10 Albums that meant the world to one teen girl

During my teen years I was obsessive about music. I studied classical piano, was a member of the school choir, and played euphonium (like a baby tuba) in the school wind orchestra. But rock music was where I escaped and really found myself. Back then (the mid/late ’90s) there were no streaming services- I would have to save up for an album or rely on mixtapes that were lovingly put together by friends or my boyfriend. I still have a few CDs from these very important years of musical discovery, particularly the albums that really mattered a lot to me. They’re a bit scratched up and the liner notes are a bit worse for wear, but they still bring me comfort and, of course, a pleasant tingling feeling of nostalgia when I see them on my shelves. When I listen, memories of lying on the floor in a darkened bedroom or jumping around screaming lyrics with friends or late night Rage*-watching whilst on the phone come flooding back. It was an exciting time where every new musical discovery was a revelation. For many of us, music elevates the oft-awkward, occasionally painful experience of teendom to a place of great reverence; with every subsequent listen comes a satisfied sigh.

Here are ten albums that were very special to me during those formative years. I hope to write about them in more detail in the coming weeks. It’s a shame there are not more female artists on this list (I blame the influential music periodicals I read at the time for not giving much space to the ladies!) but at least post-high school I had my first job and an okay income, of which the majority was spent on buying up old vinyl and CDs!

In no particular order…

In Utero (1993) by Nirvana

Favourite track back then: “tourette’s”
Favourite track now: “All Apologies”

Grace (1994) by Jeff Buckley

Favourite track back then: “Last Goodbye”
Favourite track now:  “Last Goodbye”

The Doors (1967) by The Doors

Favourite track back then: “The End”
Favourite track now:  “The Crystal Ship”

Live Through This (1995) by Hole
Hole / Live Through This

Favourite track back then:  “Violet”
Favourite track now:  “Miss World”

Soundtrack from Twin Peaks (1990) by Angelo Badalamenti

Favourite track back then: “The Nightingale”
Favourite track now: I couldn’t possibly choose!

The Downward Spiral (1994) by nine inch nails

Favourite track back then: “Closer”
Favourite track now: “Hurt”

The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967) by The Velvet Underground

Favourite track back then: “Venus in Furs”
Favourite track now: “Venus in Furs”

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995) by The Smashing Pumpkins

Favourite track back then: “Thru the Eyes of Ruby”
Favourite track now: “Zero”

The Ultimate Experience (compilation, 1992) by Jimi Hendrix

Favourite track back then: “Voodoo Child”
Favourite track now: “Angel”

Janis Joplin’s Greatest Hits (compilation, 1973) by Janis Joplin

Favourite track back then: “Try”
Favourite track now: “Ball and Chain” (Big Mama Thornton cover)

Honourable mentions: Revolver (1966) by The Beatles, Dark Side of the Moon (1973) by Pink Floyd, Remasters (compilation, 1990) by Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits (compilation, 1966) by Bob Dylan, Odelay (1996) by Beck, Soundtrack from A Clockwork Orange (compilation, 1972), Self-titled (1993) by Rage Against the Machine, Slightly Odway (1997) by Jebediah, Dookie (1994) by Green Day, Never Mind the Bollocks… (1977) by Sex Pistols, Eight Arms to Hold You (1997) by Veruca Salt, Without You I’m Nothing (1998) by Placebo, Superunknown (1994) by Soundgarden, Soundtrack from Lost Highway (compilation, 1997).

Cover image by Daniel Clowes from Ghost World Soundtrack CD, Shanachie Records, 2001

*Rage is an Australian all-night music video program that airs on ABC on weekends. Its format is a little different now, but back when I was a kid the program would begin with older music videos and then segued into the ARIA top 50 singles chart (that’s when I would tune out, pretentious little music snob that I was!). Occasionally, touring artists would host the program and share their favourite artists and videos.

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