Clive's Album of the Year 1998

1998 marked the end of a few chapters for me, and the beginning of actually having a proper job and getting on with things.

Nineteen European nations banned human cloning, an earthquake in northeast Afghanistan killed over 5000 people, the Kosovo War began, it was discovered that Europa has a liquid ocean (under ice) and that the universe is indeed expanding at an accelerating rate, Titanic won 11 Oscars, Windows 98, Omagh happened, Bear Grylls (aged 23) climbed Everest, a different earthquake in northern Afghanistan killed about another 5000 people and two guys started a company.

Auf wossname to Sonny Bono, Falco, Father Ted, Lloyd Bridges, Cozy Powell, Tammy Wynette, Pol Pot, Linda McCartney, Ol' Blue Eyes, Catherine Cookson, Akira Kurosawa, Flo-Jo and Miss Marple, among (as always) many others.

Most of the Resident Evil video games were set in 1998. Musically, meanwhile, things were pretty bleak.

Honourable mentions

Fatboy Slim - You've Come A Long Way, Baby

OK, let's not dress it up, this thing hasn't aged well. It was fine up until a few years ago I guess, but now it tends to be a "Oh that? [skip]" moment when it comes up on shuffle. Undeniably massive and genre-busting at the time though. Top track: "Praise You"

Garbage - Version 2.0

I think I missed the first Garbage album when it came out, mainly due to having my fingers in my ears and pretending that The Dark Times weren't happening, but when I heard the follow-up that all changed. Wonderful pop/punk/rock tunes with a sultry yet powerful voice over the top and some wonderful production. Still fresh. Top track: "Hammering In My Head"

David Gray - White Ladder

I remember reading a one-line review that said this was "an album that makes you feel better just for knowing it exists" and that was certainly the case for years. Saffron was in uni halls (a couple of years later), and I'd go to her place and we'd listen to this and then try and sleep in that tiny, tiny bed while her housemates got up to hi-jinx and inevitably someone set the fire alarm off. This got us through though. :) Some may find his singing nasal and his songs insipid, but I will always have a soft spot for this finely-crafted album. Top track: "Please Forgive Me"

The Offspring - Americana

Like (I suspect) many, the first I heard of The Offspring was "Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)", despite them being around for years beforehand. Having heard it, though, I loved it, and grabbed the album and have never regretted it. Classic. Top track: "Staring At The Sun"

Joe Satriani - Crystal Planet

Having been a Satch fan for about a decade at the time, I thought this was a fine return to form after the patchy Strange Beautiful Music a couple of years before and the disappointing self-titled album before that. I'll also say this though: it's been downhill since here. Top track: "Crystal Planet"

And the winner is…

Barenaked Ladies - Stunt

Barenaked Ladies - Stunt

I'd not long been acquainted with the fabulousness of BNL in 1998. Some friends played a few of their tracks in their band's set, and I liked those well enough, but I hadn't really gotten into them properly. Then this album came out with its vanguard single, the tongue-twistingly delightful "One Week", and I had to have the CD, which then led to a (pre-torrent, pre-Amazon) hoovering up of all their previous works (every one of which I recommend highly).

As with the Satriani album though, I reckon this was the high point. The subsequent album Maroon has some cracking tunes on it, but doesn't feel as cohesive a listen as Stunt, and everything after that just felt a little but more washed out each time round.

Top tracks: "One Week", "Never Is Enough", "Alcohol"

Turkey of the Year

Pulp - This Is Hardcore

I wanted to like this, but no. No no no.