Thirty years ago this year, in 1991, the grunge scene exploded with the releases of Pearl Jam’s Ten in August and Nirvana’s Nevermind in September, both still considered two of the greatest albums of all time. However, not to be forgotten, the same year also saw the work of R.E.M’s Out of Time, which includes one of their most famous songs, “Losing My Religion,” and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Blood Sugar Sex Magik, which many critics claim is their best album.
Albums Celebrating Anniversaries in 2021
The year 2021 will also see other major album anniversaries, including the 50th anniversary of Janis Joplin’s Pearl, her posthumous album that came out in January of 1971, and the 45th anniversary of Station to Station by David Bowie, which is considered the halfway point in his career due to the transition of music style.
In honor of these albums and others, let’s take a look back at important pieces of music also celebrating major anniversaries this year.
Forty Years Ago: The Police – Ghost in the Machine (October 2nd, 1981)
The Police’s fourth album produced the hit singles “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic,” “Invisible Sun,” “Spirits in the Material World,” and “Secret Journey,” and is the first of theirs to feature heavy keyboards and horns. Ghost in the Machine debuted at #1 on the UK Albums Chart and #2 in the United States and has appeared on many “Greatest Albums of All Time” lists.
Forty Years Ago: Stevie Nicks – Bella Donna (July 27th, 1981)
Bella Donna is Stevie Nicks’ first solo album and features some of her most famous hits, like “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” (written by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and sung as a duet), “Leather and Lace” (a duet with Don Henley), her signature song “Edge of Seventeen,” and “After the Glitter Fades.” Nicks worked on this album while still a member of Fleetwood Mac, in between recording sessions. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist (she was already inducted as part of Fleetwood Mac), due to the popularity of this album.
Thirty-Five Years Ago: Paul Simon – Graceland (August 25th, 1986)
Paul Simon’s personal life and career struggled after he and Art Garfunkel went their separate ways. His previous album, Hearts and Bones (1983) was a commercial failure, and his marriage had fallen apart. However, in 1984, he became interested in South African street music, which was heavily featured in his eventual next album, Graceland. He visited Johannesburg and recorded with South African musicians, while also adding his known pop and rock styles, creating an eclectic mix of songs. The album became his most successful studio album and won him the 1987 Grammy for Album of the Year.
Thirty-Five Years Ago: Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet (August 18th, 1986)
Although Slippery When Wet is Bon Jovi’s third album, it features some of their best-known songs, like “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “Livin’ On a Prayer,” and “Wanted Dead or Alive.” Lead singer Jon Bon Jovi wasn’t sure he wanted to include “Livin’ On a Prayer” on the album because he didn’t think it was good enough, but his bandmate Richie Sambora convinced him to record it, and it ended up becoming the band’s signature song. The album was an instant success and was the top-selling album of 1987, and the band’s first #1 album in the United States.
Twenty-Five Years Ago: Dave Matthews Band – Crash (April 30th, 1996)
Crash is Dave Matthew’s Band second album, but remains their best-selling one. However, the critic reviews varied. Five hit singles came from Crash: “Too Much,” “So Much to Say,” “Crash Into Me,” “Two Step,” and “Tripping Billies.” “So Much to Say” won a 1996 Grammy for Best Rock Performance. Within a year of the album’s release, Dave Matthews Band shot up in popularity and have remained so, constantly touring and putting out new music.
Twenty-Five Years Ago: Sublime – Sublime (July 30th, 1996)
Sublime is the band’s third and final album, due to the death of the lead singer Bradley Nowell, who died two months prior to the album’s release, and subsequent break-up of the group. Sublime was extremely successful, despite little promotion and no touring, producing their most well-known songs, “What I Got,” “Santeria,” “Wrong Way,” and “Doin’ Time,” all of which are still heard on the radio today. Although classified as “ska punk” and “alternative rock,” you can also hear elements of punk rock, hip hop, reggae, blues, folk, and surf music.
To hear songs from other albums celebrating anniversaries this year, check out our playlist below and on our Spotify page.