From Kid Rock to Beck to Fiona Apple to Tom Petty, these are the albums that rocked and ruled our 1999
Eric Boehlert's Top Ten for 1999
, Songs From Stamford Hill
Pub band leader James Maddock hails from outside London, but sounds like he was raised on Neil Young and the Byrds -- one to watch.
2. Ibrahim Ferrer
, Buena Vista Social Club Presents . . .
The seventy-something crooner masterfully continues the Cuban renaissance BSC gave birth to in '97.
3. Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris
, Western Wall-Tucson Sessions
Voices that were meant to tango together. Harris, it seems, can do no
wrong these days.
4. Tom Petty
Paints a convincing picture of how grand and appealing American guitar rock can still be.
5. Tom Waits
, Mule Variations
Yeah, the seven-year wait was worth it. And just for "Hold On" alone.
6. Beth Orton
, Central Reservation
Impossibly, the ambient folkster improved upon her stunning '97 debut, Trailer Park
. The world is hers.
7. Randy Newman
, Bad Love
Because who else is going to sing about Karl Marx?
8. Steve Earle & Del McCoury
, The Mountain
The haunting bluegrass title cut will be performed under tents for generations to come.
9. Everything But the Girl
A gorgeous torrent of Ben Watt's beats and Tracey Thorn's vocals.
10. The Roots
, Things Fall Apart
Not when they take the stage, they don't.
Bill Crandall's Top Ten for 1999
1. Fiona Apple
, When the Pawn...
When Fiona stops talkin' and starts singin', beautiful things happen.
, Midnite Vultures
Record companies released multi-disc box sets in an attempt to sum up the century's pop music output -- Beck did it in one album.
3. Basement Jaxx
Just as house music was boring the world silly, this DJ/producer duo injected it with soul.
4. Dr. Dre
, Dr. Dre 2001
The mighty return of the Phil Spector of gangsta. A bit too long, with far too many special guests, but nobody blends raps so brutal with grooves so infectious.
5. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Revealing without being indulgent, witty without being cute. Among Petty's best batch of songs.
, Terror Twilight
A slick rock album by lo-fi's posterboys? A idea just crazy enough to work.
7. Adam Elk
This solo debut by former Mommyheads frontman Adam Cohen is home-made, but hardly lo-fi. Well worth searching for.
8. Kelly Willis
, What I Deserve
A country gal with an indie-rock bent. In addition to her own fine compositions, Willis makes Paul Westerberg, Nick Drake and Paul Kelly songs safe for honky tonks.
9. Mark Lanegan
, I'll Take Care of You
For his "standards" album, Mark Lanegan covers obscurities from all sorts of varying genres -- and makes 'em all sound creepy.
10. Matthew Sweet
, In Reverse Well
Sweet didn't exactly achieve Pet Sounds
, but -- by using harpsichords, flugelhorns, theremins, trombones and sleighbells -- he gets props for trying.
Jenny Eliscu's Top Ten for 1999
1. FLAMING LIPS
, Soft Bulletin
2. BUILT TO SPILL
, Keep It Like a Secret
Two beautiful samples of perfect pop craftsmanship, with enough quirkiness to help these bands retain the title "indie-rock" despite their major-label affiliations.
3. RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE
, Battle of Los Angeles
Makes all the other funk-metal acts look like also-rans.
4. HANDSOME BOY MODELING SCHOOL
, So...How's Your Girl?
Tongue-in-cheek concept; serious beats -- this was one of the year's best, most unconventional, hip-hop records.
, This Is the Way It Goes and Goes and Goes
Smart Dischord-style punk rock, with a messy, beating heart and some beautiful guitar work.
6. SKULL KONTROL
, Deviate Beyond All Means of Capture
This snotty little record puts the "rawk" back in "punk rawk."
, Good Morning Spider
Gorgeous, soulful and quirky, Spider
proves Mark Linkous to be one of our generation's most promising eccentric songwriters.
8. BETH ORTON
, Central Reservation
Orton's a modern folkie with such a beautiful voice, I don't even mind sharing her with Felicity
9. BEN LEE
, Breathing Tornados
The young Aussie discovered the joys of synth and made a mature record without sacrificing an ounce of fun.
10. SHANNON WRIGHT
Wright's bleak acoustic tunes are wonderfully chilling and her solo debut is on par with the early efforts of another melancholic folkie - Elliott Smith.
Richard Skanse's Top Ten for 1999
1. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Believe Tom Petty when he says he's at the top of the world and he ain't comin' down - this is the best album of his career -- but don't believe guitarist Mike Campbell when he sings "I Don't Wanna Fight," 'cuz this band can kick your ass from L.A. to Florida and back.
, Summer Teeth
Next to the Heartbreakers, Wilco takes runner up for the best band in America today. Packed with huge singles that never were, Summer Teeth
is Pet Sounds
viewed through a glass darkly.
3. Terry Allen
A hilarious, frightening and beautiful vision of the Apocalypse, courtesy of the Southwest's unholy answer to Randy Newman and Tom Waits.
4. Dixie Chicks
Redefining the word "buoyant," the Dixie Chicks have their cake and eat it too on their second major label album, playing right up the mainstream without sacrificing a bit of their edge. Instrumental chops to die for, and a voice as big and bold as Texas.
5. Richard Thompson
, Mock Tudor
Snide, witty, crushingly sad and full of minor guitar miracles, Mock Tudor
reasserts Richard Thompson's claim as the thinking man's Eric Clapton. There's not a bad song on here, but "Walking the Long Miles Home" stands out as a classic on par with "Shoot Out the Lights."
, Electric Shaver
Outlaw Billy Joe Shaver and guitar-slinging son Eddy deliver the best tear-the-roof-off-the-joint Texas roadhouse jukebox album since Waylon Jennings' classic Honky Tonk Heroes
. Of course, Shaver wrote that one, too.
, Midnite Vultures
Its not just the logic of all sex laws that Beck defies on Midnite Vultures
; squeezing this much fun onto one album defies any and all borders of taste and good sense, and should frankly be illegal. But we'll let it slide.
8. Bree Sharp
, Cheap and Evil Girl
The soon-to-be-badly-dated "David Duchovny" still packs a tickle, but its on the striking ballad "Walk Away" and supercool rockers like "Faster, Faster" that Bree Sharp breaks into stride as a writer and artist worth watching. Long may she run.
9. Kelly Willis
, What I Deserve
Kelly Willis comes into her own as a songwriter worthy of her vocal chops. What she deserves is every single bit of the acclaim this album brought her, and a much larger audience.
10. Guns n' Roses Live Era '87-'93
comes on like the loudest, meanest ghost train to ever hurtle across a desolate wasteland, with Axl, Slash, Izzy and the rest carrying that essential, brutal hard rock truth for too long lost on those content to merely rage, offend and score nookie: it's the songs, stupid.
Jaan Uhelszki's Top Ten for 1999
1. Kid Rock
, Devil Without a Cause
This Detroit cowboy elevates the Beastie Boys template to pop art. Yippie-aye-oh-kay-ay, motherf---er.
2. The Pretenders
, Viva El Amor!
Chrissie Hynde is not going gently into middle age. She sneers, snipes, jabs and does little to conceal her irascibility on the Pretenders first studio album since 1994. Jumping right in with stiletto boots poised for the kill, Hynde skewers the current crop of pop grrls on "Popstar," the most interesting roman de clef
since Carly Simon's "You're So Vain."
, Midnight Vultures
Beck switches genres as quickly as DJs flip discs. This one worships at the altar of George Clinton, and you can almost see the flicker of the party lights.
Moby is so sincere he almost reeks. Like Beck, he's an inveterate genre-switcher, this time cooking up a stew of barbecue rock, breakbeat rhythms, ambient mixology, and inspired blues and gospels. As smooth as his shaven head.
5. Third Eye Blind
An elegantly flawed follow-up to their platinum-selling release, Blue
crackles with energy and dark humor.
6. Iggy Pop
, Avenue B.
Never has James Newell Osterberg been so exposed. His best work since 1978's New Values
shows Iggy to be one of rocks' greatest survivors -- nude, rude, and just as angry as he was in 1969, but about different things.
7. Richard Thompson
, Mock Tudor
The only mocking on this disc is at himself. A concept album that skewers the British suburbs that Thompson sprung from. Singular guitar and matchless wit.
8. Bryan Ferry
, As Time Goes By
Roxy Music founder, style icon and smooth operator Bryan Ferry has been missing in action for the past five years, but comes back with a graceful vengeance in this album of Thirties standards.
9. Missy Elliot
, Da Real World
Just when you think grrrrl power is a joke, Missy shows you how it's really done.
10. Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros
, Rock Art & the X-Ray Style
Joe Strummer has traded in some of his bark but none of his bite. A powerful mix of reggae, blues and unabashed rock to set off Strummer's ironic take on the state of the world. Like Iggy, still angry, but at the same things.
Written by THE ROLLINGSTONE.COM STAFF for RollingStone.com News