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