College Countdown: 90FM’s Top 90 of 1996, 26 and 25

26. Tool, Ænima

The title of Tool’s second album is a made-up word. Ænima is a rough amalgam of the Latin word for soul and the word “enema.” And that sort of sophomoric, scatological brattiness masquerading as uncompromising, dirty-minded profundity sums up the output of the Los Angeles hard rock band about as well as anything. Music for those who wanted their grungy alternative laced with the self-importance and intensity of heavy metal, Ænima was perfectly suited for the fans who’d gravitated to alternative rock radio because they couldn’t find their favored bands elsewhere on the dial and the buzzy bombast of the likes of Bush and Alice in Chains was close enough. It clearly worked, since Ænima was certified triple-platinum and still gets regularly trotted out by a certain eardrum-assaulted critical contingency ready to celebrate it as a pinnacle of hard rock artistry. Tool has remained an ongoing concern, although not an especially prolific one, releasing only two more studio albums in the nearly two decades since Ænima despite fairly continual chatter about their plans and aspirations. The next release is threatened for 2014.

25. Various Artists, Dead Man Walking soundtrack

At the time of the soundtrack’s release, some rock critic marveled at the lineup of highly respected artists on the collection, noting that it must have been nice to have access to director Tim Robbins’s rolodex. As opposed to many other soundtracks at the time, Dead Man Walking felt like an actual artistic statement rather than an assemblage of acts needing a little boost of exposure, many of them probably selected by a desperate label. Even though the soundtrack had that dreaded modifier of “and inspired by” crammed into the middle of the usual “Music from the motion picture” description, it truly felt like a companion piece rather than an almost ancillary product. Besides Bruce Springsteen, who could have gazed proudly at “Best Original Song” Oscar that still had some of its original sheen while composing the almost title cut (the boss don’t need no g at the end of the word “walking”), the soundtrack holds selections from ultra-cool contributors such as Johnny Cash, Tom Waits (twice!) and Patti Smith. As that grouping (and the subject matter of the exceptional film) suggests, this isn’t exactly an upbeat assemblage of songs, making it remarkable, despite the left of the dial star power, that it charted as highly as this. But then again, it’s fair to say that Tim Robbins knows a thing or two about good music.

An Introduction
–90 and 89: Antichrist Superstar and Three Snakes and One Charm
–88 and 87: No Code and Unplugged
–86 and 85: Greatest Hits Live and Gilded Stars and Zealous Hearts
–84 and 83: To the Faithful Departed and God’s Good Urges
–82 and 81: Billy Breathes and Sweet F.A.
–80 and 79: The Process and Test for Echo
–78 and 77: Supersexy Swingin’ Sounds and Breathe
–76 and 75: Bob Mould and Walking Wounded
–74 and 73: It’s Martini Time and Trainspotting soundtrack
–72 and 71: Aloha Via Satellite and Fever In Fever Out
–70 and 69: Hi My Name is Jonny and One Mississippi
–68 and 67: Everything Sucks and The Aeroplane Flies High
–66 and 65: First Band on the Moon and Razorblade Suitcase
–64 and 63: Comic Book Whore and Peachfuzz
–62 and 61: All Change and Rude Awakening
–60 and 59: 12 Golden Country Greats and Songs in the Key of X
–58 and 57: Brain Candy soundtrack and Pinkerton
–56 and 55: Sublime and Count the Days
–54 and 53: Wild Mood Swings and The Cult of Ray
–52 and 51: Bringing Down the Horse and Crash
–50 and 49: No Talking, Just Head and New Adventures in Hi-Fi
–48 and 47: Lay It Down and Pogue Mahone
–46 and 45: I’m with Stupid and XTORT
–44 and 43: Tango and …finally
–42 and 41: Good Weird Feeling and Mint 400
–40 and 39: Happy Nowhere and Not Fade Away (Remembering Buddy Holly)
–38 and 37: Turn the Radio Off and Electriclarryland
–36 and 35: Naughty Little Doggie and In Blue Cave
–34 and 33: Eventually and Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks
–32 and 31: Beautiful Girls soundtrack and Strat’s Got Your Tongue
–30 and 29: Upstroke for the Downfolk and Set the Twilight Reeling
–28 and 27: Born on a Pirate Ship and The Golden Age

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