In classic style, 'Fuzzy Logic' closes with the smashingly cheesy 'For Now And Ever', wherein Gruff howls, "We'll be together 'til the end" and the punters hold their SFA scarves aloft and weep a particularly tearful finale."
Manic Street Preachers - 'Everything Must Go'
Release Date: 20th May
What We Said Then: "No other group makes music that sounds so much like the one final, valedictory salute to everything, and much of 'Everything Must Go' sweeps as if it should accompany the closing MSP titles as our heroes ride off into the sunset."
Soundgraden - 'Down On The Upside'
Release Date: 21st May
What We Said Then: "When Soundgarden get experimental on us, they can be fleetingly engaging, as on the Baby Bird style lo-fi of 'Applebite', and the Stipeian surrealism of 'Switch Opens'."
Beck - 'Odelay'
Release Date: 18th June
What We Said Then: "With 'Odelay', Beck has re-enabled the notion of partying while the ship goes down. To gauge the magnitude of such a feat we need only regard the sleeve photograph of a bathroom rug Fosbury Flopping over a high bar(!). Genius means never having to think too hard."
Nas - 'It Was Written'
Release Date: 2nd July
What We Said Then: "Over a series of stark, almost austere backing tracks, Nas neat, considered lyrics treat the violence that surrounds him with a mixture of remorse, resignation and ebullience."
Placebo - ‘Placebo’
Release Date: 16th July
What We Said Then: “this is an all too rare pop record with intentions far beyond the drab reaction of vintage ‘60s moments. Instead, our drag-addicted frontman attempts to make our lives complete with brutal lesson in the value of gloom’n’tunes.”
A Tribe Called Quest - 'Beats, Rhymes and Life'
Release Date: 30th July
What We Said Then: "revealing hip-hop's hidden hypocrisy one minute, and knocking out friendly grooves for the discerning bongaholic the next. It's by turns oppressive, startling, hilarious and zonked-out at a Racial Bonding barbecue in Brooklyn."
Suede - 'Coming Up'
Release Date: 2nd September
What We Said Then: "'Coming Up' serves as concrete proof that Suede are back form their self-imposed exile as big and brash as ever and thank Christ for that. We've missed them terribly. And while the party's still raging of course, everything's fine and dandy"
Kula Shaker - ‘K’
Release Date: 16th September
What We Said Then: "Kula Shaker have the guts, the gumption and the imagination to dare to have a vision beyond dancing on your head with half a pound of pharmaceuticals up your backside."
Weezer - Pinkerton
Release Date: 24th September
What We Said Then: "by the time the affecting acoustic lament 'Butterfly' wafts in like Big Star at a wildlife protection meeting, Pinkerton starts feeling like a truly moving album."
Belle & Sebastian - Tigermilk
Release Date: 6 Jun
Belle and Sebastian self-released just 1000 copies of their glorious debut in the summer of 1996, not believing it would sell out. Featuring such gems as 'The State I Am In', 'My Wandering Days Are Over' and 'Expectations', there was surely no doubt that this album would live in the hearts of many for years to come.