Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little PillHaving grown up in the 70’s, I often consider the landscape of 90s music to be tragically misguided. Following the many 80s fleeting one-hit wonders. However, within this era there lies a beacon of angsty truth from Alanis Morissette called "Jagged Little Pill." Released in 1995, this album miraculously managed to capture the existential turmoil of an entire generation. Let's face it, I had no idea angst could be so marketable, and for years this album fell under my radar.

The album is essentially a 12-track confessional booth that redefined what it meant to be a woman scorned in the music industry. It’s raw, it’s real, and it’s packed with more emotions than a teenage diary. From the explosive opening lines of “All I Really Want” to the hauntingly desperate wails of “You Oughta Know,” Morissette delivers a performance so fierce it almost excuses the times she veers off vocal pitch. But ain’t that the style?

The album's breakout hit, “You Oughta Know,” features a jilted Morissette furiously howling over a gritty rock backdrop, artfully managing to sound both heartbroken and completely enraged. The track made it crystal clear that hell hath no fury like a woman accompanied by Dave Navarro and Flea. It’s a perfect anthem for anyone who’s ever wanted to send a scorching text to their ex but settled for belting this in the shower instead.

But let’s not forget the other jewels in this crown of bitterness. “Hand In My Pocket” and “Ironic” are beautifully crafted pieces of music that offer a slightly more philosophical, if not entirely accurate, take on irony. Yes, rain on your wedding day is annoying, but ironic? Well, we’ll let that slide because these melodies are just that catchy.

Then there's “Head Over Feet,” a love song that sneakily infiltrates the track list with its sweet, harmonica-laced vibes, proving that Morissette can do tender and angry in the same breath. It’s a standout track that shows off her versatility, weaving vulnerability with her trademark lyrical punches.

The production of the album, helmed by the adept Glen Ballard, deserves a nod too. Ballard managed to bottle lightning with a sound that’s as stripped-down as it is sharp. The album doesn’t rely on the glossy production that plagued much of the 90s; instead, it opts for simplicity that lets Morissette’s lyrical genius shine through. This was a masterstroke, as the lack of digital polish didn’t stop it from sweeping the Grammys and selling north of 33 million copies worldwide.

In retrospect, calling "Jagged Little Pill" a mere album feels like an understatement. It’s more of a cultural milestone, a manifesto of disenchantment that continues to resonate with anyone who’s ever felt a little too much. Alanis didn’t just give us songs; she gave us anthems that we didn’t know we needed, packaged in an album that we now can’t imagine living without.

I admit to some reticence to picking up a copy of the newly minted stand-alone Blu-ray edition from Rhino. However, I am delighted I did, as the spatial mix is fantastic along with the overall sound quality. Even though the album was digitally recorded on the original 1991 black face ADATs from Alesis, which supported sample rates up to 48kHz, listeners will still find they are getting a great sounding mix. Let us remember that it was during this era that the music industry (studios in particular) moved from both analog and digital multi-track reel-to-reel recorders to Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) recording systems which are software based. Leading up to this sea change in multi-track recording, it was the ALESIS ELECTRONICS ADAT digital multi-track tape recorders which represented a turning point in this evolutionary process. www.alesis.com

Rhino has released this as a stand-alone Blu-ray featuring Dolby Atmos and PCM 48kHz / 24-bit high-resolution Stereo mixes of the entire album. For those in the know, typically Rhino offers the stereo files at 192kHz or at least 96kHz, but the recordings technology utilized capped out at 48kHz / 16-bit, thus anything above that sampling rate would be superfluous. In reality, it is all about the sound quality and mix, which are taken to new heights on the Dolby Atmos version.

Spatial enthusiasts will find themselves immersed in a sonic gem wherein the back and height channels have been vigorously utilized. Guitars and backing vocals float up top, sometimes very direct and other moments bathed in the ambience of the mix. Similarly, the back-channels fire with secondary parts while delays and reverberance cross from the front to the rears. I rather like the crunchy bass and raw energy of the drums and guitars, plus Morissette’s vocals drive it all home with fantastic dynamic energy. For my ears the Atmos mix really brings out the depth of this album.

Strongly recommended for fans of Alanis Morissette, spatial enthusiasts, and collectors of 90’s era alternative rock.

This edition released March 28, 2024.

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 Format Info

Blu-ray with Dolby Atmos and LPCM 48kHz / 24-bit stereo mixes. Also available via popular streaming services with different mastering..

 

 

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 About the Author

Wesley Derbyshire Profile Image

Wesley is a lifelong music enthusiast. He started his career in the recording industry in New York City as an audio engineer, producer, and studio manager. Subsequently he toured across America as a guitarist with the short-lived band Land's Crossing. After many years in the technology sector and amassing a substantial vinyl and CD collection, he delved into immersive audio and created Hi-Res Edition to share with other listeners about the sound quality and discrete mixes available on many formats. He recently upgraded his system to 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos and continues to seek out and share about the best sounding releases.

 

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