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The 90s...the best albums of 1993...

Posted by Brad Schelden, November 18, 2012 12:38pm | Post a Comment
1993 and 1994 are probably two of my favorite years of the 90s. These were the best years of Britpop. Some amazing years for British music. Suede, Blur, Pulp, & The Verve all had amazing albums out these years. I had always been into British music since I remember ever being into music. New Wave & Goth in the 80s. And now Shoegaze & Britpop in the early and mid 90s. I gave myself a couple of rules when making these lists for the top ten of each year. I made sure to only pick one album for each artist. I didn't want the list to be a Blur and Suede album every year. So I picked my favorite album from each of those artists. And for the most part my favorite album was the album that introduced me to the band. Not necessarily the bands first album. But my first album by that band. The album that I think of when I think of that band. There are three American bands on my list this year. Still outnumbered by the British bands of course. I had for the most part stopped listening to the radio in 1993. Most of the bands I found out about were from 120 Minutes or Alternative Nation. I was also heavily influenced by my friends and roommates in 1993. This was the first year that I heard Suede, Slowdive & The Verve. I think I probably saw a Suede video when I heard them for the first time. I was hooked within the first couple seconds of the video. This was the band for me. I couldn't get enough of them throughout the rest of the 90s. I was already familiar with Blur but 1993 was really the first year that I really got obsessed with them.  Saint Etienne and Catherine Wheel were probably the albums that I listened to most this year. Where You Been by Dinosaur Jr.Star by Belly just barely didn't make my top ten this year. They were also both listened to a lot by me in 93 and 94. Here it is...my top 10 albums of 1993...

The Verve-A Storm In Heaven (Vernon Yard)
The Verve were like Suede in that they both released debut albums in 1993. They also went on to put out two more successful and critically acclaimed albums in the 90s. I would never call The Verve Britpop. But they often got lumped together with the other Britpop bands of the era. The Verve were more psychedelic and dreamy. They had more in common with the Shoegaze and Dream Pop bands of the early 90s. The Verve also were not as popular as Suede in 1993. It took until their third album for everyone to really notice them. A Northern the verveSoul was released in 1995. Urban Hymns was released in 1997. Urban Hymns got ridiculously big and I feel like that album was everywhere. But I think all the old fans still loved it too. It was a fantastic album and deserved all the praise. I remember being happy that they had finally made it. But they would unfortunately break up in 1999 and then end up reforming in 2008 for their forth album called Forth. Everything started for me with A Storm In Heaven. This album was released in June of 1993. But it sounds just as good now as it did then. This album quickly became one of my favorites. Another band from 1993 that I would become obsessed with throughout the rest of the 90s. A Storm In Heaven featured the songs "Slide Away," "Blue," "Butterfly" & "Starsail." This album would also be near the top of my list of my favorite albums of the decade. I could listen to this album all day long.

modern life is rubbishBlur-Modern Life Is Rubbish (Food)
Blur had already released Leisure in 1991. This album featured "She's So High" & "There's No Other Way." I was already a fan of those songs but had not really taken the jump into full on Blur until Modern Life Is Rubbish was released in 1993. Blur is probably the most popular of the British bands on this list. They managed to put out six albums in the 90s and one last album in 2003. Modern Life is Rubbish quickly sold me on Blur. I also loved Parklife in 1994 and The Great Escape in 1995. Modern Life is Rubbish featured "For Tomorrow," "Chemical World," "Sunday Sunday," "Star Shaped" & "Miss America." This album was really their first britpop album. This was after all the inaugural year of britpop. Their first album fit more into the end of the madchester scene. The battle of Oasis Vs. Blur was just around the corner from this album. The debut Oasis album would come out the following year in 1994. The media quickly whipped up a sort of rivalry between Blur & Oasis. I was a fan of Blur first so I always sided with Blur. I did enjoy those first two Oasis albums. But I was always a bigger Blur fan. Blur was made up of Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James & Dave Rowntree. Both Blur & Suede were probably the first bands of the 90s who I knew everything about. I know each band member independent from the other. Most of us had our favorite. Damon & Graham were the Dave Gahan & Martin Gore of the band. Or the Mick Jagger & Keith Richards. Graham was my favorite. I loved these guys. I loved how very British they were. And this is the album that started it all. I really do feel like Blur & Suede sort of took over my life in late 1993.

Slowdive-Souvlaki (Creation)
I like to think of my life as pre and post Slowdive. There are just some of those albums that change your life forever. This is one of those albums for me. My Bloody Valentine did it a couple of years before. But this is the band that did it for me in 1993. As much as I loved Blur, Suede & The Verve. I probably listened to Souvlaki more than all those albums combined. This album was released in the UK on Creation in June of 1993. It was not released in the US on SBK until early 1994. The artwork was changed on this album cover slowdivefor the US release. They made the image a really small little image on a mostly black cover. Not really sure why they changed it. But they did add some bonus tracks for the domestic release. Souvlaki included "Alison," "Sing," "Machine Gun," "When The Sun Hits" & "Dagger." This album is a shoegaze classic. If you have heard this album then it is mostly likely one of your favorites. The album was the perfect end of the night album. I listened to this album almost every night before I went to sleep for probably about a year or so. Slowdive had released Just For A Day in 1991. SBK released it in 1992 in the US. But I had never heard of this band until a friend introduced them to me in 1993. So I always think of Just For A Day as their second album since it was the second for me. Just For A Day is a perfect companion album to Souvlaki. Just as good and magical. They went on to release Pygmalion two years later in 1995. It just doesn't get much better than Slowdive. There is really nobody like them. Many bands who try recapture that amazing sound of those first two Slowdive albums. But it simply could not be done.

SuedeSuede-Suede (Nude)
This might just be my favorite album of the 90s. Britpop just doesn't get any better than this. This band and this album seemed to come out of nowhere. This album put them all over the British press. It ended up on many end of the year lists. I think I probably didn't first get into this album until late in 1993. Even though it was released in March. "Metal Mickey" was the first song I heard by them. And the first time I head it was when I saw the video. So it just really hit me over the head. I really couldn't believe how awesome they were. I loved everything about them. And I don't even really think I fully understood what I was watching. I didn't know how important this band would become to me and my friends in the following years. But I knew that I loved it. This album is just one of those perfect suedealbums that defines the era. It is often thought as the album that started Britpop. This album was the fastest selling debut album in British history. The album included "Metal Mickey," "So Young," "Animal Nitrate," "The Drowners," "Sleeping Pills" & "Pantomime Horse." I can honestly say that I love every song on this album. It was such a fun and completely new sound for me at the time. It was somewhere between an album by David Bowie and The Smiths. But it was really like nothing I had heard before. They were like my new Duran Duran. They would go on to release Dog Man Star in 1994 & Coming Up in 1996. Those first three albums are an essential part of my music collection. They released two more albums after that. I saw this band live a couple times over the years. They were one of my favorite bands to see live. They really conveyed the magic of those albums live. This is also one of my favorite album covers of the decade. I always thought it was two dudes on the cover. But I found out years later that it was a drawing of two women! It was an androgynous cover that you could really imagine to be whatever you wanted it to be.

saint etienne so toughSaint Etienne-
So Tough
(Warner)

Saint Etienne! I love these guys. I really feel like if you know about Saint Etienne then you probably love them. By 1993 I was already a fan of their first album Fox Base Alpha and the song "Only Love Can Break Your Heart." But I think that So Tough was actually the first entire album that I owned by them. And it is most certainly my favorite. One of my friends first played me this album and it quickly became both of our favorites. I loved all the sampling. I loved that it was dancey but also super cool and mellow in parts. It was the perfect combination of UK indie and dance. I had really heard nothing like it before. The samples really meant nothing to me. They were most likely from saint etienneBritish movies and TV shows that I had never seen before. But this album was just such a complete wonderful collection. You really have to listen to it from beginning to end. The best song was the last song after all. Saint Etienne is Bob Stanley & Pete Wigss. The first album had a couple different female vocalist. But Sarah Cracknell had become the permanent third member by the time this second album came out. So Tough featured the songs "Mario's Cafe," "Calico," "Hobart Paving," "Avenue" & "Join Our Club." Saint Etienne went on to release six more albums after So Tough. They are still a band and actually just put out an album this year and toured with it. I just saw them live a couple of weeks ago! This band will forever remain one of my favorites. Putting on this album brings me right back to 1993. And for some reason it only makes me remember the good memories. I love these guys. There is really nobody like them. This album was just reissued recently as a deluxe 2CD edition along with the rest of their catalog.

So Tonight That I Might SeeMazzy Star-So Tonight That I Might See (Capitol)
Mazzy Star had already released She Hangs Brightly in 1990. But I didn't first notice them until So Tonight That I Might See was released in 1993. You really could not avoid the song "Fade Into You" that year. I was hooked by that song. I was not alone. It was hard not to like them. Mazzy Star is Hope Sandoval and David Roback. David had played in the Rain Parade in the 80s. He was also a member of mazzy starOpal. Opal recruited Hope Sandoval after the vocalist left and soon turned into Mazzy Star. These guys were are mix of psychedelic rock and dream pop. Mazzy Star are one of the few bands from these lists not from England. They were actually formed in Southern California just like Medicine. Hope has one of those voices like no other. The band put out Among My Swan in 1996 and then took a long break. Hope Sandoval has put out a couple of solo albums over the years. But Mazzy Star is back and will soon be releasing an album of new material any day now. This album is dark and dreamy. It can easily lull you to sleep. The album features the songs "Fade Into You" & "Into Dust." It is one of those albums that just might break your heart in two. But it is worth it. A beautiful masterpiece of the 90s.

catherine wheelCatherine Wheel-Chrome (Fontana)
Catherine Wheel released Ferment in 1992. This album featured "Black Metallic." One of the best songs of the 90s. But it was their second album that I really got obsessed with. I listened to Chrome probably hundreds of times. Chrome featured "Crank," "Fripp," "Pain," "Show Me Mary" & "The Nude." I can listen to "Fripp" over and over again. Catherine Wheel were yet another band from England for catherine wheelme to become obsessed with. They shared much in common with many of the shoegaze bands of the era. But they were a bit harder and shared much in common with some of the grunge bands of the era. They were like Shoegaze Grunge. Somewhere between The Smashing Pumpkins, Tool, Soundgarden, Lush, Slowdive & Ride. I listened to an album every night before I went to sleep throughout much of the 90s. This album was one of those albums in rotation. The album still holds up after all these years. It was the bands best album without a doubt. They went on to release three more albums after this. But they could never capture what they had done with Chrome. Another one of my favorite album covers of the decade. Very similar to the cover for Nevermind.

the the duskThe The-Dusk (Sony)
The The has already released three albums in the 80s. But I didn't know anything about them until 1993. Dusk was released in 1993. The same year as Songs Of Faith & Devotion by Depeche Mode. The The opened up for Depeche Mode on their tour for this album. I think I first bought that Depeche Mode album on cassette. But when I later bought it on CD it included a cassette copy of Dusk by The The. I was basically forced to listen to this album. Depeche Mode were one of my favorite bands after all. It probably would have found its way into my collection regardless. I still remember that first time that I listened to it. I really didn't knowthe the what to expect. The The were also from England. So it made sense that I would like them. Matt Johnson really took me over with that voice. I became a huge fan of this album and have gone back to it many times over the years. I eventually went back and explored the previous albums of The The. But Dusk will always remain my favorite. It is a weird mix of genres but it somehow works. It is a mix of new wave and alternative. Maybe a bit of country music and showtunes thrown in there. It is very theatrical. Matt Johnson is really more of a storyteller than a singer. The The are sort of a combination of a bank like R.E.M. with Nick Cave. The album features the songs "Slow Emotion Replay," "Dogs Of Lust," "Helpline Operator" & "Love Is Stronger Than Death."

the buried lifeMedicine-The Buried Life (American)
Medicine are the second American band on my list this year. And they were also on the label American! Medicine were from Los Angeles. They just might be the only band from Los Angeles that I actually liked in the early 90s. This was yet another band whose second album I liked better than the first. But it was again mostly because that was the album that I was first introduced to. Medicine had released Shot Forth Self Living in 1992. The Buried Life was released in 1993. Medicine medicinewere sort of viewed as the Los Angeles version of My Bloody Valentine. They were our version of shoegaze. The album featured "Babydoll," "Slut," "Never Click" & "Fried Awake." I actually forgot how much I like this album until I listened to it again last year. It just got reissued by Captured Tracks along with Shot Forth Self Living. This album is loud and full of messy and noisy guitar. But is somehow beautiful beneath all that. Which is why they are more similar to My Bloody Valentine than anybody else. Medicine went on to put out two more albums after this. But they are perhaps most famous for appearing as themselves in the movie The Crow.

Smashing Pumpkins-Siamese Dream (Virgin)
The Smashing Pumpkins had released Gish in 1991. But it was Siamese Dream that really broke this band. This album was unavoidable in 1993 & 1994. It was released in July of 1993. This was most certainly the best selling album on my list of 1993. It was sort of my Nevermind of this year. I couldn't leave it off this list. Smashing Pumpkins went on to smashing pumpkinsrelease many albums over the years. But I sort of lost interest after Melon Collie & The Infinite Sadness was released in 1995. But from 1991 to 1996 I was a big fan of this band. Siamese Dream featured "Cherub Rock," "Today," "Rocket," "Disarm," "Soma,"  "Mayonaise" "Spaceboy" & "Luna." It really is crazy to think how many great songs were on this album. Today was probably my favorite of the big singles. But I can really listen to "Mayonaise" and "Luna" over and over again. Billy Corgan was obviously the man behind Smashing Pumpkins and this album. But he could not have put this album together without James Iha, Jimmy Chamberlain & D'arcy Wretzky. Smashing Pumpkins was one of those bands that you either loved or hated. This album somehow combined all the things I liked from shoegaze, dreampop and grunge. It was the perfect album for 1993. This was the bands best album by far. They would never create anything that would come close to Siamese Dream.


Check for these albums here on Amoeba.com

up next...1994

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Medicine (5), Saint Etienne (3), Suede (7), Blur (9), The Verve (3), Catherine Wheel (3), Best Of The 90s (5), Slowdive (6), Lists (27), Smashing Pumpkins (16), Mazzy Star (12), The The (2)