Back in 1996 I was the Arts & Entertainment Editor of the Centennial College student newspaper, The Siren. I dug into some of those back issues to find my Top Ten album list from that year.
Looking at the list now it’s a pretty clear reaction against grunge in favour of mostly dark, electronic-based music.
Here it is:
1. Tricky Maxinquaye
2. Massive Attack Protection
3. Future Sound of London ISDN
4. Pop Will Eat Itself Dos Dedos Mis Amigos
5. Neil Young Mirror Ball
6. Blue Resistance
7. Portishead Dummy
8. Teenage Fanclub Grand Prix
9. Nine Inch Nails The Downward Spiral
10. Cypress Hill Temple Of Boom
Nearly a decade-and-a-half later, Maxinquaye remains infinitely listenable. Besides the tepid cover of Public Enemy’s “Black Steel” it still sound intriguing today. It’s probably no longer the #1 on this list, but it’s still a solid Top Five.
Of the trip-hop big three Massive Attack’s Protection is probably the one I care the least about now. That’s not to say I don’t care, it’s just that it’s the album I go back to the least amongst them. Again, if you listen to this album in the now it could still fool the kids into maybe thinking it’s current. Or, at the very least, you can trick ’em into believing “these are the guys who used to produce The Weekend.”
Holy smokes did I ever listen to Future Sound of London’s ISDN a lot back in the day. It’s why I’m very been-there, done-that about Boards of Canada in the present. This was also kinda my last flashback buzz album as I transitioned from student rascal/five-day-a-week rave ‘n’ club kid into person-with-a-job.
I wouldn’t quite call this a guilty pleasure because there’s no guilt in my enjoyment of Pop Will Eat Itself’s Dos Dedos Mis Amigos, but of the albums on this list it’s probably the easiest to peg in terms of being of a certain time, scene and sound.
Neil Young’s Mirror Ball is the only good album Pearl Jam’s ever been part of.
In hindsight, the inclusion of Blue’s Resistance on this list is kinda embarrassing. An electro-dub record on Sabres of Paradise’s label, this selection was clearly an act of showing off my expensive import record collection. The album doesn’t suck, but it wouldn’t make my Top Ten now and it speaks of hanging around a bit too much in the chill out room.
Portishead are where it’s at. After some time and distance, Dummy is probably my #1 album for 1996. And Beth Gibbons was doing witchcore at least 10 years before everyone else was.
I’m not sure why I put Teenage Fanclub’s Grand Prix on my list. I don’t really like Teenage Fanclub or much power pop and I haven’t actually listened to this album since 1996. This song’s OK, though, so perhaps I need to revisit this one:
Ah, Nine Inch Nails. I had this at #9, which means I probably didn’t like it all that much, but as a superfan of the band I had to put The Downward Spiral
on the list. Maybe it’s because the album’s so familiar. After all, it was the album that anchored a certain big-booted, goth-rivethead scene that year and I would have heard it everywhere I went. It can probably stay on this list… but with a leery eye.
Cypress Hill’s Temple Of Boom? Too much time in the chill out room, for sure.
Other album lists…
2015 Top Ten — SUUNS + Jerusalem In My Heart SUUNS + Jerusalem In My Heart is #1
2014 Top Ten — Sharon Van Etten’s Are We There is #1
2013 Top Ten — M.I.A.’s Matangi is #1
2012 Top Ten — Dirty Ghosts’ Metal Moon is #1
2011 Top Ten — Timber Timbre’s Creep On Creepin’ On is #1
2010 Top Ten — The Black Angels’ Phosphene Dream is #1
2009 Top Ten — Gallows’ Grey Britain is #1
2008 Top Ten — Portishead’s Third is #1
2007 Top Ten — Joel Plaskett Emergency’s Ashtray Rock is #1
2006 Top Ten — My Brightest Diamond’s Bring Me The Workhorse is #1
2005 Top Ten — Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Howl is #1
2004 Top Ten — Morrissey’s You Are The Quarry is #1
2003 Top Ten — The Dears’ No Cities Left is #1
2002 Top Ten — Archive’s You All Look The Same To Me is #1
2001 Top Ten — Gord Downie’s Coke Machine Glow is #1
2000 Top Ten — Songs: Ohia’s The Lioness is #1
1999 Top Ten — The Boo Radleys’ Kingsize is #1
1998 Top Ten — Baxter’s Baxter is #1
1996 Top Ten — Tricky’s Maxinquaye is #1