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12 Albums From 1991 That You Might Have Forgotten

Last week, Nirvana‘s Nevermind got love as one of a group of legendary albums that turn 30 this year. This week, we look back at the unsung albums of ’91.

  • Dinosaur Jr 'Green Mind'

    The favorite sons of Amherst, MA released their forth album in February of 1991, although one of the sons was missing: founding bassist Lou Barlow left Dinosaur Jr before they dropped this major-label debut. The album opens with “The Wagon” into “Puke + Cry” and that one-two punch still rips 30 years on.

    Dinosaur Jr 'Green Mind'

  • Dire Straits 'On Every Street'

    9/9/91. Dire Straits releases their final album. And here’s the kicker: it’s one of their best, despite it being maybe their least-lauded. It’s my personal favorite; I remember my dad–a HUGE Mark Knopfler fan–playing the CD over and over again when it came out. The title track still moves me.

    Dire Straits 'On Every Street'

  • Hole 'Pretty on the Inside'

    It’s funny to think that the future Mrs. Cobain (Kurt and Courtney would marry in February of 1992) beat her future husband to the record shelves by a week: Hole‘s debut album was released a week before Nevermind, on September 17 of ’91. Courtney Love and Hole wouldn’t breakthrough until their follow-up Live Through This album, but Pretty on the Inside set the stage.

    Hole 'Pretty on the Inside'

  • Lenny Kravitz 'Mama Said'

    Lenny Kravitz went all-in on his sophomore 1991 release: 7 of the albums 14 songs were released as singles, with a half-dozen of those coming after the April release date. And the biggest single of all of ’em–“Always on the Run”–was co-written by Slash. He played on that track, as well as “Fields of Joy.”

    Lenny Kravitz 'Mama Said'

  • Pixies 'Trompe le Monde'

    Another band with their roots in western Massachusetts put out a gem in ’91. And it would be their last. Frank Black of the Pixies famously broke the band up via vax, but not before Trompe le Monde dropped…on the same day as Nevermind and Blood Sugar Sex Magik!

    Pixies 'Trompe le Monde'


  • Primus 'Sailing the Seas of Cheese'

    Everbody’s favorite bass-driven Bay Area weirdos, Primus, also released their sophomore album in ’91. Primus were a band primed for the early ’90s: they sounded like nothing else at a time when band that sounded like nothing else were in high demand. “Jerry Was a Race Car Driver” and “Tommy the Cat” are still un-mess-with-able.

    Primus 'Sailing the Seas of Cheese'

  • Queen 'Innuendo'

    If you’d forgotten that Queen actually put out an album in the early ’90s, I wouldn’t blame you. Aside from being the final album released before Freddie Mercury’s death and the stand-out song “The Show Must Go On,” Innuendo is more of a middle-of-the-pack Queen album.

    Queen 'Innuendo'

  • Rush 'Roll the Bones'

    Roll the Bones was a much bigger hit for Rush than I remembered! It hit No. 3 in the U.S. and No. 10 in the U.K. And I know the “rapping” on the title track has been much-maligned over the years, but I think it rules and I’d put “Roll the Bones” in my personal Top 5 Rush songs.

    Rush 'Roll The Bones'

  • Skid Row 'Slave to the Grind'

    For all the talk of the heavy-hitters of ’91–Ten, Nevermind, Blood Sugar Sex Magic, The Black AlbumSlave to the Grind never seems to get its due. Sure, it’s not as high-profile as the aforementioned, but the damn album charted 5 singles and went double-platinum at a time when the mainstream was turning away from acts like Skid Row.

    Skid Row 'Slave to the Grind'

  • Smashing Pumpkins 'Gish'

    While Gish didn’t necessarily put Smashing Pumpkins on the map, it certainly helped push things forward for the other alt-rock bands who would explode in 1991. And that, in turn, set the stage for the Pumpkins to break through with Siamese Dream in ’93. Ka is a wheel. Here’s to 30 years of Gish.

    Smashing Pumpkins 'Gish'

  • Temple of the Dog

    I feel like we don’t spend enough time on this timeline: Temple of the Dog recorded their one and only album–a tribute to Mother Love Bone singer and beloved Seattle musician Andrew Wood–in November and December of 1990. It hit shelves in April of ’91, months before Ten or Badmotorfinger.

    Temple of the Dog

  • U2 'Achtung Baby'

    After the dust of September of ’91 cleared and there was a seismic shift in the rock world, U2 came along in late November, dropped Achtung Baby on us, and shrugged their shoulders as long-time fans argued about if the album was a brilliant new direction for the band or an abandonment of all they’d become to that point. 30 years later, and some of us are still arguing!

    U2 'Achtung Baby'

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