‘Spillyear 1991

Happy New Year everybody – let’s hope it’s full of music and the RR community continues to thrive one way or another.

2016 marks the 25th anniversary of the greatest year for music ever: 1991. OK, perhaps that’s a subjective judgement – but it was the year I bought my first record (and second, third, fourth etc.), and it had Screamadelica, Nevermind, Out of Time, Loveless, Blue Lines, Foxbase Alpha, Bandwagonesque – oh my, I could go on and on.

So what were you listening to then? What do you still listen to now? What were you up to with life and stuff?

Refugees from the Mothership: please join us. The rules are simple. Pick three songs from the year, and please add them to the playlist if you can be bothered. And have fun.

Having discovered that YouTube does now allow collaborative playlists, I’ve tried to set one up there. Hopefully this will make it easier to listen on mobiles etc., and be a bit more user friendly than Boombox. Hopefully it will work. If it doesn’t, let me know.

Listen to the playlist and add your tracks here


108 thoughts on “‘Spillyear 1991

  1. Leaving out some of the more obvious choices, I’ve kicked off the playlist with:

    Teenage Fanclub – The Concept
    (because I thought this was pretty much the coolest thing ever)

    Inspiral Carpets – Sleep Well Tonight
    (from the first indie record I bought – previous purchases were the Beautiful South and, um, Queen, which I loved but knew weren’t quite the thing)

    The Wonderstuff – Welcome To The Cheap Seats
    (because I felt like it. Also because Kirsty McColl).

    So, so many others… but will let other people have a turn first.

    • I’m trying to get some work finished and you put up 1991 – grr – gruff – stay focused…
      “Oh baby
      Of Massachusetts, please
      It’s educational
      It’s educational
      It’s educational
      It’s educational
      It’s educational”

      • I moved to California very early in 1991, and ended up getting a job at UCLA. Come summertime, i got shipped back to the boonies of the east coast to do research – guess where?

  2. I am pretty sure that I wasn’t getting into all the exciting new stuff that came along in 1991. I didn’t know about My Bloody Valentine and Loveless until a couple of years later and Throwing MusesThe Real Ramona was another album I didn’t discover until later on either.

    As I mentioned on the 1992 post, 1991 was the year I first owned a CD player of my own and the last vinyl album I ever bought was Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues by Buddy Guy, so I have to pick a track from that.

    Here is a list of other things I bought in 1991;

    Massive AttackBlue Lines
    Red Hot Chilli PeppersBlood Sugar Sex Magic
    Joni MitchellNight Ride Home
    REMOut Of Time
    Bonnie RaittLuck Of The Draw
    PrinceDiamonds And Pearls

    Picking tracks is tricky (isn’t it always?) though. To be true to what I liked back then, I ought to pick a track from the Joni album, even though I never play it any more, mainly because I gave it away ages ago because I stopped liking it. So, I won’t.


    Buddy Guy – Mustang Sally
    Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy
    R.E.M – Near Wild Heaven

  3. !991 I’d finished all my flaffing around India and was back in Chennai. Pretty cocky too if I remember myself in those days. Also beginning of the thaw in contrls and we could buy music as it was released and not wait for 2-3 years. Definitely REM made a big splash that year.so
    1. REM Losing My Religion REM
    2. End Of The Line Allman Brothers
    3. Night Ride Home – Joni Mitchell’
    (Are we allowed to say the same band/artist as another Spill regular?)

  4. The new stuff I was listening to in 1991 included Hole, Babes in Toyland and Julian Cope, but the singles that I remember jumping around to were

    1) Billy Bragg – Sexuality
    2) Blur – There’s No Other Way
    3) Nine Inch Nails – Head Like A Hole

    Still like those 3.

    • Donds for those. Doesn’t Billy Bragg look young in that video? (as do Blur, obviously). Kirsty McColl was busy on backing vocals that year – I think she had an album of her own out too.

      • Oh, I was trying to reply to lgconnolly there. I went to univeristy in Essex and Blur played live all the time, so although I’m not generally a fan, I feel I should include that track. Kirsty was a busy girl.

  5. Well if Ravi isn’t having REM I shall………..

    Julee Cruise – Rocking Back Inside My Heart
    REM – Losing My Religion
    Honolulu Mountain Daffodils – Free Men of Mauna Loa

    • That Julee Cruise track is gorgeous, and newtome – I only know the Twin Peaks one. Enjoying Honolulu Mountain Daffodils too – never heard of them.

      • I think Julee Cruise also sung this song in an episode of Twin peaks. The one where another horrible murder is taking place while Agent Wossname is elsewhere watching a musical performance.
        Here’s a link to the stuff I wrote (partly) about the Honolulus earlier this year.


  6. A good year for me as American “indie” came of age –

    Gimme Indie Rock – Sebadoh
    Throwing Things – Superchunk
    Heckler Spray – Pavement

  7. Well, I don’t know – it looks as though all my favourites were taking a year off in ’91. Except of course for the mighty Richard Thompson, who came out with everybody’s favourite RT song 1952 Vincent Black Lightning. Bed now, back tomorrow.

    • Thanks, both. 1991 was a great year for me because things had finally started to go right after being so wrong, so long. I had got a new job which I enjoyed doing and which paid well enough for me to buy a house – I’d moved in just before Christmas 1990. So I was in Stony Stratford, the most wonderful place on the planet, where I already had lots of friends; the kids had left home; and I was living next door to the bagpipe player in my favourite local band, Cock And Bull, so I could go to gigs with them all the time and dance my socks off!

      • OK, I’m going to cheat now – the film The Commitments came out in 1991 and although those were all old songs it was great to hear them in a new context. So I’ll have Do Right Woman, Do Right Man from that; and the TP&TH album Into The Creat Wide Open was also 1991 so, although I didn’t hear it then, I’m going to pick Learning To Fly because it’s a brilliant song so there!

  8. Ah, now 1991 WAS an exciting year for me music wise – I turned 13 that year and for the first time in my life, my taste in music started to be influenced by a peer group and by a sense of picking an identity for myself (rather than going with what my older brothers/parents liked or what I found from my own exploring). Being in a Liverpool comprehensive school then, the fault line broadly ran down whether you were a “smelly” – basically into Indie/Grunge (basically guitar stuff) or a “scally” – basically into really shit dance music (the subtle nuances around higher quality “Dance” type music such as Primal Scream where a bit lost on us 13 years olds so they were probably ignored) – I found myself in a slight substrata of kids who were predominantly into the Indie/Grunge side of things but augmented with a love for older stuff (particularly Beatles, Elvis Costello and a host of Punk / Liverpool New Wave Stuff).

    The Wonderstuff’s Welcome to the Cheap Seats would have been an instant pick for me for this year given that it basically soundtracked the whole year for me but I see Barbryn nabbed it outright so I’d go for…

    The Wedding Present – Dalliance

    I got near obsessed with the amazing Seamonsters album, the way it jumped from almost whispering guitars to an all out sonic assault was just thrilling, and I maintain this is one of the greatest opening tracks of any album ever.

    Kingmaker – Eat Yourself Whole

    To this day I don’t understand how this band were not massive, this was just thrilling, literate pop that deserved to be much more appreciated.

    Blur – Sing

    Strangely I totally fell out of love with Blur after Parklife, but before then they could do no wrong – and in my view they never bettered this darkm shimmering masterpiece of a track from the first album.
    And sod it, am going to bend the rules and slip in a fourth

    Julian Cope – Safe Surfer

    Despite a lot of attempts by me, I could not get my “smelly” colleagues in my peer group to see the true genius of the arch-drude (an obsession inherited from my brother), exemplified by this wonderful track from his Peggy Suicide album. I think most would now agree with me about him, so go the last laugh there!!!

    Interesting looking back at 1991 that my picks for that year are probably the least diverse of any year for me, being entirely white, male, British guitar music – interesting to see how that evolves!

  9. Slint – Good Morning, Captain
    Jah Wobble, Sinead et al – Visions Of You (Just edges out Wobble, Levine & Oakenfold supporting Gary Clail on Beef).
    Th’ Faith Healers – Gorgious Blue Flower In My Garden (slightly edges the long version of Primus’ Here Come The Bastards).

    A bumper year.

  10. ‘Well, the year it’s 1991
    It seems that freedom’s dead and gone
    The power of the rich is help by few
    They keep the young ones paralysed
    Educated by your lies
    Keep the old ones happy with the news’

    Ahh….the more it changes the more it stays the same. That’s The Levellers of course, me and my mates were big big fans.

    I think Barbryn may be right – there was such a sheer number of amazing albums released in 1991 that it’s impossible to pick just 3.

    Donds to all of the above, but as well as Levelling the Land there was also Metallica’s black album, Guns’N’Roses released the Use Your Illusions, the Manics released their first singles, the KLF were at the peak of their powers, the Prodigy and the Shamen were shaking up the charts and Vanilla Ice released the seminal Ice Ice Baby! ……actually, that line could be the title of this series, or even of the new RR – “Allright, stop, collaborate and listen”….

    • Levellers meant a lot to me: I made a viable teenage identity out of playing the fiddle, CND badges and jumpers knitted by my grandma.

      The lyrics to Ice Ice Baby still occupy a part of my brain that could probably be more useful used for something else.

      • I played the fiddle already, but it had never before felt like something that could be cool. (I’ve always been too staid and squeamish for piercings, but did get some blue DMs)

    • Levellers played the leaving do of the Uni I lived near – even though I’d left art college on the same grounds the year before – I’d worked in their library before the start.
      Anyway, my house mate was a huge fan but had just been dumped just before the gig – so I ended up as her plus one, she’d found a new bloke at least an hour before the band even started so I was happily wandering the building in a drunken haze.
      Bumped into some crusty who invited me to some free drinks – we had a very enjoyable rant about the state of the world; then he jumped up going “gotta be on”.
      I was nearly dragged on stage, taking a wrong turn, he ended up on stage and played the fiddle (I think) like an out of it demon until a slight fall of a speaker!

      good night had by all.

      (I might have told this story before).

  11. Not the greatest year musically for me. However it’s a chance to nominate my longterm RR asfarae from the Saw Doctors (nommed for songs about cars, school, red, first love and several other topics). My own REM nom is a favourite along with the already suggested Losing My Religion, but hopefully more than one for them is OK? Finally, EMF won out over James’s Sit Down

    Saw Doctors – Red Cortina
    REM (with Kate Pierson) Shiny Happy People
    EMF – You’re Unbelieveable

  12. Will go for:

    Nirvana – Lithium
    Extreme – More Than Words
    Manics – You Love us

    …with a nod to DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Salt’n’Pepa, Nine Inch Nails, November Rain, Enter Sandman, Vic Reeves and the Wonder Stuff…and a million others!

  13. I was 14/15 and like Igconnolly I was just forming my own personal and musical identity.

    I still liked all the chart stuff, “Summertime” and “More Than Words” especially. I had look after my 9 year old brother all of that summer holiday and I took him with me to the beach with my mates as we were smoking illicit fags and jumping off the ‘groyne’ to impress the girls. For some reason I wasn’t embarrassed at all about towing along a 9 year old and he didn’t mind either. We had a small cassette player and a couple of tapes with both of those songs on them. I must have listened to them literally hundreds of times. We thought “Summertime” was a bit of fun, but took “More Than Words” pretty seriously and treated it with the reverence it so rightly deserves!

    Nirvana were the defining band not only of that year, but pretty much of my life. It was a line in the sand. To be a Nirvana fan, you had to be all in. It wasn’t an album, it was a whole identity and way of life. Me and 2 or 3 other mates embraced it wholeheartedly. Considering the supposed popularity and impact of Nevermind, our little group were pretty much the only grunge kids in the school and even the whole of the small seaside town – at least for a short while.

    • Nevermind in its entirety should be on the playlist.

      I remember Pearl Jam and Blood Sugar Sex Magic being pretty ubiquitious when i moved to LA that year too, and Nothing’s Shocking, which came out the year before, but was still in heavy rotation. We played the crap out of REM in NY before we all moved west.

      • Definitely!

        Blood Sugar Sex Magic was pretty big too amongst my group and we all listened to Pearl Jam a lot – although PJ seemed to be more popular with the girls than the boys

  14. Unfortunately, I don’t remember what I was listening to in 1991. Probably nothing that came out that year.

    Even more unfortunately, I do remember what my kids were listening to:

    The Verlaines – Death and the Maiden
    Headless Chickens – Cruise Control
    Tall Dwarfs – We Bleed Love

    These are all New Zealand groups, The Verlaines and Tall Dwarfs coming from the town we live in.

    • Your kids had good taste then…;-) Death and the Maiden was actually an older track, the ’91 Verlaines release was Ready to Fly, their most “rock” oriented album. Cruise Control was a classic track with some great remixes.

      Time marches on.. The Verlaines’ Graeme Downes recently arranged some of the greatest Flying Nun singles for the Southern Sinfonia in a concert at Dunedin Town Hall. Wish I’d seen that.

      I left Dunedin at the beginning of 1991 for Wellington and was just getting into the Flying Nun bands around that time, The Verlaines were always a must at Otago orientation gigs. If you were into that sort of thing- I was- ’91 was a good year for Flying Nun, with Straitjacket Fits releasing Melt and The Chills touring Submarine Bells.

      • I have no idea what your musical tastes are by the way but feel there must be some Flying Nun release from ’91 you could feel enthusiastic about… with less clamour than The Verlaines, more sincerity than the Chickens, and a more polished sound world than Chris Knox’s garage-grunge TD’s, perhaps some David Kilgour might appeal…

  15. Might have to agree with barbryn on this one – at least one of the greatest years ever. I have to pick just one song from Nevermind, Gish, BSSM, Out of Time? Let alone all of the other great tunes?

    Ok, i’ll give it a shot.

    Nirvana – Come as You Are (or Polly)
    Smashing Pumpkins – Siva
    Prince – Gett Off

    also –

    U2 – One
    REM – Shiny Happy People (so shoot me)
    Divinyls – I Touch Myself, which was a single in 1990 so i can let that one go..

  16. Barbryn: You Tube allows the playlist creator to write something under the heading. Makes it more accessible to re-shares on platforms like Google Plus.

  17. 1991 was a difficult year due to a family illness & bereavement. also finished the year with a broken leg.

    Stuff I particularly liked:
    good morning captain, nosferatu man – slint
    soon – mbv (of course)
    letter to Memphis – pixies
    star sign – tennage fanclub
    the freed pig – sebadoh
    songs of the stage – world of twist

    and have been listening to all the albums mentioned in barbyn’s intro apart from massive attack.

    3 songs:
    curve – zoo (reminds me of wondering aimlessly around club floors in a drunken haze)
    chapterhouse – breather (reminds me of gazing down at my shoes on a club floor in a drunken haze)
    lounge act – nirvana (reminds me of jumping around on a club floor in a drunken haze)

  18. Not a huge year for me musically but it did feature one of my all-time-favourite ‘lost’ albums – 24 Years Of Hunger by Eg and Alice. It was also the year in which I celebrated my 30th birthday and the last year before I changed my name to ‘dad’.

    3 songs would be:

    Crowded House – Weather With You
    Marc Cohn – Walking In Memphis
    Eg and Alice – Indian

  19. Can’t remember much about 1991. I was 32, working in a team dealing with footpaths and rights of way, probably my dream job. Settled in a relationship and living in Bristol. Hard to find any that haven’t been mentioned but how about:

    Seal – Crazy
    Metallica – Enter Sandman *
    Scorpions – Wind of Change

    *Didn’t know this at the time, but came across it in later years. It’s that or Bryan Adams (I will spare you).

  20. Unfinished Sympathy was really (then and now) my favourite track of the year. They had to (temporarily) change their name from Massive Attack to just Massive in order to get radio play. Because hearing the word attack might upset people whose relatives were fighting in Iraq.

    I think that was the reason anyway, it was all very surreal. The war was being broadcast on live TV but we couldn’t hear the word attack on the radio.

    I was 33 and still living in a three bedroom council flat in Clapham even though my two flatmates had both left to live in Sheffield. Lambeth Council had yet to object to this waste of their resources and I was reluctant to make much of a fuss about it in case I was rehoused in a tin box on the edge of the barrier block.
    We were still wondering what Majorism was and whether a “kinder, gentler Britain” had to mean launching missiles in the middle east.

  21. Can’t work out how to collaborate on the playlist, there is no option to add videos. So here are mine and if anyone would like to explain how to do it, that would be good!

    • There should be an “add video” button near the top right corner? But I’ve added these for you – fond memories of all of them.

      • You might have to be logged in to do that, i’m not sure. And then suscribe to the playlist (or maybe it’s your profile). Then you can click the “add to playlist” button under each video, and scroll down to 1991.

      • I’m also having problems adding the videos to the collaborative list. I can never sign into YouTube/Google. If someone could add my picks (above) I’d be grateful.

      • Thanks barbryn. I’ve subscribed and I’m logged in but there is no “add video” button and I can’t find anything in “settings”. Had the same problem with Ravi’s collaborative list the other day. I’m using a Mac, don’t know if that makes any difference.

  22. I can’t remember very much about 1991 but I think it may have been the year we went to Ireland with the kids and the caravan, mostly the West coast and the Ring of Kerry, but ending in Dublin, Had recently become a Saw Doctors fan and just missed the chance to see them in Galway. The countryside and coast were lovely, and yes, it did rain a lot. Remember a band in a pub singing songs such as My Mother’s Making Me Marry Mary Mac, The Flat Cat song, and another song about playing Pool. Cannot remember the band’s name. Hormones were beginning to kick in with daughter no 2 who’d just become a teenager, Back home, I was learning Welsh – I got as far as A level a few years later, but have let it slip in recent years.

  23. 1991 was my first full year as a single parent. It went fairly well. I took my hip-hop loving son the the US so he could buy some choons but LA had just gone digital, we discovered… Still I saw the Grand Canyon and 710 Ashbury St, SF, so not a wasted trip.

    I may not have got round to My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless until the following year but my rule for selection here has always been year of release. Hence, these are my 3 tracks:
    My Bloody Valentine – I Only Said
    Throwing Muses – Graffiti
    Robert Wyatt – The Sight Of The Wind

  24. Just for the heck of it will somebody post a topic today? We don’t need Peter’s write-up, just an announcement of the topic and who’s in the chair. On both the RR threads still open.

  25. my picks:

    slowbongofloyd – more than jesus
    Sheep On Drugs – Out Come The Freaks
    The KLF – Justified & Ancient (All Bound for Mu Mu land)

    The White Room and ’30 Something’ – always playing and Blue Lines… a mixed up messy year.

    • I was at my local pub venue for a drink in about 96 when they were playing. I went upstairs to the gents and passed a bloke on the stairs dressed (as I remember) like a 1930s gangster with a Phantom Of The Opera type mask. I can only assume that he was a Sheep On Drugs looking for the stage.

    • Why had I never heard of slowbongofloyd before? That was fantastic.

      And records don’t come much more fun than Justified and Ancient.

      • I ended up with about 8 copies of ‘More Than Jesus’ after a flippant remark before my 21st birthday about how much I liked it – my friends search bargain bins and 2nd hand shops collecting them and we still drank in the uni bar as it was right by our house – they all turned up with my presents and every one was a copy of the track with them laughing at my face as I realised my record collection was only getting bigger with that one song!
        Their words of “I love you more than Jesus” as I opened them cracked me up – there’s about 6 different mixes too; I kept the promo copy and the standard 12″… passing on the extras to mates as the years went on.

        They were only around for a couple of years – 1 album and a few singles, I think, I did enjoy them, especially as they have such fun memories.

  26. I always think of 1991 as the year I suddenly discovered how big a thing music is. I was 14, saw PJ Harvey and The Wonderstuff live, heard Loveless, Bandwagonesque, Screamadelica, Spiderland, Throwing Muses, Pixies, The Fall, Nirvana, all for the first time. My ears and mind were opened in ’91, so for me, this topic is less of a topic and more of a happy reminder. and I’ve seen a few songs and bands turn up already that fit that category. Please, keep them coming.

  27. I wasn’t listening to much or paying much attention in 1991. It was my final year at uni, then after a few months mooching around unable to get a job I went to Oxford to work as a “paid volunteer” at a homeless project in Oxford. Happy days mainly, living and socialising with a bunch of volunteers mostly around the same age, it turned out to be much closer to what I’d wanted as a student experience.
    But no I wasn’t listening to much music at the time, and even with my ability to dig up retrospective obscurities it seems a pretty fallow year. A few familiar names here, good but no one at their peak.

    Peter & The Test Tube Babies – The Man Who Did Nothing
    From their overlooked Cringe album, which still has a few gems such as this pop song. I nearly went for There’s A Penis On My Shoulder though.

    Paranoid Visions – War Is Over
    Written following the Gulf War. They split a year or two later. I’ve heard they’ve since reformed, I’ll have to get round to checking out the new stuff….

    Chaos UK – Head On A Pole
    A return to punk after several years of out and out thrash.

  28. I decided it’s my prerogative to cheat if I want to, and have added a few more to the playlist:

    – Primal Scream – Higher Than The Sun (Screamadelica, in its glorious, perfectly sequenced entirety is my favourite album of 1991, though it took me a few years to get properly into).

    – St Etienne – London Belongs To Me (again, I didn’t quite get them at the time… possibly because I hadn’t heard this song)

    – Electronic – Get The Message (I liked this song before I knew anything by The Smiths or New Order)

    – Manic Street Preachers – Motorcycle Emptiness (they might have pretended to be punk iconoclasts, but it was pretty clear from this song that they were destined for greatness. Classic.)

    Feel free to keep adding to the playlist – I’m enjoying this.

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