The 1990s were a tough time for a young Metal fan and these are the Top 10 albums of the era that helped me get through it! If I knew then what I know now things would maybe be different but these are all still amazing albums from that decade.
10: Def Leppard – Retroactive (1993)
I really wanted to leave this out but just couldn’t! It’s really a mix of new and old spruced-up recordings, many of which feature the guitar playing of Steve Clark (who had died a few years before this hit the shelves). Not as glossy as the preceding Adrenalize and has much more of their rougher Metal roots on display in tracks like Desert Song and Ride Into the Sun. There are also some interesting diversions like the excellent Action (a cover of The Sweet’s classic) and the folky From the Inside. A few too many ballads for my liking but, overall, this is a great chunk of classic Def Leppard.
Their next effort, Slang, would prove controversial but was also a release I enjoyed later in the 90s. Retroactive pips it though for connecting more with their traditional style. This would have been placed higher but I appreciate that the old material makes it a bit of a cop-out!
9: Bruce Dickinson – Balls To Picasso (1994)
Tough call here as Bruce’s solo years resulted in many great and challenging albums through the 90s. I was tired of Maiden with Bruce as they began sounding really tired on No Prayer for the Dying and Fear of the Dark. But when I first heard the lead-off single Tears of the Dragon I was hugely surprised at how good it was. Passionate, sweeping and epic with a great guitar solo too. While it didn’t sound much like Maiden, I felt the same excitement hearing this that I got from hearing Maiden for the first time. The awesome B-Side tracks The Breeding House and No Way Out.. To Be Continued only added to my excitement and anticipation.
The album, when released, was a shade disappointing with it’s terrible cover, Latin feel and, ulp, rapping (!) but it proved a real grower and a fantastic live show at the Garage in Glasgow encouraged further listens. It has become a real summer favourite and there are some great tracks on here like the aforementioned Tears.., 1000 Points of Light, Gods of War and Sacred Cowboys (which even rapping couldn’t ruin). The album featured the very talented Roy Z who went on to become an in-demand producer and frequent collaborator with Bruce.
I had a new level of respect for Bruce for going out on a limb during this period and I really appreciate curveballs like this. There was also the fringe benefit of being able to see such a legend playing small intimate venues throughout the 90s (and sometimes with Adrian Smith in tow too!).
Bruce would go on to better things like Accident of Birth but that feels more to me like a millenium album whereas this kept me entertained throughout the 90s.
8: Motorhead – 1916 (1991)
My brother learned to drive early in the 90s and many, many hours were spent hairing around in his Ford Fiesta cranking out music. This album had a great production and sounded absolutely huge in the car, becoming a mainstay for years.
Everyone knows about Motorhead so I don’t need to say much about them. This is the best stuff from their twin-guitar era of Wurzel and Phil Campbell and there is some mighty playing and riffs on here. I’m So Bad (Baby I Don’t Care) has a great title and superb heavy blues riffing. It still still features heavily in the bands sets along with the Chuck Berry-ish Going to Brazil. There are many other great tracks here like Make My Day, The One to Sing the Blues, R.A.M.O.N.E.S. and Love Me Forever (a rare stab at a ballad). If I’m being honest, we tended to stop the album before the last track, 1916, spoiled the mood with it’s blood and mud and guts war misery but that’s the only weak moment here.
Like Star Trek films Motorhead often alternate good releases with ropey ones and the follow-up to this, March or Die, maintained that pattern. But you can’t keep a legendary band down and Motorhead still rock out with their cocks out. Hooray!
Top 10 Albums That Helped Me Through The 90s – Introduction
Top 10 Albums That Helped Me Through The 90s – Positions 5 to 7
Top 10 Albums That Helped Me Through The 90s – Positions 2 to 4
Top 10 Albums That Helped Me Through The 90s – Number 1!