In a few short weeks, [artist id="1002"]Nirvana’s[/artist] epochal Nevermind album turns 20, a milestone that will be marked with much coverage, celebration and consternation in the media — and understandably so. After all, it was a game-changer in every sense of the term, the kind of album that brought about seismic shifts in music, fashion and culture in general, one that defined a generation and, as such, deserves to be mythologized. And, in the coming weeks, we suspect you’ll see no shortage of stories that do just that.
While Nevermind casts an indelibly lengthy shadow, it bears mention that there were no shortage of other magical, massive and equally mythological albums that hit stores in 1991 — from mega-platinum rock blockbusters to best-kept indie secrets, and just about everything in between — classics that, had Nirvana never broken through, would probably be getting the royal treatment right now. In 1991, rock truly rocked, so, in celebration of that fact, we’ve asked some of today’s biggest bands to discuss their favorite albums from that rather amazing year. On Wednesday, we heard from Death Cab for Cutie and Blink-182 ; now, Skrillex and Foster the People share their faves.
Don’t worry, we’ll give Nevermind its due — but right now, we’re paying tribute to 1991′s other indispensible albums, in the words of their biggest fans.
Metallica, The Black Album
The one where “old” Metallica ended and “new” Metallica began — at least according to the die-hards — the band’s fifth studio album (it’s technically self-titled, though, come on, who doesn’t call it The Black Album?) saw them drifting away from their slash-and-burn thrash-metal past into a new, decidedly fuller phase, one fleshed out with orchestral flourishes and an increased focus on the booming rhythm section of Jason Newstead and Lars Ulrich. Though its recording was plagued by battles with producer Bob Rock, The Black Album features the band’s most iconic songs — “Enter Sandman,” “The Unforgiven,” “Nothing Else Matters,” etc. — and remains their best-selling to date, moving a staggering 22 million copies worldwide. Love it or hate it, you can’t deny its impact, both on the band and the next two decades of hard rock.
As Remembered by Skrillex: “Man, The Black Album was me sitting in my room when I was 9 years old, trying to learn all the songs on guitar. That was, for me, rocking out, no reservations, like I was on the stage. And learning the ‘Holier Than Thou’ riff was, like, the biggest achievement, because it’s so hard. Every record on that album is so amazing. … Obviously, ‘Enter Sandman,’ ‘Wherever I May Roam’ … that was the first Metallica song I learned, after ‘Enter Sandman.’ I love The Black Album. It’s perfect; it’s a masterpiece in every way, from front to back, and it’s inspired me, consciously or subconsciously, because I had such a connection to it.”
Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blood Sugar Sex Magik
One of the most important, celebrated albums of the ’90s alt-rock explosion, Blood Sugar saw the Chili Peppers grow up, get deep and, of course, become hugely famous. While songs like “Give It Away” and “Suck My Kiss” still bobbed and weaved with the band’s visceral energy, it was on tracks like the massive “Under the Bridge” and “Breaking the Girl” where they slowed things down and found their biggest commercial successes. Recorded by producer Rick Rubin in a supposedly haunted mansion in Laurel Canyon, its creation has become the stuff of rock legend, and though the Peppers would subsequently sag beneath its success (guitarist John Frusciante, unable to cope with his sudden fame, quit the band mid-tour), Blood Sugar still stands as perhaps the finest accomplishment of their 28-year career. It would be nearly four years before they released a follow-up, though, given the album’s hugely influential status, you really couldn’t blame them.
As Remembered by Mark Pontius, Foster the People: “My favorite record of 1991, and I think the only reason I got this record was my sister had it, and she’s older than me, so it just sort of fell into my lap, is Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Blood Sugar Sex Magik. I think I have to credit that record [for teaching me] a lot of my drumming skills. I loved playing their records, and that one always stuck out to me. It had so much grit, and that was rock and roll at that time of my life.”
What is your favorite 1991 rock album? Let us know in the comments below!
For more on Blood Sugar Sex Magik, head over to the Newsroom blog, where Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis tells us his favorite memories of making the iconic album!