Matchbox 20 Made Top Ten 25 Years Ago
Texting has led to an overabundance of acronyms, most of which I still need assistance to decode. Until the new format of communication began existence, the only acronyms with which I was familiar were those regarding bands.
Whether the group were ELP or ELO or EWF, I knew exactly what each letter stood for as far back as the Seventies. Then in the Eighties there arrived REM, and many more followed into the Nineties.
One of those Nineties group's remained a mystery in terms of what their three letters stood for, probably because of two reasons. First of all, they had only one hit, and second of all they were from New Zealand.
It was not until the next century when I finally learned the significance of the group OMC, which was short for Otara Millionaires Club. They made history exactly 25 years ago, when “How Bizarre” made them the first New Zealand band to hit number of the Billboard Mainstream Chart.
Unfortunately the album of the same name did not fare quite so well, and OMC quickly retreated to anonymity outside of their home country. Music fans in the United States in 1996 had better choices for albums to listen to, all of which turn 25 in 2021.
Here are fifteen of those LPs, not including the two released by the alt-rock band Belle & Sebastian. Both their debut TigerMilk and their sophomore effort If You're Feeling Sinister came out in 1996, and the group has been making excellent records consistently every since.
1. Born on a Pirate Ship by Barenaked Ladies
Steven Page and Ed Robertson started to flex their songwriting chops on this album, highlighted by the single “The Old Apartment.”
2. Villains by the Verve Pipe
Everywhere you went in 1996 you were likely to hear in the background “The Freshmen” which, along with the title track, proved to be the two biggest hits the band would ever have.
3. Make Your Mama Proud by Fastball
Although none of the cuts would become as huge a hit as “The Way” from the second album, this debut serves as a prelude to the talents of co-founders Miles Zuniga and Tony Scalzo.
4. This Is a Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About by Modest Mouse
Isaac Brock would actually release two albums with his band, making 1996 a special year for fans of MM's alternative rock.
5. All This Useless Beauty by Elvis Costello and the Attractions
Most of the tracks on ATUB were intended to be recorded by other artists from Johnny Cash to Roy Orbison to Sam Moore of Sam & Dave, but instead Elvis brought in the Attractions and made great songs like “You Bowed Down” with his old mates.
6. Self-Titled by Duncan Sheik
“Barely Breathing” brought life into this pop songwriter, who has since become a writer of movie scores.
7. Bringing Down the Horse by the Wallflowers
It wasn't the horse so much that had trouble, but rather the car with the “One Headlight” guiding this band led by Bob Dylan's son Jakob.
8. Odelay by Beck
Fifteen years before winning the Grammy for Album of the Year, the alt-rocker delighted fans with songs like “Devil's Haircut” and “The New Pollution.”
9. Beautiful Freak by Eels
Mostly this record gained recognition after “My Beloved Monster and Me” became the theme song for Shrek, but there are other treats here such as “Guest List” and “Lucky Day in Hell.”
10. Fashion Nugget by Cake
These indie rockers gained new fans with their unusual cover of “I Will Survive”, just one of the trinkets on this album.
11. Pinkerton by Weezer
It was a difficult task to follow up their sensational debut, but the quartet made a great effort with songs like “The Good Life” and “Pink Triangle.”
12. Yourself or Someone Like You by Matchbox 20
“Push” stirred a bit of controversy for Rob Thomas and band, but their debut was a smash because of other hits like “Three A.M.” and “Real World.”
13. Car Button Cloth by the Lemonheads
Singles from this disc include “If I Could Talk I'd Tell You” and “It's All True,” but not to be discarded is Evan Dando's version of “The Outdoor Type.”
14. Bad Hair Day by weird Al Yankovic
“Amish Paradise” opens a slate of comic tunes like “Gump” and “The Night Santa Went Crazy.”
15. Being There by Wilco
Jeff Tweedy's second album after the demise of Uncle Tupelo features the unforgettable “Outta Mind (Outta Sight), as well as the more sedated “Say You Miss Me.”