9 Great 2nd Albums Of The 90s

9 Great 2nd Albums Of The 90s

Posted 15 Oct 2019
great 90s albums rock grunge
90s album covers. 

It's no easy feat to follow up a successful debut album. So many bands fall into the trap of underdelivering by comparison to the success of their breakthrough release, and it's even harder to recover from there. 

Here’s nine 2nd albums from the 90s that we think stand up to their predecessors. Of course, there are loads more and we'd love to know your faves over on our Facebook page. 

Stone Temple Pilots – Purple

While STP’s first album Core is a definite fan favourite, it’s was Purple that sent them on a course through the stratosphere thanks to "Vasoline” and “Interstate Love Song”, but also due to “Big Empty” being featured in the Brandon Lee film, The Crow. Three different, but ultimately huge singles from one album meant that Purple has gone down as a great second album. I personally love how diverse this album is, “Pretty Penny” is hauntingly beautiful, “Silver Gun Superman” is a low down dirty grunge full of riffs and fat bass lines, and it all just works perfectly.  A 25th Anniversary edition will be released on October 18th, newly remastered with rare and unreleased studio and live recordings, get it here. 

Regurgitator – Unit

Australian rock music in the 90s was on fire, and Regurgitator were doing it differently enough to capture an audience. Mixing synth pop with grungy distorted guitars, completely weird song names and lyrics, the ‘gurg were just too damn cool to ignore, and their second album Unit was packed with hits that touched on everything that made them unique. The opening track, “I Like Your Old Stuff Better Than Your New Stuff” had it all. Computer voice, distorted guitar and synth. “! (The Song Formerly Know As)” grooved hard. “Black Bugs” was another example of just how catchy and infectious Regurgitator could be, and “Polyester Girl” was a straight down the line pop song and their biggest hit. However, when asked if they do anything different on Unit if they were given the chance, lead singer Quan Yeomans cited “Polyester Girl”, stating "it's one of those throwaway things that was done so quickly and so sillily. Maybe I would do that again, but then that's the most successful track we've ever released”. Regurgitator recently released a 'greatest hits' compilation to celebrate 25 years together, Quarter Pounder - 25 Years Of Being Consumed is out now on streaming services, and a limited edition silver coloured vinyl release is set for November 1st, here. 

Nirvana – Nevermind

Do I even have to tell you why this album is one of the greatest 2nd albums of all time? Let’s just move on. 

Radiohead – The Bends

It’s interesting to note that Radiohead nearly broke up before The Bends ever saw the light of day. Stuck in a touring rut and playing the same songs they’re written two years prior wasn’t satisfying apparently. New life was needed, and a departure from Pablo Honey is what they delivered. The Bends is a much better album in nearly every way. “High and Dry” and “Nice Dream” exemplified their shift from the earlier arty alt-rock style to a more progressive sound, and sits right in the groove of what would become the Radiohead sound. Falsetto vocals set against churning guitars would influence bands coming through at the time as well. 

Alice In Chains – Dirt

Easily the stand out Alice In Chains album. You can’t escape the overriding theme Dirt; Layne Stayley’s heroin addiction. OK, so the whole album isn’t expressly about that, but the themes of self-disgust, helplessness yet self-aware of what’s making you helpless - it’s just an incredibly written album. The harmonies of Jerry Cantrell and Layne Stayley have always been a stand out sound for Alice In Chains and shine so brilliantly on Dirt in songs like “Rain When I Die”, “Down In A Hole”, and the iconic hit, “Rooster”. This was Alice In Chains at their very best. The riffs, the lyrics, Layne Stayley’s pained yet polished perfect grunge voice is a natural and raw beauty. What an album. 

Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream

How many times have you read the stories about angst within a band during a recording process that resulted in a fantastic album? It’s seemed that for a while in the 80s and into the 90s, it was de rigueur to get it done that way. Drug addictions, in-fighting, relationship break ups, mental breakdowns, it was almost as though beauty was derived from pain exclusively. It was certainly the case with The Smashing Pumpkins and Siamese Dream. But we don’t often see the dark side, just the magnificent result. With an opening track like “Cherub Rock”, which then launches into the fuzztastic riff of “Quiet”, the scene is set for an hour of progressive rock majesty. Yeah, I said progressive rock. Widely thought of as grunge, shoegazing, pop grunge, but the way the Siamese Dream touches on so many levels, like within “Today”, and “Hummer”, maybe it’s closer to progressive alt-rock than we give it credit for? At any rate, it’s an album that’s so easy to go back and listen to in full at any time. 

Pearl Jam – Vs

When your debut major label album is as off the charts as Pearl Jam’s Ten, there was always going to be high expectations for the follow up. Luckily they delivered in spades! From the very moment that “Go” kicks into that incredible groove fans knew everything was going to be OK. Everything was gunna be JAM. 
Track 2, “Animal” bolstered that feeling of what you hear is what you’d get live. They had captured a rawness on Vs that would make it one of their most successful albums going to number ine in eight countries. “Daughter”,  a song about a young girl with a learning disability and the way that society treated kids before it was a diagnosed illness, touched the hearts of fans, and remains a staple of the bands live sets. “Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town” is still one of their most requested songs I get when I’m on air at radio stations, and I think it’s because the story it tells is so familiar to so many, it’s easy to sing along to, and it typifies the song writing prowess of Eddie Vedder. 

Rage Against The Machine – Evil Empire

RATM changed music. There is discussion required. What they did, changed the way we listen in get involved with music. Scathing, heavy, political messages were what they were known for, and the music was as equally heavy. Evil Empire, a phrase used by Ronald Reagan to describe the U.S.S.R during his administration, which the band thought could be used to describe the US at the time, gave us “Bulls On Parade” which was highlighted by the brilliance of Tom Morello and his ‘guitar scratch’ method fans had become so familiar with, and which he had made so popular. Riffs riffs and more riff both on guitar and bass, “People Of The Sun” shone through as the opening track, and the faster paced “Tire Me” would always set fans into a full blown frenzy. The power of Rage Against The Machine can never be overstated, nor their importance in seamlessly crossing genres. 

Oasis – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? 

Whilst their debut what a certified hit in their home country, Oasis’ 2nd album was the one that cemented them as a bona fide international rock monster. Selling 347,000 copies in its first week on sale, and racking up 10 weeks at number 1 in the UK, to date, it’s reported to have sold over 22 million copies worldwide. The hits, they just kept on coming! “Some Might Say”, “Roll With It”, “Morning Glory”, “Wonderwall”, “Don’t Look Back In Anger”, and “Champagne Supernova” all went to number 1 somewhere in the world (except “Morning Glory” which was only given commercial single release in Australia and New Zealand). Massive. This is not only a fantastic second album from a band in the 90s, it’s one of the best albums of the 90s, period. It found its way into everyone’s CD stacker in their car, on tape, you still can’t go to a party or pub and not sing along to “Wonderwall”, it’s a rite of passage. (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? is a must-have. 

If you loved all of these albums and still listen to 90s rock regularly, then you should check out our I Like: 90s Rock playlists below.

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