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