90s lists

90s Exile // 10 Albums That Changed Your Life In The Nineties


No matter if you grew up in the 90s or not, the chances are at least a few of these great albums probably had some or much significance in your life. Please note that this is not our take on the best albums of the 1990s, it’s just a bunch of records we would tag as “life changing”. Just because we bloody heart lists…

10. Johnny Cash: American Recordings 

Without any doubt Johnny Cash was a living legend by the time he was approached by Rick Rubin to record the first record of what came to be the American series. Finally after 80 or even more albums, Rubin was comfortable with appreciating the stripped down to core style that suited the Man In Black possibly better than anything he’d ever done in his brilliant, more than half a century lasting career. Since then, the odd covers became Cash’s thing and even today, 12 years after his death, more of those American Recordings of his keep surfacing, never without getting the appropriate attention. One of the greatest guys that ever lived, deservingly being brought into the 90s audience. 

9. Mayhem: De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas

The production of De Mysteriis had started since 1987, but the members of Mayhem were too busy getting murdered, committing suicide, burning churches and whatever else the average Norwegian Black Metal pioneer does to pass his time. The record was finally released in 1994, featuring Varg Vikernes recordings on bass before he would go to prison for the murder of Euronymous, Euronymous’ last songs he composed before getting stabbed to death by Vikernes and the last lyrics written by former Mayhem vocalist, Dead, before he would blow his brains out. Now, if that is not “Life Changing”, what is? 

8. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: Murder Ballads

Take any of the 5 albums The Bad Seeds released in the 90s and stick it in this list, anyone of them could have been in for all the right reasons. Murder Ballads was commercial, it was well developed and well produced, it has storytelling cinematic qualities from start to finish and it deserves a sequel. Cave’s skills as a songwriter and lyricist are in full effect, particularly in the not so well known songs from the album, like The Curse Of Millhaven and the 15-minute long O’Malley’s Bar, which despite its length, no matter how many times I listen to it, can’t get enough of it. 

7. Kyuss: Blues For The Red Sun  

In their second album and their last to feature the original lineup, Kyuss defined what came to be the stoner rock genre, drawing influence from 70s psychedelic and space rock, doom metal and the widely popular at that time grunge movement. No one could predict after the poor sales it had initially, that particularly in the early to mid 00s the wave of bands that based their sound on Blues For The Red Sun would be endless. 

6. Manic Street Preacher: Generation Terrorists

What can be said about Generation Terrorists? With lyricist Richey Edwards now on the edge, this is possibly the most compelling release the band produced pre-The Holy Bible, which is in some forms their best record. Generation is almost the polar opposite of one of its better famed successors, The Holy Bible. It had mainstream appeal, and moments where it honestly doesn’t take itself too seriously; glam, trash, indie, whatever-you-call it, Generation Terrorists was just a great record. 

5. Faith No More: Angel Dust

Angel Dust was the perfect contrast of beauty-meets-disturbing. Look at the cover for instance, on the front there’s a beautiful swan, and on the back cover, a slaughter house; that pretty much epitomises this record. There are classic tracks with mainstream appeal like Midlife Crisis, A Small Victory and the cover of The Commodores’ Easy, but then, within the album there are darker tracks like Be Aggressive and Malpractice. Life changing? I think so! 

4. Therapy?: Troublegum

Troublegum is often forgotten about, but let’s keep in mind, this album was even nominated for the Mercury Music Prize back in the day - talking about a breakthrough. Andy Cairns and Co. whipped out a belter and this wasn’t their only masterpiece. In Troublegum they fused shades of thrash with mainstream power-chords and arpeggios and with lines like “Masturbation saved my life..” and “I’ve got nothing to do, but hang around and get screwed up on you…” had teen angst all over them. If you grew up around this band, you probably were more obsessed with them, than ‘liked’ them. 

3. My Bloody Valentine: Loveless

Creation’s landmark, Loveless is another example of a commercial flop that ended up defining an entire genre and a massive wave of bands that followed. It was the record that had My Bloody Valentine dropped from Creation because of its production costs and the one that preceeds its successor, 2013’s m b v by 22 years. Blame it on Kevin Shields’ powerful persona, or maybe even his
tinnitus, in any case the embodiment of what we now call “shoegaze” more or less lies within the 11 tracks of this miracle. 

2. Pulp - This is Hardcore

This Is Hardcore isn’t Pulp’s best record, but it’s definitely their last good one. Having been around since the early eighties and patiently waiting for one and a half decade to breakthrough to the big league with Different Class, something they deserved at least 6 years before with Separations. In 1998 Pulp were at last famous and comfortable enough to creatively do whatever they wanted to follow that crazy success. The result was an album of flawless musicianship, heartbreaking poetic lyrics, four singles and a bunch of album cuts that were probably even better than those singles. They should have never put out We Love Life after this amazing record. They should have ended on a high. Fate hasn’t been fair to this band, not at all. 

1. Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral

Two whole years in the making, there’s probably a shed load of things you didn’t know about this record, like the fact it was recorded at 10050 Cielo Drive, the address of the Manson family Tate murders and the studio was named ‘Le Pig’, but apart from all the darkness associated with the album, Downward Spiral is 100% from start to finish “Life Changing”. There are no fillers from the opening energy of Mr Self-Destruct to the ambience of Warm Place, a prerequisite of Reznor’s Scoring abilities. Reznor’s identity is all over the place, you cannot pinpoint a single style and whatever age you were when it came out, you could sense that something very important was happening in what was probably not only of of the best records of the 90s, but one of the best of all time as well.


You Might Also Like