1999 / Music / Top 10

The Best Albums Of The 20th Century … (Part 2)

… That I Own

(For the beginning of the list, click here)

90. Metallica “Metallica”

Though “Ride The Lightning” and “Master Of Puppets” have their moments, this album?s assembly of concise tunes keeps every headbangers’ interest.

91. Jane’s Addiction “Nothing’s Shocking

92. Jane’s Addiction “Ritual de lo Habitual”

When we all feared rock music was drowning in a sea of hair spray, Jane’s Addiction proved to be the most important band of the late ’80s/early ’90s.

Jane’s was musically fearless. (Who else could swipe the lyrics of “Like A Rolling Stone” and play it to the music from Bauhaus’ “Burning From The Inside?”) The group’s moody-esoteric sound took gothic music and fused it with Stephen Perkins frenetic drumming and guitarist Dave Navarro’s neo-Zeppelin snarl. Perry Farrell’s echo-y howl told shrouded tales of love, isolation, sex, violence, youth rebellion, drug highs, racism and spiritual epiphany. Try reading lyrics for “Three Days.”

Though the role of bands like Jane’s Addiction or Living Colour were instrumental in helping break alternative music, they are mostly overlooked.

93. Red Hot Chili Peppers “Blood Sugar Sex Magik”

I don’t like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Most of their music is campy, silly and a bouncy version of funk. Lyricwise, they’re a distant cousin to ’80s metal. Their intensity is the annoying kind.

But for some reason, they were blessed with guitar maverick John Frusciante. And Frusciante’s touch is all over this album, from the acoustic “Breaking The Girl,” to the driving pulse of “Suck My Kiss” to the Hendrix intro for “Under The Bridge.” I almost forgot that I disliked them. Almost.

94. Fishbone “The Reality Of My Surroundings”

This is a late addition to the list. Though largely ignored, 1991’s “The Reality Of My Surroundings” is a speed-train’s view of funk, R&B, ska, reggae, hard rock and old fashioned soul. Though some would chose Fishbone’s “Truth And Soul” as a contender, “Reality” really saw the band spread its wings.

Largely produced by the band, Fishbone layered each track with dozens of instruments. The results were a dizzying blur of styles with strong song arrangements and surprisingly inventive lyrics. Though complex, the song are never messy. And very hyper.

“Fight The Youth” and “Behavior Control Technician” are songs of urban defiance, filled with crushing guitars and insistent horn blasts. The ska/funk of “Housework” becomes a horn-filled juke joint anthem. “Everyday Sunshine” has Fishbone’s vocalists singing Motown style only to have the song descend into an spiritual revival meeting at the end. The metallic “Sunless Saturday” is guitar tidal wave.

95. Beck “Odelay”

96. Beck “Mutations”

Beck is a musical wanderer.

During the course of his journeys through folk, bluegrass, the blues, hip-hop and New Wave, he picks up a beat here and a melody there.

So when it comes time to record “Odelay,” the man channeled his dabblings into a coherent, if bewildering, thrill ride: thumping beats and distorted rhyming are molded together with slide guitars and spacey synthesizers.

On “Mutations,” Beck became the accessible country-rock messiah that alt-country fans had been praying for. And although the album’s songs had a “back to basic” vibe, it was never really a work of purity. When was the last time you heard a sitar or harpsichord sitting comfortably in a batch of cowboy songs?

97. Fugees “The Score”

98. Wyclef Jean “The Carnival”

99. Lauryn Hill “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”

When most of the rap world was still celebrating “Dre Day,” the Fugees proved that there was more out there than P-Funk. On their solo efforts, Lauryn Hill and Wyclef expanded the scope of their ideas and crystallized their love of reggae, ska, Latin music, gospel and R&B.

100. Billy Bragg & Wilco “Mermaid Avenue”

It seemed like a good idea in theory: take lyrics long forgotten in the Woody Guthrie archive and pass it on to Billy Bragg, a British sort-of folk singer who is every bit a proletarian as he is a punk. Bragg, in turn, asked Wilco, a band rooted in rural American music, to join him in the process to give the music the right feel.

And surprisingly, the whole thing worked. The lyrics were stronger than anything that had ever appeared on either Bragg’s or Wilco’s albums and the music felt looser and freer, if also well-rehearsed.

Though some might disagree, the real stand-outs here are the ones where Wilco takes the lead. Guthrie’s songs are a most convenient mask in that the band no longer needs to hide its love of roots music for fear of being labeled. They can play all the pedal steel they want and sing with as much twang as they like.

101. Vernon Reid “Mistaken Identity”

I debated about this awhile, but I’ve decided this needs to be on here too.

When I first heard guitar player Vernon Reid was working on an instrumental solo album, I had nightmares about an album of Steve Vai’s guitar tapping.

Thankfully, Reid always manages to do the unexpected. Utilizing a band that included a DJ, bassist, drummer and jazz clarinetist Don Byron — in addition to an all-star list of guests — “Mistaken Identity” is Reid wrestling with his diverse musical influences.

Rappers and DJs take turns with jazz cats, while Reid’s guitar is content to keep everything together. Though complex at times, it never ceases to be fun-loving.

Also From The Score …

Note: David’s nationally syndicated music column, Soundbytes, appeared in the Entertainment section of all Internet Broadcasting websites. This column was originally published there.

©Copyright 1999 by David Hyland. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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