Tag: 1992

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.

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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).

PJ Harvey – Dry

ARTIST: PJ Harvey                                   PJHarveyDryalbumcover

TITLE: Dry

YEAR RELEASED: 1992

CHART ACTION: #11 UK

SINGLES: Dress. Sheela-Na-Gig (#9 US Alternative, #69 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: O Stella, Victory

LINEUP: Polly Jean Harvey, Steve Vaughan, Rob Ellis. Ian Ollivier, Ben Gorenevelt, Mike Paine and Chas Dickie also help.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: While the US was going grunge crazy, PJ Harvey released this debut album with her band and flat out burned the UK to the ground.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After breaking away from another group, Ms. Harvey formed a trio and went about writing songs, demoing, and playing gigs. The two singles listed above received accolades everywhere, and when the debut album came out, it was shown that those singles were not flukes.

Starting out with a plaintive yelp in “O My Lover”, moving though punk, sophisticated pop, and moody, complex guitar songs, the songs on this debut are varied and purposeful. A strong feminist streak inhabits this album and her fierce vocals and guitar work shine through.

The album is sequenced perfectly, with great pacing, a good distribution of cuts so that nothing is that similar together, and perfect openings and closings for each side. One of the best debuts, period.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: She was a contributor to the band Automatic Diamini, which was led by her future collaborator John Parish.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: All of the demos were on an early deluxe version.

GRADE: A+: The definition of a perfect debut.

Polvo – Cor-Crane Secret

ARTIST: Polvo                                             220px-Polvo_corCraneSecret

TITLE: Cor-Crane Secret

YEAR RELEASED: 1992

CHART ACTION: Nope

SINGLES: Can I Ride, Vibracoba, In the Hand – In the Sieve

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: If you were in Raleigh or Chapel Hill, yeah.

LINEUP: Ash Bowie, Dave Brylawski, Steve Popson, Eddie Watkins

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A stew of their influences, Polvo’s debut album was right in the wheelhouse for fans of distorted and noisy yet not loud guitars.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Ash Bowie and crew definitely had listened to the shoegazer bands from the UK, as well as the post-punk and punk rock bands and local acts.

Polvo uses distorted guitars, interesting time signatures and tunings, and vocals that are laid usually under the instrumental tracks (much like the shoegazers), but there’s a sense of pop to Bowie’s singing and lyrics that lead the listener to realize there’s more than just distorted and disjointed chords afoot.

They soon became one of the favorite acts on Superchunk’s Merge Records, and with good reason. This album doesn’t disappoint and begs for listens.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Bowie met bandmate Dave Brylawski in Spanish class at UNC.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-: Definitely for those who don’t mind a little distortion and noise, but also want some melodies sneaking through.

Blind Melon – Blind Melon

ARTIST: Blind Melon                        220px-BlindMelonBlindMelon

TITLE: Blind Melon

YEAR RELEASED: 1992

CHART ACTION: #3 US, #53 UK

SINGLES: Tones of Home (#10 Mainstream, #20 Alternative, #62 UK), No Rain (#20 US, #1 Mainstream, #1 Alternative, #17 UK), I Wonder, Change

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably not.

LINEUP: Shannon Hoon, Brad Smith, Rogers Stevens, Christopher Thorn, Glenn Graham

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Not really grungy, not really all the way hard rock, but successful because of their tangential connections to those scenes.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Shannon Hoon was friends with Axl Rose, and followed him out to California from Lafayette, Indiana and formed a band with some musicians he met from Mississippi.

Not a true hard rock band like Rose’s Guns ‘n’ Roses, Blind Melon had more of a folky feel led by Hoon’s shrieking vocals. Their sound hit many of the popular notes of the time and were kind of lumped into grunge thanks to the industry, yet their album seemed bloated with several tracks all blending together (that second half, zzzzz), with only “Tones of Home”, the big hit “No Rain” and a couple of others (“Soak the Skin” and “Paper Scratcher”) standing out.

Now they’d probably be lumped in with the jam bands, and that’d probably fit them better.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Shannon Hoon was a wrestler, and my high school hosted the wrestling sectional and regionals, and I did the PA for them. Hoon was a really good wrestler as I remember, wiry yet powerful. I never forgot that name…

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, anniversary editions, etc.

GRADE: B-: I frankly don’t recall much about the last six songs on the record, which means that they probably lumped too many tracks on here.

The Magnetic Fields – Distant Plastic Trees / The Wayward Bus

ARTIST: The Magnetic Fields                                 220px-Distant_Plastic_Trees

TITLE:  The Wayward Bus / Distant Plastic Trees

YEAR RELEASED: 1992 / 1991

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: 100,000 Fireflies

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Gosh no

LINEUP: Stephin Merritt, Susan Anway, Sam Davol, Clauda Gonson, Johny Blood

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First two albums from Stephin Merritt’s long term project (re-released by Merge soon after and combined on one CD) show Merritt’s baroque chops and intriguing style. 220px-The_Wayward_Bus

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: What’s more punk rock than an album on a ‘punk rock’ label that has little or no electric guitars, plenty of ornate orchestration, and intricate melodies and harmonies? When Merge snapped up Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields, they declared that they weren’t just a ‘punk’ label (not that they ever really were) but a ‘great music’ label.

Those coming in late to the Magnetic Fields will notice that Merritt’s doomy baritone isn’t extant here – Susan Anway takes the vocals and complements the songs quite well. Merritt plays almost all of the instruments himself and shows that he’s quite accomplished.

The first album (Distant Plastic Trees) has some songs that aren’t quite up to the caliber, but it also contains the all-timer “100,000 Fireflies” that Superchunk later covered. These two records are charming, beguiling, and totally Magnetic Fields.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: These two records were the only ones Anway sang for Merritt.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No – two records in one though, and the second one are tracks 1-10 (so it’s backwards, as it were).

GRADE: A-:  These albums have their charm and some great, intricate songs.

Phish – A Picture of Nectar

ARTIST: Phish                                   a_picture_of_nectar_phish_album_-_cover_art

TITLE:  A Picture of Nectar

YEAR RELEASED: 1992

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Chalk Dust Torture, Cavern

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Tweezer, Llama, Stash

LINEUP: Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Mike Gordon, Jon Fishman. Gordon Stone played pedal steel and banjo.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Phish’ major label debut is a long, sprawling album full of various styles and genres. Most of it works, but some things sounds like goofs and that detracts somewhat from the flow of it all.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Even though Phish signed with Elektra Records, they didn’t change their approach or style in the least. Their well-honed stage jams again morphed into surprisingly tight, taut tracks.

The musical virtuosity by the band is all over the album. Trey Anastasio’s guitar work is fantastic throughout, and there is a playful spirit, especially on songs like “Tweezer”.

Yet, they suffer from the bane of many bands at this time – since CD’s had a lot more time than vinyl, bands felt they needed to fill most of the available minutes. Thus, there’s some tracks here that are just mindless noodling around, or things that probably sounded neat at the time, but didn’t work out that way.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Nectar’s was the club in Burlington where they first played.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B:  Great at times, indulgent at other times.

 

King’s X – King’s X

ARTIST: King’s X                       220px-kings_x_self_titled

TITLE:  King’s X

YEAR RELEASED: 1992

CHART ACTION: #138 US, #46 UK

SINGLES: Black Flag (#17 Mainstream Rock), Dream in My Life, World Around Me

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Lost in German, Prisoner.

LINEUP: Doug Pinnick, Ty Tabor, Jerry Gaskill

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: King’s X eschews the longer concept album with a more direct song-oriented approach, and succeeds but still get little but cult attention.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: For their fourth album as King’s X, the trio decided to can the album long themes and stories, and concentrate on more direct songwriting. It’s a definite success, as tracks like “Prisoner” and “Lost in Germany’ show. Those two tracks weren’t released to single or radio, for some damn reason.

There’s a bit more aggression in some tracks, which are sweetened by their natural harmonies, and of course, plenty of great playing – utilizing fancy schmancy chords and structures without being ponderous or flashy.

This was probably the pinnacle of King’s X as a commercial entity, and it still was criminally underheard. They weren’t fitting into grunge much like they didn’t fit into hair metal. Alas. But they still had the songs and the chops.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This was their last album with Sam Taylor as their producer.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A:  Yes, I’m a King’s X fan, but this is just a darn good record, and they definitely show versatility here.