13 Essential Grunge Era Albums

Hi everyone! I might just sound like an old fogey here, but I truly am a child of the “Grunge” era. Not only was it the time that I was raised in, but it was also the time when I shaped a lot of my own personal musical tastes.

Much of the music that I listed to at the time was of course, Grunge. It was everywhere. MTV still played music at that time and I can distinctly remember some truly awesome performances by Nirvana and Alice in Chains live and unplugged on MTV. That’s not even counting some of the awesome music videos that where in constant play on the channel as well.

So to put it simply, Grunge was the literal soil that spawned me and If you can look past the flannel and Dr. Martens, you will definitely see some true musical talent! Not that there’s anything wrong with flannel or Dr. Martens at all! Anyhow, without any further ado, lets check out some truly influential albums of the time. These are classics that will give you a genuine taste of the Grunge era.

Faith No More – The Real Thing

Now, the “Grunge” era might have technically started in the early 90’s, but it was born in the late 80s. Bands like Faith No More, R.E.M. & The Red Hot Chili Peppers helped kick in the door for more creative and experimental acts to follow. They where the literal steel toed boot that helped usher in an entire era. This album specifically had some songs that are still in heavy rotation in my playlists. Specifically “Epic” & “Falling to Pieces”. Check them out if you wanna see the roots of the whole movement.

Melvins – Houdini

Now, if bands like “Faith No More” where “mommies” of Grunge, the Melvins are most definitely the daddies. So many bands of the era are quoted saying that the Melvins where a major influence. This album, in my own personal opinion, is their very best work. It was also released in 1993, at the very peak of Grunge. If you love the raw, no holds bared sound of gritty, hardcore Grunge, this is what your looking for. Every track on this album will have you listening non-stop for days!

Collective Soul – Collective Soul

Some might say this is not technically “Grunge”, but I beg to differ. It has that classic Grunge era guitar crunch. It also has those distinct Grunge era melodies. This was my own personal favorite album when it was released. If there is anything that will give you an idea of how the grunge era was ushered out, this is most definitely a good one. This is also another case of “Every song on the album is amazing”. Check this one out, you can’t go wrong.

The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

There are some people out there that religiously worship this album. It was a literal phenomenon when it was released. I remember this especially being a favorite album of some of my female friends at the time. The melodies here are honestly some of the best examples of “Melodic Grunge” and I doubt you’ll find anyone who hasn’t at least heard of one of these songs. If your into melodic and soulful Grunge, this is most definitely what your looking for.

Soundgarden – Superunknown

Nobody did doom and gloom better than Soundgarden. The eerie guitar melodies mixed with the absolute stunning vocals of Chris Cornell, intoxicated your ears and mind. You can ear the raw emotion in the lyrics. The fact that Chris Cornell committed suicide makes these songs all the more gloomy and reflective of his own personal turmoil.  Still, its a bitter-sweet wine I love to indulge in. There is nothing quite like it. Check it out for something stunning on every level.

Alice in Chains – Unplugged

Alice in Chains’ performance on MTV’s Unplugged has to be one of the defining moments of 90’s grunge, That performance showed the world that they where every bit as good live as they where on the album. Debatably even better. It’s personally tied for my favorite performance on the MTV’s Unplugged with Nirvana’s performance (Which was also phenomenal). If you want an Alice in Chains album that’s basically an acoustic greatest hits album, this is what your looking for, in spades!

Temple of the Dog – Temple of the Dog

This is basically an “in-memorium” album, with a ton of grunge masters mourning the loss of fellow musician Andrew Wood, lead singer of the band Mother Love Bone. This grunge super-group might have only produced one album, but it’s a damn fine one if I do say so myself. Specific tracks on the album that really shine are Say Hello 2 Heaven & Hunger Strike. Chris Cornell will melt your soul with those two songs alone. Check it out if you want a Grunge album with a whole lot of soul.

Candlebox – Candlebox

This is one of those albums you can just let play through every track without skipping. Literally every song on this album is amazing. This was one of my go-to workout albums while overseas in Afghanistan. The melodies here are amazing and soulful and the grungy power riffs are some of the best in the genre. I think they are one of the most underrated bands of the time. They certainly don’t get mentioned in the same sentence as Nirvana or Pearl Jam, but I think they definitely should. They produced an absolute perfect, genre defining album with this one.

Nirvana – Nevermind

Now, you didn’t think I was gonna make this list without talking about the one album that defined the whole genre did you?! Of course not! From late 1991 through all of 1992, you couldn’t turn on a rock radio station without hearing Nirvana’s Nevermind. It was the one album that really took grunge into the mainstream and made Nirvana pop culture icons that where EVERYWHERE. Even today the band is a household name. The album was honestly worth all the praise though, with songs that I still enjoy immensely to this day. Pick it up if you want to know what the pulse of the rock world was at the time.

Pearl Jam – Ten

I like to think of Pearl Jam as the Bob Ross of the grunge world, beautiful, melodic, serine and artful. Even with their sound being firmly rooted in Grunge, they just didn’t seem to have all the anger or angst you could see in other groups, which honestly was a breath of fresh air at times. This album was one of the very first CD’s I ever owned and I played it constantly. Favorite tracks here include: Black, Jeremy, Even Flow & Alive. It’s a great laid back album for those lazy days when your just looking to kick back and enjoy some good tunes.

Stone Temple Pilots – Core

This was another album I had in heavy rotation when it came out. This album does an amazing job mixing soulful melody and crunchy, head banging riffs throughout the album. Scott Weiland also did an amazing job belting those vocals out too. The band here specifically is also pretty amazing. I’ve played a few of these songs on guitar and it takes quite a bit of talent to perfect some of those riffs. Specific songs of note here are: Dead & Bloated, Sex Type Thing, Wicked Garden, Creep & Plush. You’ll be singing them for days, trust me.

L7 – Bricks are Heavy

Who would’ve thought that a band comprised of four smokin hot ladies could rock so flippin hard! You’ll be hard pressed to find a “girl-band” that’s as hardcore sounding as these ladies, with maybe only Hole aside. This album honestly is some of the most hardcore sounding grunge your ever going to hear. No lie.  Its simply amazing from start to finish. Check it out, I’m sure you’ll be singing its praises, and all of the songs, immediately after you do!

Pixies – Doolittle

The Pixies are an amazingly unique sounding band that just so happened to come out during the first wave of the grunge movement in the late 80’s. They almost sound like surf rock and grunge had a baby, if I had to describe them somehow. No other band really sounds exactly like them either, which is part of what makes them so awesome to begin with. They are one of a kind. Particular songs of note here include: Gouge Away, Monkey Gone to Heaven & Here Comes Your Man.

Alright everybody! I hope you enjoyed my list. I’m sure you’ll be jamming for the rest of your life with these tunes! I still jam out to them to this very day! Rock ‘N Roll & Enjoy!

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