20 classic albums that turn 20 years old in 2017

Plus a few underrated classics you might have forgotten about...

1997: The year of Playstation vs. N64, when the first Harry Potter book was published and, as it turns out, a year of big album releases. Below at 20 classic records that celebrate their 20th birthday this year - plus a few "underrated" ones you might have forgotten about...

Texas - White On Blonde

Say What You Want, Halo, Black Eyed Boy... the Scottish band's fourth album, which topped the Official Albums Chart in February '97, still sounds brilliant 20 years on. To date, the collection has sold a whopping 1.65 million. 

Robbie Williams - Life Thru A Lens

Robbie put out his solo debut 20 years ago this year, and with spin-off singles including Old Before I Die, Let Me Entertain You and Angels, it still packs a mighty punch. Look back at all of Robbie's hits in his chart archive.

MORE: Look back through the UK's biggest selling albums of every year since 1956

Erykah Badu - Baduizm

Erykah's still stunningly seductive collection of neo soul was initially a slow burner in the UK, debuting at Number 87 in February. However, it went on to become a staple of the Official Chart for much of the year, eventually peaking inside the Top 20.

Radiohead - OK Computer 

Famously deemed 'un-commercial' before its release, Radiohead's third album, of course, went on to become their most successful, reaching Number 1 in June 1997. It has since sold 1.53 million copies and, for Radiohead newbies, includes their highest ranking chart hit Paranoid Android. Click here to look back at Radiohead's complete Official Chart history.

Mariah Carey - Butterfly 

Hailed as one of the defining albums of '90s pop-R&B, Mariah's sixth album saw her transition from big ballad belter to sultry R&B songstress. A record often cited as one that paved the way for female singers teaming up with hip-hop stars, Butterfly is a record that lives up to its list of heavyweight collaborators - Sean 'Puff Daddy' Combs, Missy Elliot and David Morales - as well as Mariah herself. Landing at Number 2 in September '97 on the Official UK Albums Chart, Butterfly has sold 295,000 to date. Look back at Mariah's full chart history here.

The Prodigy - The Fat Of The Land 

The fiery electronic dance group's third album includes their biggest hits Firestarter, Breathe and Smack My Bitch Up, and was met with widespread acclaim upon its release in June. 

Spice Girls - Spiceworld

It's 20 years this November since Spice Girls extended their reign of girl power over the world with their second album. The single that never was? Never Give Up On The Good Times, obviously. Look back at Spice Girls' complete UK chart history.

Oasis - Be Here Now

Oasis were, as Noel Gallagher put it himself: "the biggest band in the world ... bigger than, dare I say it, fucking God" in 1997. Be Here Now smashed the record as the fastest-selling album of all time (recently overtaken by Adele), shifting 696,000 in just three days. 

Backstreet Boys - Backstreet's Back

As Long As You Love Me, All I Have To Give, Everybody (Backstreet's Back). Need we say more? 

Shola Ama - Much Love

Released when she was 18 years old, London singer Shola Ama's debut album peaked at Number 6 and is a great snapshot of British R&B-soul (with a touch of garage) in the late '90s, particularly its lead single, You Might Need Somebody.

Bjork - Homogenic 

All of Bjork's albums are worth listening to for different reasons, but if electronic is your thing, Homogenic absolutely knocks it out of the park on all fronts. The record - Bjork's third - celebrates its 20th birthday in September. 

The Corrs - Talk On Corners

There was a time when it felt like no UK household was without this album, and given that it's sold 2.96 million and is one of the country's best-selling albums of all time, we're sort-of not wrong. Featuring the tracks What Can I Do, So Young and Runaway, Talk On Corners is the definition of a slow burner, taking seven months to reach Number 1. Look back at its (long) chart history here.

Green Day - Nimrod

The still-brilliant punk rock album was released 20 years ago this October.

Janet Jackson - The Velvet Rope

Janet's sixth album is a rebel record, confronting domestic abuse, depression, AIDS and homophobia. It remains one of her best-selling collections - and some claim it inspired similarly rebellious efforts like Rihanna's Rated R and Christina Aguilera's Stripped. Look back at Janet's complete Official UK Chart history here

The Verve - Urban Hymns 

The Britpop band delivered their best work (and one of the UK's best-selling albums of all time) 20 years ago this September.

Lighthouse Family - Postcards From Heaven

The often-forgotten duo released this belter of a record in October '97. Among its many spin-off singles is their best known song High, which remains amazing to this day - no matter what music snobs may tell you. 

Celine Dion - Let's Talk About Love 

Aside from Celine looking like the classic Scottish Widows advert on the cover, this album is one of the singer's best. Oh, and it features Titanic theme My Heart Will Go On.

Natalie Imbruglia - Left Of The Middle

Trust us, Natalie's debut album is seriously good, if wistful alterna-pop is your thing. We also spoke to her about it in our recent interview with her here

All Saints - All Saints

Yep, All Saints' debut turns 20 this December. It peaked at a frustrating Number 2 for three weeks at the time, but it's packed with classics and sold loads (1.47 million to be precise), so who cares, right? Revisit all of All Saints' hits in their chart archive.

Aqua - Aquarium

Yes, we know, but the majority of it is better than Barbie Girl (see Turn Back Time), which is still iconic in its own way, right? 

And a few more that we're calling "underrated classics"...

Louise - Woman In Me

The singer's second solo album, which features the hits Arms Around The World and Let's Go Round Again, reached Number 5 in October '97.

Sash! - It's My Life - The Album

The German DJ ruled the dance circuit in 1997 with his debut album of Euro club-bangers, which spawned a trio of Number 2 hits: Encore Une Fois, Ecuador and Stay.

Gina G - Fresh!

The Eurovision star's debut album is wall-to-wall '90s dance pop bangers.

What are your memories of your favourite album released in 1997? Tell us below:  

Related artists

Join the conversation by joining the Official Charts community and dropping comment.

Already registered?

Log in

No account?





My other favs:. Eternal - before the rain
Gary barlow - open road
Third eye blind
Donna Lewis -now in a minute
Chumbawamba - tubthumber
The saint/ preachers wife - ost
Savage garden
Paula cole - this fire
Robyn - robyn is here
Hanson- middle of nowhere

By the way what is sholaama sales?




Gina G. How I loved that album. She signed it for me when she randomly came into the restaurant I was working in at the time where we played her album on repeat for months and months. 😍


Dr D


The fact that it was 20 years ago does NOT make it a classic. A classic is something loads of people are still listening to.




They r still listening


A Taste Of International Music


Awesome article, thanks!


Vasilios Mantoulidis






Impossible Princess' Kylie, the most underrated album ever!




Some good ones there, like OK Computer and Urban Hymns, and some of my faves from that year were Blur's self-titled 5th album, Primal Scream's "Vanishing Point", Supergrass "In It For The Money" and Spiritualized "Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space".


Sunshine Gal


here in the u.s., some notable music moments that turn 20 this year are: bsb's debut album is released (goes 14x plat.), the spice girls' debut single 'wannabe' goes to #1 (they're still the only uk group to have a debut single go to #1 in the u.s., they'll be in bb's albums and hot 100's top 10 for many months during 1997), shania twain's 'come on over' album is released (will go 20x plat...that's right, 20 mill. ;) still the top selling country album and top selling female album of all time in the u.s.).

mariah's butterfly album did pretty good here (5x plat.) but her single 'honey' would be 20 yrs old this aug. it was her 3rd #1 debut on the hot 100 singles chart, she still holds the most #1 debuts with 3: 'fantasy', 'one sweet day' and 'honey.' and also, janet's velvet rope album was also pretty good. celine dion's 'my heart will go on' will be released in the latter part of 1997 *also a #1 debut* and both her album 'let's talk about love' (10x plat.) and the titanic soundtrack (11x plat. and will be #1 album of the year for 1998) will both go diamond. celine's album would debut @ #1 in early 1998 and then titanic follows right behind her @ #1 ;)


John Kalamvokidis


Janet's "Velvet Rope", Mariah's "Butterfly", Verve's "Urban Hymns" and ofc "Ok Computer" have marked me as a teenager. "Homogeic" also was a masterpiece. I still remember blasting on Imbruglia's debut album but that didn't age so well. Instead of having Lighthouse Family you could put Chemical Brothers' "Dig Your Own Hole"


I Am A Stegosaurus


What about an article of singles that are now 10 years old?




My favourites from 1997 are definitely Spiceworld from the Spice Girls & Mariah Carey's Butterfly which remains my best Mariah album to date! Also loved The Corrs Talk On Corners too! I bought Aqua's Aquarium, it was a blast listening to that! All Saints debut was also a killer album! Really loved Janet Jackson's Velvet Rope too, this Janet album also my very favourite of hers to date too! 1997 was certainly one great year for music!


Music Lover 2016


Music was better produced and more fun back then.