Music Article

That's Sooo Last Decade

A round up of greatest-hits albums from the 90s -- EW evaluates how music from popular nineties bands like Pearl Jam and Everclear hold up over time

PEARL JAM, Rearview-mirror: Greatest Hits 1991-2003 (Epic)

How It Sounded Then
Their bull-dozing post-metal riffs and Eddie Vedder's angst-ridden moans made us want to scribble diary entries, drink tallboys, and wear flannel.

How It Holds Up
While the early stuff is surprisingly traditional meat-and-potatoes boogie rock, the quieter later material has a stately, elegiac quality that deserves another listen.

LIVE, Awake: The Best of Live (Radioactive)

How It Sounded Then
An unholy, but oddly popular, alliance of idealist U2-style arena rock, New Age aphorisms, and chest-beating vocals.

How It Holds Up
More cringe-worthy than ever. Keep the slap bass and songs about sea mammals (''The Dolphin's Cry'') in the '90s time capsule — please!

WU-TANG CLAN, Legend of the Wu-Tang: Wu-Tang Clan's Greatest Hits (BMG)

How It Sounded Then
Eerie and alluring, the crew's debut seemed like a broadcast from another planet — one with lots of weed, dusty beats, and kung-fu flicks.

How It Holds Up
Given the hyper-slick hip-hop of today, the Wu's gritty, lo-fi rhymes sound gloriously anachronistic. Can it be that it was all so simple then?

MARILYN MANSON, Lest We Forget (Interscope)

How It Sounded Then
The shock rocker's guttural growls and apocalyptic soundscapes proudly stood as the anthems for a jilted generation.

How It Holds Up
While the eviscerating early hits remain freshly unsettling, the set's preference for newer material reveals a band playing catch-up with its own copycats.

SUPERGRASS, Super-grass Is 10: The Best of 94-04 (Capitol)

How It Sounded Then
Supergrass' fizzy Britpop was neither too fey nor too noisy; their tossed-up hooky songs zipped along like street urchins racing to snatch a purse.

How It Holds Up
Still super. As refreshing as the smell of, um, newly cut grass. Super grass. Ahem.

SAINT ETIENNE, Travel Edition (1990-2005) (Sub Pop)

How It Sounded Then
This winsome English outfit had the cheek to cover Neil Young's ''Only Love Can Break Your Heart'' as a moody electro-pop ditty, which sums up their thinking-person's disco-pop aesthetic.

How It Holds Up
Making ''dance'' music this appealing is impressive in any era, even if Saint Etienne's connection to the dance floor is largely theoretical.

EVERCLEAR, Ten Years Gone: The Best of Everclear—1994-2004 (Capitol)

How It Sounded Then
Arriving at the tall end of grunge, Everclear's revved-up guitars and tunes about heroin-addicted girlfriends pointed the way to a bold new future.

How It Holds Up
Still solid, although the future now seems to be more about quasi-novelty quicksteppers (''AM Radio'') than songs about smack and chicks.

KORN, Greatest Hits Vol. 1 (Epic/Immortal)

How It Sounded Then
Korn's raging music was the aural equivalent of a shot of Sterno with a rubbing-alcohol chaser.

How It Holds Up
Guess we're less angry than we used to be, 'cause the best song here is the faithful new cover of Cameo's 1986 pop-funk hit ''Word Up.''

Originally posted Nov 12, 2004 Published in issue #792 Nov 12, 2004 Order article reprints
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