July 29, 2021

Nostalgia for the 90s: twelve albums that marked the decade | Sound Sofa

Maybe the nineties were the last great decade of the recording industry. There was still no piracy, the CD had been consolidated as a format causing record sales figures and different movements and styles emerged around the world.

The 1990s started with the grounge explosion in America, where, in addition, the great rock bands that emerged in the late eighties such as Guns and Roses still coexisted. The British response was immediate and in just five years, bands such as The Stone Roses, Oasis, Blur, Pulp o Suede. It was also the time of the triphop with that experimental sound capitalized on by Portishead or Massive Atack. Apart from that, indie emerged in Spain and we are still experiencing the last blows of large groups from other decades. Choosing between this vast range of sounds is difficult. At Sofá Sonoro we have dedicated a few programs to this decade and today we compile some of the ones we liked the most.



Special 100 programs

We celebrate 100 Sofá Sonoro programs by selecting the ten that we liked the most

The nineties began in 1989 with Nirvana’s ‘Beach’ and had its peak with ‘Nevermind’, that same year ‘Ten’, the debut of Pearl Jam, arrived in stores. The history of this album is amazing. Pearl Jam lost her singer and was aimless when a colleague of a colleague came to her aid. That kid, a surfer from San Diego, put his lyrics to the models of the band and nothing Eddie Vedder became the leader of the group. Time has not treated the album very well, the group was never satisfied with its sound, but nevertheless it remains a classic of the nineties and part of the lives of those of us who grew up in that decade convinced that rock was a form of life.

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There are records that are a key part of the history of a band, even of a genre, metal had that moment of eternal glory in the early nineties with the release of Metallica’s black record. The group’s fifth studio album was a strong commitment to access other markets and connect with another audience. For this they had Bob Rock, a producer who knew how to “soften” the sound of the band and who also influenced their way of working. With this album, Metallica entered the regular programming of MTV, but also made a qualitative leap in the rooms in which it played and in the number of radios in which it played. From that moment, Metallica’s career changed forever and opened metal to other audiences.

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After the success of ‘Losing my religion’, REM wanted to reinvent itself. Rather than touring in the heat of their unexpected triumph, the band decided to enter the recording studio in search of a new sound. The result of that commitment to continue evolving was ‘Automatic for the people’, a dark and melancholic album where Michael Stipe reflects on loneliness, death and the passage of time. With that work REM left independent rock behind reaching the mainstream without compromising its integrity, without forcing anything, being what they wanted to be. Despite that sad tone, the album consolidated as a success and its songs, songs like ‘Everybody Hurts’, ‘Man on the Moon’ or ‘Try Not to Breathe’, were classics from that first half of the decade.

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Aerosmith’s last blow was the most memorable. After twenty years of career and a couple of good albums in the late eighties as ‘Pimp’, Steven Tyler’s band emerged strongly in 1993 releasing ‘Get a Grip’, a more commercial album but tremendously addictive and planned around the video clips starring Liv Tyler y Alicia Silverstone. Those funny videos were broadcasted in a loop by the music networks, turning songs like ‘Crazy’, ‘Crying’ or ‘Amazing’ into the soundtrack of those years.

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In the midst of the grunge and hard rock boom, the guys from Counting Crows made a name for themselves with a music with a classic sound and an American soul that seduced millions of people around the world. Counting Crows starred in the dream of every rock band in those years, until they found that sometimes dreams are not what they seem. Despite this, the band signed one of the most memorable debut albums of the nineties, an album full of hymns that showed the yearnings, fears and memories. A great work sometimes buried by the sticky success of ‘Mr Jones’.

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There is no doubt that ‘Nevermind’ was Nirvana’s great album for impact, success and influence, but it is perhaps this acoustic where the band is best perceived. The album, recorded before Cobain’s death and released after it, was described as Kurt’s living funeral. Some of that has both in the intimacy that it recreates and in the scenery that it had in its television broadcast. Few groups have been able to adapt their sound to an acoustic format with as much elegance as Nirvana.

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The Cranberries singer during a performance in the 1990s / Getty

The Cranberries debuted in a big way, their first album was the best-selling debut in Irish history. Nothing compared to what was to come. After a tour of the US, the band recorded this jewel, an album with political denunciation, with a social portrait, stuck to its time and with the immense voice of Dolores ORiordan, who was capable of giving goose bumps with that gasp of ‘Zombie ‘. On this album are the best-known songs of the band and thanks to it they became one of the most important groups in Ireland. Remembering its history, context and songs is a necessary exercise from time to time.

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The international debut of Alanis Morissette was one of the great musical surprises of that decade of the nineties, an album that placed Alanis among the great women of pop and rock, a composer with a fresh vision, a forceful sound of powerful guitars that managed to sell more than 30 million copies of an album full of singles that became part of the soundtrack of those who grew up at that time. ‘Jagged Little Pill’ generó un terremoto musical in a few years that they illuminated the talent of several young women willing to take over the world and introduce a feminine narrative in rock music. Alanis got all of that and also signed one of those timeless songs that continue to sound on radio formulas around the world.

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In 1995 the British band Pulp He punched the table claiming his throne in British pop of the time with the edition of ‘Different Class’, the fifth album by a band that had been working from the second line and that with that work took flight winning awards, selling millions of copies and consolidating as figures of that Britpop who lived their glory days, the British media baptized them after this album as The people’s voice and they were not misguided. Of all the albums that wonderful England we are going to keep this one after dedicating entire programs to remember the careers of Blur and Oasis.

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The band led by Jakob Dylan, son of the eternal Bob Dylan, began his musical career in the early nineties, but in his first steps they had little luck. The great opportunity for the group came in 1996 after years cooking their second installment. With ‘Bringing Down the Horse’ the band stormed the bank with great songs, a retro nod with the producer’s mark T-Bone Burnett and a more than convincing staging. The success of this album confirmed that American rock was still significant in the second half of the nineties: the six million copies that this album sold confirm this.

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They were the last of Britpop and perhaps the best. Success was elusive with The Verve and when it reached them they could no longer hold on. A shame This urban hymns is one of the most interesting records of the second half of the nineties. Songs like ‘Bittersweet Symphony’, ‘Lucky Man’ o ‘The Drugs dont work’ they show Richard Ashcroft’s ability as a lyricist, a unique type and very different from his generation peers. When The Verve managed to triumph, music in the United Kingdom was very different, the times and the focus had changed. Despite this, you cannot understand those years without remembering Ashcroft walking down the street bumping into everyone and with that look of the world he collapses and I don’t care anymore.

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In 1999 Red Hot Chili Peppers returned to the top of rock with ‘Californication’, a huge album that portrayed life in their state and that spoke of fame, drugs, fears and love with sharp lyrics and a powerful sound and at the same time subtle that he connected with millions of people. ‘Californication’ is perhaps not the band’s best album, but it was undoubtedly their most successful work and the album that established them as one of the best alternative rock formations of the late last century and early this one.

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Other outstanding records from the nineties to which we have dedicated programs:

Jeff Buckley and the story of a single album

Radiohead and the blessed condemnation of ‘Creep’

Fatigue, drama and the birth of Belle and Sebastian

Portishead and the miracles of unrepeatable records

Suede and the britpop free verse

The wild irruption of the Black Crowes