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.
1. Garbage – Version 2.0
2. Hole – Celebrity Skin
3. PJ Harvey – Is This Desire?
4. OutKast – Aquemini
5. Jay-Z – Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life
6. Gang Starr – Moment of Truth
7. Sonic Youth – A Thousand Leaves
8. Rufus Wainwright – Rufus Wainwright
9. Silver Jews – American Water
10. Tori Amos – From the Choirgirl Hotel
11. Black Star – Mos Def & Tali Kweli Are Black Star
12. Lucinda Williams – Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
13. Alan Jackson – High Mileage
14. Air – Moon Safari
15. Beastie Boys – Hello Nasty
16. Massive Attack – Mezzanine
17. Madonna – Ray of Light
18. Liz Phair – Whitechocolatespaceegg
19. Ani DiFranco – Little Plastic Castle
20. Pearl Jam – Yield
21. Pulp – This Is Hardcore
22. Belle and Sebastian – The Boy With the Arab Strap
23. Juvenile – 400 Degreez
24. Public Enemy – He Got Game soundtrack.
25. UNKLE – Psyence Fiction