With the onslaught of grunge having ushered in the alt-rock revolution, 1996 featured an abundance of pivotal releases from many legendary acts.

Even two years removed from Kurt Cobain’s death, Nirvana was unleashing music, this time in the form of a collection of live material. Another of the era’s biggest acts, Pearl Jam, returned with one of the most experimental albums of their catalog. Likewise, Metallica, Stone Temple Pilots, and Soundgarden sought to venture into new sonic territories with their ‘96 releases, resulting in varied - and oftentimes polarizing - responses from fans.

Still, it wasn’t just the era’s modern artists who were active in ‘96, as many classic rockers added notable releases to their already impressive resumes. Tom Petty created a movie soundtrack, ZZ Top returned to their bluesy roots and Motorhead embraced life as a trio once more. Meanwhile, the Beatles opened up their archives for the Anthology series, even unveiling some previously unheard songs.

Reunions were also the flavor du jour in 1996. An appearance on MTV Unplugged brought Kiss’ original lineup back together, Journey joined forces with erstwhile frontman Steve Perry and Yes’ classic lineup reassembled for the first time in two decades.

Perhaps the most memorable reconnection came from Van Halen, who surprised everyone when they released two new songs with original singer David Lee Roth on the band’s compilation album Best Of - Volume 1.

Of course, not every album was a smash. Such notable artists as Phil Collins, Neil Young and the Band stumbled with their ‘96 releases.

We’ve rounded up the hits, the misses, the glorious comebacks and even a few projects you’ve probably forgotten for our list of notable rock releases turning 25 years old in 2021.

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