We celebrated singers Axl Rose and Kurt Cobain with Top 10 90s Rock Albums

Axl Rose and Kurt Cobain are among the most celebrated singers in rock history, but the two icons had a heated feud that lasted for years.

As the frontman of Guns N’ Roses, Rose was on top of the world as the ‘90s dawned. The band’s first album, Appetite for Destruction (from 1987), ranks among the best-selling LPs of all time, and 1988’s follow-up EP, G N’ R Lies, went five-time platinum. But while Rose was held high as the poster child for the Sunset Strip music scene, another sound was fermenting in the Pacific Northwest.

Grunge was the antithesis of Hollywood’s bright lights, and the genre’s breakout band was Nirvana. Like many of his contemporaries, Cobain was staunchly anti-corporate rock and despised many of the ‘80s hair-metal acts, including GNR.

Initially, these contentious feelings were one-sided. Rose was a fan of Nirvana and even invited them to tour with Guns N’ Roses and Metallica. When it became clear that Cobain had no interest in being friends, Rose went on the offensive. “They would rather sit at home and shoot heroin with their bitch wives than tour with us,”.


Still, Cobain’s animosity toward Rose wasn’t just about musical differences. As a steadfast liberal and feminist and someone who advocated for equality and LGBTQ causes, the Nirvana singer took umbrage at many of Rose’s remarks.

“The guy is a fucking sexist and a racist and a homophobe, and you can’t be on his side and be on our side,” Cobain once declared. “I’m sorry that I have to divide this up like this, but it’s something you can’t ignore. And besides, [GNR] can’t write good music.”

The legendary frontmen exchanged many more heated words over the years, and infamously had a face-to-face altercation backstage at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards.

Top 10 ’90s Rock Albums

Any discussion of the Top 10 ’90s Rock Albums will have to include some grunge, and this one is no different, in no particlular order.

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‘The Dance’

Fleetwood Mac (1997): After a decade apart, Fleetwood Mac’s most popular lineup (the one featuring Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks at its songwriting core) returned for a live run-through of their most famous songs. It’s great hearing them play the hits together again, but Nicks’ discarded ‘Rumours’-era B-side “Silver Springs” is the highlight.

‘Live 1966: The Royal Albert Hall Concert’

Bob Dylan (1998): The fourth volume of Dylan’s excellent ‘Bootleg Series’ chronicles a 1966 show recorded (despite its title claim) at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall. The acoustic half is good, but things really come to life when the Hawks (soon to become the Band) join Dylan for an electric set that culminates in a live “Like a Rolling Stone” that ranks among rock’s all-time greatest performances.


Eric Clapton (1992): Looking loose and comfortable, Eric Clapton reexamines his storied history in a cozy setting, calling up old blues favorites and reworking some familiar hits, even while debuting a smattering of new songs. Fans loved this album’s lived-in, low-key vibe, sending it to the rare diamond designation for 10 or more million albums sold.


Nirvana (1991): The album that changed the course of rock music. Like the Beatles’ revolution three decades earlier, ‘Nevermind’ drew a line between everything that came before and after it. Its achievements are many, from killing hair metal to resurrecting rock music. No other album of the past 25 years has been as influential.


Metallica (1996): We’d feel even better about including this if we could replace about a third of this with tracks from its companion album ‘Reload,’ but there’s more than enough of Metallica’s distinctly heavy take on Southern boogie in tracks like “Ain’t My Bitch” and “2×4” to recommend this one as is.

‘Achtung Baby’

U2 (1991): After the gargantuan ‘Joshua Tree,’ where could U2 turn next? To Berlin, for starters, where they recorded part of their most adventurous LP, a bridge between their soul-stirring past and stadium-shaking future. The electronics push them toward exciting, vibrant new worlds.

‘Automatic for the People’

R.E.M. (1992): R.E.M. followed up their big commercial breakthrough with a mournful, meditative collection of songs about death. With Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones providing orchestral arrangements, ‘Automatic for the People’ is one of the era’s most gorgeous LPs, and one of the band’s all-time best.


Def Leppard (1999): Instead of trying to outdo their past successes (or completely redefine themselves as on 1996’s ‘Slang’), Def Leppard happily made a home in a perfect post-‘Hysteria’ sweet spot on their seventh studio album. This allowed their natural talent and chemistry to shine brighter than it had in years, particularly on the Top 40 hit “Promises.”


Red Hot Chili Peppers (1999): Having found their groove thanks to producer Rick Rubin, the Chili Peppers’ seventh album passes right over midlife crises in favor of something wiser, sharper and, yes, grown up. There’s still plenty of sex here, but there’s other life essentials too.

‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?’

Oasis (1995): Oasis pledged allegiance to the Beatles, who are all over their best album – from riffs to lyrics to song titles (the hit “Wonderwall” took its title from George Harrison’s first solo album). ‘Morning Glory’ is the one record where Oasis were nearly as great as they claimed they were.

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Michael P
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