Here's the Best Ever Albums site Top Ten:
1. Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
2. Massive Attack - Mezzanine
3. Air - Moon Safari
4. OutKast - Aquemini
5. Boards of Canada - Music Has The Right To Children
6. Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
7. Elliott Smith - XO
8. Madonna - Ray Of Light
9. Mercury Rev- Deserter's Songs
10. Eels - Electro-Shock Blues
Elliott Smith had put out records before but this was the first one I heard, played for me by my sister, in her flat above the Maid of Honour tea rooms opposite Kew Gardens. It was one of those moments when you first hear an artist you will come to love deeply and you're alive to the fact that you're listening to something really special.. It happened to me with Nick Drake and Big Star too. You're imperceptibly changed in a wonderful way. That feeling stays with you forever.
I had a conversation with a barmaid about sad and happy songs the other day. I don't know if Smith wrote sad songs. They always make me happy. They're about how the human condition is difficult, and it quite definitely is, but so many of his songs make the world a better place. They're profound and moving in a way that few other artists are. XO, and the memory of hearing it for the first time, will always be special for me.
Not much else to compare with it for me, though Moon Pix, The Boy With The Arab Strap and Mezzanine are all fine albums. I probably played Gomez's Bring It On, more than all of them then but it does seem a little bit of it's time from this remove.
Music in some ways seemed to be winding down for the new milennium though no one realised this at the time of course. For 1999, I'll scrape a bit to get a decent Top Ten together.
1. Elliot Smith - XO
2. Cat Power - Moon Pix
3. Belle & Sebastian - The Boy With The Arab Strap
4. Massive Attack - Mezzanine
5. Gomez - Bring It On
6. Air - Moon Safari
7.Madonna - Ray Of Light
8.Pulp - This Is Hardcore
9. Beck - Mutations
10. Fatboy Slim - You've Come a Long Way Baby
Other good records from Silver Jews, (especially Silver Jews, if I had a copy it would be Top Five), Duster, Beastie Boys, Sparklehorse and Afghan Whigs. As for In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, the underground slow burner of the year and according to Best Ever Albums, the 15th best album of all time, I'm afraid I'm indifferent to it. The Boards of Canada record is excellent though.
As for me, a rather uneventful year. I completed a PGCE I've never used and will never use and returned to my parents in Canterbury plotting what I'd do next. Some years are like that.