I’m all I wanna be: Best of 1998

Aware that a legislature of Dimmesdales were chasing Bill Clinton out of the Oval Office but indifferent to everything except the constitutional questions, I settled into quasi-homosexual anomie in 1998: I was supposed to be gay but wasn’t. I came to certain classics late, like Gang Starr’s throwback to a hip-hop era that the Beastie Boys approximate with good intentions and enthusiasm (whenever I remember Inspectah Deck, I think of his bit in “Above the Clouds”). My affection for Version 2.0 I’ve shared. Other highlights: the only Tori Amos album whose libidinous spirit finds a correlative in the beats and piano; an Air album that’s no classic but is as good an album to play while writing as Eno’s Apollo; close to the best PJ Harvey album; the best Beasties since 1989; the strangest and most leisurely of Sonic Youth albums; a Sean Carter album overlooked by the kids; my favorite Ani DiFranco album thanks to “As If,” “Pulse,” and “Gravel”; and a Courtney Love-fronted project for which Billy Corgan got fulsome credit but not the singer-guitarist whose excellent lyrics and scabrous vocals pinned down the wages of being someone who, like a good Hollywood star, fakes it so real she’s beyond fake.

Garbage – Version 2.0
Hole – Celebrity Skin
PJ Harvey – Is This Desire?
OutKast – Aquemini
Jay-Z – Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life
Gang Starr – Moment of Truth
Sonic Youth – A Thousand Leaves
Rufus Wainwright – Rufus Wainwright
Silver Jews – American Water
Tori Amos – From the Choirgirl Hotel
Goodie Mob – Still Standing
Lucinda Williams – Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
Alan Jackson – High Mileage
Air – Moon Safari
Beastie Boys – Hello Nasty
Massive Attack – Mezzanine
Madonna – Ray of Light
Liz Phair – Whitechocolatespaceegg
Ani DiFranco – Little Plastic Castle
Pearl Jam – Yield
Pulp – This Is Hardcore

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