1997

This was a tough year for me, in terms of album selection. Many people in the related Facebook group in which we post and discuss these lists decry 1997 as the worst year for new music in the ’90s. I don’t know that I’m prepared to agree.

I am absolutely confident in my top three, and pretty set on my top five. It’s possible that the top ten could be different, for sure. After that, it’s sort of a crap shoot, though there is definitely a rough cutoff at twenty, thirty, and forty, but within those segments, ranking the albums is basically impossible.

I don’t think I went to many shows this year and don’t have a lot of distinct music-related memories. One that does stand out is that I listened to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ Lets’ Face It repeatedly and possibly exclusively as I studied for the bar exam. I also saw Everclear perform at Tower Records on Clark Street in Chicago and got my copy of So Much for the Afterglow autographed. I remember I won a raffle for a free ticket to their upcoming show. Internet research says that the show was weeks later at Metro, and I don’t remember if I went or not.

A show at the Metro that I did attend was Monaco. I was so excited to see Peter Hook live and up close! I had seen New Order in 1988 but it was at an outdoor amphitheater and I had not yet developed a full appreciation of his bass prowess. It was a thrill to witness him with his bass slung by his ankles and playing memorable and distinctive lines.

Another Metro show was Echo & the Bunnymen, on their first reunion tour and likely the only one with original bassist Les Pattinson. I had never seen the Bunnymen before, so this was also a big deal for me. Ian McCulloch chain-smoked nonstop throughout the entire show. That was honestly what I remember most about the concert.

The List

Top Ten

1 Built to Spill – Perfect From Now On

2 Yo La Tengo – I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One

3 Spiritualized – Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space

4 Pulsars – S/T

5 Old 97s – Too Far to Care

6 Michael Penn – Resigned

7 Jayhawks – Sound of Lies

8 Tobin Sprout – Moonflower Plastic (Welcome to My Wigwam)

9 Sleater-Kinney – Dig Me Out

10 Everclear – So Much for the Afterglow

Next Ten

11 That Dog – Retreat From the Sun

12 Cornershop – When I Was Born for the 7th Time

13 Smoking Popes – Destination Failure

14 Catherine Wheel – Adam and Eve

15 Teenage Fanclub – Songs From Northern Britain

16 Frank & Walters – Grand Parade

17 Weakerthans – Fallow

18 Grant McLennan – In Your Bright Ray

19 Dinosaur Jr – Hand It Over

20 Outrageous Cherry – Nothing’s Gonna Cheer You Up

Third Ten

21 Beulah – Handsome Western States

22 Grandaddy – Under the Western Freeway

23 Apples In Stereo – Tone Soul Evolution

24 Muffs – Happy Birthday to Me

25 Modest Mouse – The Lonesome Crowded West

26 Tanya Donelly – Lovesongs for Underdogs

27 Matthew Sweet – Blue Sky on Mars

28 Number One Cup – Wrecked By Lions

29 Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Let’s Face It

30 Sleeper – Pleased to Meet You

Fourth Ten

31 Monaco- Music for Pleasure

32 Pavement – Brighten the Corners

33 Oasis – Be Here Now

34 Echo & the Bunnymen – Evergreen

35 Bottle Rockets – 24 Hours a Day

36 Steve Earle – El Corazón

37 Whiskeytown – Stranger’s Almanac

38 Bettie Serveert – Dust Bunnies

39 Centro-matic – Redo the Stacks

40 Morphine – Like Swimming

The Rest

41 Bob Dylan – Time Out of Mind

42 Quasi – R&B Transmogrification

43 Future Bible Heroes – Memories of Love

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