Photo: David Lee / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)
Our 1991’s Best Rock Album list presents a year in rock and roll that completely transformed the music business. The year was fueled by a teenage rebellion not seen since the 1960s. It wasn’t a political or economic rebellion, but rather a musical one. Tired of the 1980s big hair glam bands like Poison and Cinderella, a new movement called Grunge swept the rock and roll world. The grunge movement that had been brewing in the city of Seattle would be ignited on a world wide basis by the release of Nirvana’s Nevermindalbum. I had not seen young teenagers taken back and inspired by a musical band like they were by Nirvana in almost twenty years.
It was not only Nirvana that captured the attention of rock fans. Great new bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden set the stage for a decade of great new rock music, and a sound that 1990’s teenagers could call their own. Many of those bands had been around for a while, but 1991 was the year that they all captured a national audience. Those great new bands also excited 20 and 30 somethings that had grown up during the Led Zeppelin era of the 1970s.
1991 presented metal fans with one of the decades greatest albums. Metallica blew people’s minds with their album Metallica (Black Album) and there soon to be be iconic song “Enter Sandman.” Standing somewhere in between metal and grunge, identifying rock and roll at its finest was Guns N’ Roses phenomenal multiple CD releases of Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II. Fans wold debate which album they liked better. In the end, it didn’t really matter, both Illusion albums were fantastic.
U2 also came roaring back in 1991 with the album Acthung Baby. It was a record that presented fans with a completely new sound wrapped in great new songs and a modern attitude that showed U2 was ready to compete with modernity by leading the way. It stands as one of their greatest works. Some U2 fans feel its their best album the band has ever released.
In 1990, rock fans welcomed back the return of the Allman Brothers Band. In 1991, fans were once again greeted with another returning legendary southern rock band. Lynyrd Skynyrd released their first new album of materiel since the tragic plane crash of 1977. The new album entitled Lynyrd Skynyrd 1991 would launch the band’s second act with Ronnie Van Zant’s younger brother Johnny Van Zant on lead vocals.
Like every year we have covered since 1960, the second year of the decade of the 1990s is filled with music that crosses musical genres. Some years have great top 10’s and others so so top 10’s. 1991 has one of the best we have ever seen.
Brian Kay is the founder and Editor in Chief of ClassicRockHistory.com. He has spent thirty years in the music business often working with many of the people who have appeared on this site. Brian Kay also holds B.A. and M.A. degrees from Stony Brook University in History, and New York State Public School Teacher Certifications in Music and the Social Sciences. Brian Kay is also an active member of the New York Press Club