1996: My 1000 Favorite Albums

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Looking back over the years, 1996 was a fairly nondescript year. Sure, there were a smattering of pretty cool things that happened within my family, yet, everything seemed to remain status quo. Actually, if there was ever a year during which I finally felt I were too old for popular music, it seems to have all started in 1996.

Now, don’t get me wrong! 1996 had some excellent albums released during its 12-month reign. The problem was that I was no longer getting a visceral movement from the best of these albums as I had during 1995. For someone who had  managed to maintain his youthful love of popular music he entered is mid-thirties, imagine his shock as he felt the music of someone’s youth not playing a true meaning in his life. This was a proposition I was not ready to tackle. So, I left the current music to my students and my boys, especially my older song who was inching closer to his primo teens.

So, let’s take a closer look at 1996.

10.2 Beck - Odelay

Beck – Odelay (1996). Beck’s canny amalgamation of hip hop, dance, alt.rock, pop, folk and rock came to fruition on this album. Odelay just seems to play like a Greatest Hits album in the best way, since so many songs were radio hits. This album is the Beck album that should have won the Grammy.

10.2 Fugees - The Score

Fugees – The Score (1996). In the hip hop world, there always seems to be an artist who is willing to upset the fruit cart in order to advance the genre. In the early-Nineties, we had the Afro-Centric Native Tongues collective pushing black culture into the limelight. That was followed by the jazz-based sounds from Eric B & Rakim, countrifried rap of Arrested Development, the gangsta rap of the N.W.A family and the Beatlesque sounds of PM Dawn. Next up was the sweet Seventies soul sound of the unparalleled Fugees. I never thought Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly with His Song” would ever get touched by a cover, except the Fugees did just that. This album is loaded with greatness.

10.2 Jay-Z - Reasonable Doubt

Jay-Z – Reasonable Doubt (1996). In the hip hop world, there is a lineage of great M.C.’s that runs from Kurtis Blow to LL Cool J to Eric B to Chuck D to Ice Cube to 2pac to The Notorious B.I.G. The next one in line is Jay-Z, who dropped this debut album and let the ripples felt throughout history as few would experience. Jay-Z is most like The Beatles in his cultural impact continues to be felt long after he stopped changing the world with every release. There might be a kernel of truth that he might be the greatest rapper ever.

10.2 Marilyn Manson - Antichrist Superstar

Marilyn Manson – Antichrist Superstar (1996). It had been a while since a “scary” or “Satanic” rock artist had kicked up a lot of dust in his wake. Back in the Eighties, it seemed like Ozzy Osbourne was the Right’s whipping boy for every bad about rock music. So, when it came to an antihero to rise in the Nineties, that person better take his persona to a whole new level. So, the latest entrant into the Alice Cooper sweepstakes come a man who plays up a dark androgyny, penchant for all things Satan and a David Bowie unmatching eye colors. Plus, he and the member of his band had the audacity to get their stage name from the combination of a first name from a famous female model/movie star and a last name taken from a serial killer. It’s as if this man who called himself Marilyn Manson was courting controversy while playing a mix of metal, shock rock and industrial music. What a marketing genius!

10.2 Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Murder Ballads

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Murder Ballads (1996). If there was an artist who was perfectly developed to record an album of murder ballads, it was Nick Cave at this very moment. Cave takes to the genre as if he were born to play the folk songs, even writing some of his own songs that fit perfectly with the originals he covered. Once again, I get to use the phrase hauntingly beautiful to describe a Nick Cave album.

10.2 Sublime - Sublime

Sublime – Sublime (1996). I once asked a former student and huge Sublime fan why Sublime resonates with his age group, and his answer floored with with its simplicity. Ronnie said that Sublime married the middle class dreams of gangbanging rappers with the actual nihilism of middle class reality in the key of ska. Of course, I made his quote sound much more poetic than it actually was, but the point was the same. Unfortunately, Sublime leader Brad Nowell succumbed to a heroin overdose just as the album was taking off, much like what happened to the Gin Blossoms.

10.2 Tool - Aenima

Tool – Ænima (1996). When I first heard Tool, I thought, “My God! What is this?” It was metal, but it was artier than just straight metal. Maybe, Tool were a modern day Rush. Then, I listened to this album again, thought, “Nope! This is too dark for Rush.” Finally, it hit me – Tool is a modern day King Crimson, complete with the dark progressive intentions and all. Once I made the connection, Tool quickly became a band I admired.

10.2 Weezer - Pinkerton

Weezer – Pinkerton (1996). So, what’s a band to do when their debut album immediately became an underground masterpiece not unlike Cheap Trick’s debut from 1977? With Weezer, when you have so many options, such as admission into Harvard, more detailed studies into what makes a hit record and what does not, and decided to turn your lyrics more inward. In the process, the band unwittingly laid the groundwork for a branch of pop-punk called emo. And, that singer-songwriter lyrics in a pop-punk setting was a whole new thing as exemplified by Dashboard Confessional, though that band never neared the excellence of Weezer on Pinkerton. Many will argue that Weezer left their greatness on this album. And, I will argue they are wrong.

10.2 Wilco - Being There

Wilco – Being There (1996). In the early Nineties, there was an excellent country punk band called Uncle Tupelo. Despite their innovations, the band split into two new bands. The first group immediately found acceptance from critics as Son Volt. The other band ended up being the bigger and more influential band called Wilco. Initially, as on this album, Wilco maintained its course as the new saviors of country rock. Though, that would change soon enough. However, on this album, Wilco was in full country rock mode, and Being There stands right with the two Jayhawks albums as the finest example of modern country rock.

With that, we come to the end of my 1996 list. As you can tell, the lists will get smaller, but those albums will only become that much more powerful. Peace.

The Last Day of 1995: My 1000 Favorite Albums

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This is the last year on my list in which I will spend more than one day covering the great albums released during a particular year. If I biased toward any music, once again, they are those years during which I was growing up, specifically 1975 through 1995. With that stated, let’s finish up 1995.

10.2 Oasis - (What's the Story) Morning Glory

Oasis – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? (1995). Oasis did it! They continued to stretch our their musical limbs, only to achieve everything they set out to accomplish. The Gallagher brothers held their sibling rivalry in check long enough to perfect that Beatles/Stones/Kinks/Soup Dragons/Smiths sound their were on the cusp of defining on their debut album. Oasis created the perfect English band sound, one that transcended the whole Britpop throne and never matched by Blur, Suede or Supergrass, who all came close. This is an album for the ages.

10.2 Phish - A Live One

Phish – A Live One (1995). Phish are the Grateful Dead of Generation X., a great jam band that HAS to be experienced in a live setting. In all honesty, you could spend a fortune just to hear all the concert glory. But, if you want one manageable live album to discover what all the fuss is about, look no further. This double CD has it all, from the band’s only hit song “Bouncing Around the Room” to their strange showstopper “Wilson” to their appropriately titled jam song “Gumbo.” This album has all the magic.

10.2 Prince - The Gold Experience

Prince – The Gold Experience (1995). Back in 1995, Prince was in a war with his label Warner Bros. Rumor has it that Prince was in the midst of one of his fertile creative periods, as he had enough material for TWO triple albums. The first one, Prince wanted to release the project under the title of The Dawn. This project would have included these albums in an interesting order. Instead, three albums were release separately as Come, The Gold Experience and Chaos & Disorder. Of the three, The Gold Experience was the better album, though all three make for a compelling listen. When Prince got his freedom, he immediately dropped another triple-CD affair called Emancipation. Still, this album marks the last time during which Prince released a truly great album.

10.2 Pulp - Different Class

Pulp – Different Class (1995). While Oasis may have created the best Britpop album and Blur nailed the best song, it was Pulp who nailed down the best description British class differences on this album called Different Class. Their British hit song “Common People” really does nail the cultural differences in the social hierarchy of life in the UK. Personally, I prefer this album to the others in the Britpop sweepstakes.

10.2 Radiohead - The Bends

Radiohead – The Bends (1995). I saw Radiohead open for R.E.M. back in 1995. And, I was pleasantly surprised by the band’s musical growth on this album. In all honesty, I did not care for the debut album. However, The Bends was a much more satisfying listen. Throughout this album, Radiohead stretched the boundaries of their sound, taking it in much more interesting places than the tired alt.rock sound found on their debut. This is the album in which Radiohead was developing into a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame act.

10.2 Supergrass - I Should Coco

Supergrass – I Should Coco (1995). Much like the Nuggets-era of American garage rock, Britpop held the same sway over the youth of the UK. So, it should not have been a big surprise when three teenagers bonded over their favorite British rock artists such as The Beatles, Blur, David Bowie, The Buzzcocks,  Elton John, Madness and The Who to create their debut album. All rock music should be this energetic.

10.2 The Jayhawks - Tomorrow the Green Grass

The Jayhawks – Tomorrow the Green Grass (1995). The Jayhawks matured into one of the finest country rock acts since the Eagles heyday of the mid-Seventies. Throughout this album, I am reminded of those peaceful, easy feelings I got from my pre-Hotel California Eagles albums. The Jayhawks did a cover of Grand Funk’s “Bad Time” that is a power pop delight. But, the main attraction is the “Blue,” “I’ll Run Away” and “Miss Williams’ Guitar” triple-timeless song sequence. And, standing heads above all else on the album is the opener “Blue,” arguably the greatest country rock song ever.

10.2 The Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

The Smashing Pumpkins – Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995). This double album has everything that makes a double album so awesome in the first place. This is an album of overabundance, in sounds, guitars, instrumentation, vocals, literally everything. But, the grand abundance never overreaches itself. It’s as if lead Pumpkin Billy Corgan totally understood what need needed to done in the correct amounts. It’s just a great album about growing up. And, “1979” really does remind me of that year.

And, that my friends, was the way it was in my music collection back in 1995. Until next time, peace.

The First Day for 1995: My 1000 Favorite Albums

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1995 was a crazy year. During the first half of the year, I completed my first year of teaching, while coaching sixth grade boys basketball and junior varsity baseball. Then, in the fall, I would be starting my second year of teaching with one totally new coaching experience.

It seems that someone told our administrators, including our Athletic Director (AD) that I had been a runner during high school, afterwards having a cup of tea with the college team. In all honesty, I was not talented enough for a position on the Ball State team, though a couple of friends of mine from other high schools who were on the BSU Cross Country team were really putting the full court pressure on me to come out for the team. Of course, I withstood their inquiries, but sometimes wonder if I could have adjusted to college training techniques and developed into a competitive runner. Then again, I really don’t waste my time with such thoughts.

So, long story short, the Alexandria AD contacted me about becoming the varsity cross country coach of BOTH the boys and girls teams. Basically, 20 years had passed since the school had a cross country team, so I was turned loose to do whatever I felt necessary to get these teams rolling. The bottom line was that the AD’s daughter, an excellent all-around athlete and future Indiana basketball All-Star team member wanted to compete on a cross country team, so Mr. Garner came through. What Mr. Garner underestimated about me was my burning desire to win/compete. Yes, my teams were terrible that first year, but they steadily improved until during the fourth year of the program, the boys team had won a county championship. However, in 1995, I was coaching the daughter to a second team All-State honor, while the other girls and boys kept a modest improvement from week to week. Needless to say, I was hooked to the point where I gave up coaching baseball in order to become an assistant boys’ track coach.

In addition to teaching and coaching, I was beginning to let go of my music passion by cancelling my subscriptions to Rolling Stone and Spin magazines. Now, I was going to live vicariously through my students and my older son.  Which means, we need to get this list moving.

9.28 2pac - Me Against the World

2pac – Me Against the World (1995). This son of a Black Panther picked up the rebel mantle and channeled his gift into the world of rap. Of course, this was the perfect avenue for the young Mr. Shakur. 2pac was able to transcend the thug life of the streets to forge a new rap sound from the O-town (Oakland). 2pac found himself in a sweet spot somewhere between N.W.A, The Chronic, Ice-T and Schooly-D. He was now the poet to a whole new subset of ghetto prisoners.

9.28 Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill

Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill (1995). Now, it seems inevitable that someone would take the confessional point of view of Tori Amos and marry it with the angry young woman lyrics of Liz Phair in a clean pop/alternative rock setting that would sell millions upon millions of albums. What was surprising was the vehicle was a little petite Canadian woman who got her start as a pop star in the vein of a Katy Perry. Frustrated by that experience, Morissette looked inward and wrote and album’s worth of great songs with a uniquely female point of view. This album was an event looking for a place to happen.

9.28 Bjork - Post

Björk – Post (1995). Back in 1988, an Icelandic band called The Sugarcubes released an album that quickly became a critic’s darling behind the unique vocals of lead singer Björk. Slowly, she worked her way out of the band in order to pursue a critically acclaimed solo career. Her debut album was a little culture shock as Björk dove head first into electronica. Now, on here sophomore album, the singer honed her sound, even toughening it at times to come off more industrial, to created this magnificent album.

9.28 Daft Punk - Homework

Daft Punk – Homework (1995). Finally, someone made a modern disco record. Seriously, this robotic French duo had obviously cut their teeth on Kraftwerk, Giorgio Moroder’s Donna Summer productions (“I Feel Love”) and all the early synthpop singles from UK of the late-Seventies and early-Eighties. This was fresh and modern but still seemed as though it were totally created during the disco era of NYC.

9.28 D'Angelo - Brown Sugar

D’Angelo – Brown Sugar (1995). When D’Angelo arrived on the scene in the mid-Nineties, R&B had gotten a little too formulaic. Instead, D’Angelo came in with a pure sex quality that had been lacking in R&B since a pre-car crash Teddy Pendergrass. There was a vocal swag in D’Angelo that his contemporaries all lacked. Plus, D’Angelo was willing to walk to his own beat in order to deliver his vision of Southern Fried soul strained through a Prince-esque willingness to tackle his own vision. He would quickly become a major player on the scene.

9.28 Foo Fighters - Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters – Foo Fighters (1995). When Kurt Cobain was discovered dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, people were immediately wondering what would happen to the other two guys in Nirvana. Bassist Krist Novoselic went into the political system, while drummer Dave Grohl had stockpiled a collection of his own songs for the formation of a replacement band. Initially, Grohl helped out Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers with a SNL appearance. Still, he formed his own band and released this excellent debut. Today, Dave seems have become the last rock star on Earth, while Cobain was cast as the first anti-rock star.

9.28 Garbage - Garbage

Garbage – Garbage (1995). This album may SOUND like an alternative rock album, what with off-kilter song arrangements, moments of seemingly uncontrolled noise and a female vocalist with a thin, airy voice. But, don’t be fooled as this is a pop album of first-rate material. This debut album is so good that it casts a very long shadow on the band’s whole catalog as they never could get the balance quite right again. But, for one brief moment, Garbage found some studio magic.

9.28 No Doubt - Tragic Kingdom

No Doubt – Tragic Kingdom (1995). By the mid-Eighties, I was personally feeling nostalgic for new wave. Fortunately, into that void stepped a former ska band from the same Southern California scene that had spawned Fishbone. The difference is that No Doubt played up its pop/rock roots, making them perfect for mainstream success in the mid-Nineties. And, of course, the band’s not-so-secret weapon was their beautiful and charismatic lead singer Gwen Stefani who quickly became the band’s focal point. To this day, I have always wished that No Doubt and Weezer had toured together.

And, that’s where we’ll stop for Day 1. See you next time. Peace.

1994, Day 2: My 1000 Favorite Albums

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This is one of the last multi-day entries in this current topic. I believe there is at least one more multi-day blogs left, but it could be two. So, let’s get this thing going.

9.22 R.E.M. - Monster

R.E.M. – Monster (1994). After our heroes from Athens, Georgia, released two mega-hits to kick of the Nineties, R.E.M. decided to jump head-first into the current alternative scene that, ironically, the band had unwittingly opened the gates to 11 years earlier. In response to grunge and all the other stuff being popularized, R.E.M. created their most glam and trendy album to date. Monster is the sound of four thirty-somethings cutting loose and having a ball. This album is extremely underrated and underappreciated within their stellar catalog.

9.22 Soundgarden - Superunknown

Soundgarden – Superunknown (1994). Soundgarden was the last of the Seattle Big Four to strike it rich. This album is where the band reached their potential with their Zeppelin-like mix of metal, grunge, blues, psychedelia, punk and funkish rock. “Black Hole Sun” is the band’s most enduring song.

9.22 Stone Temple Pilots - Purple

Stone Temple Pilots – Purple (1994). On Core, STP were jumping from influence to influence to musically surround their Gen X lyrics. So, when the world heard this album, we all discovered this was a band for the ages. STP proved through sheer will and constant touring that anyone can develop their own sound that has resonated through the decades. The big hits were “Big Empty” and “Interstate Love Song.”

9.22 The Notorious BIG - Ready to Die

The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready to Die (1994). With the help of producer Sean “Puffy” Coombs, Biggie Smalls created the East Coast’s answer to gangsta rap. Coombs may have developed the music, but it would have been nothing without Biggie’s easy to understand tales of inner city life. It’s still a shame that he was taken at such a young age.

9.22 The Offspring - Smash

The Offspring – Smash (1994). Talk about a left field hit, this album a big one. The Offspring released this album on Epitaph, a small independent metal label and put this album into Billboard’s Top 5 on the Album Chart. Sure, The Offspring were a little metal, but they were a whole lot more punk. This album, along with Green Day’s Dookie, helped push punk rock into the American mainstream.

9.22 TLC - CrazySexyCool

TLC – CrazySexyCool (1994). On TLC’s first album, they proved to be just another group of teenage women on a trajectory that was marrying bubblegum with rap, new jack swing and other modern sounds in R&B. So, imagine my surprise when I first heard this album. TLC had literally matured into strong beautiful black women who were ready to exert their creative control. “Waterfalls” remains one of the best Prince-sounding songs of the Nineties.

9.22 Tom Petty - Wildflowers

Tom Petty – Wildflowers (1994). For Petty’s second solo album, he enlisted super-producer Rick Rubin to help him work on stripped down sound. What the pairing did was creatively a master stroke. The pairing allowed Petty to develop his music without too many embellishments, which made for an exciting new direction of his music. This album represents the moment when Petty grew from a young rocker into a mature traveling troubadour.

9.22 Velvet Crush - Teenage Symphonies to God

Velvet Crush – Teenage Symphonies to God (1994). When I came across this CD at a Best Buy in Indianapolis, I discovered it in the Christian Rock section of the music. The album must have been categorized as a Christian act due to the album title, which is a quote from Beach Boy Brian Wilson when describing their music found on Pet Sounds.. Man, does the Velvet Crush live up to its album title. This has everything that is so delightful about power pop music. This is a little gem.

9.22 Weezer - Weezer (The Blue Album)

Weezer – Weezer (The Blue Album) (1994). When I first heard this band, I was absolutely convinced that I was listening to THE Cheap Trick of the Nineties. One day, I will have to do a compare and contrast blog between CT’s debut and this one by Weezer. This is a beautiful album in its simplicity juxtaposition with the tough sounding guitars. And much like Trick 17 years earlier, Weezer can stake claim to being much more than a power pop album. And, that’s what makes Weezer so compelling to follow through the years.

With that, I’ve put 1994 to rest. Peace.

1994, Day 2: My 1000 Favorite Albums

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Let’s just get right back into this thing.

9.22 Mary J Blige - My Life

Mary J. Blige – My Life (1994). It was so comforting to find an uptown diva like Ms. Blige, someone to follow the footsteps of Chaka Khan. She is THE underrated discovery of Puffy’s (or whatever name he’s using today) career. It was on this album that Coombs’ production, and wholesale use of a “sample,” wasn’t annoying and worked seamlessly. This is the modern sound of R&B in the Nineties.

9.22 Nas - Illmatic

Nas – Illmatic (1994). This album is considered a Nineties landmark in hip hop because it singlehandedly reestablished New York City’s presence on the scene in the aftermath of The Chronic making the West Coast the epicenter. Nas combined the tough beats of some of NYC’s finest producers with his highly literate rhymes. His bleak tales of the ghetto were tempered by his hope and his remembrance of the good times. Plus, this is where you can find “N.Y. State of Mind.”

9.22 Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Let Love In

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Let Love In (1994). Cave and company picked up right where they left off on their breakthrough Henry’s Dream. This time the album is not as raw with the rough edges being sharpened to a point. Perhaps, the most surprising theme on this album is love, though it’s still a dark version of it. This is not a bubblegum version of love, so this album is not for the weak of heart. Yet, I find it compelling and beautiful in its darkness.

9.22 Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral

Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral (1994). Trent Reznor’s reputation as transcendent voice of the industrial sound and the downtrodden was made on this album. Reznor discovered new sounds that only enhanced his angry tales of disaffection that resonated so strongly with the public. Plus, his videos were downright scary stuff in the Nineties, let alone today.

9.22 Nirvana - MTV Unplugged in New York

Nirvana – MTV Unplugged in New York (1994). This whole performance was captivating at the time of its airing. Throughout that show, you got the feeling that you were watching a wake for Kurt Cobain being led by the man himself. Then, this album was released after he had died, and it definitely sounded like a funeral. With the band reduced to its acoustic essence, the desolation in Kurt’s lyrics were more poignant than when filled with the rage on the original recordings. This is an eerie album yet beautiful all the same. Can you image what Nirvana could have recorded in this vein?

9.22 Oasis - Definitely Maybe

Oasis – Definitely Maybe (1994). What a debut! From beginning to end, Oasis were on a mission to establish themselves as the new heir to the British rock throne. Oh, sure, you can find all of their reference points: Stones, Pistols and Kinks all wrapped up in the candy coating of The Beatles with some Stone Roses, Smiths and Happy Mondays thrown in for good measure. It’s no wonder this band was the biggest band in the UK, as they translated well with the American audience.

9.22 Pearl Jam - Vitalogy

Pearl Jam – Vitalogy (1994). After two terrific albums, Pearl Jam stripped down their sound to create one of their more original sounding albums. Throughout, the band is uncompromising in their playing, lyrics and singing. This is a band on a mission to actually become a band for the ages by taking risks to move forward. These guys proved they were way deeper than just a grunge band.

9.22 Prince - The Black Album

Prince – The Black Album (1994). Back in 1994, Prince was fighting Warner Bros for the right to release as much music as he wanted. He even went as far as showing up to promote his music with “SLAVE” written across his cheek and legally changing his name to that unpronounceable symbol in order to negate his contract. As part of a compromise, he allowed this fabled 1987 album to finally be released. Bootlegs had been floating around for the better part of seven years, so no one should have been surprised by the music. If taken within the context of when it was actually intended for release, The Black Album is the sound of Prince taking back is funk roots after the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink sound of Sign ‘o’ the Times. Prince said he withheld the album in ’87 because God told him it was too dark. Those close to Prince say he was taking way too much ecstasy and got scared. Whatever the reason, The Black Album‘s release is as important musical milestone as Bob Dylan and The Band’s The Basement Tapes.

We’ll finish up 1994 soon. Peace.

The Last Big Year – 1994, Day 1: My 1000 Favorite Albums

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Well, here it is, the last year of music that made a big impact on me. 1994 was the year during which I became a teacher. I began the year student teaching biology and chemistry at Eastern Hancock High School and ended the year as a 31-year-old first year teacher and coach at Alexandria Monroe High School. As I quickly discovered, I no longer had the time for my beloved past time, only listening to the music that truly moved me after this year. What was cool was that my students were now influencing the music I would listen to. It quickly became apparent that I was no longer cool. I was an adult now.

And, that was fine. Shortly, I would hand the musical reigns over to my boys who would take the lead in discovering new music. However, I did go out in a blaze of glory, as you can tell by my choices. From here on out, my record choses become more conservative, as you will see in future blogs. You know, we all get old at some point. But, I can still pick out a new artist that will hit before most people, so I got that going for me.

Here we go! The last multi-day year of albums on my list.

9.22 Beastie Boys - Ill Communication

Beastie Boys – Ill Communication (1994). When we last heard from the Beasties, they had picked up their instruments again and started played hip hop with them as opposed to creating an aural collage of sounds for their beats. That move gave the trio an immediacy that only enhanced their music. On this album, the guys tightened their songs and really merge the whole alternative nation and hip hop world together into one forceful sound. This is the Beastie’s sweet spot. Don’t believe me? Put on “Sabotage.”

9.22 Beck - Mellow Gold

Beck – Mellow Gold (1994). One thing about the music of Generation X was that they were willing to attempt at synthesizing the sounds of everything that they had heard. Case in point, Beck’s “Loser.” This is an amalgamation of blues, rock, pop and hip hop that does not imitate any of the genres while developing a whole new language. And, the rest of the album only hinted at the greatness of this new kid on the block.

9.22 Blur - Parklife

Blur – Parklife (1994). On this album, Blur staked claim to the Britpop throne. Their take on mid-Nineties English life was taken right out of Ray Davies’ Kinks playbook. This is one magnificent album that pushed Oasis to greater heights.

9.22 Green Day - Dookie

Green Day – Dookie (1994). When I heard this album, I thought I was having a flashback to 1977. Green Day reminded me of The Jam in the way they played, but their lyrics were nothing but American middle class antipathy. Ahhh! American punk had arrived.

9.22 Hole - Live Through This

Hole – Live Through This (1994). Back in the pre-fake news days, I remember students of mine who were certain of two conspiracies. One, Kurt Cobain, husband of Hole’s frontwoman Courtney Love, wrote, or co-wrote, all of the songs on this album. And, two, Courtney had Kurt murdered. Now, if the former were true, then why would she have the latter done considering Cobain were her gravy train? So, throw those stupid notions away and simply admire this great album that Love’s band created. It is just a great album of grunge/punk/pop/rock.

9.22 Hootie & the Blowfish - Cracked Rear View

Hootie & the Blowfish – Cracked Review Mirror (1994). Long before this album became an annoying cultural phenomenon to many, Hootie was being pimped as an up-and-coming band with their pleasant rock, soul and country mix. Their music naturally fit in with classic rock songs of the Seventies while lacking much of the Gen X cynicism that seemed to be off-putting to the older Boomers. There is so much to enjoy about this album now that the hoopla has settled. Give them another chance, because this record kills.

9.22 Jeff Buckley - Grace

Jeff Buckley – Grace (1994). Back in 1994, Jeff Buckley, son of the late-Seventies folk singer Tim Buckley, was being hyped as a potential savior of rock music. Sometimes, Jeff’s music was lush and ethereal, as on his enduring version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” while other times it was harsh and aggressive. Buckley had it all going for him: great looks, great guitar licks, great voice. Unfortunately, Buckley never got to cash in on the promise exhibited by this album as he died shortly after the albums release in a drowning accident. But, we have this one beautiful album.

9.22 Johnny Cash - American Recordings

Johnny Cash – American Recordings (1994). Legend has it that hip hop producer Rick Rubin was looking to produce an original rocker who was down on their luck and seeking a new record deal. And, it just so happened that Johnny Cash fit the bill. Rubin was seeking to revive Cash’s badass reputation and introduce his talent to a whole new generation that had little idea who the man was. The brilliance in this album is that Rubin played a bunch of songs by current artists and asked Cash to arrange them as he would his own stuff. In the process, Rubin helped Cash rediscover his muse. And, here is the first album in a series of five albums worth of material the two recorded over the last nine years of the Man in Black’s life. This remains a landmark album in Johnny’s illustrious career and sits alongside At Folsom Prison as his best albums ever. Of course, it revived Cash’s career and reputation, as well as making Rubin more palatable to more artists as a producer.

And, that my friends, is the end of Day 1. Peace.

1993: My 1000 Favorite Albums

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It just happened that 1993 was my last full year working in the lab as I was finishing up my classes in order to become a teacher and take a mighty 50% reduction in my pay. While it was a crazy year working full time and taking a couple classes each semester, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. At the beginning of 1994, I would be doing my student teaching at a very small high school in the county to the south of where I live while working part-time and using my PTO to supplement my income. But, that was still the following year.

No, 1993 began with a major hangover, as my fraternity brothers and significant others all met at one of the guys’ places for what we always called “fellowship.” Although we were all entering our thirties at the time, we still got together on New Year’s Eve. So, we were all reliving our college days on one night a year. At these parties, we always have some stupid event. In 1992, at our house, we had a lip sync contest. My wife and I unexpectedly did “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” which was taped and was, I guess, the winning performance. I think I speak for all who were there, I am glad that something happened to that video. Didn’t need any evidence left around.

For this year, it was a scavenger hunt, the brothers versus the others. Well, let’s just say we lit up the little town just west of Fort Wayne with this drunken mess. When we got back to the house, the owners, both of whom are lawyers and divorced today, held a hearing on whether each team’s items were submissible. It was funny at first, but it did get tedious. So I put on George Michael on his CD player and everyone ignored them by dancing. And, that’s when the details became murky.

Of course, the year ended with me having my first surgery, an emergency appendectomy. The surgeon thought I didn’t have a problem because my pain was not in the “correct spot.” My white blood cell count said otherwise, so into surgery I went. Come to find out, my appendix had grown to be 10 milliliters long and had flipped and was pointing in the wrong direction. No wonder my pain wasn’t located where “it should have been.” That dumbass surgeon even had asked my wife if I was a “wimp with pain.” Of course, she had to hold me down because I was ready to bounce up and deck the guy.

To top everything off, Frank Zappa died that day, and the only thing I remember my wife saying to me after the surgery was that! I teased her all the time about that information being the only thing she said to me after the surgery. Oh, but the fun didn’t stop there. Nope, I developed a post-op infection in the incision and was running a very high fever and was in pain. But, the idiot I am, I finished my final project for my last education class and went in to take the final. Afterwards, my wife rushed me to the emergence room to have the incision drained for the first time. Two days later, the incision was opened, drained and packed, which to my sick microbiology side I kinda loved it. From the ER phone, I called the micro lab to make my prediction as to which bacterium they would find. Luckily, that stupid phone call got me discharged to home so I didn’t have to be admitted. Hell, I worked in a hospital, I wasn’t about to let people I know take care of me.

Needless to say, I missed the last month of work before I started student teaching. Unfortunately, I missed the last New Year’s Eve gathering, as we all got caught up in our families’ events. But, they did drunkenly call me, but none of them probably remember doing that. Which, by the way, was the perfect way to end 1993.

So, here’s what I think are the best albums of 1993.

9.21 Blur - Modern Life Is Rubbish

Blur – Modern Life Is Rubbish (1993). With this album, Britpop had arrived in all of its glory. This modern take on the music of The Kinks, Jam and Smiths was a breath of fresh air during the age of grunge. Now, we were starting to get back to what I thought was the sweet spot of rock music – a tough sound with slightly jangly guitars, nice vocal harmonies and Beatlesque melodies. Who knew what was in store for the music scene in the UK?

9.21 Counting Crows - August and Everything After

Counting Crows – August and Everything After (1993). After a year of being bludgeoned by the sonic sounds of the grunge scene, everyone seemed a little bit ready for some acoustic-based music. Into that void stepped an alternative band that reminded me a bit of Van Morrison. I fell hook, line and sinker for this album, and it remains an album that I play often. Unfortunately, success came too quickly for this band as they really could not live up to expectations on further releases. Still, they did have a nice compilation of their hits.

9.21 Janet Jackson - janet.

Janet Jackson – janet. (1993). With this album, Janet became the creative force within her family. After first exerting her creative control, then tackling race relations, Janet continued to follow the Marvin Gaye playbook by releasing an album dripping with sex. Yes, I’ll say it. This is Janet’s Let’s Get It On. There, I said it. Next!

9.21 Lenny Kravitz - Are You Gonna Go My Way

Lenny Kravitz – Are You Gonna Go My Way (1993). Lenny became his own man on this album. He was a rocker. He was a soul man crooner. He was a Prince-wannabe. He was Hendrixian. He was it all, but he was still Lenny Kravitz. And, this was his masterpiece.

9.21 Liz Phair - Exile in Guyville

Liz Phair – Exile in Guyville (1993). People seemed genuinely shocked by the lyrical content on this album. Seriously? Did you not just praise Tori Amos the year before? Therefore, why was it so surprising that a woman was openly singing about her sexual experience? Hell, didn’t Prince break down that commercial wall back in 1980 with Dirty Mind? Why would we ever think a woman didn’t think and say these things as well? I applaud Liz for having the guts to tackle this sexism straight on in very rock way. Plus, the stripped down sound is a perfect musical setting. She set the stage for what was about to come from rock & roll women this decade.

9.21 Nirvana - In Utero

Nirvana – In Utero (1993). In 1993, Nirvana were the kings of the rock world. But, Cobain was freaked out by all the adulation. Unfortunately, he strove for it, honed his art for it, but when success did come, he decided it wasn’t what he really wanted after all. And In Utero was Kurt’s attempt at putting the genie back in the bottle. This album, although it still maintains those fantastic melodies, had abrasive instrumentation and painful screams throughout. The lyrics were darker. Yet, the public ate it all up, and that was the rub. And, we are left asking what if he could have just come out of all of this on the other side? We’ll never know.

9.21 Paul Weller - Wild Wood

Paul Weller – Wild Wood (1993). After building a successful career with The Jam and The Style Council, Weller released his first solo album in 1991. And, it was that album on which Weller found himself musically. He had let go of his past and moved forward into adulthood. Now, on his second solo album, Weller dives full on into his muse to create a beautiful album all about growing old in rock music. This album is a great introduction into the solo career of one of the unsung heroes of rock music.

9.21 Pearl Jam - Vs

Pearl Jam – Vs. (1993). Much like Nirvana, Pearl Jam were freaked out by how there popularity had exploded over the previous year. And like Nirvana, the band wanted to shed the bandwagon jumpers in order to get back to a more manageable audience. So, they too went abrasive. And, just like Nirvana, the album was abrasively beautiful, so the public devoured this one as well. The difference between the two bands was that Pearl Jam eventually just accepted that the public loved them and moved on. Unfortunately, Cobain did not. This album remains a great one in the Pearl Jam catalog.

9.21 PJ Harvey - Rid of Me

PJ Harvey – Rid of Me (1993). 1993 seemed to be the year of the pint-sized woman talking directly about their sex and romantic lives. While Liz Phair attacked it from a Stones-ish sound, Harvey and her band dove into a more punkish mode, ala Nirvana. And, this album, much like Phair’s, is a fantastic statement and sound. Fortunately, Harvey’s career was much more consistent through the years than Phair’s. This is an important record that it a great listen.

9.21 Sheryl Crow - Tuesday Night Music Club

Sheryl Crow – Tuesday Night Music Club (1993). Sheryl Crow got her big break as a singer on Michael Jackson’s Bad Tour. So, when people heard she was recording an album, most thought she was going down the pop path. Interestingly enough, Sheryl had her own vision. And, what a vision it was. Crow had been playing with a coterie of crack LA session players in order to create this album. And, all of the work paid off for her, as this album had great sales and won Grammys.

9.21 Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream

Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dreams (1993). This Chicago band led by guitarist/vocalist Billy Corgan was as steeped in the AOR world as he was in the punk world. And, you can hear both influences everywhere on this album. The Pumpkins’ sound was a Boston-like laying of what seems like a thousand guitars with a grungy tuning over some excellent post-punk rhythms for a new exciting sound. It’s as if all the music of my youth got together and had a baby.

9.21 Snoop Doggy Dogg - Doggystyle

Snoop Doggy Dogg – Doggystyle (1993). After making such a huge scene on Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, the rap world was very excited about Snoop’s debut album. And, he and Dre did NOT disappoint. This album was played everywhere for about two years. And, any album that has a song as great as “Gin and Juice” has got to be a masterpiece.

9.21 Suede - Suede

Suede – Suede (1993). Britpop was just getting started when this band of Glam and Smiths influenced youngsters hit the UK airwaves with this stellar debut album. Where Oasis and Blur defined the Beatles’ side of Britpop, Suede took the Glam side, especially with all of their sexual ambiguity. This was definitely a British phenomenon that did not translate to the States. And, most of us lost out on it here.

9.21 The Cranberries - Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We

The Cranberries – Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? (1993). This band was obviously a group that grew up loving The Smiths just from their sound. But, they were not limited by that influence and built upon it. “Linger” remains the band’s best song, but they did create one lasting album with their debut. This is a nearly perfect album.

9.21 Wu-Tang Clan - Enter the Wu-Tang 36 Chambers

Wu-Tang Clan – Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers (1993). This conglomeration of huge personalities, egos and talent combined forces to create one of rap’s greatest albums of all time. What can I say? This album is a perfect slice of Nineties rap. And, it seems like everyone one of the guys in this group had their own successful solo careers. But, for one glorious moment, they channeled all of their hunger and might to make this earth-shaking album.

And, that’s the way it was in 1993. Peace.

The Last Day of 1992 on My List of My 1000 Favorite Albums

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Welcome to the third and final day for 1992 albums. Let’s get this thing going.

9.17 Stone Temple Pilots - Core

Stone Temple Pilots – Core (1992). Back in 1992, STP were often maligned that they had no sound of their own. From song to song, they were musical chameleons, aping the best alt.rock of the day from R.E.M. to Alice in Chains to Pearl Jam. The Pearl Jam rip-off characterizations were the loudest complaints. But, when you hear “Plush,” you just knew this band was destined for greatest. Even though the band is not from Seattle (they’re from San Diego), “Plush” might be the third or fourth best grunge song ever. Plus, the band did find their own vision in the near future.

9.17 Sugar - Copper Blue

Sugar – Copper Blue (1992). So, after a stellar but criminally overlooked career with Hüsker Dü and two great solo albums, Bob Mould formed another power trio that he ironically called Sugar. The difference? Oh, maybe Sugar was a bit more tame and the production was cleaner, but the volume, speed and venom were all intact. But, the public had changed and were ready for his take on punk rock. And, honestly, we are all the better for it. This album just might be his best album in his illustrious career. Nearly thirty years on and I still have not tired of this album.

9.17 The Black Crowes - The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion

The Black Crowes – The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion (1992). On their sophomore release, the Crowes added another guitarist and organist that only expanded their sound and allowed them to stretch out into jam band regions in the live setting. This is what music of the pre-MTV era sounded like and how musicians performed. The album remains The Black Crowes finest studio moment.

9.17 The Jayhawks - Hollywood Town Hall

The Jayhawks – Hollywood Town Hall (1992). Here is something that I will never understand. Back in 1992, as grunge was making all kinds of inroads in the mainstream, classic rock radio was jamming the country rock sounds of the Eagles, Jackson Browne, etc. down our throats as if this were a lost genre. Yet, at the time, this excellent Midwestern band who had cut their teeth on the very same influences as the older artists could not get on rock radio. Somebody explain this to me! These guys had the Eagles harmonies, Jackson Browne’s imagery and a sound that was a mix of the best of Gram Parsons, Neil Young’s Harvest and the aforementioned artists. They should have been the next big thing. Please, if you haven’t heard The Jayhawks, go listen to them right now and explain to me why they didn’t take off.

9.17 The Lemonheads - It's a Shame About Ray

The Lemonheads – It’s a Shame About Ray (1992). Alternative nation’s pinup boy Evan Dando, the creative force behind The Lemonheads, finally put his  punk, jangle rock and folk rock influences together into one beautiful album. This album, generally speaking, is another slice of Nineties power pop, though it does foreshadow the rise of pop-punk at times. Although the album is known for the cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson,” the true heart of the about belongs the song “Buddy.”

9.17 The Tragically Hip - Fully Completely

The Tragically Hip – Fully Completely (1992). As one of Canada’s most beloved bands, The Tragically Hip only made a minor dent in the American market. Fully Completely remains the legendary band’s finest moment. They were a combination of Springsteen, Bryan Adams and Petty but with a post-punk frame of reference and an uplifting spirit that only made them a band that you were rooting for all along.

9.17 Tori Amos - Little Earthquakes

Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes (1992). Little Earthquakes? Hell no! Tori Amos made a major 9.5 earthquake with this album. She totally rewrote the book on confessional singer songwriter motif. Obviously, Amos was influenced by such Seventies luminaries as Carly Simon, Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Stevie Nicks but also Kate Bush. This combination allowed Amos to created a haunting musical environment in which to set her harrowing personal tales. This album was a gamechanger. 

9.17 Various Artists - Singles Soundtrack

Various Artists – Singles OST (1992). Cameron Crowe’s movies have always had the best soundtracks, but what this movie did for both Generation X and the Seattle music scene is every bit as important as Saturday Night Fever was to disco. The only missing major player from the scene is Nirvana, but they honestly are not that missed. Plus, throw in some tasty cuts by Smashing Pumpkins, Paul Westerberg and The Lovemongers (Heart plus some of Seattle’s finest grunge musicians), and you have an excellent album. But, the highlight for me remains the Mother Love Bone cut “Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns.”

9.17 XTC - Nonsuch

XTC – Nonsuch (1992). XTC entered the Nineties on a huge creative roll after two stellar albums as themselves and their foray into psychedelia as The Dukes of Stratosphear that I was a little scared that the high level might drop off. Well, if there was a drop off, I didn’t hear it. This album is just outstanding with “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead” being the best.

And that’s all folks! Next time, we dive head first into 1993. Peace.

1992, Day 2: My 1000 Favorite Albums

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I’m back for Day 2 of 1992, so let’s just jumped right into the mess.

9.17 Morrissey - Your Aresenal

Morrissey – Your Arsenal (1992). By 1992, Morrissey was a alt.rock cultural icon, known for his work with The Smiths and his first solo album. But his second solo album, Kill Uncle, was a clunker, so many thought he had run out of creative steam. Well, Your Arsenal proved that notion was wrong as Morrissey rediscovered his glam roots (he had been the president of New York Dolls’ London fan club) and threw in some rockabilly to create his most rocking album to date. To make the whole project complete, former Bowie sideman Mick Ronson produced the album with a very sympathetic glam-cred ear.

9.17 Nick Cave - Henry's Dream

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Henry’s Dream (1992). I have been chomping at the bit to include Mr. Cave on this list. I just love his lyrics which owe a bit to Leonard Cohen, only they seem to have some Catholic influence in their Gothic tales. This man is the real deal, only unlike Cohen, Cave is a product of the punk revolution. You really cannot go wrong with any of this band’s albums, but Henry’s Dreams is the one that finally got Cave noticed a bit more here in the States.

9.17 Pantera - Vulgar Display of Power

Pantera – Vulgar Display of Power (1992). Thank God for Pantera! The band kept the metal flag waving during the hair metal backlash of the grunge era. It’s as if this band has digested every metal influence, from Sabbath and Kiss to Metallica and Maiden, internalized it all and came out with this post-hardcore/industrial jackhammer sound that only could have happened in the Nineties. This is just pure metal joy.

9.17 Pavement - Slanted and Enchanted

Pavement – Slanted and Enchanted (1992). Pavement burst on the scene pushed by a maelstrom of hype and underground expectations that made me skeptical about the whole fuss. Let’s just say that the minimalist take of alt.rock in the Nineties started right here. I read somewhere that this album was like listening to a college radio station in which you had barely paid attention to. And there’s some truth to that description. Pavement’s music starts off in one direction, goes into a noise section, then, improbably, finds its way back to the song. They might be The Velvet Underground of the Nineties.

9.17 Pearl Jam - Ten

Pearl Jam – Ten (1992). When Nirvana turned the rock world upside down when they hit #1 on the album chart, it dawned the age of grunge. Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of that moment just might have been Pearl Jam. While Nirvana represented the pop-slash-punk side of grunge and Alice in Chains were the dark Sabbath-esque band and Soundgarden took the Zeppelin route, Pearl Jam filled The Who/classic rock role in the genre. Who knew that Pearl Jam would become the biggest band from this scene, and one of the biggest bands from the decade? 

9.17 Primal Scream - Screamadelica

Primal Scream – Screamadelica (1992). Just three years earlier, The Stone Roses made a huge impact on the UK with their mix of rave culture, dance rhythms and Beatles/Kinks-influenced rock sounds that updated The Smiths for the late-Eighties. Next in line came Primal Scream, who this type took the Stones side of rock and melded it with acid house, techno and rave culture to give us a whole new take on the emerging Britpop scene. “Movin’ on Up” is another classic single that never really got a fair shake in the States.

9.17 Prince - Love Symbol Album

Prince – O-(+> (Love Symbol) (1992). After his Sign ‘o’ the Times masterpiece, he had been failing to connect with the public. Oh, sure, he did hit big with the Batman soundtrack, but it really wasn’t a great Prince album. And, Diamonds and Pearls sold well and hit a couple of big hits, but it too seemed a little calculated. Well, Prince fans’ patience was paid off in spades when Prince released the funkiest album of his career. The whole thing seemed to be Prince finally melding every influence he’s had in the past five years into one gleaming funky sound. This album is a beauty to behold.

9.17 R.E.M. - Automatic for the People

R.E.M. – Automatic for the People (1992). This is the last great R.E.M. album. I will remember to this day how my wife and I just sat there in our living room dumbfounded by how great this album was when it finished. This was a mature statement by THE band of OUR generation, and it was simply beautifully haunting. I really don’t know where to begin or end with this description. Let’s just list a couple of cuts and you savor the thoughts: “Everybody Hurts,” “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite” and “Nightswimming.”

9.17 Rage Against the Machine - Rage Against the Machine

Rage Against the Machine – Rage Against the Machine (1992). I know, how do you justify a supposedly radical band with a left-wing agenda being signed to a major label from an international conglomerate? I say it’s a great subversive move! RATM took the idea of bringing together rap and metal from Faith No More’s “Epic” and brought it to fruition. Plus, the band never needed a DJ because of the innovative guitar playing of Tom Morrello, who could coax the DJ scratch and sound effects from his guitar. This band, if they could have simply remained intact could have ruled the rock world in the 21st century. Honestly, we could definitely use their music during the age of Trump.

And, that’s the end of Day 2. Peace.

1992, Day 1: My 1000 Favorite Albums

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During 1992, I was full-tilt ahead with my classes in order to obtain my teaching license from Ball State. I was going in to the lab at 4:30 am, driving 30 minutes to Muncie, spending a couple of hours taking classes, then driving back to finish up my work at the hospital. It was a brutal schedule, and aside from the eventual huge financial cut my family would soon be experiencing, I was following my calling. Fortunately, I did not have to listen to Rush Limbaugh on the radio during all this travel time. Instead, I was able to listen to my own dubbed music on cassette tapes. The music of 1992, 1993 and the first half of 1994 got me through all of this craziness.

To be honest, my favorite musical years of the Nineties were 1992 and 1994. 1992 was particularly exciting to walk through the Ball State campus and hearing so many sounds that used to be bubbling in the underground being appreciated by the masses. And, although I was nearly a decade older than the others in my classes, their tastes in music was the thing that crossed the age differences. In a way, it was strange to be an adult in college because suddenly you weren’t concerned with how people perceived you. I felt strangely calm and confident. Is that what maturity is? But, I did miss the adrenaline rush of my youth.

So, let’s take a look at the artists and their music which was in my car’s cassette player and home CD player in 1992.

9.17 Alice in Chains - Dirt

Alice in Chains – Dirt (1992). In 1992, Alice in Chains became one of the first Seattle bands to get into heavy rotation on MTV. This band depicted the dark underbelly of the grunge scene, and Dirt is their masterpiece. The whole album details lead singer Layne Staley’s descent into heroin addiction. It is harrowing and sickening to hear his struggles with his demons, but the music makes it that more compelling as if Edgar Allan Poe had been reincarnated as a rock star in the early-Nineties. Unfortunately, Staley would later loss his battle with the dark side, as many of the grunge stars of the era did. A whole generation was lost to mental illness and drugs.

9.17 Arrested Development - 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of...

Arrested Development – 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life of… (1992). By this year, rap music was becoming dominated by gangsta rap, both great and terrible. Sure, we had many fantastic diversions along the way by the likes of De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, but the rap sound of the Nineties predominantly came from the thug life. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, comes this hippy-like commune of musical souls from the South, doing a whole new fresh take on hip hop. Arrested Development was the group, and they swooped in from the country with acoustic instrumentation and a different point of view and turned rap on its head. Nowadays, this album might seem quaint, but it’s impact was immediate, as rappers and the alternative nation both latched unto these guys’ sound. “Tennessee” remains a potent throw-down of a geographical gauntlet.

9.17 Beastie Boys - Check Your Head

Beastie Boys – Check Your Head (1992). So, by 1992, the Beasties were at a crossroads in their career. Initially, they had burst onto the scene as a trio of seemingly unruly frat boys who were given the keys to their parents’ Mercedes. Then, after realizing they could not take that image any further, totally did a Bowie by creating a “serious” futuristic rap album. But, that album was still considered a commercial failure. In response, the Beasties went back to their punk rock band basics, bought some crappy vintage microphones and went to town. And, this album, the musical marriage of punk, metal, jazz, vintage recording equipment in various states of disrepair, crazy samples, funk and hip hop set the world ablaze. Now, they had earned their rap cred AND their alternative music rep back in one terrific swoop. This is the album that made the Boys Hall of Famers.

9.17 Dr. Dre - The Chronic

Dr. Dre – The Chronic (1992). When N.W.A broke up, people figured the three M.C.s (Ice Cube, Eazy-E and M.C. Ren) would become huge solo artists (Cube and E did, Ren did not), but few were prepared for Dre’s solo album. Oh, we all knew his production ability was second to none, but we were not ready for his street poetry about gangsta life. One of my best friends recently made an argument that this album was one of the five best of all-time, and he’s an old white guy like me! Everything, I mean everything that was rapped on this album is STILL percolating today. WTF!!! This is both an artistic AND sociological statement that resonates to this very day. And that’s wrong! Dre totally invented the whole G-Funk sound that stuck around for the rest of the decade. And you know that Dre loved his P-Funk. Mmmh!

9.17 Faith No More - Angel Dust

Faith No More – Angel Dust (1992). This album was a commercial flop and disappointment mainly because people thought this band was strictly a metal band. Oh, the public was simply wrong. This band was a new form of alternative rock that incorporated some metal guitar sounds but were much more versatile. This album remains FNM’s masterpiece, as they covered the music spectrum.

9.17 Gin Blossoms - New Miserable Experience

Gin Blossoms – New Miserable Experience (1992). When R.E.M. began to make inroads in popular music, a whole generation of musicians picked their Rickenbackers and started creating that sweet jangling sound. Enter the Gin Blossoms from the American Southwest bringing a commercial Flying Burrito Brothers/Byrds/R.E.M./Tom Petty jangle sound that took over the radio for a bit. Sadly, the man who wrote most of these memorable songs, Nicky Hopkins, was drinking heavily, severely depressed and was forced out of the band by their record company. In response, Hopkins took his own life. He never really got to see his music touch people, and the band never really could come up with a songwriter like their former member. Still, this album remains as a testament to just how diverse the music of the Nineties was.

9.17 Ice Cube - The Predator

Ice Cube – The Predator (1992). I get it that Cube seemed like one of the scariest MFs on the planet back in the day, but if you listened to his lyrics, you knew this man had a heart. He painted his images of ghetto life with empathy that was lost on the people who only heard his lyrics through second- and third-hand sources. Normally, this would have been the best rap of the year. The fact that Dre created a timeless classic kept this one from ascending to the throne. However, Dre never made a single like “It Was a Good Day.”

9.17 Jellyfish - Spilt Milk

Jellyfish – Spilt Milk (1992). After creating a bonafide classic album of Badfinger-influenced power pop, Jellyfish was reduced to its two main creative visionaries drummer/singer Andy Sturmer and keyboardist/vocalist Roger Manning Jr. In response, these two musical prodigies and studio perfectionist went into full sonic OCD mode to create their greatest album of their unfairly short career. Once again, the duo mined the fertile ground of Seventies pop, arena rock and power pop. Their ode to their musical heroes Queen, “Joining a Fanclub” is a song to behold.

9.17 kd lang - ingenue

k.d. lang – Ingénue (1992). Oh my, did k.d. lang ever turn the world upside down. But we are all the better for her. While lang was steeped in country music, she was not making the typical Nashville crap of the day. No, lang embraced soul and alternative sounds that updated the traditional country foundation. Plus, she did all of this while challenging societal norms concerning sexual orientation by being an open lesbian. Believe it! It was less than 30 years when artists started coming out of the closet. By the way, her “Constant Craving” remains one of the sexiest songs known to man.

Cut! That’s a wrap on Day 1 of 1992. See you next time. Peace.