You know you’re getting old when you find out that the films, TV shows and music albums you still enjoy as an adult were originally released decades ago. Every single one of the 15 albums listed below was released in 1991, which – whether we’d like to believe it or not – was more than 30 year ago. How many of these musical masterpieces do you remember listening to as a child or a teenager, and which was your absolute favourite?
15. Simply Red – Stars
Formed by singer Mick Hucknall in 1985, Simply Red became one of the most successful British bands of their time. Their 1991 album Stars proved their biggest commercial success, sporting group’s hit single Something Got Me Started in addition to its gorgeous title track.
At the time of writing, Stars is the fifteenth highest-selling albums in British history, having sold 3.45 million copies in the United Kingdom alone. Worldwide, it’s sold an estimated nine million copies.
14. Roxette – Joyride
Outside of ABBA, Sweden hasn’t produced too many globally successful pop bands. Roxette were one of the few to come close to that success. Duo Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle broke through with Pretty Woman theme song It Must Have Been Love, and their follow-up album Joyride gave them their biggest commercial success.
Best known for its title track, Joyride sold eleven million copies worldwide. Roxette continued to enjoy commercial success throughout the 90s, but their run sadly came to an end with the premature death of Fredriksson in 2019.
13. Michael Jackson – Dangerous
Following on from Michael Jackson’s beloved, massive-selling albums Thriller and Bad, Dangerous hit shelves in 1991. Sporting an eye-watering nine hit singles (including lead single Black or White), Dangerous became one of the best-selling albums of all time with sales of over 32 million.
Jackson was at the height of his ‘King of Pop’ fame at the time, but within a few years his career would be derailed by accusations of child abuse.
12. Nirvana – Nevermind
Nirvana might not have single-handedly invented alternative rock, but Nevermind was the record that popularised that style of music. Despite coming from humble independent beginnings, the Seattle rock trio’s second album wound up selling 30 million-selling copies.
The album has returned to the public eye in recent years, thanks to the continued, unsuccessful attempts from the now-adult cover model to sue over the use of his naked image.
11. Erasure – Chorus
Unlike some of the popular synth-pop acts of the 80s, Erasure endured into the 90s with their fifth album, Chorus. As well as the title track, Chorus also boasted their hit singles Love to Hate You, Am I Right? and Breath of Life.
Chorus gave duo Andy Bell and Vince Clarke their third consecutive number one album in the UK, where it was certified platinum with 300,000 copies sold.
10. Queen – Innuendo
Released February 1991, Queen’s 14th album Innuendo sports the song of the same name (which hit number one in the UK) as well as The Show Must Go On, I’m Going Slightly Mad, Headlong and These Are the Days of Our Lives.
The album hit the number one spot in the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Portugal and Switzerland. Tragically, only nine months after its release, frontman Freddie Mercury died of AIDS.
9. Seal – Seal
After breaking through singing the vocal on Adamski’s number one smash hit Killer, Seal really established himself as a solo sensation with his 1991 self-titled debut album. As well as featuring Killer, it includes Seal’s huge hit Crazy.
Seal’s eponymous album sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide. He enjoyed even greater success with his 1994 follow-album (confusing also entitled Seal), which sold four million copies in the US alone off the back of hist single Kiss from a Rose.
8. Vanilla Ice – To the Extreme
Never let anyone tell you that Vanilla Ice was a one-hit wonder! Sure, his breakthrough single Ice Ice Baby was by far his biggest success, but he still sold over 15 million copies of his debut album To The Extreme.
Although this album hit shelves in September 1990 (and not 1991 as with all the other albums listed here), but it was nonetheless one of the biggest sellers in the year following its release.
7. Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion I & II
In the wake of their massive-selling 1987 debut album Appetite for Destruction (and the less well-remembered 1988 follow-up G N’R Lies), hard rockers Guns N’ Roses were one of the most popular bands around. This led them to get extra-ambitious for their next two albums, Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II.
After writing and recording over two and a half hours worth of material over the course of the previous year, Guns N’ Roses took the unusual step of releasing two albums back-to-back on the same day in September 1991. This bold move paid off; collectively the Use Your Illusion albums sold over 11 million copies worldwide.
6. Michael Bolton – Time, Love & Tenderness
Michael Bolton may be best remembered now for sporting one of the most eye-popping mullets of the era (and that’s saying something), but he also sold his fair share of records. Time, Love & Tenderness was the American crooner’s seventh album, and by far his most commercially successful.
Time, Love & Tenderness boasts four hit singles, including the title track and Bolton’s cover of Percy Sledge’s When a Man Loves a Woman. The album sold a staggering 16 million copies around the world.
5. U2 – Achtung Baby
Despite being one of the biggest bands to emerge from the 80s, there were doubts that U2 would be able to remain relevant in the 90s. The Irish stadium rockers surprised everyone by massively revitalising their sound and image with their seventh album Achtung Baby, released November 1991.
Achtung Baby spawned five hit singles in The Fly, Mysterious Ways, One, Even Better Than The Real Thing and Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses. As well as shifting over 18 million copies, the album also prompted U2’s landmark world tour Zoo TV.
4. Belinda Carlisle – Live Your Life Be Free
Former Go-Gos singer Belinda Carlisle may be best remembered today for her 1987 hit Heaven is a Place on Earth, but she continued to enjoy commercial success into the 1990s. Her fourth solo album Live Your Life Be Free was released in October 1991, and while it wasn’t as well-received as her earlier records, it still proved popular.
As well as the title track, Live Your Life Be Free also spawned the popular singles Little Black Book and Do You Feel Like I Feel?
3. R.E.M. – Out of Time
Alt-rock pioneers R.E.M. had been gradually building a following over the course of a decade when their seventh album Out of Time sent them sky-rocketing in 1991. Boasting the hit singles Losing My Religion and Shiny Happy People, Out of Time went on to sell an impressive 18 million copies across the globe.
Soon enough, R.E.M. were stadium rock superstars on the same level as U2. Their subsequent records Automatic for the People (1993) and Monster (1994) also proved enormously successful.
2. Chris Isaak – Wicked Game
Taking its title from the haunting hit single of the smash, you might not have realised that Chris Isaak’s 1991 release Wicked Game is actually a best-of compilation rather than a studio album. It collects songs previously released on the American singer-songwriter’s first three albums Silvertone (1985), Chris Isaak (1986) and Heart-Shaped World (1989).
It might not have featured anything that existing Isaak fans didn’t already have, but Wicked Game still found an appreciative audience, shifting over 1.6 million copies worldwide.
1. Beverley Craven – Beverley Craven
The eponymous debut album of British singer-songwriter Beverley Craven didn’t make much impact when first released in the summer of 1990. However, after the re-release of single Promise Me in April 1991, Craven finally caught the attention of the British public, and soon had a double platinum album on her hands.
Craven went on to win the Best Newcomer Award at the 1992 Brit Awards, and enjoyed more success with her Gold-selling 1993 follow-up album Love Scenes.