1991 one of the greatest years in rock? Here’s why.

[This was my column for GlobalNews.ca this week. – AC]

When it comes to music, not all years are created equal.

We can go back to 1955 when Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis brought rock to the masses, thanks to the widespread adoption of the 7-inch single and the portableness of the transistor radio. And 1964 was certainly explosive with the arrival of The Beatles and the beginning of the British invasion. After that, we might consider 1977 with the explosion of punk and its New Wave descendants.

During all these years, it seemed that every day delivered an exciting new song, a great new album, a fascinating new act, or a bewildering new sound. If you’re a late Boomers or Gen Xer, your moment came in early in the fall of 1991.

Actually, hints that 1991 was going to be wild started early, though you really had to be paying attention.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “1991 one of the greatest years in rock? Here’s why.

  • September 20, 2021 at 11:34 am

    I just saw Pearl Jam on Saturday night, and the Pumpkins last night at the Sea Hear Now festival. Such a long long way from seeing these guys play Molson Park in Barrie or Darien Lake in New York.

    Not to get too far off topic, but on the ride home I was explaining how important Siamese Dream was to me. Alt Rock had exploded at this point and for the most part The Smashing Pumpkins were still unknown… to the muggles anyway. So, at the end of July 1993 here comes this glorious record with a single that didn’t do all that much at first, Cherub Rock, great song, didn’t set the world on fire. Gladly, that worked in my favor.

    All of August and into September that album was this glorious secret for me and my friends to keep. We listened the fuck out of that record!!!! Disarm, Rocket, Mayonaise, et al. (They didn’t play Mayo last night and that was my well-if-I-hear-that-one-on-a-beautiful-night-on-the-beach-I’ll-just-shit-myself-and-die song.)

    Calling Siamese Dream a secret really brought up a ton of memories for me about that time, starting especially in 1991. For those of us in the know, and especially for those of us who were mercilessly ridiculed for liking “the weird shit,” to see it blossoming all over didn’t feel like a vindication. It felt like somebody kicked down the front door of our exclusive club and now everyone was wandering in, and we didn’t want them. (I know how bad that sounds in this day and age of enlightenment and inclusion, but we put a lot of work into finding our music. And now friends that had gorged themselves at the alter of classic rock were asking to borrow Mother’s Milk, because there heard there was a good Hendrix cover on there. Stupid JERKS!)

    So anyway, for almost 2 months Siamese Dream is hidden like a condom in my wallet, only to be shared with “the right person.” And then at the end of September somebody has the brilliant idea to finally release Today as a single. And then some other genius decides to put Billy in a fucking ice cream truck… and like that, they were gone. They belonged to the world now.

    Last night during the set, I was standing behind a guy my age wearing a Bad Co shirt. Nice guy, his name was Jeff, him and his wife drove in from Philly and he wanted to hear “Zero” and “Disarm.” But, not in the if-I-hear-it-I’ll-shit-myself-and-die kind of way.


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