The 90's were a magical time for music. The entire decade. Even the teen pop from the late 90's is a guilty pleasure for me. And throughout the entire decade there were a lot of crappy albums, and a lot of fantastic and unique albums. Of course I listen to the fantastic albums.
There's albums from the 90's that haven't gotten their fair share of respect either. But I'm not talking about Weezer's magnum opus Pinkerton, we all know it's a great album now. I'm talking about albums that either haven't been really recognized or are still polarizing fans of the bands. I have quite a few that I'd like to mention. And no, I'm not a big fan of One Hot Minute by the Chili Peppers, never was, never will. And though Radiohead is my favorite band, Pablo Honey still sucks, aside from "Creep." In no particular order, here are my favorite underrated 90's gems in music (from the rock side, I'll explore the hip hop side some time later.)
311-Transistor: 311 came into the mainstream back in 1995 thanks to "Down" and "All Mixed Up", with their self titled album selling 3 million copies in America alone. Their next album, 1997's Transistor, was also successful, but not AS successful, because it was a departure from the rap metal and funk from their previous album. Now, it's appreciated by 311 fans, but not the level of appreciation Weezer's Pinkerton has now, which is kind of a shame. This is easily my favorite of 311's albums, thanks to its experimentation, diversity, and length. The singles "Transistor", "Beautiful Disaster", and "Prisoner" are 311 masterpieces, but the non singles are the best, with gems such as "Creature Feature", "Inner Light Spectrum", "Electricity", "What Was I Thinking" with its distorted vocals from Nick Hexum, and of course, the best song on the album, "Use of Time", which may be 311's best song ever. Really the album has a nice dark, agressive, relaxing, and Space Rock/Reggae sound to it. No other 311 album can come close to it. In fact, I was just listening to it today! This is also one of my twin brother's favorite albums of all time as well.
Smashing Pumpkins-Adore: These guys are one of my favorite bands of all time, and one of the best things for your ears EVER. Pure geniuses, or I should say Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlain are geniuses. They drew the attention of Alternative Rock audiences with Gish in 1991, then released two amazing albums that redefined rock forever; 1993's Siamese Dream and 1995's double album masterpiece Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness, the latter of which is hands down their greatest achievement ever, and my favorite album from them. Pisces Iscariot was even a masterpiece in of its own (the b sides were amazing), and The Aeroplane Flies High proves that the Pumpkins could have made three or four more fantastic rock albums with the discography they had there (on a further note, not only should have the title track been on Mellon Collie, it should have been the final song from the album. Amazing.) Corgan's guitar technique involved layered guitars driven by heavy dreamy guitar sounds and riffs involving different guitar octaves, and his unique and instantly recognizable voice involved nasally screams and tons of falsettos. The Pumpkins were huge in the early to mid 90's, but when Adore came out in 1998, it polarized everyone, because it was entirely electronic. Even now, it's been in the shadows of Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie, but that doesn't mean it's any less good. It's a great album, featuring gems such as "Ava Adore" "Perfect", "Once Upon a Time", and the severely underrated gems "Appels and Oranjes" and "Shame", the latter of which is a haunting masterpiece in my opinion. Adore may sound more like the band Garbage than a traditional Pumpkins album, but I'll be damned if it isn't a great one.
Sublime-Robbin' The Hood: If you've paid attention, you know that I am a huge fan of Sublime (I'm wearing a Sublime t-shirt as of this writing). 1994 was maybe the best year for music in the 90's, and seeing Robbin' The Hood unrecognized by fans of 40 Oz. To Freedom and the self titled album Sublime is shameful. Yes it has a lower quality of sound, but it's the bands most experimental, including tons of dubs that would be considered filler if this was taken seriously. Even so, it's a great album, including the greats "Pool Shark", "Greatest Hits", the amazing cover of "Falling Idols", "All You Need", "S.T.P." (no, not the kickass band of the same name), "Cisco Kid", and "Boss D.J.". It also includes the hilarious "Raleigh Siloquy" trilogy, featuring ACTUAL RECORDINGS OF A CRAZY PERSON. This is a treat for hardcore Sublime fans, no doubt about it.
Green Day-Insomniac: Dookie was the biggest rock record of 1994, and redifined punk rock music (or in this case pop punk) forever, along with The Offspring's smash hit....uh...Smash :D. Now 1995's Insomniac wasn't near the popularity of Dookie, but it actually did well back in the day (selling 2 million in America and more than 8 million worldwide), and the band still rocked arena concerts in the mid 90's. So why is it on here? Well usually most Green Day fans listen to Dookie, American Idiot, and (God forbid) 21st Century Breakdown, as well as Nimrod, probably just for "Good Ridance". But Insomniac is underrated, because it's taken the In Utero train, having a heavier and more abrassive sound than Dookie. The fact is that this is a great album, and the singles "Brain Stew/Jaded" and "Geek Stink Breath" kick so much ass, and "Tight Wad Hill", "No Pride", and "Walking Contradiction" are some of the gems in this hidden gem. But the best song has to be "Panic Song", containing one of the greatest intro buildups of ALL TIME. 1995 was a great year for music, and it even had time for hidden gems like Insomniac.
Helmet-Meantime: It's a crime that Helmet is underrated. If you read my Need For Speed Underground 2 Gamecube review, I said said they were awful and I never heard of them. I am an idiot...
Anyways, Helmet is severely underrated, because they were one of the most influential 90's bands ever. Seriously. All those great Alternative Metal bands with wooden snare drums, tempo changes, and staccato guitars? Helmet started that. Great alternative metal bands like Tool, Rage Against The Machine, White Zombie, Primus, Nine Inch Nails, and even horrible nu metal bands? Helmet influenced them. If you listened to bands influenced by Helmet, and 1992's Meantime especially, before listening to them like me, you may find it a little stale at first, because they've done what so many of these bands have done. But it's a great album for your ears, including the successful "Unsung", the kickass hardcore "In the Meantime", the rock n roll inspired "Give It", and "Role Model." Their 1994 album Betty might be even more underrated, but this takes the cake because it was especially influential on pretty much EVERY ALTERNATIVE METAL BAND IN EXISTENCE.
Temple of the Dog-Temple of the Dog: Seriously, this needs more recognition than it already does. the 1990 self titled album was the only album the band ever made, since it was a tribute to Mother Love Bone, but it's influential because it laid the groundwork for Grunge in the early 90's, and it had members from both Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. This is a great album, featuring the greats "Hunger Strike", "Say Hello 2 Heaven", "Pushin Forward Back", and "Call Me A Dog." If that isn't reason enough to call this underrated, than I don't know what else is.
Third Eye Blind-Third Eye Blind: "Wait, Blueguy, this album sold six million copies in America. What's it doing here?" Yes, you heard me, THIS ALBUM IS UNDERRATED!!!! Now hang on, yes it was extremely successful back in 1997 and it still is today, and the always timeless greats "Semi Charmed Life" (a song about drugs), "Jumper", and "How It's Going To Be" give me and millions of other 90's kids so much nostalgia for better days. But as a album at whole, yes, it's underrated now. Have you even heard the fourth single "Graduate"? Terrific modern rock radio song. "London"? wonderful song that would be embraced by todays Alternative Rock fans. "Background"? Damn what a great song. Hell the whole album is great, and lies in the shadow of the three singles that reached the top of the charts back in the late 90's. Sure they're a poppier version of Alternative Rock, but Third Eye Blind has a nice Arena Rock sound to them that makes it appealing anyways. And the non singles are severely underrated if you ask me, which is why it's on this list.
That's all I have for now. If anyone would like to mention any more underrated 90's rock albums they love, let me know in the comments. Your thoughts?