Liner Notes

The Year That Was: 1995

by Benjamin Ray

Coming off the high of 1994, 1995 was bound to be somewhat of a disappointment, but between great alt-rock albums, solid singles and a killer year for women in rock and pop, things turned out well.

Among the best albums of the year was Oasis' sophomore effort What's The Story (Morning Glory), which brought the world "Wonderwall," "Champagne Supernova" and "Don't Look Back In Anger." Pulp's Different Class was a lesser effort in the same Britpop vein; shortly after these two, the movement would more or less die out, as the bands went on to different sounds and the musical landscape changed.

As for other great alt-rock albums, the Smashing Pumpkins offered the double-disc Melon Collie And The Infinite Sadness, which was at turns brilliant, frustrating and adventurous ("1979" and "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" are best known, but the whole thing is worth checking out). The Red Hot Chili Peppers reformed with Dave Navarro for One Hot Minute, a weird druggy metallic version of their sound that didn't sit well with many; better was Alice In Chains' eponymous album ("Again," "Grind," "Heaven Beside You"), the final effort in the sputtering grunge movement and singer Layne Staley's final album with the group (later in the year, Staley joined up with Mad Season and put out the very serious Above). Former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl also debuted with the Foo Fighters in this year, though it was really a solo album, and Filter offered "Hey Man Nice Shot."

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Other worthwhile rock efforts included Collective Soul, Radiohead's The Bends, the Goo Goo Dolls' A Boy Named Goo (with "Name"), Deftones' Adrenaline, Sonic Youth's Washing Machine and the Tragically Hip's Day For Night. Green Day's Insomniac was a semi-mature step away from Dookie and 311 rose to sort of fame with 311. As for one-hit alt-rock wonders, well, there were many: "In The Meantime" (Spacehog), "Possum Kingdom" (Toadies), "Counting Blue Cars" (Dishwalla) "Breakfast At Tiffany's" (Deep Blue Something), "Good" (Better Than Ezra), "Everything Falls Apart" (Dog's Eye View), "Misery" (Soul Asylum) and, of course, "Roll To Me" (Del Amitri).

Women in rock stepped up in a major way in 1995. This was the year Alanis Morrisette turned heads with Jagged Little Pill and "You Oughta Know," "Ironic" and "Hand In My Pocket," while Gwen Stefani's No Doubt made a splash with Tragic Kingdom ("Don't Speak," "Just A Girl"). Jewel's Pieces Of You offered "You Were Meant For Me" and "Who Will Save Your Soul," Dionne Farris had "I Know," Garbage offered its debut ("Stupid Girl," "Only Happy When it Rains"), PJ Harvey released To  Bring You My Love, Bjork had Post and Natalie Merchant put out "Carnival."

In the pop world, Mariah Carey became an even bigger star with Daydream, the best album of her career. Other pop hits included Bryan Adams doing yet another ballad ("Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?"), All-4-One's "I Can Love You Like That," Blessid Union Of Souls' "I Believe," Bon Jovi's "This Ain't A Love Song," Carey and Boyz II Men on the hit duet "One Sweet Day," Michael and Janet Jackson's "Scream," the Rembrandts' Friends theme "I'll Be There For You," Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It" and Shaggy's "Boombastic."

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1994 had been a banner year for hip-hop, but some good albums dropped this year as well, including 2Pac's fine Me Against the World, Coolio's Gangsta's Paradise, Goodie Mob's Soul Food, Mobb Deep's Infamous, Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx (considered the best of the Wu-Tang Clan solo albums), the debut from KRS-One, Dr. Dre's "Keep Their Heads Ringin'" and GZA's Liquid Swords (another solid Wu solo effort).

Progressive rockers King Crimson also picked 1995 as the year to reform with a "double trio" format and THRAK, their best album since 1981's Discipline. Pink Floyd went on tour and released the double-disc Pulse; despite an entire performance of Dark Side Of The Moon, the best thing about the disc was the blinking red dot on the spine. Steely Dan also came back with Alive In America, but most listeners were asleep by the fourth song. Human League, which had a few ‘80s hits, also offered "Tell Me When," a mature update on their sound, while Tom Petty offered "You Don't Know How It Feels."

One final note: Christian music gained a larger following with the debut from Jars Of Clay, a moving, uplifting and never preachy outing, and "Flood" became a crossover hit.

And that, friends, is the Year That Was in music.




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