All the Best

I could have easily filled this space with my own review of the music year that was, not to mention reel off at least 40 albums that helped carry me along from day to day and month to month. But as this is a charitable time of year, I figured, why not spread it around?

What you have below, then, are the top-ten picks of nearly every critic and writer who contributed to New Times's music section in 1996 -- a motley assortment of the albums that did it for them best. Although it's impossible to summarize a year's worth of fine music with ten measly albums, lists like these at least reveal the passions and peculiarities of the writers. As for the popularity of Beck's Odelay -- which was also picked as album of the year by the hipster staff of Spin -- well, there's just no accounting for taste.

Danny Alexander, associate editor, Rock & Rap Confidential
1. Aaliyah, One in a Million (Atlantic)
2. 2Pac, All Eyez on Me (Death Row)
3. Grither, The First Man on the Sun (CherryDisc)
4. Sublime, Sublime (Gasoline Alley/MCA)
5. Steve Earle, I Feel Alright (Warner Bros.)
6. Patti Smith, Gone Again (Arista)
7. Rage Against the Machine, Evil Empire (Epic)
8. Iris DeMent, The Way I Should (Warner Bros.)
9. Boxing Gandhis, Howard (Atlantic)
10. Mona Lisa, 11/20/79 (Island)

Steven Almond, former New Times staff writer
1. Phil Cody, The Sons of Intemperance Offering (Interscope)
2. Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise, Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise (RCA)

3. Robert Earl Keen, Live Dinner #2 (Sugarhill)
4. Soul Coughing, Irresistible Bliss (Slash)
5. Patti Griffin, Living With Ghosts (A&M)
6. Wasis Diop, No Sant (Mercury)
7. Ani DiFranco, Dilate (Righteous Babe)
8. Ho Hum, Local (Universe)
9. Sophie Zelmani, Sophie Zelmani (Columbia)
10. Cake, Fashion Nugget (Capricorn)

Jesse Ballinger, contributing editor, Rock & Rap Confidential
1. Rage Against the Machine, Evil Empire (Epic)
2. Ann Nesby, I'm Here for You (Perspective/A&M)
3. Sublime, Sublime (Gasoline Alley/MCA)
4. Various Artists, America Is Dying Slowly (RedHot/Elektra)
5. Genius, Liquid Swords (Geffen)
6. Various Artists, Insomnia ... The Erick Sermon Compilation (Interscope)
7. Heather B., Takin' Mine (Pendulum)
8. Me'Shell NdegeOcello, Peace Beyond Passion (Maverick)
9. Various Artists, Def Jam Music Group 10th Anniversary (Def Jam)
10. DJ Shadow, Endtroducing ..... (Mo'Wax/ffrr)

Lee Ballinger, associate editor, Rock & Rap Confidential
1. Various Artists, Death Row Greatest Hits (Death Row)
2. Eddie Palmieri, Vortex (Tropijazz)
3. Tool, ģnima (Zoo)

4. Utah Phillips and Ani DeFranco, The Past Didn't Go Anywhere (Righteous Babe)

5. Various Artists, Nashville: The Other Side of the Alley -- Insurgent Country, Volume 3 (Bloodshot)

6. Rage Against the Machine, Evil Empire (Epic)
7. Pharoah Sanders, Message From Home (Verve)
8. James Brown, Foundations of Funk: A Brand New Bag 1964-69 (Polygram Chronicles)

9. Mikey Spice, Born Again (VP)
10. Big Noyd, Episodes of a Hustla (Tommy Boy)

Judy Cantor, staff writer, New Times
1. Steve Earle, I Feel Alright (Warner Bros.)
2. Nil Lara, Nil Lara (Metro Blue)
3. Various Artists, Cuban Jam Sessions Vol. I-III (Panart/Musart)
4. Various Artists, Lo Mejor de Cesar Pedroso: Hits of Los Van Van (Qbadisc)
5. Syd Straw, War and Peace (Capricorn)
6. Kanpech, Pale Yo (Coconut Grove Recording Company)
7. Los Lobos, Colossal Head (Warner Bros.)
8. Willie Nelson, Spirit (Island)

9. Various Artists, Klezmer Music: Marriage of Heaven and Earth (Ellipsis Arts)

10. Various Artists, Santero (Panart/Musart)
David Cantwell, contributing editor, Rock & Rap Confidential
1. Iris DeMent, The Way I Should (Warner Bros.)
2. Kevin Mahogany, Kevin Mahogany (Warner Bros.)
3. Steve Earle, I Feel Alright (Warner Bros.)
4. Geto Boys, The Resurrection (Rap-A-Lot)
5. Gillian Welch, Revival (ALM)
6. Whiskey Town, Faithless Street (Mood Food)
7. Ditch Witch, Starvation Box (Grass)
8. Nas, It Was Written (Columbia)
9. Pearl Jam, No Code (Epic)
10. Sublime, Sublime (Gasoline Alley/MCA)

Georgina Cardenas, calendar editor, New Times
1. Johnny Cash, Unchained (American)
2. Tori Amos, Boys for Pele (Atlantic)
3. Screaming Trees, Dust (Epic)
4. Social Distortion, White Light, White Heat, White Trash (Sony/550)
5. James Hall, Pleasure Club (Geffen)
6. Ani DiFranco, Dilate (Righteous Babe)
7. Superdrag, Regretfully Yours (Elektra)
8. KMFDM, Xtort (Wax Trax!)
9. Sixo, Rescue (Kung Fu)
10. Subliminal Criminal, Subliminal Criminal (Space Cadette)

Debbie Gilbert, staff writer, Memphis Flyer
1. R.E.M., New Adventures in Hi-Fi (Warner Bros.)
2. Man Or Astro-Man? Experiment Zero (Touch and Go)
3. Beck, Odelay (DGC)
4. Patti Smith, Gone Again (Arista)
5. Throwing Muses, In Limbo (Rykodisc)
6. Guided by Voices, Under the Bushes Under the Stars (Matador)

7. Various Artists, Sweet Relief II: Gravity of the Situation (The Songs of Vic Chesnutt) (Columbia)

8. Nirvana, From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah (DGC)
9. Soundgarden, Down on the Upside (A&M)
10. Garbage, Garbage (Almo)

Frank-John Hadley, Boston-based freelance writer
1. Johnny Adams, One Foot in the Blues (Rounder)
2. Burning Spear, Chant Down Babylon (Island)
3. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, East/West Live (Winner)
4. W.C. Clark, Texas Soul (Black Top)
5. Guy Davis, Call Down the Thunder (Red House)
6. Margie Evans, Drowning in the Sea of Love (Terra Nova)
7. Mighty Sam McClain, Sledgehammer Soul & Down Home Blues (Audioquest)
8. Dave McKenna & Joe Temperley, Sunbeam and Thundercloud (Concord Jazz)
9. Sonny Rollins, Silver City (Milestone)
10. Horace Tapscott, aiee! The Phantom (Arabesque)

Dave Marsh, editor, Rock & Rap Confidential
1. Iris DeMent, The Way I Should (Warner Bros.)
2. Gretchen Peters, The Secret of Life (Imprint)
3. Alejandro Escovedo, With These Hands (Rykodisc)
4. Rage Against the Machine, Evil Empire (Epic)
5. Wayne Kramer, Dangerous Madness (Epitaph)
6. Mandy Barnett, Mandy Barnett (Asylum)
7. Geto Boys, The Resurrection (Rap-A-Lot)
8. Maxwell, Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite (Columbia)
9. James Carter, Conversin' with the Elders (Atlantic)
10. Boxing Gandhis, Howard (Atlantic)

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