Top 20 Albums Of 1992

We've done the '80s, so we're turning our attention to the '90s!

For this week's Ranked!, we decided to rank our twenty favorite albums released in 1992. Did we get it right? Let us know in the comments.

20. Stone Temple Pilots, Core

Stone Temple Pilots are the Rodney Dangerfield of grunge. Despite the fact that the band had five Top 40 hits and won a Grammy, an AMA, and a VMA, Stone Temple Pilots never received the respect that bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden did. This is the album that introduced them to the world and boasted greatest-hit worthy tracks like "Sex Type Thing," "Wicked Garden," "Creep," and "Plush." Personally, I'd rather listen to STP than Pearl Jam.--Chris

19. Nirvana, Incesticide

In the aftermath of Nevermind, all things from Seattle seemed perfect and cool (except my beloved Seahawks, of course). You could sense the music industry dumping the last of the detritus onto the market as it desperately groomed Nirvana soundalikes like Sponge and Bush. In that brief period, Nirvana reminded everyone why they were relevant in the first place with Incesticide, a collection of demos and other songs previously only available in the fan community. Releases like that are usually crappy cash-ins, but this album is as visceral and stunning as the rest of Nirvana's catalog. As far as I'm concerned, some of Nirvana's very best songs are here, particularly the magnificent "Sliver" and "Aneurysm." It's an essential document of the early years of grunge, and rocks so hard it will make your ears bleed.--CroutonBoy

18. Erasure, Abba-esque

It's the ultimate in cheese--Erasure covering ABBA--and I freaking love it. The whole album is on my housecleaning playlist because you can't NOT dance to the thing. It even makes mopping the floors fun.--Archphoenix

17. Alice In Chains, Dirt

1991 saw the birth of grunge, and 1992 brought it to the mainstream. And one band that wasn't technically "grunge" but still benefited from the return-to-rock movement was Alice In Chains. Led by guitarist and Jerry Cantrell and the haunting vocals of Layne Staley, Dirt was Alice In Chains' biggest-selling album and brought us songs like "Them Bones," "Rooster," and "Would?," which can also be found on the Singles soundtrack (which shows up a little later on this list).--Chris

16. Various Artists, The Bodyguard Sountrack

Every girl between the ages of 8 and 28 had this album when it came out. It's literally the best-selling soundtrack ever and went 17 times platinum. It made Whitney the first ever to sell a million copies of an album in a single week. EVER. And that Dolly Parton cover is amazing. Admit it, you belted it out in the shower. It's ok, we all did.--Archphoenix

15. The Jayhawks, Hollywood Town Hall

The Jayhawks were a linchpin of the Minneapolis music scene in the '90s, and I'm eternally grateful that I was there. Their music had that hallmark Midwestern charm and some of the most gorgeous harmonies ever recorded, and Hollywood Town Hall was a seminal album in what would eventually become the alt-country movement. I vividly recall hearing "Waiting For The Sun," the opening track, for the first time and it was a revelation akin to John Belushi at James Brown's sermon ("Do you see the light!?!?!") Suddenly country rock had shape and meaning, and whether it was a sign of maturity or just a fucking amazing album, I was hooked for life. Essential.--CroutonBoy

14. Concrete Blonde, Walking in London

I wrote about Bloodletting in our countdown of the Top 20 Albums of 1990 and I feel I made it abundantly clear that I was always a big fan of this group. Hell, I bought Sting tickets once just because they were the opening act. While Walking In London was nowhere near as strong as Bloodletting, this album was still unlike anything else released in 1992 and brought us alternative classics like "Ghost Of A Texas Ladies Man." "Walking In London," "City Screaming," "Someday?," and "I Wanna Be Your Friend Again."--Chris

13. Various Artists, Wayne's World Soundtrack

The film that introduced a new generation to the power of "Bohemian Rhapsody," this album straight up rocks. I was high school when this came out and someone on my soccer team had the album and popped it in to a portable cassette deck while we were on the bus riding to a game. When the instrumental headbanging bit came up, there was a bus full of female high school soccer players thrashing their fool heads of. And it was awesome. Mike Myers and Dana Carvey at their best and they brought it with some great tunes. Party on, Wayne and Garth!--Archphoenix

12. Indigo Girls, Rites Of Passage

I really, really, really dig this album. I actually think that this is the Indigo Girls at their finest; it was a more mature album than their previous efforts and it's got some amazing lyrics and melodies. Do I belt it out in the car while driving in traffic? Yes, yes I do.--Archphoenix

11. Faith No More, Anget Dust

I've always thought that Concrete Blonde's Johnette Napolitano had one of the strongest and most powerful female voices of the '90s (and possibly ever). For the men, Faith No More's Mike Patton always did it for me. Of all his solo work, his Mr. Bungle albums, and the rest of the Faith No More catalog, Angel Dust is by far my favorite. It sounds like a deranged friend's mixtape, running from the death metal of "Malpractice" to the accordion-drenched cover of "Midnight Cowboy" to the pipe organ and cheerleader-filled ode to oral sex that is "Be Aggressive," with stops along the way for "A Small Victory," "Land Of Sunshine," "Midlife Crisis," and "Everything's Ruined," my favorite song on the album.--Chris

10. Social Distortion, Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell

Yet another kick-ass entry in the Social Distortion catalog, Somewhere Between Heaven And Hell is exactly what you want and love from the band. I once drove from Des Moines to Kansas City (once is enough) with nothing but Social Distortion in the tape deck, and "Bad Luck" and "Born To Lose" became staples of my road trip singalongs from that day forward. The album cover neatly sums up how you feel listening to the album: airborne, anticipating a killer, thunderous riff.--CroutonBoy

9. Barenaked Ladies, Gordon

While Gordon has one of the cheesiest album covers of all time (tell me it doesn't remind you of your local mid '90s ska band?), the music inside wasn't cheesy at... actually, it is pretty cheesy. But it's the fun kind of cheese. Gordon had such fan favorites and singalongs as "Grade 9," "Brian Wilson," "Be My Yoko Ono," and the band's signature track, "If I Had $1,000,000."--Chris

8. Nine Inch Nails, Broken

For those of us who fell in love with Nine Inch Nails beginning with 1989's Pretty Hate Machine, 1992's Broken was such a departure, it almost didn't seem like the same band. True, the subject matter was the same, but the music was harder, faster, louder, heavier. It crushed you. This was not music you played on road trips, lest you find yourself weaving in and out of traffic, cursing angrily at the other drivers while you're doing 110. This EP kicked ass and kicked your ass. Favorite tracks: "Wish," "Last," "Happiness In Slavery," "Gave Up," and "Physical (You're So)."--Chris

7. R.E.M., Automatic For The People

The last R.E.M. masterpiece, Automatic For The People was a bit of a departure for them. Having become one of the hugest bands in the country after "Losing My Religion" became an MTV staple, R.E.M. opted for a more mature, thoughtful follow-up, and boy does it deliver. The songs are heartbreakingly gorgeous, inevitably populating thousands of mixtapes given by star-crossed lovers in 1992. Awash with strings and moments of delicate beauty, songs like "Nightswimming," "Drive," "Everybody Hurts," and "Find The River" remind me of solitary nights in my youth, when life's tiny tragedies seemed to have huge meanings, but nonetheless were tinged with hope. Without question Automatic For The People is one of the greatest albums of the '90s, and will likely be recognized as one of the great albums of the century.--CroutonBoy

6. Beastie Boys, Check Your Head

Having blown the doors of sampling open with Paul's Boutique, the Beastie Boys took a step sideways with Check Your Head. Embracing the delirious eclecticism of Paul's Boutique but returning to their roots (and instruments), Check Your Head is everything you love about a Beastie Boys album, turned to 11. I'd argue that some of their most memorable tunes are here, especially "Pass The Mic," "Finger Lickin' Good," and my personal favorite, "So What'cha Want." God, I miss them. RIP, MCA.--CroutonBoy

5. The Lemonheads, It's A Shame About Ray

The alternative music that came to dominate the airwaves (and my car's tape deck) in the '90s can be neatly summed up with with a single listen to It's A Shame About Ray. It's a prototype for the tuneful, perky, and intelligent tunes that Counting Crows and Blind Melon would eventually ride to the top of the charts, and it's a shame (no pun intended) that it's not on heavy rotation still. The title song alone is worth the price, and the band is effortlessly ironic in a way that's like mainlining crack to a Gen Xer like me. More than a one-hit wonder or a fond memory, It's A Shame About Ray is an indispensable part of any alternative music collection.--CroutonBoy

4. Soul Asylum, Grave Dancers Union

Prior to 1992 (actually 1993 because that was when the hits started happening), most people had never heard of Soul Asylum. Sure, they'd had a few college radio hits in "Cartoon" and "Sometime To Return," but they were still relatively unknown when they released their sixth album, Grave Dancers Union. And then BOOM! Everyone became a fan, and rightfully so. The album had great licks and plenty of Dave Pirner's playful lyrics. Of all the albums on this list, Grave Dancers Union was the one I played the most.--Chris

3. Rage Against The Machine, Rage Against The Machine

When I'm getting ready for a big presentation or meeting there are two things I like to do. First, I like to imagine myself as Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, pulling pistols (but not shotguns) out of the trunk before he and Travolta go visit Brad. I literally say, "Let's get into character," just as I walk in the room. The other thing I like to do is listen to Rage Against The Machine. Why? Because nothing, and I mean NOTHING, pumps me up like this album. If you were to distill fury into its purest essence, something so potent it would burn holes in battleship steel, it would sound like this. Heavy metal and punk rock bands dream of having just one song 10% as fierce as anything on this album. You cannot even touch "Bullet In The Head" or "Killing In The Name" without heavy, permanent scarring. It's that blistering and that fucking amazing. It's a masters class in giving the finger to the world, as well as a viable alternative to paint stripper in home improvement projects. In other words, it's perfect.--CroutonBoy

2. Various Artists, Singles Soundtrack

This soundtrack is a quintessential '90s album. It was kind of the pinnacle of Seattle grunge and really made it a mainstream thing. It was also Paul Westerberg's first solo material. If you want to be transported back to 1992 in all its flannel-rocking glory, play this album. Instant time warp.--Archphoenix

1. Tori Amos, Little Earthquakes

The debut album of singer/songwriter Tori Amos, Little Earthquakes is one of those kind of transformative albums. This woman, with a kind of weirdly amazing voice and a piano, just pouring her guts out in this ethereal musical poetry. She got a lot of comparisons to Kate Bush at the time and it's easy to see why. The album deals with some heavy issues: sexual awakening, struggling with religion, and most notably, Tori tells the story about the time she got raped. It's brutal and beautiful and touched a lot of women. Tori's sound has matured and grown over the years, but Little Earthquakes still stands as one of her greatest achievements because it's almost timeless in its simplicity and honesty.--Archphoenix

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...