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My Thoughts on the Top ≈ 400 Albums of 1992
So what’s going on? It’s 2020 not 1992! Well there’s a reason I decided I’m doing this list of top 400 (roughly) albums of 1992, here is the story: My friend began making a “most influential albums” of his life list. Near the top of his list was Rage Against the Machine. I listened to Rage Against the Machine somewhat in my early years. However, I got to the point they annoyed me and stopped listening to them. So this list sparked my interest and I thought maybe I would enjoy them again.
Rate Your Music has a top albums of 1992 list and Rage Against the Machine happens to be #2 on that list. So I thought it would be fun to go down the list and re-listen to some albums of 1992. I went back as far as 400 which is why the title says 400 but the list won’t be 400 albums long since I don’t have all those albums or maybe just not interested in hearing them. So I’ll listen to what I can and give my thoughts. I’ll probably do it in bunches of five so it’s easier, I suppose. (The number corresponds to the best of ranking on RYM)
So here we go: Top Albums of 1992 (Part 1)
#1 Album of 1992
Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works 85-92
I got into Aphex Twin somewhat late into the game when I was heavy into IDM during college. Like many other people my first exposure to him was Come to Daddy a song that is mostly a misrepresentation of his music but an enjoyable little diddy for some. Personally I enjoyed it and the bonkers music video that accompanied it. But it wasn’t till he released drukqs in 2001 that I really understood his music. Of course from there I would go on to explore his back catalog including this album, Selected Ambient Works 85-92. Aphex Twin has a varied sound so you rarely hear the same thing twice. Even on the same album songs seem to vary wildly and sounds that are otherwise abrasive end up being fun to listen to.
Which brings us to Selected Ambient Works 85-92 his first album with music that allegedly dates back to when he was 13 years old. Historically I couldn’t tell you how innovative this album was at the time or what it brought to the table but it sounds like it was a big deal. I enjoy the music on here a great deal, however, a lot of it is not what I would call ambient music (in fact his second album, Selected Ambient Works Volume II, is a lot more ambient than this one. But such a distinction is only a problem if you’re specifically looking for ambient music and you see the album title and pick the album up. The album is actually quite upbeat and rhythmic featuring songs with overlapping rhythms. The song “Tha” for instance has almost a club beat to the drums, but it has some other electronic elements piled on top, one that seems like a very ambient element. My favorite track on the album, Green Calx, is full of strange blips and peeps with some industrial roars thrown in for good measure.
But all of this is nice but can we say that this album is absolutely the number 1 album of 1992? Hard to say when you begin the list at number one. I would say it’s a good album but there are other albums I would hold in higher regard. Up to this point on this list I would say it’s the number one album so far!
#2 Album of 1992
Rage Against the Machine – Rage Against the Machine
I already made it clear in the intro this was an album I enjoyed but just as easily was able to not enjoy at the same time. Upon revisiting it I can see why. The album has a handful of Rage’s iconic songs: Killing in the Name, Freedom and Bombtrack, a couple of other good songs, Take the Power Back and Wake Up but after that nothing truly noteworthy. Dare I say a lot of filler tracks?
For me a to be an outstanding album and an overall 2nd best album of an entire year, you’re gonna have to do a lot better than 5/10. One could argue that the best songs outweigh the not as good ones or that their message was so revolutionary that it propels the album into legendary status. For me, I don’t think so. Also, one of the things that turned me off of this album in the past and still today upon re-listening is the “fuck you I won’t do what you tell me” like 17 times. So, fuck you I don’t think this album is number 2!
#3 Album of 1992
Alice in Chains – Dirt
Alice in Chains is a band I enjoy quite a lot and Dirt is an album I also enjoy very much. This album is arguably their best one. It has 5 of their most iconic songs (Them Bones, Down in a Hole, Rooster, Angry Chair, Would?) but the ones that didn’t make the radio (Rain When I Die, Dam that River, Sickman, Hate to Feel) are great as well. This is an album with few weak spots, a lot of songs about heroin and one about Vietnam. What more could you ask for? A masterpiece for sure. Deserving of a top spot for 1992.
#6 Album of 1992
Tom Waits – Bone Machine
And now for something completely different. I feel like that is the theme of this album. Singer, songwriter, actor – Is there anything Tom Waits doesn’t do? Normally a guy not on my regular rotation but I enjoyed Rain Dogs back in the day. Bone Machine is like his millionth [Editor’s note: 10th album] album and has appearances from Les Claypool and Keith Richards among others. The album starts with Earth Died Screaming, a song featured on the 12 Monkeys so you know it’s awesome.
I’d say this album doesn’t have one cohesive sound to it. Some songs Tom is singing to some strange percussion maybe another time he’ll be crooning over a steel guitar. There’s something for everyone here! That being said it’s strange music so probably not for everyone and possibly not for regular consumption. An interesting listen of course and you’ll get hipster cred telling people it’s in your top ten albums of 1992 but if it was my personal list I don’t think it would hang.
#8 Album of 1992
Faith No More – Angel Dust
I’m a big fan of Faith No More and this album is one of their most popular ones, at least probably their highest rated. Personally I would take King for a Day or The Real Thing over this one but that doesn’t diminish the quality of the album. I actually feel that 8 is kind of on the low end of things considering the albums that are ahead of it (besides Alice in Chains).
A lot of great songs on here (Midlife Crisis, Caffeine, Be Aggressive, A Small Victory). Midlife Crisis is arguably a better radio song than Epic, but you rarely hear it. In fact it’s an album maybe that doesn’t get a lot of attention despite being one of the band’s best. Maybe that’s my fault (yes I take the blame for this album not being popular) for not propelling the album to the top of their discography. In conclusion: Oh well!
Skipped albums: Pavement – (4) Slanted and Enchanted, (5) REM – Automatic for the People, (7) Red House Painters – Down Colorful Hill
Top Albums of 1992: [Part 2]