Saturday, 6 October 2012

The Best Albums of the Nineties

Whilst enjoying a rare burst of sunshine at this year's rain-soaked Green Man festival, several members of the Owl accepted an invitation from a festival friend to birthday drinks in the family field.  Upon arrival at the host's camper van cum party venue, it came as something of a pleasant shock to some of our number to be introduced to none other than Mr Martin Carr.  It seems the chief Boo Radley and latter day Brave Captain is something of a fixture in the Brecon Beacons for the annual folk-fest, and as the Leffe flowed he proved to be sparkling company.  It all proved too much for your correspondent - a long standing follower of the Boos - however, and in greeting Carr with the words "you made the best record of the 90s", I managed to set the tone for much of the afternoon's conversation.  To his eternal credit, Carr responded to my fanish inquisition with grace and (I imagine, I was quite drunk) a good deal of patience, and the afternoon festivities drew to a close with warm glows all round and a promise made to myself that I would never wash my right hand again. A true gent.
The encounter also led to a somewhat heated debate over the remainder of the weekend between myself and other, more cloth-eared, members of the Owl fraternity who, for some inexplicable reason, do not quite share my view that the Boo Radleys magnum opus "Giant Steps" is the masterpiece I  have always believed it to be.  The debate raged and ultimately resulted in the list you are about to peruse below these words, a list which details the VO verdict on the best albums of the 90s.  And although a sea of support for The Flaming Lips and their career-defining long-player "The Soft Bulletin" saw them pip The Boos to the top spot, the top of the list in particular demonstrates that, in amongst the backwards-looking bulk of the Britpop output that dominated the charts in the second half of the 90s, there were some acts who were willing to take risks in the recording studio, in the process producing records as diverse and wildly imaginative as the top 5 listed below.
While the whole list culture has grown somewhat tiresome in recent years, there is still much fun to be had unpicking run-downs such as this one (can there really be people out there who think Oasis got better after 1994? Why no more SFA? etc) and if Mr Carr happens to be reading this, I hope he is able to take some satisfaction from his chart placing.  Like me, though, I suspect he knows that he really should be one place higher.  You can tell me I'm wrong, but I'm not.


1 – The Soft Bulletin - The Flaming Lips
2 – Giant Steps – The Boo Radleys
3 – Screamadelica - Primal Scream
4 – Slanted & Enchanted – Pavement
5 – Radiator - Super Furry Animals
6 – Summerteeth - Wilco
7 – Ladies & Gentlemen, we are Floating in Space - Spiritualized
8 – Vivadixietransmissionsubmarineplot - Sparklehorse
9 – Cardinal - Cardinal
10 – His’N’Hers - Pulp
11 – 41 - Swell
12 – Black Foliage : Animation Music - Olivia Tremor Control
13 – Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain - Pavement
14 – Parklife - Blur
15 – Pills, Thrills & Bellyaches - The Happy Mondays
16 – Laughing Stock - Talk Talk
17 – Liberation - Divine Comedy
18 – Debut album (aka the blue album) - Weezer
19 – The La’s - The La’s
20 – Tindersticks - Tindersticks
21) Strangers Almanac – Whiskeytown

22) Grand Prix - Teenage Fanclub

23) If You’re Feeling Sinister - Belle & Sebastian

24) Dummy – Portishead

25) Grace - Jeff Buckley

26) Homework - Daft Punk

27) Blue Lines - Massive Attack

28) OK Computer - Radiohead
29) Endtroducing - DJ Shadow
30) Deserter's Songs - Mercury Rev
31) Agaetis Byrjun - Sigur Ros
32) Achtung Baby - U2 
33) What's the Story - Oasis
34) Bandwagonesque - Teenage Fanclub 
35) Definitely Maybe - Oasis 
36) Nevermind - Nirvana 
37) Automatic for the People - REM 
38) Exit the Dragon - Urge Overkill 
39) Ill Communication - The Beastie Boys 
40) This is Hardcore - Pulp 
Too vanilla? Check out Sammy Merry's alternative list:

Guilty Pleasures of the Nineties


  1. OK, so having had a few looks at this I feel I should break the silence and make a few comments. Firstly I have no idea who Urge Overkill, Swell, Cardinal or Olivia Tremor Control are/were. That makes it a list of 36 from the off. Nor do I presently care to listen to Wilco, Divine Comedy or Whiskeytown beyond what I have experienced already. Always thought 'Blue Lines' was the most over-rated thing since Michael Carrick and can't ever imagine listening to the Beastie Boys EVER again. Best not give my predictable and vulgar two-penneth on U2 on a family website. Those Teenage Fanclub albums are the wrong way round as are the Pulp brace. Chris' comment on Oasis is also obviously correct. Nirvana up, change the Blur album, give Radiohead more credit, include the Manics, go back and listen to Grace and then, maybe then its the greatest list ever made by man, woman or beast. Or machine. Actually what the chuff do I know? Earlier today I listened to Campag Velocet...

    1. Some valid points Mr Merry, and i too will withhold my thoughts on the efforts of Bongo, The Hedge and company. U2 have never been worthy of inclusion in such a list. One point though: I recommend you seek out and listen to a song called Art Of Almost, it's the opening track on Wilco's most recent long-player, and it provides sterling proof (not that I ever needed any) that there is more to Jeff Tweedy and his mob than may at first meet the eye... Following that initial exposure, check out Yankee Hotel Foxtrot as an album that stands up with the noughties' finest. Wilco rock.


  2. OK. Will give it a buzz. Here is a few I think need a place and then that's me DONE on the matter... Loveless (come on?), The Bends, Goo, Holy Bible/Everything Must Go, Vanishing Point, Modern Life Is Rubbish, Jilted Generation, Fuzzy Logic, SOMETHING by Suede (Dog Man Star/Coming up), Elastica, Exit Planet Dust, Tellin' Stories and probably all the Fall albums (even though I don't know any 90s ones)...and Be Here Now


    1. And I will respond to you and then draw a veil over the whole thing. Happy with the majority of your proposed additions, and am currently kicking myself for omitting Jilted Generation (and missed Voodoo People off my top tracks list! What was I thinking!?) but always thought there was a distinct whiff of Emperor's New Clothes where Sonic Youth were concerned. Anyway. Let's continue this over a pint. Again.