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Perhaps one of the most transitional years in rock history, 1991 introduced a whole new crop of artists and bands that would play a major role in shaping music for the next decade and beyond. Almost overnight, the trend of glitzy hair metal and bubbly pop gave way to the darker, more down to earth and experimental sensibilities of grunge. Seattle, Wash, USA played a huge role in shaping this scene with acts such as Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Soundgarden.

On the flip side, the year also contained several albums by established from the 1980s such as U2, Van Halen, Guns n Roses, Metallica, and Red Hot Chili Peppers, many of which were highly successful breakthrough albums which would come to define these bands.

*1991 Album of the Year

Below are further descriptions of each album, in the order that we reviewed them.

July 3, 2011
Achtung Baby by U2Bono described the radical new sound on Achtung Baby as “the sound of four men chopping down The Joshua Tree.” The first full studio album since that blockbuster album four years earlier, U2 took some real chances that would ultimately pay off.

Review of Achtung Baby

July 8, 2011
The Dylans debut albumPerhaps one of the more obscure albums (and bands) which we will ever review, The Dylans put out an interesting and quality self-titled debut in 1991, which demostrated the band’s potential although they would not experience longevity.

Review of The Dylans

July 12, 2011
Use Your Illusion I & II by Guns n RosesIt had been 4 years since Guns n’ Roses last full studio album and it would be another 17 years until their next. But on September 17, 1991, the band unloaded a great volume of music on two seperate CDs released simultaneously.

Double-Review of Use Your Illusion I & II

July 16, 2011
Gish by Smashing PumpkinsThe debut album by alternative rock band Smashing Pumpkins, Gish was released independently in 1991 and became the highest selling independent album ever for a short period. The album has two distinctive influences – a hard-edged, alternative metal and a softer, psychedelic, dreamy influence.

Review of Gish

July 20, 2011
Mama Said by Lenny KravitzMama Said was Lenny Kravitz‘s second album as well as his commercial breakthrough, despite the stylistic evolution from his brilliant debut, released two years earlier. Playing most of the instruments himself, Kravitz forged his unique blends from rock, soul, funk, and jazz.

Review of Mama Said

July 25, 2011
Pocket Full of Kryptonite by Spin DoctorsSpin Doctors came out of the gate as a jam band with strong pop instincts and this ultimately paid off for them with their debut Pocket Full of Kryptonite. Although it would take a few years after the 1991 release, the album would become a huge commercial success.

Classic Rock Review of Pocket Full of Kryptonite

July 30, 2011
Luck of the Draw by Bonnie RaittIt took a couple of decades for Bonnie Raitt to acheive significant commercial success but when she did, she went on a tear with several consecutive hit albums in the early nineties. THe biggest selling of all these was 1991’s Luck Of the Draw.

Review of Luck Of the Draw

August 3, 2011
Out of Time by R.E.M.Out of Time was the mainstream commercial breakthrough for R.E.M. in 1991. Fueled by the blockbuster hit “Losing My Religion”, which became the band’s biggest, Out of Time would top the charts on both sides of the Atlantic.

Classic Rock Review of Out of Time

August 7, 2011
Nevermind by NirvanaAlthough certainly a distinct and important album from 1991, Nevermind by Nirvana is NOT the all-time classic that it has come to be hyped. It certainly has some good tracks, and maybe even one or two great ones, but as a true album it falls short.

Review of Nevermind

August 13, 2011
Blood Sugar Sex Magik by Red Hot Chili PeppersRefreshed and re-tooled with a new record label, new producer, and two new band members, the Red Hot Chili Peppers set out to make a memorable record in 1991 and succeeded with Blood Sugar Sex Magik.

Review of Blood Sugar Sex Magik

August 18, 2011
Psychotic Supper by TeslaPsychotic Supper should have been a greater success for the band Tesla. But it suffered greatly from its time and place in the rock and roll scene, as it was released within 30 days of five of the most popular and influential albums of the 1990s.

Classic Rock Review of Psychotic Supper

August 22, 2011
Metallica 1991 albumAfter a nice run establishing themselves in emerging “thrash metal” genre of the 1980s, Metallica looked to bring their music to a new level with producer Bob Rock. The result was their 1991 effort that came to be know as “The Black Album”, which pushed the band through the glass genre to mainstream success.

Review of Metallica

August 27, 2011
Ten by Pearl Jam, 1991 Album of the Year
Pearl Jam delivered one of the greatest debut albums ever with Ten, released on August 27, 1991 at the vanguard of the Seattle grunge invasion,. The album has sold just over ten million copies to date and it came together after situations developed rapidly in the 18 months previous to the band’s formation.

Review of Ten

April 16, 2016
Temple of the DogMembers of Soundgarden and the future Pearl Jam came together for a very brief time to form Temple of the Dog. Their lone eponymous album was released in early 1991 and offered a fine preview of the potential of these musicians.

Review of Temple of the Dog

April 23, 2016
Ordinary Average Guy by Joe WalshOrdinary Average Guy is a collection of nostalgic tunes and quirky anthems which saw Joe Walsh composing more somber and introspective tunes. While this album may pale in comparison to Walsh’s fantastic early work, it is still a very enjoyable listen.

Review of Ordinary Average Guy

April 30, 2016
Union by YesUnion is a project which started as two separate albums by two separate groups – Anderson Bruford Wakeman & Howe and the 1990 incarnation of those gentlemen’s former band, Yes. With nine regular musicians and four different producers, the album lacks in cohesiveness what it gains in interest.

Review of Union

September 17, 2016
No More Tears by Ozzy OsbourneOzzy Osbourne set aside some personal and legal difficulties and got his career back on track with his sixth studio album, No More Tears. This album saw collaborating with a new set of producers as well as co-writing tunes with Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead, in a formula which found much commercial success.

Review of No More Tears

October 8, 2016
Badmotofinger by SoundgardenSoundgarden developed a distinct sense of craft with their third studio album, Badmotorfinger. This well-produced and ambitious undertaking set the stage for even grater success for the band later in the decade.

Review of Badmotofinger

June 30, 2021
Into the Great Wide Open by Tom Petty and the HeartbreakersIn 1991 Tom Petty chose to follow the formula of recent success when he reunited with The Heartbreakers for Into the Great Wide Open. The album combines the Heartbreakers’ classic sound with co-producer Jeff Lynne‘s stylized production.

Review of Into the Great Wide Open

Final 1991 Poll Results
Q: What is the best album of 1991?

1 Ten by Pearl Jam 32.7%
2 Achtung Baby by U2 25.8%
3 Nevermind by Nirvana 16.1%
4 Metallica by Metallica 12.9%
5 Mama Said by Lenny Kravitz 6.5%
6 Luck Of the Draw by Bonnie Raitt 3.2%
6 Pocket Full of Kryptonite by Spin Doctors 3.2%

Conducted on our site, July-August, 2011

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1 Comment

  1. Dori
    January 19, 2022 @ 6:25 pm

    You forgot to review the best album of 1991: Spiderland by Slint :)


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