POP STOPS' Best Albums and Singles of 1997

By John Everson


Looking back as we look forward... And so we begin another year. The past year will remain memorable musically for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the emergence of Hanson, the Jackson 5 of the '90s. It was also a year that saw women dominating the rock scene as never before, an event that was symbolically crystalized in the summer's all-women Lilith Fair tour, organized by Sarah McLachlan.

As 1997 faded to memory, I sifted through the reviews and CD stacks of the past 12 months, and compiled my personal favorite albums and singles into the following lists. The virtue of hindsight means that some albums which I may only have originally rated at three stars after a single week's listening have grown on me, and moved up to the top of my favorites list, while others which initially bowled me over have failed to keep my attention. The result is my picks for the most listenable discs of 1997:


* * * Top 25 Albums of 1997 * * *

1) Ben Folds Five Whatever and Ever Amen (550 Music):
Ben Folds is the new savior of rock 'n' roll piano. Long may he reign.

2) Grey Eye GlancesEventide (Mercury):
Gorgeously atmospheric female-fronted pop rock.

3) A3 Exile on Coldharbor Lane (Geffen):
Funky, gospel-drenched acid-house-stealin' rock 'n' fun album.

4) AriaAria (Astor Place):
Opera meets techno. Who knew it could be this cool?

5) Kyle VincentKyle Vincent (Hollywood):
Perfect guitar pop. Why wasn't this #1 at radio everywhere?

6) Lili HaydnLili (Atlantic):
Haydn plays funky rock violin and sings with a Kate Bush quirky flair. Experimental and exciting.

7) GladhandsLa Di Da (Big Deal): Guitar pop with a retro flair and lots of "aaahs." Delicious.

8) Lauren Christy Breed (Mercury): Christy reinvented herself after an adult contemporary album and came back with this Alanis-style alternative rock/pop gem.

9) Matraca BergSunday Morning To Saturday Night (Rising Tide): A country singer with heart, talent and breathtaking flair.

10) Matthew SweetBlue Sky on Mars (Zoo): Another picture perfect set of guitar-based pop rock from a too-often overlooked-at-radio talent.

11) Lorenza PonceImago (Angel):
Ambient electric violin and ethereal vocals make this a great g'night disc.

12) Beth Nielsen ChapmanSand And Water (Reprise):
A songwriter's songwriter, Chapman's latest has heart,depth and hooks galore.

13) Tanya DonellyLove Songs For Underdogs (Reprise):
The leader of Belly steps out for a fine alternative rock debut.

14) Teenage Fanclub Songs From Northern Britain (Creation/Columbia):
The Byrds live again through this Teenage Fanclub jangle guitar CD.

15) Live Secret Samadhi (Radioactive):
Alternative rock with bite, bluster and the soaring hit ballad "Turn My Head."

16) Green DayNimrod (Reprise):
Punk pop's premier purveyors struck gold again with this collection of three-chord, three-minute aerobic workouts.

17) Toad The Wet Sprocket Coil (Columbia):
This California-based middle-of-the-road guitar rocker band returned in 97 with their fifth set of warm, intelligent songs.

18) Del Amitri Some Other Sucker's Parade (A&M):
Scotland's best pop-rock band offered another in a string of catchy discs this year.

19) Sarah McLachlan Surfacing (Arista): McLachlan returned with an ethereal but powerful fourth disc.

20) Tara MacLean Silence (Nettwerk):
New Canadian singer-songwriter showed immense promise on this warm, emotional debut.

21) Kim Fox Moon Hut (Dreamworks):
Quirky, thoughtful, catchy & fun rock debut.

22) Star 69Eating February (Radioactive):
Star 69 offered an album of alt-rock tunes in a Belly/Breeders mode.

23) Gina G Fresh! (Eternal/Warner):
Bubblegum dance pop hasn't been this fun in a while!

24) The OffspringIxnay on the Hombre (Columbia):
Sharp, brash, and filled with hooks, if The Offspring had been around in the '80s, they would have been labeled "metal." These days, they're "heavy alternative rock."

25) Veruca Salt Eight Arms To Hold You (Outpost):
Chicago's best band after the Pumpkins offered a crunchy rock fest in 1997.


* * * TOP 25 SINGLES * * *

1) Ben Folds Five — "The Battle of Who Could Care Less" (550/Caroline)

2) Forest For The Trees — "Dream" (DreamWorks)

3) Chumbawamba — "Tubthumping'' (Republic)

4) Gina G —"Ooh...Aah, Just A Little Bit" (Eternal/Warner)

5) The Cure — "Wrong Number" (Elektra)

6) Meredith Brooks — "Bitch" (Capitol)

7) Savage Garden — "I Want You" (Columbia)

8) Blur — "Song 2" (Virgin)

9) Cardigans — "Lovefool" (Mercury)

10) Squirrel Nut Zippers — "Hell" (Matador)

11) Jill Sobule — "Bitter" (Atlantic)

12) Green Day — "Hitchin' A Ride" (Reprise)

13) Paula Cole — "Where Have All The Cowboys Gone" (Imago)

14) Jewel — "Foolish Games" (Warner)

15) Beth Nielsen Chapman — "Sand And Water" (Reprise)

16) Live — "Turn My Head" (Radioactive)

17) Veruca Salt — "Volcano Girls" (Outpost/Minty Fresh)

18) Smash Mouth — "Walkin' On The Sun'' (Interscope)

19) Aqua — "Barbie Girl" (MCA)

20 ) The Verve Pipe — "The Freshmen" (RCA)

21) Sheryl Crow — "A Change Would Do You Good" (A&M)

22) The Wallflowers — "One Headlight" (Interscope)

23) Hanson — "MmmBop" (Mercury)

24) Paul McCartney — "The World Tonight" (Capitol)

25) Sarah McLachlan — "Building A Mystery" (Nettwerk/Arista)