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RANTS: Top 5 Alternative Rock Albums

March 17, 2016

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.






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





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






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. 






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




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.






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


Creep-Modern Rock Tracks-12, Mainstream Rock Tracks-2






Best Hard Rock Performance-Plush: Won



1. REM-Automatic for the People


Coming off the heels of their huge breakthrough with the previous year's "Out of Time" the band returned to the studio almost immediately in June of 1991 to work on this follow-up. Originally planning on making the album a more standard, guitar-heavy rock album, they instead went in a different direction, adding string arrangements that were done by former Led Zepplin bassist John Paul Jones. In fact, only 3 songs on the album would be qualifed as rock n' roll songs such as the iconic "Man on the Moon" which is an ode to the late great Andy Kaufman and was even used as the title for his biopic starring Jim Carrey released in 1999. The rest of the album was a masterpiece of ballads and intimacy where the band was really showing just where they were as human beings, having just gone past 30 years old and having to deal with a world where things were no longer the same as they were used to. And as a sad side note it has been widely reported that this album was the last one that Kurt Cobain had listened to before his death and was a close friend of lead singer Michael Stipe to the point that the two of them had planned on working with each other in the future, a collaboration that sadly never got to manifest.






Ignoreland-Modern Rock Tracks: 5, Mainstream Rock Tracks: 4


Drive-Modern Rock Tracks: 1, Mainstream Rock Tracks: 2, Top 40 Mainstream: 23, Hot 100: 28


The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight-Modern Rock Tracks: 24, Mainstream Rock Tracks: 28


Man on the Moon-Modern Rock Tracks: 2, Mainstream Rock Tracks: 4, Top 40 Mainstream:  9, Hot 100: 30


Everybody Hurts-Modern Rock Tracks: 21, Top 40 Mainstream: 13, Hot 100: 29






Album of the Year-Nominated


Honorable Mentions: Gin Blossoms-New Miserable Experience, Rage Against the Machine-Self Titled.


Agree? Disagree? Feel free to discuss in the comments below.



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