Rolling Stone recently published an article about rock albums that are turning 20 this year. After reading it, I remembered owning and loving several of those albums back in 1996. Reading the article made me feel old, a feeling I’ve been struggling with as my eldest niece prepares for her bat mitzvah later this summer. 😦
I decided to write about some albums from the list that are memorable to me. Many of these albums (there are some exceptions) can be streamed via Hoopla Digital or Freegal, which you can access with your Hoboken Resident library card. Did you imagine, back in 1996, that streaming music online would be possible in the future? For those that prefer CDs, those are available as well.
Metallica / Load
When Napster reigned, circa 2000, Metallica was their biggest foe. Napster was popular when I was in college as my dorm’s Ethernet offered my first, life-changing taste of high-speed internet. I mention Metallica first here because their strong stance against illegal music downloading is now part of their legacy.
Metallica isn’t available on either Hoopla or Freegal, but the CD can be borrowed. Hoopla has Metallica-inspired albums for lullabies and yoga, and Freegal has this album featuring covers of Metallica songs.
Fiona Apple / Tidal
What I remember most about this album (available on Freegal and on CD) was how in-your-face it was and how I hadn’t experienced music like that before. Apple’s defiant tone in the opening track “Sleep to Dream” is like a punch in the face. This album still sounds good after 20 years, and “Criminal” is still my favorite track.
Wallflowers / Bringing Down the Horse
Time to be honest: I strongly dislike this album (available on Hoopla and CD). My brother listened to it NONSTOP in 1996 and I hated hearing it through the wall between our bedrooms. In hindsight, my brother probably hated hearing me play the Les Miserables soundtrack (I’ve written here, here, and here about being a musical theater geek) on repeat while I sang along, poorly. So I guess it’s all relative.
Rage Against the Machine / Evil Empire
Sublime / Sublime
What’s bittersweet about this particular album turning 20 is that it also marks 20 years since lead singer Bradley Nowell passed away. Nowell died two months before the self-titled record (on Hoopla and on CD) was released, which became a breakthrough hit. Sublime broke up after this record, but “Santeria” and “What I Got” remain on rock radio playlists today.
Weezer / Pinkerton
I didn’t appreciate this album (on Hoopla and on CD) until college. Weezer had a huge hit with the Blue Album (on Hoopla and on CD) in 1994. Pinkerton, their sophomore record, had a darker, at times creepy (see: “Across the Sea”), more autobiographical tone that was so different than the Blue Album and wasn’t well received. Time has been kinder to Pinkerton. “El Scorcho” is my favorite track.
Here is a list of the rest of the rock albums turning 20, with links to either Freegal or Hoopla or the BCCLS catalog (where applicable):
Failure / Fantastic Planet: Hoopla
Korn / Life Is Peachy: Freegal
Swans / Soundtracks for the Blind: n/a
Tortoise / Millions Now Living Will Never Die: n/a
Tool / Aenima: CD
Wilco / Being There: Hoopla
Were any of these albums your favorites back in 1996? Do you now feel old after learning that these records are now 20 years old? Do you know any other albums turning 20 this year?
-Written by Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian