RANTS: Top 5 Alternative Rock Albums
Hello again, this is Brandon Stransky here once more to do another top 5 Alternative Rock album list, this time for the year 1992.
1992 in music was clearly a year that was feeling the effects of the releases of the previous year. Alternative rock(grunge in particular) was the big new thing in the music world and thanks to the overnight success of bands such as Nirvana, radio stations were quickly throwing tracks from the genre into their playlists and record labels flocked toward independant acts, hoping to to able to duplicate that sucess and capitalize on the new musical trend that was sweeping the nation.
A lot of the changes that were taking place around the world were carried over into this new year such as more Soviet Bloc countries' communist regimes continued to fall. It was an election year in the United States as George Bush Sr. defended his presidential title in a 3-way against opponents Bill Clinton and Ross Perot. And it was actually in large part thanks to Perot's inclusion in the presidential race that allowed Clinton to take the victory and the title due to Perot dividing the conservative vote. Also politically, overseas, the European Union was officially formed.
Along with the the presidential election however, there were other issues that were going on in America such as the racial divide sadly being alive and well and on display during the LA Riots when the officers accused of violently beating Rodney King were let go despite video evidence showing that they were clearly in the wrong which led to the aforementioned riots. Government overreach issues reared their ugly head during the standoff in Ruby Ridge, Idaho in which 3 people had lost their lives including a child and his mother and others were wounded.
With all of these things going on in the world, a very desensitized, disillusioned, and quite frankly, fed up American public managed to find some sort of peace and solace in the latest musical trend and it is with that I give you the top 5 Alternative Rock albums of 1992. Like the previous column, many factors are used in rating these albums such as critical and commercial acclaim, sales and chart performance, awards and accolades, and influence on future artists.
5. Blind Melon-Self-Titled
The debut album of the band Blind Melon didn't really catch on immediately until the release of their second single off of it entitled "No Rain" which featured the iconic 'Bee Girl' character in the music video for it that was one of the more memorable videos that was released in the 90's. They brought a different feel the the genre, drawing on inspiration from southern rock, folk, and blues, which was very different from their peers who's main influences were The Beatles, Velvet Underground, and many punk rock bands. Not that this was a bad thing at all as having different sounds helped keep the genre sounding fresh and helping avoid redundancy(is that even a word)? With a bit of pyschedelia added to their flavor along with the flowing melodic vocals of the late Shannon Hoon, they certainly added a much different taste to the alternative rock movement that had become synonomous with dark, brooding melodies and imagery that were the staple of their peers in the northwest.
CHART PERFORMANCE: 3, HEATSEEKERS: 8
Tones of Home-Modern Rock Tracks: 20, Mainstream Rock Tracks: 10
No Rain-Modern Rock Tracks: 1, Mainstream Rock Tracks: 1, Top 40 Mainstream: 4, Hot 100: 20
RIAA CERTIFICATION: 4x Platinum
4. Soul Asylum-Grave Dancers Union
Prior to the release of this album, Soul Asylum had been known for their more hardcore and punk sound with just a bit of 70s rock and some country thrown in there as well. But a lot of the changed when they decided to add a slicker, more pop-like sound to their aresenal and their old hallmarks are clearly there but almost more like an echo of their distant past. Regardless, this album is what blasted them into the mainstream off of the back of the smash hit "Runaway Train" which was a somber, acoustic ballad. The one song though that did manage to retain much of their previous sound was the lead-off single "Somebody to Shove." Even though the band didn't manage to match the success of this album, it would be unwise to write them off as a flash in the pan as they still left a positive mark in the history of alternative rock.
CHART PERFORMANCE: 11, Heatseekers: 1
Somebody to Shove-Modern Rock Tracks: 1, Mainstream Rock Tracks: 9
Black Gold-Modern Rock Tracks: 6, Mainstream Rock Tracks: 4
Runaway Train-Modern Rock Tracks: 13, Mainstream Rock Tracks: 3, Adult Contemporary: 15, Top 40 Mainstream: 2, Hot 100: 5
Without a Trace-Modern Rock Tracks: 27, Mainstream Rock Tracks: 6
RIAA CERTIFICATION: 3x Platinum
GRAMMY AWARDS AND NOMINATIONS:
Best Rock Song-Runaway Train-Won
3. Alice in Chains-Dirt
Even though Alice in Chains previous album(as well as their debut) was successful on it's own, it was Dirt that really caught the attention of the mainstream and was the blockbuster album that they needed to catapult themselves into superstardom as well as one that would serve as a bargaining chip for what will no doubt be a future Rock and Roll HoF induction. This album was clearly darker and more somber than it's predecessor and rightfully so as most of the content of the album was about dealing with personal demons and addiction, something that the entire band was going through during that period and did an excellent job of capturing just where they were not just as a band, but as individuals at that point in their lives, as bleak as it was at that time.
CHART PERFORMANCE: 6
Would?-Mainstream Rock Tracks: 19
Them Bones-Modern Rock Tracks: 30, Mainstream Rock Tracks: 24
Rooster-Mainstream Rock Tracks: 7
Down in a Hole-Mainstream Rock Tracks: 10
Angry Chair-Modern Rock Tracks: 27, Mainstream Rock Tracks: 34
RIAA Certification: 4x Platinum
GRAMMY AWARDS AND NOMINATIONS:
Best Hard Rock Performance-Dirt: Nominated
2. Stone Temple Pilots-Core
STP quickly made a name for themselves with the release of their debut album. Even though they were from California, they could have easily fit in with the Seattle scene and sound which was no doubt a factor in the success of this album which was a definite "right time, right place" situation when it came to it's release. Their sound was similar enough to Nirvana that the only time that the late Scott Weiland and the late Kurt Cobain ever interacted, Kurt made a comment about how he hears people say that STP sounds like Nirvana and jokingly asked for royalties to which Weiland handed him a dollar and the two shared a laugh over it. Most of the lyrical content of this album was your pretty standard fare for that music scene at the time which was taking aim at social injustices. But the music itself along with the lyrics combined with Scott Weiland's unique vocal melodies made this album, along with future STP albums, integral parts of the 90's alternative rock movement.
CHART PERFORMANCE: 3
Wicked Garden-Modern Rock Tracks: 21, Mainstream Rock Tracks-11
Plush-Modern Rock Tracks-9, Mainstream Rock Tracks-1, Top 40 Mainstream-18
Sex Type Thing-Mainstream Rock Tracks-23