10 best rock albums of the 90s

Nirvana - Nevermind

Kurt Cobain would have been the first to tell you that an album's worth isn't gauged by how many copies it sells but by it's artistic value, there was no denying Nevermind was both a critical and commecial success of mega proportion. Grunge was beginning to rise in 1991 but this album was the catalyst the drove it deep into the mainstream at the time dominated by solo and lip syncing pop stars. An ultimate rock album it has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide

The Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness

Described by Billy Corgan as "The Wall for generation X" comparing it to the hugely successful album by Pink Floyd. Although this comparison may have been a bit arrogant the time, the album went on to sell 9.8 million copies in the US alone. This double disc, 28 song album entered the Billboard 200 at #1, was nominated for 7 grammys and spawned 6 singles. The album combines loud distorted guitars with soft piano and acoustic beauty. Regarded by many as the band's greatest album.

Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral

The second full album by Nine Inch Nails(third disc overall) which put the band on the map as a major force in the hard rock/metal mainstream. Written, recorded and produced by creator Trent Reznor with a revolving door of session and band members and a few influential names pulled into the studio to work on it. At the time Trent once said that The Downward Spiral was his outlet let out his anger, pain and heavy depression and discontent. The album went on to sell more than 5 million copies and entered the billboard 200 at #2.

Soundgarden - Superunknown

Ripe with incredible riffs, melodies and guitar solos this album brought Soundgarden into the mainstream. A disc that had absolutely no filler every track a rock masterpiece. Superunknown entered the billboard 200 at #1, five singles were released. With this album they won two grammy awards and sold over 5 million copies. Soundgarden would release one more album after this disc breaking up until reuniting in 2009.

Tool - Aenima

Aenima is one of those uniquely crafted albums full of psychedelic guitar and abrasive riffs all the while Maynard Keenan's vocals riding wave after wave of each musical nuance. This album won a grammy for best metal performance and sold 3.5 million copies in the US alone. This album more than what came before or after defined Tool as a band and ensured that any future albums released would always draw massive attention.

Pearl Jam - Ten

When Pearl Jam first formed from the remanants of Mother Love Bone they were just another grunge band from Seattle, but the the release of their debut album and the staying power it had on the charts it became clear they were much more. Long after the release in 1992 the album rose to #2 on the billboard 200. As of 2011 the album has been certified diamond with sales of more than 10 million copies.

Marilyn Manson - Antichrist Superstar

When this album released everyone knew the name Marilyn Manson whether you hated him or loved his music even now it is difficult to find someone who hasn't heard the name. Manson is said to be the new shock rocker for the 1990s taking over what Ozzy Osbourne and Alice Cooper had done for the 1970s and 1980s. The album was produced and even a little of the instrumentation was done by Trent Reznor and released through his label, Nothing Records. It sold more than 7 million copies.

Bush - Sixteen Stone

This was the band's breakthrough disc rocketing them into the mainstream. Full of crunching riffs and howling gruff vocals from Gavin Rossdale. Thanks to singles like Glycerine and Comedown gaining heavy rotation on rock radio and videos on MTV Bush became the new name of post grunge.

Radiohead - OK Computer

Radiohead's art rock alternative masterpiece landed at #1 on the UK charts signalling a new shift in the alternative genre coming out of the United Kingdom. By this point Radiohead had gain much popularity in the US as well. The album sold 4.5 million copies and won numerous awards and accolades. A little more atmospheric musically than their previous album, the bends, I marked the beginnings of the more experimental work by Radiohead.

Alice In Chains - Dirt

Back when Alice in Chains were in their prime "Dirt," sold over 4 million copies. Five singles were released from: "Would?," "Them Bones," "Angry Chair," "Rooster," and "Down in a Hole." Alice In Chains won a MTV video music award for the song "Would?," in the category for best song from a film as it was used in the Cameron Crowe film Singles. Alice in Chains like a few of their counterparts(Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots) would reunite to record a new album and tour with a new frontman replacing the deceased Layne Staley, still gaining a lot of commercial and critical success.

More by this Author


Comments 21 comments

TheWordMan profile image

TheWordMan 5 years ago from Bronx, New York

This is a great collection. I would have replaced Bush with Weezer's Blue Album because it was such a great sound and it really put alternative rock on the map.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 5 years ago from North America Author

It was difficult choosing a list of ten to do. There are a lot of really good albums from the 90s, I agree the Blue album from Weezer is awesome as well. Maybe I should do a list of 100 next!


twilanelson profile image

twilanelson 5 years ago from Carmichael, California

Perfectly detailed and written Hub with awesome album picks and extraordinary writing style.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 5 years ago from North America Author

Thank you so much I'll have to check out your hubs too :)


Highvoltagewriter profile image

Highvoltagewriter 5 years ago from Savannah GA.

You did a great job on this, and overall I would agree with your selection, especially Nirvana's "Never Mind" in the number one spot! That is one of my favourite albums of the 1990s and is on my top one hundred albums from 1970-1990s!


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 5 years ago from North America Author

Thanks a bunch, yeah I couldn't envision the list without Nevermind at #1, it is a very good album.


epigramman profile image

epigramman 5 years ago

.....well this is a most definitive album hub - being 53 myself I guess you could say that I grew up with the 70's and 80's decades as a young man - but great music is great music, as you know, in any decade, and will always stand the test of time.

lake erie ontario canada 11:39pm

great work here says the epi-man - I should know, I fancy myself as a - lol - musicologist!


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 5 years ago from California

I have some of these albums. Some of the best of grunge can be found here. Good job. Later!


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 5 years ago from North America Author

yep it was difficult getting it down to 10 as there are som many good albums from the era


VeronicaFarkas profile image

VeronicaFarkas 5 years ago from Ohio, USA

I'm so glad that I'm not the only one that still loves & appreciates 90's rock!! I'd take out Tool & replace it w/ Rage (ATM). ;)


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 5 years ago from North America Author

VeronicaFarkas - yes I know it was pretty hard to narrow it down to 10 for sure, I really like Rage Against The Machine too.


Lapse profile image

Lapse 5 years ago from East Coast Rules

These top 10 lists are so sujective with people having different tastes, but like others have said yours is legit with Nirvana up there. Love me some Downward, Spiral, Ten, and Dirt too... Only thing you should add is a final section of honorable mentions with about 3 to 5 albums that you struggled over keeping out so your peeps know you didn't forget stuff like Weezer's Blue Album which I would have added.

Good read!


jeanine 5 years ago

Brendon O'brian, produced more than one of these albums you listed... He is from Atlanta, Ga. and was with the Ga.Satellites before he started producing... great guitarist and knew more about recording drums than almost anyone... did magic things with cymbals... would set up the bands live... Soundgarden and Pearl Jam... putting a sock in the tweeters of big amps and record the live bands playing together... and amazing thing for the time... Mixed the "Vitology" record in three weeks... cut it in a month and a half I think... I loved and still do love "The Foo Fighters"...


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 5 years ago from North America Author

Weezer! Yet another one I forgot, thanks for reminding me


Lapse profile image

Lapse 5 years ago from East Coast Rules

No no can't take credit from TheWordMan. Very first post in the hub. He got Weezer.

Just looked up... Rage Against the Machine / Self titled... Gotta be top 10 for me.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 5 years ago from North America Author

jeanine - sounds cool!


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

Lapse - Ah, yes I remember, thanks.


somethgblue profile image

somethgblue 4 years ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

I always love checking out someone else's best or top ten music, so I can find some music that I may have missed, being almost fifty now there is a lot out there, that for whatever reason I just didn't listen to.

Dirt, Nevermind, Ten, Downward Spiral and Superunknown I pretty much wore out, but the others I didn't, so I get to listen to them now, thanx!

Good Hub!


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

somethgblue - no problem hope you enjoy the others, if you like the ones you wore out your bound too, I wore out all of the ones you mentioned too :)


FreelancerA profile image

FreelancerA 4 years ago from Portland

Pretty good list for a decade that had a TON of good music. Would agree with everything but Bush. Looking back I'm not sure how that album was so popular. I must admit that I owned it, however.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

FreelancerA yes, it was difficult doing a top 10, doing a top 100 for the 1990s might be easier :)

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working