It’s 1997, Bill Clinton is the President and Tara Lipinski became figure skating’s youngest women’s world champion at age 14… ALSO there was a lot of great music. A few big time bands were pumping out their 3rd albums and some groups were just getting started with debut records of their own. From french electronic music to Icelandic string melodies, 1997 had it all. These albums are in no particular order and are just a few of the great albums from 1997.
Radiohead – OK Computer
At this point Radiohead has established themselves a force in the music industry. After a two year wait the group released their 3rd studio album, Ok Computer, On May 21st, 1997. This was the first self-produced Radiohead LP and the group took it as an opportunity to distance themselves from the sound they started started to build on their earlier work. Ok Computer debuted at #21 on the Billboard 200 and the 4 singles from the album were “Karma Police”, “Paranoid Android”, “Lucky”, and “No Surprises”. Not only has the record sold over 8 million copies but it shifted from the Britpop scene to the more melancholic, noisy alt rock that is prevalent today.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – F# A# ∞
The debut record from the 2013 Polaris Prize Winners was originally released in 1997 through Constellation Records and limited to 500 hand packaged vinyl albums. The LP was hard to find, with distribution coming purely from the bands live shows as first. In 1998 Kranky Records caught wind of F# A# ∞, and offered to re-release the album on CD. The band went back into the studio to begin re-recording and the record turned out to be much longer the 2nd time around. The vinyl came in at 38 minutes and 22 seconds, where as the CD version was a track away from doubling the total length at 63 minutes and 27 Records. The album gained a group of loyal fans and gained significant recognition from critics including being named #45 on Pitchforks list of the 100 Greatest Albums from the 90s.
Oasis – Be Here Now
Be Here Now was the highly anticipated 3rd studio album to come from Oasis. The group’s two previous records, Definitely Maybe and (What’s The Story) Morning Glory, added enough hype to make the new LP the fastest selling record to date. Oasis sold 350,000 copies on the 1st day alone and has now sold over 8 million. Although Be Here Now was commercially successful, critics and even members of the band look back at the album as “over indulgent” and “bloated”. The 4 singles from the album were “Stand By Me”, “D’You Know What I Mean”, “All Around The World”, and “Don’t Go Away”. The in-studio work on the record sparked the rivalry between the Gallagher brothers that we know and love today.
Daft Punk – Homework
Homework is the unexpected debut album from french electronic duo Daft Punk. The two were originally working on separate songs without plans to release a full length record. After working together for 5 months they considered what they had made substantial enough for a first LP. Homework charted in 14 different countries and peaked at #150 on the Billboard 200 and #8 on the UK Albums Chart. The album has sold well over 2 million copies now and set the ground work for a long successful music career. Huge songs like “Da Funk and “Around The World” were 2 of the record’s 5 singles.
Foo Fighters – The Colour And The Shape
Although The Colour and the Shape was the Foo Fighters 2nd studio album, it’s the first piece of work the band released as a group. The 1995 self titled album was primarily record by frontman Dave Grohl as a demo project. The early recordings were rough and the band had to regroup without their drummer William Goldsmith – no stranger to the position, Grohl sat in on drums instead. Goldsmith was offended that his material was re-recorded and left ‘the Foos‘ later that year. The main singles “My Hero”, “Monkey Wrench”, and “Everlong” all peaked within the top ten on US radio and landed the LP the #3 position on the UK Album Chart. The album ended up being nominated in 1998 for Best Rock Album.
Blur – Blur
Their 1994 album Parklife had made Blur a quintessential band in the Britpop movement. For the self titled record, guitarist Graham Coxon suggested the band take a different approach, drawing influence from American indie rock bands Pavement and Sonic Youth. The album went down as more of an aggressive and emotional album then what they had released previously, as singer-songwriter Damon Albarn started to write more about personal experiences. Blur’s label, EMI, had worried that stylistic changes would alienate their existing fan base, but it was clear from the reception of the lead single, “Beetlebum”, that this record was going to do well. The album went certified platinum .
The Chemical Brothers – Dig Your Own Hole
Dig Your Own Hole is the 2nd album to come from british electronica duo, the Chemical Brothers. It features guest vocals by Noel Gallagher from Oasis and Beth Orton, which led to the groups first UK #1 LP. Q Magazine subscribers voted the record as the 49th greatest album of all time in a 1998 poll. In 2000 the same magazine placed this album as #42 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever.
The Verve – Urban Hymns
This is the 3rd record to be released from the Verve and earned the group ton of critical praise. Urban Hymns went on to become the band’s best selling album and was one of the best selling albums of 1997. The single “Bittersweet Symphony” helped the record become the 17th best selling album in UK chart history. In 1998 the group won Best British Album at the Brit Awards and it has now sold over 10 million copies world wide.
Bjork – Homogenic
Homogenic dropped on September 22nd 1997, and was the 4th record to come from Icelandic singer Björk. This record marked a stylistic change for Björk, she combined some of the familiar sounds we had heard previously with electronic beats and string instruments. This album would turn out to be the first of several production collaborations with Mark Bell, who she would go on to cite as a major influence throughout her musical career. The album peaked at #28 on the Billboard 200 and at #4 in the Uk Albums Chart. The album is thought of by many as one of the best electronic albums of its decade.
Modest Mouse – The Lonesome Crowded West
This marks the 2nd time Modest Mouse has found themselves in our “Great Albums” list. The Lonesome Crowded West was released on November 18th, 1997, and was looked at as the band’s breakthrough recording. The song “Trailer Trash” snagged the #63 spot on Pitchfork’s list of the 200 Greatest Songs of the decade. Many consider the album to be one of the best indie rock albums to come from the 90s. In 2012, Pitchfork premiered a 45 minute documentary on the album including studio and live performance footage.
Mogwai – Young Team
Young Team is the debut album to come from Scottish-based Mogwai. For the most part the record is an instrumental piece of work but there are exceptions such as “R U Still in 2 It”. The band had only written 3 songs before they entered the studio, which forced them to get creative in a hurry once the pressure was on. Young Team was listed as #97 on Pitchfork’s Top 100 Albums of the 90s and the album sold over 30,000 copies in the UK alone.