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Sparkle and Fade: The 50 Essential Albums of 1995

Sparkle and Fade: The 50 Essential Albums of 1995

We've already taken a look at the albums that defined 1985, the most iconic albums of 1975 and the most important albums of 1965.

Now it's time to take a look at 1995.

Nineteen hundred and ninety-five was a strange year for rock. It was defined by the final releases by some of classic rock's greatest, and the debuts of other, more current greats of the genre.

More than anything, though, the year was defined by the gaping hole left at the forefront of rock by the tragic death of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain the previous year, and the wildly different approaches bands of various genres took to attempt to fill that gap.

On the grunge side, Billy Corgan took Smashing Pumpkins on their most ambitious ride yet, the brilliant, but intimidatingly large-scale (and atrociously named) double album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Alice In Chains, meanwhile, struggled through vocalist Layne Staley's heroin addiction to produce a layered, intricately detailed self-titled album that pushed the band, and the genre, in entirely new directions.

An unlikely English quintet named Radiohead threw off the shackles of their one-off hit "Creep" and crafted a harrowing tour de force of modern rock on their second album, The Bends, while Dave Grohl, Nirvana's old drummer, found his own powerful voice on the self-titled debut album of his new band, Foo Fighters.

For some of rock's old guard, 1995 served as a curtain call. Pink Floyd released a searing live document of their final tour, while the Ramones, punk's greatest troopers, put out the appropriately titled ¡Adios Amigos!. The Beatles, meanwhile, explored their past together on the fascinating first volume of the essential rarities collection, Anthology.

But while 1995 served as a farewell for some, it was an introduction to other bands who would leave a tremendous mark. The demise of alt-country legends Uncle Tupelo gave us two fantastic debuts in Wilco's A.M. and Son Volt's Trace. Meanwhile, up in Washington state, Sleater-Kinney set their sights on the rock world for the first time with their own fierce debut.

Bruce Springsteen went acoustic again on the world-weary The Ghost of Tom Joad, while Neil Young teamed up with Pearl Jam for the hard-rocking masterclass, Mirror Ball.

Ninety-five was a strange year, but ultimately an endearing one with great records aplenty. Enjoy the photo gallery below. Remember you can click on each photo to take a closer look!

NOTE: This list is presented in alphabetical order!

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