Everybody has those records they can’t live without… and these are ours.
We kicked off 2021 by playing the most essential records in our station’s history. We played the A-sides, the B-sides, and the stories behind each of these albums – all the greatest records in rock, all day long…
These are The 40 Albums That Made 93X (in no particular order)
THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL – NINE INCH NAILS
Nine Inch Nails’ second album, The Downward Spiral, was an instant classic. Released on the same day as Soundgarden’s Superunknown, the album entered the charts at #2 behind Soundgarden. The album was shrouded in controversy due to the recording location (see: Trivia) and the lyrical content, among other things. The album would go on to sell 4 million copies and contains “March of the Pigs and the hit, “Closer”. Despite not being officially released as a single, “Hurt” received considerable radio airplay and peaked at #8 on the Billboard Alternative charts.
TRIVIA: NIN’s The Downward Spiral LP and Broken EP, as well as Marilyn Manson’s Portrait of an American Family were all recorded in the house where the Manson Family carried out the Tate/LaBianca murders.
WATCH: 25 Facts About NIN ‘The Downward Spiral’ You May Not Know – it’s a concept album about a character named Mr. Self Destruct and features samples from several movies and Iggy Pop’s “Lust For Life”. Watch on YouTube.
READ: Into the Never: Nine Inch Nails and the Creation of the Downward Spiral by Adam Steiner (Backbeat Books, 2020)
LISTEN: The Downward Spiral on Spotify
THE SOUND OF MADNESS – SHINEDOWN
The Sound of Madness is Shinedown’s only album as a five-piece. Singer Brent Smith wrote over 60 songs in hopes of creating a big hard rock record with crossover potential. The result is Shinedown’s only multi-platinum album, with over 2 million copies sold.
TRIVIA: Of the album’s six singles, five went to #1 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock charts. “If You Only Knew” peaked at #2.
WATCH: Shinedown’s Brent Smith on The Sound of Madness – Smith discusses falling out of love with music before writing The Sound of Madness, writing the album’s lyrics on a hotel room wall after running out of paper and more. Watch on YouTube.
LISTEN: The Sound of Madness on Spotify
SIAMESE DREAM – SMASHING PUMPKINS
Billy Corgan and producer Butch Vig spent 13-14 hours a day, 6-7 days a week for months, just to get the sound Corgan was looking for on Smashing Pumpkins’ sophomore album. In some cases, it meant overdubbing his bandmates’ parts when they weren’t achieving the perfection he required. The resulting album, Siamese Dream, is a classic of alternative, grunge and shoegaze rock. It contains the Top 10 Billboard Alternative singles “Today”, “Disarm” and “Cherub Rock”. “Disarm” would also end up going Top 5 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock charts.
TRIVIA: Several of the songs end with elements best heard with headphones on. These include opera singers, a televangelist talking about resisting the devil, and a woman discussing her marriage’s intimacy problems.
WATCH: Billy Corgan on Relationships & Siamese Dream – short, animated interview with Billy Corgan reveals the meaning behind the phrase “Siamese Dream”. Watch on YouTube.
READ: Smashing Pumpkins: Tales of a Scorched Earth by Amy Hanson (Helter Skelter Publishing, 2004)
LISTEN: Siamese Dream on Spotify
ENEMA OF THE STATE – BLINK-182
After parting ways with their original drummer, Blink-182 asked Travis Barker of The Aquabats to fill in on drums on tour. Everything clicked, and the classic-era Blink-182 lineup was born. For LP3, Enema of the State, the band hired producer Jerry Finn. Finn (mix engineer of Green Day’s Dookie and Insomniac) brought a more pop-oriented sound out of the band, and even added keyboards, courtesy of Roger Joseph Manning Jr. (Jellyfish/Beck/Air). The album exceeded everyone’s expectations by selling 15 million copies worldwide and peaking at #9 on the Billboard 200. The album contains three of Blink’s biggest hits: “What’s My Age Again?”, “Adam’s Song” and the huge crossover hit, “All the Small Things.”
TRIVIA: Before settling on Enema of the State, the band intended to call the album Viking Wizard Eyes, Wizard Full of Lies.
WATCH: Enema of the State – Artwork Versions – YouTuber 182 Collector shows off the three slightly different Enema of the State album covers and explains why several adjustments were made after the album’s release. Watch on YouTube.
READ: Blink-182: Tales from Beneath Your Mom by Blink-182 with Anne Hoppus
LISTEN: Enema of the State on Spotify
IN UTERO – NIRVANA
Disappointed with the glossy production of Nevermind, Kurt Cobain chose engineer Steve Albini to produce In Utero because of his work on his favorite albums; Surfer Rosa by Pixies and Pod by The Breeders. The album was recorded in two weeks at Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls, MN. Despite DGC Records’ plan to not overhype the album through promotion, In Utero debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, with both of the album’s singles (“Heart-Shaped Box” and “All Apologies”) going #1 on the Billboard’s Alternative singles chart. The album sold half as many copies as Nevermind, but still managed to sell 5 million in the US, and 10 million worldwide.
TRIVIA: Cobain considered calling the album “I Hate Myself and I Want to Die”; his sarcastic reply anytime he was asked how he was doing.
WATCH: Kurt Cobain: About a Son – this documentary compiles audio from hours of interviews Kurt Cobain did with journalist Michael Azerrad for the book Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana. Stream on Prime Video.
READ: Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana by Michael Azerrad
LISTEN: In Utero on Spotify
LICENSED TO ILL – BEASTIE BOYS
Def Jam, 1986
Beasties Boys’ debut LP, Licensed to Ill is an undeniable classic in hip-hop. It is the first rap album in history to go to #1 on the Billboard 200, and held the top spot for 7 straight weeks. Kerry King of Slayer plays lead guitar on “No Sleep till Brooklyn” and “Fight for Your Right”. The classic debut has sold over 10 million copies in the US. Licensed to Ill remains the Beasties’ biggest album, selling more than 3 times as many copies as their next biggest albums, Ill Communication and Hello Nasty.
TRIVIA: “Time to Get Ill” features 14 different samples of songs by Led Zeppelin, Joan Jett, Barry White, Creedence Clearwater Revival, a couple of television theme songs and more.
WATCH: The Samples: BEASTIE BOYS: Licensed To Ill Edition – Comprehensive list and demonstration of all the samples used on Licensed to Ill.Watch on YouTube.
READ: Beastie Boys Book by Michael Diamond & Adam Horovitz (Random House, 2018)
LISTEN: Licensed to Ill on Spotify
NIGHTMARE – AVENGED SEVENFOLD
Warner Bros, 2010
All demos for Avenged Sevenfold’s fifth album were complete before drummer Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan passed away at age 28. To honor his legacy, they brought in one of his idols, Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater, to play all drum parts exactly as The Rev would have played them. The resulting album, Nightmare, resulted in what the band refers to as “Jimmy’s masterpiece”. Nightmare debuted at #1 and contains the three #1 singles “Nightmare”, “Welcome to the Family” and “So Far Away”.
TRIVIA: The tombstone on the album’s cover reads “FoREVer”. A7X’s tribute to their late, beloved drummer, Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan.
WATCH: Interview with M. Shadows – Pablo talks to the A7X front man about 2010’s Nightmare, the loss of drummer & childhood friend Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan, and how their fans have kept them going. Watch on 93X.com
READ: Avenged Sevenfold’s ‘Nightmare’: The Tragedy and Triumph Behind 2010 No. 1 Album (Revolver Magazine)
LISTEN: Nightmare on Spotify
SIXTEEN STONE – BUSH
Bush’s debut album, Sixteen Stone, boasts five Top 5 singles, each of them solid and in constant rotation on modern rock radio after more than 25 years. In addition to “Everything Zen”, “Little Things” and “Machinehead”, Sixteen Stone contained two #1 Modern Rock Tracks; “Come Down” and “Glyercine” both enjoyed a two week stint at the top of the charts. The album peaked at #4 and remains Bush’s biggest album with over 6 million sold in the US.
TRIVIA: In a 2019 interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Gavin Rossdale stated that Bush has 17 successful singles, and he tries to play them all when performing live; rather than playing “obscure, deep cut[s] badly”.
WATCH: Gavin Rossdale Interview with Woody – Gavin discusses his profane 1996 MTV awards performance, being forced to perform in a rain storm, the continued thrill of creating music and much more. Watch on 93X.com
LISTEN: Sixteen Stone on Spotify
AMERICAN IDIOT – GREEN DAY
After a string of Platinum albums, 2000’s Warning: barely went Gold. Green Day came back in a major way with 2004’s American Idiot. It was their very first album to go to #1 in the US. It featured three #1 US Alternative singles (“American Idiot”, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Holiday”) and earned them their second Grammy (Best Rock Album) on its way to 14 million sold worldwide. American Idiot remains their second biggest album behind 1994’s Dookie.
TRIVIA: American Idiot contains the two longest songs the band has ever recorded. “Jesus of Suburbia” (9:08) and “Homecoming” (9:18).
WATCH: Heart Like a Hand Grenade – features music videos and the behind the scenes recording process for American Idiot. Stream on Prime Video
READ: Nobody Likes You: Inside the Turbulent Life, Times, and Music of Green Day by Marc Spitz (Hachette Books, 2006)
LISTEN: American Idiot on Spotify
HYBRID THEORY – LINKIN PARK
Warner Bros., 2000
Linkin Park’s massive debut album sold 500,000 copies in its first five weeks. Four singles were issued from Hybrid Theory including “One Step Closer”, “Crawling” and “In the End”. “Crawling” took home the Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance, beating out Rage Against the Machine’s “Renegades of Funk. “In the End” spent 5 weeks a piece at #1 on the Billboard Alternative Play and Mainstream Top 40 charts. Hybrid Theory has sold over 30 million copies worldwide, peaking at #2 behind Creed’s Weathered.
TRIVIA: Hybrid Theory is the bestselling debut album of the 21st century.
WATCH: Hybrid Theory: 10 Facts Only Superfans Would Know – such as “Hybrid Theory” being the band’s original name, the hit song Chester Bennington wasn’t a fan of at first, and the label wanting to replace founding member Mike Shinoda. Watch on YouTube
READ: One Step Closer: From Xero to #1: Becoming Linkin Park by Jeff Blue (Permuted Press, 2020)
LISTEN: Hybrid Theory on Spotify