Sunday, July 1, 2012

1992 Mixtape

I always envy those who remember the beginning of punk rock and the original "Class of '77." I've wondered how exciting it must have been to be young around the time that all those bands were breaking: the Ramones, Blondie, the Talking Heads, The Clash, Wire, et al. For me, growing up in the 80's gave my earliest childhood memories a vivid soundtrack of New Wave, which explains my love of Gary Numan and The Human League. And I make no apologies for my affinity towards hair metal.

And as time continues to move forward, it's sometimes worth it to take a look back. It's easy to forget how music tastes shifted in 1992. Hell, it was 20 years ago. I was in high school and liking metal wasn't as cool as it used to be. Hair metal had just about run its course, and though I liked a lot of thrash, it really couldn't go any farther without losing my interest. I remember liking Fear Factory a lot but after getting handed a Napalm Death tape, I thought "there has to be something else." Well, it turns out that '92 was a pivotal year in shaping my personal tastes. At times, it was a bit awkward as there were still remnants of metal lingering about, but there were more than enough hints of where my tastes would eventually land.

Today's mixtape is rooted in a time gone by. It's essentially my own nostalgia trip to 1992. And I will admit, it was more or less triggered by a great Facebook page that I follow and highly recommend - Slicing Up Eyeballs. They've been posting 20 year anniversary announcements of album release dates and it turns out that a lot of said albums are still favorites today. So after a bit of research (thank you, Wikipedia) I discovered that '92 was a damn fine year in music. I'll openly admit that I fell in love with some of that year's albums after the fact as my tastes evolved  (i.e. Curve's Doppelganger, Skinny Puppy's Last Rights, Sonic Youth's Dirty, and Utah Saints' self-titled album) so this mixtape stays true to what I was listening to at that time...for better or worse. It's an interesting snapshot to an interesting time. Let's get to it...and as always, listen loud and become immersed!

1992 Mixtape [Random Ramblings & Mixtapes]

1992 Mixtape
1. The Ramones, "Poison Heart": Now 1992 was a far cry from The Ramones' heyday, but they were a band that seemed to bring different groups of people together. I remember seeing them live at the Academy in NY during their farewell tour and being pleasantly surprised by how diverse the audience was. It ranged from preppy fratboy types, to punk rockers, to metalheads, and maybe even some goths. The fact that The Ramones were perpetually cool made even their late-career output endearing. Plus the fact that they never ended up making a stupid Broadway musical out of one of their albums will forever cement them as true punk rock.

2. Paul Westerberg, "Waiting For Somebody": Speaking of perpetual coolness, Paul Westerberg. I actually owned a Replacements album when I was in 7th grade; granted it was Don't Tell A Soul. I still stand by the fact that "I'll Be You" is one of the most underrated 'Mats songs ever. Anyway, this is one of two Westerberg solo tracks that appeared in Singles, a movie that pretty much typified the '90s.

3. Soup Dragons, "Divine Thing": At the time this song came out, it was more or less a guilty pleasure. Two decades later, and it has somehow managed to hold up pretty well even if the Soup Dragons themselves didn't.

4. The Jesus And Mary Chain, "Reverence": I remember borrowing Honey's Dead from a friend and dubbing it onto side B of a cassette. Side A was Pretty Hate Machine. It didn't take long until I wore out that tape from listening to it nonstop. Not long after, I had to buy both on CD. To this day, both albums (and hell, both bands) are still two of my absolute favorites of all time.

As luck would have it, this would be the cassette I was referring to. 

5. Faith No More, "Midlife Crisis": I hate the fact that Faith No More often gets blamed for starting rap-metal. The follow-up to their breakout album, The Real Thing, surpassed its predecessor by being a bit of a mindfuck. Angel Dust was a very diverse album. It was one that me and my friends got obsessed with, dissecting every song trying to find meanings for each lyric even if we were making it up. Twenty years later, and the album still sits in my Top 5 of all time.

6. Alice In Chains, "Angry Chair": When the whole "grunge" thing broke, I didn't want any part of it. I have a very distinct memory of my friend, Eddie, bringing both Nevermind and Ten over to my house (on cassette, mind you) and gushing about how these were the next big things. I wasn't buying it. I was still holding onto my Megadeth tapes for dear life. Then Dave Mustaine and co. went out and did Countdown For Extinction and at that point, I had to accept that maybe it was time to move on. Alice In Chains made it easier. They were dark, heavy, and had a slight evilness that their other grunge kingpins lacked. Oh and "Angry Chair" was my pick here mainly because I was in a band that covered this song...I sang and played rhythm guitar. Needless to say, we weren't good. Still, this song kills!

7. Pantera, "This Love": While some insist that grunge killed off metal, there were still signs of life. It wasn't as instant as people want to believe. Sure, the poodle-haired pop metal was a dying breed especially when bands like Poison and Mötley Crüe starting donning flannel and attempted sincerity over decadence. Thankfully, there was Pantera. Vulgar Display Of Power will always be one of my favorite metal albums of all time. Me and my friends used to go to my house after school and just blast the hell out of this tape. Even a ballad like "This Love" was heavier than just about everything.

8. Helmet, "Unsung": This band bridged the gap between metal and alternative music pretty perfectly. Of course, this was back when alternative still had some meaning. Helmet stripped out the wanky solos and just stuck to the meaty riffs and somehow they managed to find hooks in there to boot. Hell, even Beavis & Butt-Head agree with that one!

9. Ministry, "N.W.O.": Ahh, back when Ministry was good. Psalm 69 was their last good album (it surprises me that people remember Filth Pig so fondly since I recall that album being blah, at best.) Admittedly, I wasn't instantaneously won over on this album. It took listening to their awesome live EP, In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up... where I finally had to re-listen to Psalm 69 to "get it."

10. Nine Inch Nails, "Happiness In Slavery": Broken was so completely different than Pretty Hate Machine that I was convinced that it wasn't the same artist. As a 16-year-old, I identified with Trent Reznor's lyrics. Before Broken I was faking it by trying to understand Dave Mustaine's politicking and conspiracy theories. Listening to everything on this EP was as life-changing as music got for me. It explains why NIN is still my favorite. Also, along with Ministry, this opened my ears to industrial music.

11. Beastie Boys, "So What'cha Want": Check Your Head for me is what Paul's Boutique was for everyone else. Sure, I can appreciate Paul's Boutique, but Check Your Head is where I realized that they were really more than what Licensed To Ill led me to believe.

12. Biohazard, "Punishment": Biohazard were Brooklyn heroes to me. Seeing their video to this song on Headbanger's Ball was a cool moment mainly because I knew someone in the video...or at least I knew people that knew people in the video. Liking Biohazard though was different than liking metal which is something I won't ever fully understand. Still, this song brings back some fond memories of Brooklyn in 1992. Even better is that I still remember most of the lyrics to this song.

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