Wilson and Alroy's Record Reviews - We listen to the lousy records so you won't have to.

Year In Review: 1995

In rock, it was a year of firsts and lasts, bests and worsts. The decade's best British rock band, Radiohead, released their first really solid record, and the decade's best-selling British band, Oasis, reached their commercial peak. At the other end of the career spectrum, The Meat Puppets released the last of a long line of successful albums before being derailed by personal problems, and Sonic Youth also released their last really important record to date. Though most Riot Grrrl bands had already imploded, the Lunachicks came up with spectacular new twists on their East Village post-punk style, and Alanis Morrisette made female rage palatable to the masses. Meanwhile, the lackluster debut of Sleater-Kinney gave no clue of the direction they were to take indie feminism later in the decade. Former leader of college radio band the dB's Peter Holsapple released a hook-filled pop confection that was the decade's best album by a longtime veteran.... while his erstwhile partner Chris Stamey put out a dreadful avant garde noise record.

No new developments in R&B: Babyface put together an assortment of top vocal talent on the Waiting To Exhale Soundtrack, while Mariah Carey's Daydream was her best yet. Hip hop was still a disaster area aside from a few Wu-Tang solo projects - the best was GZA's Liquid Swords - and the first full release by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.

There were also a number of comebacks from more veteran artists: Stevie Wonder finally finished his new studio album, Conversation Peace, and followed it immediately with a double live CD, Natural Wonder. Isaac Hayes came out of hibernation with two discs: the powerful Branded and less-interesting Raw & Refined. 70s superstars Elton John and David Bowie came back with their strongest albums in ages.

One of the year's top sellers was a formulaic and boring effort by LL Cool J; Nirvana/Pearl Jam imitators Silverchair also had a huge hit on their hands with the forgettable Frogstomp. Turning to less commercial failures, Adrian Belew wasted time with a collection of effect-treated guitar improvisations; Bill Laswell's Praxis fell into a morass of mindless metal, Elvis Costello's set of banal 50's covers was just baffling; and shock rappers Onyx were out of ideas on their weak sophomore release.

The year's best Latin music album was Nuyorican heartthrob Marc Anthony's Todo A Su Tiempo; the best jazz release was Steve Coleman's The Way Of The Cypher. (DBW)

Back to 1994 - Forward to 1996 - Back to the future...

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