It’s time for another yearly retrospective! Here’s my picks for what a Top 10 would have looked like had I been making them twenty five years ago. Of course, I have the benefit of hindsight, but to be fair at least seven of the ten were favorites then and I still count them as such. The other three I missed at the time or was slower to warm to, though I have now “seen the light.” After you read through be sure to leave a comment of your own Top 10 or give me a hard time about one that I missed here.
Here we go!
10. Skillet – Self-Titled
The very beginning for Skillet was this raw and grungy nirvana-like debut. “I Can,” “Gasoline” and “Saturn” are the ones I return to most.
9. Big Tent Revival – Open All Nite
I thought that BTR would be hard pressed to match their debut, but they very nearly do it, and only a year after. Top-to-bottom this album is rock solid.
8. Sarah Masen – Self-Titled
Incredibly catchy melodies in the vein of Sheryl Crow abound. “All Fall Down” will get stuck in your head for hours, which for me is no problem at all.
7. Seven Day Jesus – The Hunger
While your appreciation of this short-lived band might be whatever album you heard first, it’s undeniable that The Hunger is a gem. While their follow up was a pop-rock leaning ear worm, The Hunger leans more raw, indie, grungy and unique. Frustratingly, this one is still not available on streaming platforms but worth tracking down a physical copy to hear it in its entirety.
6. Steven Curtis Chapman – Signs of Life
There’s still a special place in my heart for my overall favorite SCC album. I found him to be at his most interesting when he leaned into the country blues type guitar that he does here. “The Walk,” “Lord of the Dance,” “Signs of Life,” and “Free” hold up well, as does the rest of the album.
5. Third Day – Self-Titled
What a start! Perhaps only Jars of Clay came out fully loaded with hits on their debut. Top track is “Consuming Fire,” but there are hits and memorable tunes aplenty.
4. PFR – Them
At the time it was a bittersweet farewell, but even after reuniting for another album and a few songs Them remains in the conversation of their overall best. “Pour Me Out” and “Anything” are the standouts.
3. Mxpx – Life in General
Put this one up against any punk-based album of the era and I think it can hang. It’s my pick for the most memorable work of MxPx’s long and prolific career.
2. Audio Adrenaline – Bloom
So many great guitar licks on this absolute classic. “I’m Not The King” and “Never Gonna Be As Big As Jesus” still get regular plays for me.
1. Newsboys – Take Me To Your Leader
It’s simply their best and most complete album. “Lost the Plot” “Breakfast,” “Take Me To Your Leader,” and “God is Not a Secret” make this an album to be reckoned with in the 90s if not all-time.
There you have it! Of course there are plenty other albums released this year, these were and are simply my favorites. What about you? Leave a comment below with your favorite from the year!
As always, happy listening!
9 thoughts on ““1996” by Josh Balogh”
Cindy Morgan’s “Listen” is my top pick for 1996. Charlie Peacock’s “strangelanguage” is another favorite.
That Morgan album is great, excellent pick!
We have the same #1 — and hopefully you enjoy reading more about my #2 (which you’re missing) and #3 on this site very soon! Great shoutout to Sarah Masen by the way; along with Jaci Velasquez’s debut and Cindy Morgan’s best album, it was a great year for female CCM. I thought both Skillet and Third Day’s second albums were way better than the debuts. Honestly though we could do a Top 20 from this year and still miss discussing some genre classics. Great job Josh.
Oooo…you make me curious what your unnamed #2 is. I had 15 others in contention so hopefully it’s among those honorable mentions.
So many good albums on this list! My #1 album would have been ‘Commonwealth’ from Plankeye…I still remember getting the first ‘Seltzer’ compilation (which I think also came out in ‘96), which had B.C. on it…I was hooked!
Another great one that just missed my top 10! Certainly makes the top 25 without question though.
Totally agree with your top 2 — but I’d almost dare to reverse them.
For me my top 4 would clearly be:
4. PFR “Them”
3. Third Day “Third Day”
2. Newsboys “Take Me To Your Leader”
1. Audio Adrenaline “Bloom”
Several songs off of Bloom still in my regular rotation today — “Never Gonna Be as Big as Jesus” “Man Of God” “I’m Not The King” “Free Ride” “Memoir” “Secret” “Walk On Water” —fantastic album
10. Third Day – Self Titled
9. Them – PFR
8. More than you know – Out of Eden
7. Sarah Mason – Self Titled
6. Bloom – Audio Adrenaline
5. Songs – Rich Mullins (is a ‘best of’ cheating?)
4. God – Rebecca St James (Close to her best)
3. Listen – Cindy Morgan (STUNNING)
2. Signs of life – Steven Curtis Chapman (His best and on another day may be #1)
1. Take me to your leader – Newsboys (The masters in there prime)