November 8, 2007

Best of 1992

It has been about six weeks since my last top-10 list, the best of 1991. My original intention was to do one of these every few days, and if I am going to finish before the end of the year, I am going to have to. Probably unrealistic, but I do have a lot of time off from work coming up soon. Anyway, here we go with 1992. Just like my 1991 list, only one of these albums did I hear at the time, the R.E.M. The other albums I didn't discover until at least couple years later.

1. Mortal-Lusis
The first of three masterpieces by Jyro (Please make more music!) and Jerome (how the heck did he end up in Switchfoot?). What originally attracted me to the album was the Star Trek samples (yep I was a Trekkie, maybe I still am?), but eventually fell in love with everything about this techno-industrial release. At the time I had never heard anything like it. I am pretty sure I bought this in 1994, after I bought "Fathom". Heard initially on the A-Zone. Best song: "Mytho-X"

2. Seventy Sevens- Pray Naked
Album was actually self-titled due to Christian bookstores deeming the original title "sinful." Apparently one should not pray in the shower? Anyway, they missed the 77s point- 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Probably my second-favorite 77s album behind the first one I owned, "Drowning with Land in Sight." Good mix of styles, from light pop-rock to edgier bluesy rock. Michael Roe took advantage of the addition of the Harmon brothers to the band, and used some of their Strawmen songs. I have many memories listening to this album all summer at beach project in 1996. Best song: "Look"

3. R.E.M.- Automatic for the People*
I heard the radio singles in 1992 ("Drive" & "Everybody Hurts"), but it wasn't until 1995 (when I saw R.E.M. in concert, with Radiohead opening) that I bought the album and fell in love with it. Probably R.E.M.'s most popular album. My favorite song on the album is "Nightswimming", which is definitely in my top-10 favorite songs of all time. I remember the first time I heard the song I was at the Rosenbaum's house in Franklin, TN at their annual Christmas party. This probably would have been December 1994. Chris Martin (Coldplay) has also been heard saying this is "the greatest song ever written."

Also of note, 2007 is the 15th anniversary of this album, and all the albums from 1992 obviously. Stereogum has put together a free tribute to "Automatic for the People" that you can download here. The tribute is mainly by unknown bands, but it is excellent. Bodies of Water's cover of "Everybody Hurts" is outstanding. Best song: "Nightswimming"

4. Adam Again- Dig
Another artist discovered thanks to the A-Zone. I really liked Adam Again all through high school, but I don't think I really appreciated them until I saw them at Cornerstone in 1997. Adam Again never really reached it's potential, partially due to Gene Eugene's tragic death in 2000. Ironically, Gene's vocals are often compared to Michael Stipe of R.E.M. I just this minute learned tons of new stuff about Gene Eugene on his Wikipedia page. Best song: "River on Fire" (The story of the Cuyahoga River actually catching on fire is fascinating.)

5. L.S.U.- The Grape Prophet
1992 was, in a way, the year of Michael Knott. He released what many consider his best solo album and best band album in the same year. They are not my favorites of his, but they are both outstanding. This is is a concept album, and here is a 1992 article explaining the premise. It took me a long time to track down this album in college, because it went out of print very quickly, as with all of the Blonde Vinyl releases. And at the time, if you didn't own a physical copy of an album there was no other way to hear it. Definitely no Michael Knott on the radio, except the A-Zone and my own radio show. At one point I probably could have sold the CD on eBay for $50. Best song: "English Interpreter of English"

6. Poor Old Lu- Star Studded Super Step
This was Poor Old Lu's first full-length, but in 1992 only a cassette demo. It was later independently released on CD in 1995, and then again on CD in 1998 with different artwork and a shorter tracklisting. I have the 1995 CD version, which I got straight from Jesse Sprinkle (drummer for Lu, Demon Hunter, Dead Poetic, etc.). I will never forget getting it because he mailed it to me and a couple of Poor Old Lu t-shirts in a cereal box (Fruity Pebbles, maybe?).
Anyway, about the album, it is rough obviously as it is a demo, but I find it to be terrific. Many of these songs ended up as much better, finalized versions on "Mindsize". However, the best song was never released again. Best song: "A Snowfallen Desert"

7. Lost Dogs- Scenic Routes
I discovered the Lost Dogs upon the release of their next album, but this one is definitely their best. The band was started as a one-time collaboration between Terry Taylor (Daniel Amos), Michael Roe (the 77s), Derri Daughtery (The Choir) and Gene Eugene (Adam Again). However, the band eventually because equally popular as any of the members' original bands, and in recent years has been the primary engine for many of these guys' creativity. Extremely diverse stylistically, ranging from folk, country, rock and blues. Best song: "The Last Testament of Angus Shane" (beautifully sung by Gene Eugene)

8. Michael Knott- Screaming Brittle Siren
Most of Knott's solo releases are more acoustic based, but this one is equally as rocking as any of his L.S.U. albums, including the one on this 1992 list. Another album that was extremely hard to find even only a couple of years after its release. Best song: "Apocalypse Lips"

9. The Violet Burning- Strength
I didn't hear this album until at least 5 years after it's release, if not longer. I discovered the Violet Burning in 1994, as they had one song on a compilation, the original version of "Low". I loved the song, but never really searched for anything else by the band. It wasn't until the Violet Burning's self-titled album was released in 1996 that I fell in love with the band. Then it took me a few years to find this CD, once again out of print and overpriced. By the time I first heard it, it already sounded very dated. The song-writing is great however. I hadn't listened to this album in forever until I saw Michael Pritzl play at Cornerstone this summer. He played a solo acoustic set and many of his songs have never sounded better. Best song: "Undone"

10. Circle of Dust- self-titled
When I first heard Circle of Dust, in 1993, I had never heard anything like it. I didn't even know industrial music existed. It absolutely blew me away. This album is here mainly due to nostalgia, but Klayton Scott Albert Celldweller is one of the best on the planet in this genre. This album was re-released and re-recorded in 1995, and I always get the two confused because they have the same cover and artwork. There was only one other Circle of Dust album, "Disengage", in 1998. Klayton is now releasing music under the "Celldweller" moniker, his 2nd Celldweller album is due in 2008, and it is a a natural progression from where he began with Circle of Dust. And unlike his growling then, he now sings, and sings very well. Celldweller songs have appeared in more movies than I can count, including the Spiderman films. Best song: "Dissolved"

Other 1992 albums of note:
Sixpence None the Richer- The Original Demos (Most songs ended up on "Fatherless & the Widow" in 1993)
The Prayer Chain- Whirlpool EP (Songs were all from the "Neverland Sessions" in 1991)
Bride- Snakes in the Playground (One of the first three CDs I ever bought)
Tori Amos- Little Earthquakes
10,000 Maniacs- Our Time in Eden

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