The music world experienced one of its periodic resets in the early 1990s, when a curiously named phenomenon soon to be known as Grunge wiped clean the slate of popular trends and ushered in a thrilling few years of intense creativity and reinvention.
Just as the original rock ‘n’ roll pioneers had done in the 1950s, the Beatles in the ‘60s, punk rockers in the ‘70s, and metallic head-bangers in the ‘80s, this latest generation of rebel artists rudely rejected almost all that had come before — only Grunge conveniently actually reflected its name with onomatopoeic accuracy.
It sounded just like you said it.
And it burned both briefly and brightly (and locally, given its intrinsic but not exclusive ties to the bustling city of Seattle and its surrounding areas), thoroughly dominating not only the musical but cultural landscape of the 1990s, while transforming the world views, life philosophies and even the basic wardrobes of an entire generation.
For perhaps the last time, since the Internet subsequently splintered the planet with infinite multimedia choices, scores of young people were defined and unified by the music they worshipped, and that’s why the legacy of Grunge remains strong, decades after its grip upon the public conscience started to weaken.
So, the time is ripe to revisit this exciting period in music with our picks for the Top 30 Grunge Albums of All Time in the gallery above.
30. Babes in Toyland, ‘Fontanelle’ (1992)
Minneapolis trio Babes in Toyland cranked out Midwestern grunge with their 1990 debut album ‘Spanking Machine,’ but it was the ’92 follow-up, ‘Fontanelle,’ that introduced the fast-growing alt-rock audience to the band’s volatile, caustic sonics and the incensed vocals of frontwoman Kat Bjelland. We should probably point out that the Oregon native is also said to have developed the baby doll image later adopted by Hole’s Courtney Love, as seen all over MTV in the music video for ‘Fontanelle’ single “Bruise Violet.” In any case, Babes in Toyland sadly broke up after one more album, 1995’s cleverly named ‘Nemesisters.’
29. Gruntruck, ‘Push’ (1992)
Singer-guitarist Ben McMillan survived the collapse of protean grunge draftsmen Skin Yard to fight another day, and in 1991, he found an unlikely home with metal label Roadrunner for his new quartet Gruntruck and their first full-length, ‘Inside Yours.’ Alas, such was the deafening buzz around Seattle, by then, that hardly anyone took notice, even though the group’s second (and final) LP, ‘Push,’ delivered even more riff-sculpted handiwork enriched with dark emotional overtones in “Tribe,” “Machine Action” and “Slow Scorch.” Tragically, McMillan later succumbed to a bevy of health issues and joined the ever-lengthening list of gone-to-soon grunge stars in 2008.