Tag: 1992

Alice in Chains – Dirt

ARTIST: Alice in Chains 220px-Dirt_(Alice_in_Chains_album_-_cover_art)

TITLE: Dirt

YEAR RELEASED: 1992

CHART ACTION:  #6 US, #42 UK

SINGLES: Would? (#31 Mainstream, #19 UK), Them Bones (#30 Alternative, #24 Mainstream, #26 UK, Angry Chair (#27 Alternative, #34 Mainstream, #33 UK), Rooster (#7 Mainstream), Down in a Hole (#10 Mainstream, #36 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Dam That River

LINEUP: Layne Staley, Jerry Cantrell, Sean Kinney, Mike Starr. Tom Araya sang on one track with Staley.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Impressive follow-up record that put Alice in Chains in the big leagues, which was good and bad for them as it turns out.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Layne Staley had the voice, Jerry Cantrell had the riffs and the melodies, and Alice in Chains fit right into the rock scene in 1992. Not really grunge, and not in the inner orbit of what was the Seattle scene (though definitely in the conversation), they were more metal than not, but Staley’s voice and the tone and tenor of the songs definitely fit right in the times.

The band, notably Cantrell, had both expanded their sound, and cut out the parts that made their previous release too generic. Songs like “Down in a Hole” and “Rooster” blend the acoustic and the monster riff to great effect, while “Rooster” is a chilling portrait of a Vietnam vet. At least three of the songs are about heroin addiction, which was going through the band at the time (especially Staley).

The tone and tenor of the tracks, and the unvarnished depiction of addiction, created a doomy aura, which was quite effective. Yet, as the band went on, the addictions got out of control, and this era may have been a tipping point, as honest as they were about it.

 NOTES & MINUTIAE: They were going to start recording in LA, but the riots were starting and they had to flee town with Tom Araya until the situation cooled down.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE A-: Even today, it’s a chilling record with great riffs and vocals.

The Gin Blossoms – New Miserable Experience

ARTIST: The Gin Blossoms 

TITLE: New Miserable Experience

YEAR RELEASED: 1992

CHART ACTION: #30 US, #1 Heatseekers, #53 UK

SINGLES: Mrs. Rita (#36 Mainstream), Hey Jealousy (#25, #4 Mainstream, #24), Until I Fall Away (#40 Mainstream, #13 Modern), Found Out About You (#25, #5 Mainstream, #1 Modern, #40 UK), Allison Road (#20 Mainstream, #39 Modern)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: You may have this, and remember other songs. It sold a boatload.

LINEUP: Robin Wilson, Doug Hopkins, Jesse Valenzuela, Bill Leen, Phillip Rhoads.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A pleasant sounding jangly, kinda power-poppy, rock record lumped into Alternative Rock because of the times. It sold a boatload.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Back in the 90’s, I got sick of the Gin Blossoms and sold this record back. I think I got 50 cents or something (the market was flooded). On re-listen I discovered that the main reason I got sick of them, besides constant radio airplay for two years, was that singer Robin Wilson sounds the same in every song. I mean, THE SAME.

The melodies may be slightly different, but his inflection and range are in a very set band. The songs are very similar in many aspects, but Wilson’s voice doesn’t help anything. They do add some flourishes outside of the norm (“Cajun Song” for one, and “Hands Are Tied” has more oomph), but still the songs sound nearly the same in terms of melody and feel.

This record took about a year to break, thanks to A&M finally deciding to jump on board the alternative rock game. It did sound somewhat fresh on the radio, and after a long period of not hearing it I was reminded of its pleasant, if limited, charms. 

NOTES & MINUTIAE: You may know that guitarist Doug Hopkins, who wrote half of the songs, including the two everyone knows, was kicked out due to alcoholism and later committed suicide. What you may not know is that the band forced him to give up his band royalties and half of his songwriting royalties as well. He also wasn’t credited on the albuim.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a whole bunch of tracks from earlier records (their first independent record isn’t streaming). A&M also changed the cover when this started to break.

 GRADE B-: Some of the deeper cuts are better (or at least unique), like “Hands Are Tied”, but this album is basically built on its singles.

No Doubt – No Doubt

ARTIST: No Doubt  220px-NoDoubtCover

TITLE: No Doubt

YEAR RELEASED: 1992

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Trapped in a Box

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: There are none

LINEUP: Gwen Stefani, Eric Stefani, Tom Dumont, Tony Kanal, Adrian Young, Eric Carpenter, Don Hammerstedt, Alex Henderson

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A for-the-most-part pure ska record that was ignored by almost everyone, even in the ska community.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: When this album crept out in 1992, a ska revival wasn’t mainstream, and angry young dudes dominated radio. So this record featuring mostly ska with pop and punk influences was released, no one except diehard fans bought it.

Gwen Stefani’s brother Eric is the main musical engine behind the early No Doubt. He wrote or co-wrote all of the songs and was the arranger and musical mind. The record is rather all over the place, and even in some songs there are dramatic shifts in style and tone.

It’s not really remarkable, except for Gwen’s vocals. Even without the best material, or arrangements, she stands out from the rest of the group. But her strong presence can’t really overcome some of the mediocrity. However, songs like “Big City Train” and “Let’s Get Back” show the real potential of the band.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This record sold 30,000, and Interscope didn’t pay for a video or a tour.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE B-: Some good moments, and some meh moments. If you slept on them in 1992, don’t worry – they really didn’t warrant attention.

 

Stone Temple Pilots – Core

ARTIST: Stone Temple Pilots 220px-Stonetemplepilotscore

TITLE: Core

YEAR RELEASED: 1992

CHART ACTION: #3 US, #27 UK

SINGLES: Sex Type Thing (#23 Mainstream, #55 UK), Dead & Bloated, Crackerman, Plush (#9 Alternative, #1 Mainstream, #23 UK), Creep (#12 Alternative, #2 Mainstream)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Wicked Garden

LINEUP: Scott Weiland, Dean DeLeo, Robert DeLeo, Eric Kretz

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Hard rock (not really grunge, fight me) debut is rather clunky and meatheaded.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The debut record from the Stone Temple Pilots was more hard rock than most 1992 releases – it was more in the vein of a turgid Guns ‘n” Roses – but it really wasn’t grunge in that there wasn’t a lot of punk influence.

Turgid is the name. “Dead and Bloated” was the lead track, and it’s apt. Except for a few select tracks, they live in the mid-tempo sludge with angsty and / or sexist lyrics. “Sex Type Thing” was defended to the hilt as Scott Weiland playing a character, but…it’s too personal and close to home to be an effective character piece.

“Creep”, while a big hit, is the worst offender. It doesn’t GO anywhere. I always flipped it off the radio back in the day, and it hasn’t improved with age.

STP wasn’t really part of the grunge scene, and this album isn’t exciting or subversive at all. Yawn.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They opened for Henry Rollins at their first gig in San Diego.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Demos and live cuts in a huge package.

 GRADE C: The 90’s ‘revolution’ ran aground right as it began when it embraced this record.

Meryn Caddell – Angel Food for Thought

ARTIST: Meryn Caddell                              

TITLE: Angel Food for Thought

YEAR RELEASED: 1992

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: The Sweater, Barbie

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Oh, no.

LINEUP: Meryn Caddell with contributions from Tim Vesely, John Gzowski, Dave Clark, Jim Creeggan, Stepehn Taub, Curtis Wehfritz, Bruce Evans and Tom Third

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Avant garde spoken word album got some airplay, somehow, thanks to its inventiveness.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Meryn Caddell, a Canadian performance artist, released this work in the early 90’s with 20 tracks of poetry and prose. Somehow “The Sweater” got to the Canadian Top 40 and was on college radio in the US, and inspired Rivers Cuomo to write “Undone (The Sweater Song)”. That’s quite true.

The sounds behind the poems and prose is inventive – and some are just solo recitations. Cadell used to perform in a heating duct for reverb, so the sounds were something already in mind. There are a couple of ‘traditional’ songs but they fit the atmosphere. This may not be a ‘put on every day’ record, but it’s a good listen if you need some performance art poetry.

Cadell is now a professor of song lyrics and libretto writing at the University of Bristish Columbia, which is pert near perfect.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: KROQ used to play “The Sweater” and “Undone” by Weezer back-to-back.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A couple of bonus tracks now.

 GRADE A-: Despite my reservations, this is a good listen, poignant and entertaining.

Dada – Puzzle

ARTIST: Dada                                         220px-DPuzzle

TITLE:  Puzzle

YEAR RELEASED: 1992

CHART ACTION: #111, #2 Heatskeers

SINGLES: Dizz Knee Land (#5 Alternative, #27 Mainstream), Dim (#24 Alternative), Dog, Dorina, Here Today – Gone Tomorrow

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: That was probably all that was released to radio unless you had a deep deep cut station around.

LINEUP: Michael Gurley, Joie Calio, Phil Leavitt

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First album for jammy alternative rock trip scored a video and radio hit, and the album is deeper and varied than that song.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Dada’s vocal style is based around harmonic duets between Michael Gurley and Joie Calio. At times, their harmonies emulate the style and structure of the Beach Boys (though not as deep and rich with only two – the influence is there though). Musically, the trio is definitely into jam band territory at times with Gurley’s excursions, riffs, and solos.

This album is varied, and shows the versatility and inventiveness of the band, along with some humor as in “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow”. They can also tell a sad story like “Timothy”. But the hit “Dizz Knee Land” followed them in the 90’s thanks to MTV and radio.

There aren’t many missteps here, and it’s well worth your while to dig past the hit and dive in.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They opened for Sting, Crowded House, and …Izzy Stradlin.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A version with some B-sides

 GRADE: A: This was a better record than I remember. Well worth your effort to stream.

The Offspring – Ignition

ARTIST: The Offspring                             220px-The_Offspring-Ignition

TITLE: Ignition

YEAR RELEASED: 1992

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Bad Habit, Kick Him When He’s Down (#22 Alternative on re-release)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Maybe you do, maybe you don’t

LINEUP: Dexter Holland, Noodles, Greg K, Ron Welty

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Their first Epitaph release is a perfectly fine early 90’s punk record.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Offspring were semi-known in the Southern California punk scene when they got the attention of Epitaph Records, and the label released this, their second album, in 1992. It got some traction in Southern California, and that seemed to be all fine and dandy, until, well, the hit happened on their next one.

It’s not really that far off of any of their subsequent releases, though it doesn’t really follow trends or try to be funny in search of a follow-up hit. Songs like “Kick Him When He’s Down”, “We Are One”, and “LAPD” are all familiar punk rants for various flavors.

Had the Offspring not become famous, this would have been a decent enough record to hang a career on. It certainly has credibility and honesty.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Dexter Holland had received his MS degree by this time and was going to start on his PhD around the time of this album.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B:  It’s nothing special, but it’s a good punk record.

Rage Against the Machine – Rage Against the Machine

ARTIST: Rage Against the Machine      220px-RageAgainsttheMachineRageAgainsttheMachine

TITLE: Rage Against the Machine

YEAR RELEASED: 1992

CHART ACTION: #45 US, #17 UK

SINGLES: Killing in the Name (#1 UK), Bullet in the Head (#16 UK), Bombtrack (#37 UK), Freedom

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Brother John / Iko Iko

LINEUP: Zack de la Rocha, Tom Morello, Tim Commerford, Brad Wilk. Maynard James Keenan and Stephen Perkins add backing vocals on a track.+

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Incendiary debut from the rap / metal / alternative group wears you out with its constant haranguing, but the high points stick with you.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Rage is definitely the key word for this group, since the first album is all about rage, activism, and support for the oppressed.

The metal / hip-hop hybrid joins a great trio anchored by guitarist Tom Morello, who has a lot of fretboard tricks up his sleeve. Zack de la Rocha’s angry raps are powerful and sound fresh even today – it seems like not much as changed since 1992.

Yet, anger and rage can only carry you so far, especially when after about half of the album the songs and causes all blur together only to rally again with the closer “Freedom”.

Some part of me is sad that this record is still relevant – as we haven’t moved forward in society.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The video for “Freedom” highlights the cause of Leonard Peltier from the AIM.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Lots of bonus material in several editions 

GRADE: A-:  The high points are great enough to move this into the “A” category, even with the lack of diversity on the back half of the album.

Yo La Tengo – May I Sing With Me

ARTIST: Yo La Tengo                      

TITLE: May I Sing With Me

YEAR RELEASED: 1992

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Upside Down

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: If you’re a fan

LINEUP: Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan, James McNew

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Perhaps the beginning of the true Yo La Tengo cult. Ira Kaplan’s guitar flipouts define this era of the band.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Yo La Tengo combined their love of pop and noise with this record. “Upside Down” is one of the better non-grunge alternative rock songs of 1992, with a great hook and enough guitar noise for the rockers.

The entire album is split between the noisier blowouts “Mushroom Cloud of Hiss” and some quiet pop, a pattern they would follow the rest of their careers (sometimes alternating noisy albums with quiet ones).

It’s not always successful, as some of the tracks tend to be a bit bland, and some of the noise is just…noise. But it’s the start of Yo La Tengo’s true dichotomous period.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The original CD inside cover featured a letter from a disgruntled fan who thought they were a band just like the Fakebook album, and was dismayed when they were loud. He ended the letter with a anti-semitic slur.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B+: At times, draggy, but it’s got “Upside Down” and all of the noise you expect from YLT.

Jawbox – Novelty

ARTIST: Jawbox                                              Novelty_jawbox

TITLE: Novelty

YEAR RELEASED: 1992

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Static, Cutoff

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Dischord Records junkies do

LINEUP: J. Robbins, Kim Colletta, Bill Barbot, Adam Wade.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Adding a guitarist opens up their sound, and they quickly become one of the better Dischord acts.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The first Jawbox releases seemed a bit claustrophobic and same-same, but when the band added Bill Barbot on guitar and backing vocals, their sound opened up, and gained textures and vibrance that they didn’t have originally.

J. Robbins’ voice still carries through the album, but there’s more diversity in sound and style, and in “Static”, one of the better uses of the quiet-loud trope. Adding Barbot made the riffs more menacing at times (in “Cutoff”, especially).

There’s still an issue with sequencing, as “Static” was placed in the back half of the album behind some songs which blur together. Still, an improvement for sure.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Bill Barbot is a Facebook friend of mine (a good friend of my best friend and I’ve had conversations with him at conferences and what not), but that hasn’t affected this review.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: B+: They moved to near the top of the Dischord roster – and would be prime for moving up to a major label (which they did).