1997 was a transitional year for some bands and saw debut releases from others that changed the path of music.
Blur’s self-titled effort was a shift in sound for the formerly britpop-centric band, while David Bowie ventured into electronica influences with Earthling and U2 continued a style reinvention with Pop.
French house music was unleashed on the masses with Daft Punk’s debut Homework. Meanwhile, a pop music revolution was underway, led by the Spice Girls and their international hit Spiceworld. The album reached number 1 in thirteen countries and was accompanied by the musical / comedy of the same name.
Erykah Badu burst onto the scene with her debut Baduizm, a record that has been credited with helping to shape neo soul. Elliot Smith had a critical success with Either/Or, retrospectively landing on lists like Pitchfork’s 100 Greatest Albums of the 1990s and Blender‘s 100 Greatest Indie Rock Albums Ever. And a band called Radiohead released a record called OK Computer, propelling the band to international fame almost over night.
On March 9th, 1997, Notorious B.I.G. was killed while leaving the Soul Train Music Awards in Los Angeles. The rapper was about to release his second LP Life After Death, a landmark “mafioso rap” record that cemented Biggie’s legacy.
Variation was the name of the game in 1997, bringing us a diverse and strong roster of albums that continued to push boundaries. Was it the greatest year in music?
Homework – Daft Punk
Earthling – David Bowie
Blur – Blur
Baduizm – Erykah Badu
Brighten the Corners – Pavement
Secret Samadhi – Live
Either / Or – Elliot Smith
Whiplash – James
Pop – U2
Like Swimming – Morphine
Whatever and Ever Amen – Ben Folds Five
Life After Death – Notorious B.I.G.
So Long So Wrong – Alison Krauss
Dig Your Own Hole – The Chemical Brothers
Dig Me Out – Sleater-Kinney
Ultra – Depeche Mode
In It For the Money – Supergrass
I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One – Yo La Tengo
Living In Clip – Ani Di Franco
Coil – Toad the Wet Sprocket
The Colour and the Shape – Foo Fighters
Something to Remember Me By – Ben Lee
Gospel Oak – Sinead O’Connor
Wu-Tang Forever – Wu Tang Clan
Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating In Space – Spritualized
OK Computer – Radiohead
Too Far to Care – Old 97s
The Will to Live – Ben Harper
The Fact of the Land – The Prodigy
Surfacing – Sarah MacLachlan
Strangers Almanac – Whiskeytown
Maladjusted – Morrissey
When I Was Born for the 7th Time – Cornershop
Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club
Homogenic – Bjork
Portishead – Portishead
Good Feeling – Travis
New Forms – Roni Size and Reprazent
Yeah, It’s That Easy – G Love and Special Sauce