Category Archives: Features

Top Albums from 1991, In honor of Lollapalooza

2011 is the 20th Anniversary of the wildly successful Lollapalooza festival, where Eminem is entertaining a few hundred thousand smelly, tired and likely inebriated folks at Chicago’s Grant Park as I type this…  I remember Jane’s Addiction and Nine Inch Nails leading the bill on that first circuit, but couldn’t recall whether it was really a good year for music.  Digging  through my vinyl collection, I’d say there weren’t really too many worthwhile albums, but the top few were absolute killers – leaving a lasting impression on the Rock and Roll landscape for many years.

Follow @rarasfarm

So, here they are, according to me:

      10. Guns and Roses – Use Your Illusion II

        Volume II of this set was clearly the better of the two.  This one included classics like “Civil War,” “You Could Be Mine,” and a tremendous version of Dylan’s oft-covered “Knocking On Heaven’s Door.”

Use Your Illusion II - Guns N' Roses

      9. Ozzy Osbourne – No More Tears

        This was Ozzy’s biggest hit album since his Blizzard of Oz debut effort, and featured the title track, “Time After Time,” and “Mama, I’m Coming Home”

No More Tears - Ozzy Osbourne

      8. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik

        This was the Peppers breakthrough album and biggest commercial success. You’ll find “Give It Away,” “Suck My Kiss,” “Under the Bridge” and my all-time favorite Chili Peppers tune “Breaking the Girl.”

Blood Sugar Sex Magik - Red Hot Chili Peppers

      7. Voice of the Beehive – Honey Lingers

        This album got a wee bit of airplay on college radio, but deserved much more attention. If you haven’t heard it, I highly recommend that you check out the great harmonies and poppy tunes. The whole album is good, particularly “Monsters and Angels,” “Little Gods,” and a great cover of the Partridge Family’s “I Think I Love You.”

Honey Lingers - Voice of the Beehive

      6. Spin Doctors – Pocket Full of Kryptonite

        Their debut album, and by far their most successful.  This one was packed with great tunes, including “Jimmy Olsen Blue’s,” “What Time Is It,” “Two Princes,” amd “ Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong.”

Pocket Full of Kryptonite - Spin Doctors

      5. REM – Out of Time

        This is not the band’s best album, nor most successful, but there’s lots of good stuff packed in here, including the under-rated “Texarkana.” You’ll also hear “Radio Song,” “Losing My Religion” and “Shiny Happy People”

Out of Time - R.E.M.

      4. Pearl Jam – Ten

        These next four albums are clearly in a different league than anything else we heard in 1991.  Ten was the explosive debut of this Seattle band’s powerful new sound.  It ushered them onto the scene and along with our #3 selection, inspired the Grunge period of rock and roll for the rest of the decade. The album features “Once,” “Even Flow” and one of rock’s greatest songs ever. “Jeremy.”

      3. Nirvana – Nevermind

        No, I am not on drugs. I realize this is a great album, made a marked impact on the direction of rock music and sold over 30 million copies, but I truly feel it was only the 3rd best album in 1991.  Along with Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains, Nirvana led the Seattle area grunge scene.  This is the album where you’ll find rock anthems such as “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “In Bloom” and “Come As You Are.” It’s a great effort, but I truly feel it gets more credit than it deserves primarily due to Kurt Cobain’s untimely death.

      2. Metallica – Black album

        This is the one that put these heavy metal monsters on the world-wide map.  This album sold 20 million copies and was still releasing singles 2 years after it was rolled out.  Every song is great, and they are all timeless; as good and as relevant today as they were 20 years ago. The biggest hits on the album “Enter Sandman,” “The Unforgiven,” “Wherever I May Roam” and “Nothing Else Matters” caused some of their original fans to claim they had sold out. Although the music was more refined, it still contained the same passion, drive and energy as their early 80’s stuff.

      1. U2 – Achtung Baby

        In ’91, U2 was at a cross roads, their last album Rattle and Hum kind of meandered, and it seemed as though the band didn’t know where they should be headed.  I recall this album’s release delayed a few times, and then when I finally heard it, thought ‘wow’ this is something different. A little alternative, some industrial techno and a dash of dance: as it turns out, it was a recipe for success.  The tracks are very diverse, but every song is a great listen, and they actually seem to go together very well. The track listing includes “Zoo Station,” “Even Better Than the Real Thing,” “One,” “The Fly,” “Mysterious Ways” and my favorite “Ultraviolet (Light My Way).”

The Top Driving Songs of All-Time


As I get ready to embark on a 20 hour road trip up the East Coast, I was thinking about the best driving songs of all-time. Back in the day, it was Jolt Cola and No-Doz, now it’ll be Monster and 5 Hour Energy, but it doesn’t matter if you’re stuck listening to Air Supply and those frenetic backwoods preachers who monopolize small town late night radio.  I’ll have my trusty XM radio to get me through the many miles of rock-free radio badlands, but it would be nice to throw a handful of tunes on my iPod to help me through the painful late night hours as my body tries to nod off.

So, the Best Driving Songs of All-Time? That pretty subjective, eh? It sure is – and I’ll admit, my tastes are probably a lot different than yours. I tend to like the songs a little heavier and maybe a bit darker than the norm. No, you will not see Eddie Rabbit’s “I Love the Rainy Nights” on this list, but you’ll know most of these tunes.

My rules – Pretty Simple: I like the song and only one per artist.

Follow @rarasfarm

So, here they are in reverse order – one for every hour of the trip:

20. “Stop,” Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, 2003 and  “Head On,” The Jesus and Mary Chain, 1989 – sorry, couldn’t leave either one out with a clear conscience. Two hard charging cuts.
19.  “Hey Tonight,” Creedence Clearwater Revival, 1971 – Great for cruising down a long country road, singing along with your buddies.
18. ” L.S.F.,” Kasabian, 2004 – Good modern driving stuff from these talented Brits.
17. “Running Down a Dream,” Tom Petty, 1989 – Another artist with a bunch to choose from. Not my favorite Petty song, but the best to drive to.
16. “Sleep Alone,” Heart, 1983 – This one from Passion Works is very under-rated, with fantastic guitar work and great soundtrack for the highway.
15. “Highway Star,” Deep Purple, 1972 – Machine Head is just a great driving album with a few worthy candidates, I thought this was a little better than “Space Truckin.”
14. “Life On A Chain” Pete Yorn,  2001 – under-rated song, and a great driving tune, from an under-rated artist.
13. “Lunatic Fringe,” Red Rider, 1981 – featured in half of the movies and TV shows from the 80’s – typically while the protagonist was fleeing down a dark roadway in the dark of night.
12. “Midnite Maniac,” Krokus, 1984 – these hard rockers were the pride of Switzerland, and had some great driving music. This was their best.
11. “Slow Ride,” Foghat, 1975 – another classic rock tune that is just perfect in the car.

SMS Audio STREET by 50

10. “Lucretia My Reflection,” Sisters of Mercy – This 1988 tune has a great driving bass line and haunting lyrics about the destruction of an empire. Cheery stuff to keep your energy going.  Crank it up!

9. “Immigrant Song,” Led Zeppelin – A 1970 song about Iceland, surprisingly from my least favorite Led Zep album. It’s a great driving tune that starts with a wicked scream from Robert Plant and features a furious driving Bonham beat the remainder of the song.

8. “The Passenger,” Iggy Pop – This one was reborn a few years ago, but initially released in 1977.  Written about riding a train in Germany. If it’s good for train travel, that’s close enough for us.

7.  “Take It Easy,” Eagles – It was the Eagles first single way back in 1972. This Jackson Browne penned hit requires the top down, or at least the windows open.

6. “Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues,” The Eels – This was actually an after thought and a bonus track on their 2000 album Daisies of the Galaxy. It later became the theme to Road Trip. Fun, fun stuff; “It’s a beautiful day, uh huh…”

5. “Gonna Raise Hell,” Cheap Trick, 1979.  9 minutes and 20 seconds of perfection.  Bun E. Carlos drives the beat, Robin’s vocals are fantastic, and Rick’s guitar doesn’t exactly suck either.

4. “Sherry Darling,” Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band – Springsteen has more than a few good candidates, but this one from 1980’s The River, is a blast to drive to – again: windows down. “I got some beer, and the highway’s free.”

3. “Ride On,” AC/DC – From the 1976 Dirty Deeds album, this haunting driving song is Bon Scott at his absolute best. So perfectly Bon, that Brian Johnson won’t even touch it. Perfect for late night cruising down a deserted highway.

2. “Back Where I Started,” Box of Frogs – the only hit from this reformed incarnation of the Yardbirds. The 1983 hit features Jeff Beck’s guitar and a killer beat. I picture this one cranking loudly as I drive through the swamps of Louisiana or backwoods of WV trying to avoid the locals from Deliverance.

1. “Radar Love,” Golden Earring – This 1973 hit from the veteran Dutch rockers was an instant driving classic. It stands the test of time and is as great today as it was 30 years ago. It was the first tune I thought of, and nothing I considered knocked it out of my top spot. Crank down the windows, crank up the volume and watch out for the cops…

So, how did I do? If I survive the drive, I look forward to reading your feedback.

-Cretin-

9/19 – Yo Animals – I just set-up a Playlist on Spotify with the great majority of these songs. Check it out next time you hit Route 66, The Highway to Hell, or the Backstreets… RARA’s Farm Top Driving Songs