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Best Albums of 1995: 63 Essential Records

From the Foo Fighters’ best-selling debut to an introspective masterpiece from 2Pac, we rank the best albums of 1995.

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GZA, artist behind one of the best albums of 1995
GZA - Photo: Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

With the launch of user-friendly web portals like AOL and Prodigy, 1995 marked a watershed year for the intersection of technology and entertainment. In the mere seconds (and sometimes minutes) that it took to connect to dial-up internet, fans could interact with one another like never before, allowing for a greater opportunity to discover new music from around the globe. What albums were they excited about? In 1995, grunge was in full swing, rap reigned supreme, and the world couldn’t get enough of Britpop. Electronic music and rave culture were making their way into the mainstream, while the raucous sounds of pop-punk permeated the airwaves.

It was a landmark year for women in music, with outstanding solo releases from Alanis Morissette, PJ Harvey, Natalie Merchant, Shania Twain, and Cassandra Wilson, among others, while female-fronted bands like No Doubt, Elastica, and Garbage ruled the airwaves.

From the Foo Fighters’ best-selling debut to 2Pac’s introspective masterpiece, Me Against the World, here are the best albums of 1995.

Can’t get enough 90s music? Listen to our 90s Music playlist here.

63: Filter – Short Bus

Filter got big on the strength of the ubiquitous hit “Hey Man, Nice Shot” and the 1995 album Short Bus delivered more of the band’s signature guitar-heavy alt-rock.

Filter - Hey Man, Nice Shot (Official Music Video)

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62: AC/DC – Ballbreaker

Ballbreaker is a fun, riff-heavy blast from the kings of hard-rock.

61: Autechre ‎– Tri Repetae

Taking philosophical cues from the 80s hip hop and acid house that inspired them, Autechre’s Tri Repetae sounds like little else: Complex electronic music that demands multiple listens to unravel.

60: Black Grape – It’s Great When You’re Straight… Yeah!

Britpop meets breakbeats, It’s Great When You’re Straight… Yeah! is a fun, ecstatic, and slightly deranged bit of mid-90s sampladelic rock.

59: Blind Guardian – Imaginations From The Other Side

A brutal and high-energy maelstrom of metal, Imaginations From The Other Side enhances its hard edges with some interesting elements of folk and progressive rock.

58: Primus – Tales from the Punchbowl

A bizarre and fun mashup of metal, funk, and prog rock, Tales from the Punchbowl is controlled chaos and a brilliantly executed fusion of sound.

Primus - Wynona's Big Brown Beaver

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57: Dissection – Storm of the Light’s Bane

Dissection’s 1995 album Storm of the Light’s Bane is a blistering heavy metal workout whose fires are tempered with some beautiful melodic moments.

56: Xscape – Off the Hook

Composed of four singers who are all powerful soloists in their own right, Xscape’s strength is in their dense harmonies and sweet, catchy songs.

55: Silverchair – Frogstomp

With its heavy guitars and even heavier vocals, the 1995 album Frogstomp and its standouts “Tomorrow,” “Leave Me Out,” and “Findaway” still hold up beautifully.

54: Suffocation – Pierced From Within

A manic slice of fire and pure brutality, Pierced From Within is the sonic equivalent of an exorcism.

53: The Highwaymen – The Road Goes on Forever

Composed of some of country music’s biggest names, this final album by The Highwaymen was a fitting send-off, with highlights including the title track and “Live Forever.”

52: Cassandra Wilson – New Moon Daughter

A dreamy, and musically rich work, New Moon Daughter was the breakout album that established Cassandra Wilson as one of the greatest jazz vocalists of her generation.

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51: Big L – Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous

A virtuosic MC and magnetic personality, Big L shines on his debut. Unfortunately, his career was cut short when he was killed four years after Lifestylez… was released in 1995. The album remains a beloved classic and a bittersweet glimpse at his potential.

50: A Guy Called Gerald – Black Secret Technology

A riveting drum & bass exploration from 808 State’s A Guy Called Gerald, Black Secret Technology is an Afrofuturist masterpiece.

49: DC Talk – Jesus Freak

Inspired and righteously driven, DC Talk’s Jesus Freak injected 90s alt-rock with a populist, Christian message.

48: Elliott Smith – Elliott Smith

Led by the arresting opener “Needle in the Hay,” Elliot Smith is a heartbreaking record whose power and vulnerability is transformative.

47: Green Day – Insomniac

Snotty, energetic, and anthemic, Green Day’s 1995 album Insomniac is pure pop-punk goodness.

46: Queen – Made in Heaven

The final album created by Queen before the passing of Freddie Mercury, Made in Heaven is a soaring, heartfelt masterwork.

Queen - Too Much Love Will Kill You (Official Video)

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45: The Orb – Orbus Terrarum

A dreamy and ethereal journey, Orbus Terrarum highlights The Orb’s gift at making electronic music that requires us to reflect on the beauty of the natural world.

44: Blur – The Great Escape

With brilliant hits like “Stereotypes,” “Charmless Man” and “Country House,” The Great Escape helped solidify Blur’s status at the top of the Britpop food chain.

43: Natalie Merchant – Tigerlily

Subtle, soulful, and intentional, Natalie Merchant’s Tigerlily is an emotional powerhouse of a record. “Wonder,” “San Andreas Fault,” and “I May Know The Word” are standout examples of Merchant’s depth and power as a singer.

42: Bruce Springsteen – The Ghost of Tom Joad

Packed full of emotionally arresting and understated moments, The Ghost of Tom Joad is a powerful and underrated addition to Springsteen’s incredibly deep catalog.

41: Jodeci – The Show, the After Party, the Hotel

A slow-burning and sensual exploration of love and desire, The Show, the After Party, the Hotel was not only a classic upon its release, it continues to influence R&B today.

Jodeci - Freek'N You (Official Music Video)

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40: Fugazi – Red Medicine

Distorted, furious, and righteous, Fugazi’s Red Medicine has a hardcore heart with grooves that are funky and hypnotic.

39: Garbage – Garbage

Cutting-edge when it was released, Garbage’s self-titled debut still sounds fresh decades later. The band’s fresh combination of rock and electronica shines while Shirley Manson leads the way with flamboyance and fire.

38: Goodie Mob – Soul Food

With songs like the dystopian nightmare “Cell Therapy” and the transcendent gospel cut “Free,” Goodie Mob’s debut Soul Food proved that hip hop was ready for an injection of southern soul and intellect.

37: Elastica – Elastica

Fiery and anthemic, Elastica is a refreshing 90s take on punk and New Wave.

36: Sonic Youth – Washing Machine

Sonic Youth spent the 90s building a comfortable bridge between the worlds of noise/experimentalism and underground guitar rock. On Washing Machine, songs like “Little Trouble Girl” and “The Diamond Sea” find the band offering up some of their most melancholy and pop-influenced moments.

Sonic Youth - Little Trouble Girl

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35: Moby – Everything Is Wrong

Whether we’re being hit with a blissful dance anthem like “Everytime You Touch Me” or the furious breakbeats on “Let’s Go Free,” Everything Is Wrong is fun, well-executed electronica.

34: Ol’ Dirty Bastard – Return To The 36 Chambers

A bizarro trip into the mind of Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Return To The 36 Chambers is the wildest of the Wu Tang’s early run of classic solo albums.

33: Oval – 94 Diskont

A gorgeous collection of ambient pieces, Oval’s 94 Diskont could be released tomorrow and still sound cutting-edge.

32: Pavement – Wowee Zowee

Bittersweet, rocking, and funny, the 1995 album Wowee Zowee is anchored by moments of genuine vulnerability that poke out from behind the songs’ wry exterior.

31: Buju Banton – ‘Til Shiloh

In addition to the all-time classic reggae cut “Champion,” Til Shiloh is pure, unfiltered 90s dancehall.

Buju Banton - Champion (Official Music Video)

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30: Supergrass – I Should Coco

Supergrass’ 1995 debut I Should Coco is a remarkable work full of big bold anthems like “Caught By The Fuzz” and the timeless hit “Alright.”

29: Teenage Fanclub – Grand Prix

An infectious, power-pop romp, Teenage Fanclub’s Grand Prix is smart, catchy, and concise.

28: The Pharcyde – Labcabincalifornia

A much more mature and understated record than their debut, Bizarre Ride 2 the Pharcyde, Labcabincalifornia is full of introspective rhymes and lush production from J Dilla, Diamond D, M-Walk, and The Pharcyde themselves.

27: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – E 1999 Eternal

Coming straight out of Cleveland, Ohio, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony challenged rap’s coastal dominance with an unlikely melding of hardcore gangsta rap, breezy melodic lines, and soulful vocal harmonies.

26: Foo Fighters – Foo Fighters

The Foo Fighters self-titled debut is packed with well-crafted songs that can be sweet and breezy (“Big Me”) or heavy and driving (“Good Grief”). Although the band would go on to have much larger hits, Foo Fighters charted a new path for mainstream rock.

25: D’Angelo – Brown Sugar

Refracting 70s funk and soul through the lens of 90s hip hop and R&B, D’Angelo’s debut was a cultural reset whose influence is still shining.

D'Angelo - Brown Sugar (Official Video)

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24: Basic Channel – BCD

Basic Channel’s BCD is a striking fusion of Detroit Techno-style synthesis and rhythms with the echoed-out ghost of Jamaican dub.

23: Rancid – …And Out Came The Wolves

With its rapid-fire verses and sing-along choruses, Rancid’s …And Out Came The Wolves epitomizes the anthemic nature of 90s punk.

22: Kenny Wayne Shepherd – Ledbetter Heights

With songs like “Shame Shame Shame,” “Riverside,” and “Everybody Gets The Blues,” Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s Ledbetter Heights is full of fiery, contemporary blues jams.

21: The Chemical Brothers – Exit Planet Dust

With its big, bombastic beats and acidic basslines, Exit Planet Dust perfectly captures the sound of mid-90s rave culture.

20: Kenji Kawai – Ghost In The Shell OST

Kenji Kawai’s Ghost In The Shell soundtrack is as grandiose and atmospheric as the classic anime that inspired it. Full of soaring choral vocals and minimalist percussion, the soundtrack is a colorful, compositional feast.

19: White Zombie – Astro-Creep: 2000

Full of big riffs, and daring sonic twists, Astro-Creep 2000 is a bizarre trip into the heart of darkness.

White Zombie - More Human Than Human (Official Music Video)

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18: Leftfield – Leftism

Lush, organic, and groovy, Leftism creates a rich musical meeting point where dub, house, and ambient collide.

17: Mariah Carey – Daydream

Featuring enduring classics like “Fantasy” and “Always Be My Baby,” Daydream is pure pop perfection that’s full of soul.

16: Mobb Deep – The Infamous…

Hardcore yet melodic, violent, and introspective, Mobb Deep’s 1995 album encompasses the contradictions and power of New York hip hop in the mid-90s.

15: Jawbreaker – Dear You

Derided upon its release for its clean production and Blake Schwarzenbach’s changed vocals, Jawbreaker’s final album has come to be regarded as one of emo’s finest moments.

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14: Björk – Post

Whether she’s tackling big band jazz (“It’s Oh So Quiet”), head-nodding hip-hop (“Army Of Me”) or minimalist electro-pop (“Headphones”) Bjork’s range and willingness to experiment establishes Post as one of the most eclectic and inspiring pop records of the 90s.

13: 2Pac – Me Against the World

With songs like “So Many Tearz” and the fantastic single “Temptations,” Me Against the World is a harrowing trip into the mind and soul of rap’s greatest poet.

12: Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness

A nearly flawless double album of heavy rockers and emotionally rich ballads, Mellon Collie… is arguably Billy Corgan and The Smashing Pumpkins’ greatest artistic achievement.

11: Goldie – Timeless

With its beautiful string arrangements and cutting-edge production, Timeless was the most ambitious dance music record of its day. Cuts like “Inner City Life” and “Khemistry” make a strong case for drum & bass as soul music and the 90s expression of the Black British experience.

10: Pulp – Different Class

With funny and insightful tunes like “Common People” and “Disco 2000,” Jarvis Cocker and Pulp created a Britpop classic for the ages.

Pulp - Common People (Official Video)

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9: Tricky – Maxinquaye

A watershed moment in 90s popular music, Tricky’s debut combined hip hop, soul, dub, and punk and came out with a collection of songs that were practically burning with emotional power.

8: PJ Harvey – To Bring You My Love

Sharp as barbed wire yet tender and vulnerable, PJ Harvey’s To Bring You My Love is one of the rawest and unfiltered artistic statements of the 90s.

7: No Doubt – Tragic Kingdom

No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom is a phenomenal 1995 album packed with beloved songs like “Don’t Speak,” “Just A Girl,” and “Sunday Morning.”

No Doubt - Don't Speak (Official 4K Music Video)

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6: Radiohead – The Bends

With The Bends, it can be argued that Radiohead had long mastered rock before they reinvented it. Songs like “Fake Plastic Trees” and “High And Dry” are tried and true hits, but they’re still brilliant and powerful.

5: Oasis – (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?

“Wonderwall,” “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” “Champagne Supernova” and more, (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? is an era-defining classic that is packed with hits.

4: Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…

A surrealist crime novel masquerading as a rap album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx’s dusty, sample-based beats are animated by Raekwon and Ghostface’s complex, slang-heavy, narrative-breaking wordplay.

3: Shania Twain – The Woman in Me

Impeccably written and produced, the 1995 album The Woman in Me is a gem of a pop-country record. Shania Twain holds it down with some outstanding vocal performances.

Shania Twain - Any Man Of Mine (Official Music Video)

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2: Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill

A smash hit when it arrived in 1995, the album Jagged Little Pill distilled the angst and power of 90s alt-rock into a single collection of perfectly crafted songs.

1: Genius/GZA – Liquid Swords

Pulling its inspiration from martial arts films, Liquid Swords is not only a literary feast, its beats and GZA’s stoic demeanor throughout give the record a hard and dark edge.

GZA - Shadowboxin' ft. Method Man

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Can’t get enough 90s music? Listen to our 90s Music playlist here.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Terry BLACKMAN

    March 23, 2022 at 9:52 pm

    Bizarre

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