Liner Notes

The Year That Was: 1992

by Benjamin Ray

Listeners had barely caught their breath from the zeitgeist-changing musical hurricane of 1991, one of the few truly defining musical years, when a second wave called 1992 rolled around. As Nirvana, Soundgarden, Achtung Baby, and Pearl Jam continued working their way into the musical consciousness, fellow Seattle band Alice In Chains dropped the career-defining album Dirt, Stone Temple Pilots started the first wave of copycat grunge with the magnificent Core, and a host of other artists, some major and some minor, released unforgettable (regrettably, in some cases) music this fine year.

Dirt remains one of the finest artifacts of the grunge movement, a bleak, heavy hard rock album that the band never bettered. Core has stood the test of time as an alt-rock classic, borrowing from the big Seattle bands in spots but forging a Los Angeles identity and intensity of its own. The landmark Singles soundtrack introduced listeners to a variety of bands from the Northwest like Screaming Trees and Mudhoney (as well as the fantastic Pearl Jam tune "State Of Love And Trust,") while Mother Love Bone collected all the music from the early grunge pioneers. Rather than releasing a sophomore disc, Nirvana collected live, unreleased, and early tracks for the Incesticide collection, featuring perhaps their best song, "Aneurysm."


On the alternative scene, R.E.M.'s haunting masterpiece Automatic For The People catapulted that band into superstardom, the Lemonheads had their day with It's A Shame About Ray, Pavement's Slanted And Enchanted turned on critics who hated the commercialization of the Seattle scene, and Rage Against The Machine released their fiery, controversial and very political debut. Seeking to revamp their image a bit, the Beastie Boys played their own instruments and explored new styles on Check Your Head, which was a far cry from the frat-jerk party rock of their debut five years prior. Also of note is Tori Amos' Little Earthquakes.

Speaking of revamping, Madonna caused controversy with her Sex book and the accompanying disc Erotica, a long but quite good collection of heavy-breathing electronic dance pop. One of the bigger pop albums of the year was Whitney Houston's The Bodyguard soundtrack, featuring the omnipresent cover of "I Will Always Love You." On the lighter side, highlights included Boyz II Men's "End Of The Road," Jon Secada's "Just Another Day," the Sundays' "Here's Where The Story Ends," the Gin Blossoms' debut New Miserable Experience, En Vogue's "My Love (Never Gonna Get It)," Mr. Big's "To Be With You" and TLC's debut Oooooohhh...On The TLC Tip. Among the more dubious songs of the year were "Baby Got Back," "Jump Around," "Twilight Zone," the 4 Non Blondes' semi-irritating "What's Up," and Billy Ray Cyrus' very irritating "Achy Breaky Heart."

On college radio, aside from the aforementioned grunge and alternative tunes, highlights included the Barenaked Ladies' "If I Had $1000000," Blur's "Popscene" (their finest song), Soul Asylum's "Runaway Train" (which won the Grammy, and don't ask me why), Stereo MC's' "Connected," and Faith No More's "Midlife Crisis." Hard rock saw the fantastic Dream Theater song "Pull Me Under," the Ministry tune "N.W.O." and Pantera's Vulgar Display of Power.


In hop hop, Arrested Development offered 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days In the Life Of ("Tennessee") and Kris Kross had Totally Krossed Out, but nothing even came close to the influence of the explicit, visceral Dr. Dre disc The Chronic, which also was the first release on Death Row Records and the first appearance of Snoop Dogg.

The MTV Unplugged series continued its run with a successful appearance by Eric Clapton and a hit reworking of "Layla," retaining the melody of the original but stripping it of its emotion. The Moody Blues also came back to life with a good concert at Red Rocks, while Emerson Lake and Palmer, left for dead in 1979, attempted a comeback with the mostly-awful Black Moon. Tom Cochrane had a hit with "Life Is A Highway" and Garth Brooks dominated country music with Ropin' The Wind, though Wynonna Judd had a brief hit with Wynonna and Billy Ray Cyrus, as mentioned earlier, enjoyed the limelight for a while with Some Gave All.

And that, friends, was The Year That Was in music.

All content © The Daily Vault unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any article or any portion thereof without express written consent of The Daily Vault is prohibited. Album covers are the intellectual property of their respective record labels, and are used in the context of reviews and stories for reference purposes only.