Some years in music are pivotal and utterly steeped in meaning and resonance.
1992 was not one of them.
It was summed up by the sheer awfulness of Undercover’s ‘Baker Street’ cover, a hideous dance version of Bryan Adams’ ‘Run To You’ by a band called Rage and the fact that Madonna unleashed a stinker of an album called Erotica, and very possibly showed that you could be over-exposed when she released the infamous Sex book around the same time. It was topped off when Whitney Houston topped the charts with ‘I Will Always Love You’ at Christmas.
The Americans decided that they’d had enough of twelve years of Republicans and elected Bill Clinton to the White House. The Brits were convinced that the Conservatives could not possibly win, and then proceeded to hand them a mandate to rule Britain for the next five years. The big film of the year was Wayne’s World, which led to everyone making statements and then going …NOT! at the end of it. I buried myself deeper in NME, Melody Maker and tippexing my school folders with band names instead of doing as much school work as I should have been. Ah well…
This track was no.1 in John Peel’s Festive Fifty that year. It has to be one of the most requested tracks ever on 17 Seconds. It’s sublime – now watch the video and if you want the mp3 look elsewhere!
Bang Bang Machine -‘Geek Love.’
Some bands are derided for ever. Ned’s Atomic Dustbin’s time must surely come. Part of the Stourbridge scene (along with Pop Will Eat Itself and the Wonderstuff), this was probably their biggest hit. This was also part of their music compilation Lunatic Magnets which was linked by various clips as the band attempted to do their own version of Reservoir Dogs which was the cult film of the year.
Ned’s Atomic Dustbin -‘Not Sleeping Around.’
…and boom! The word ‘Britpop’ had yet to enter the lexicon of the cultural landscape and the so-called ‘scene that celebrates itself’ wasn’t ever going to be a household name kind of thing, but Suede suddenly arrived, looking pretty damn perfet. The music press loved them. Morrissey covered one of their b-sides ‘My Insatiable One.’ Smash Hits claimed David Bowie had invited them to his wedding. Lead singer Brett Anderson claimed he was ‘a bisexual who had never had a homosexual experience’ and was soon being spoken of in the same sentence as both Bowie and Morrissey. In the face of grunge coming in from the US, Suede looked likely to lead the next British assault. In another galaxy their story would have ended far more happily.
Suede -‘The Drowners.’
They say history is written by the victors. ‘They’ may have a point. In the 20/20 perspective that is hindsight, this was Blur’s best single to date. It has been perhaps a little forgotten that at this point Blur were in the doldrums -far more than they would be after The Great Escape three years later seemed to show that they had been overtaken by Oasis. This single limped to no.32, their second album was about to be rejectedby their record company, but Blur knew something we didn’t…
Blur – ‘Popscene.’
…a weird sense of deja vu: at the tail end of 2007, the Black Kids were being hailed by many (including yours truly, less we forget) as being the next big thing. When their debut album was released, the press seemed to turn on them. So it was with Curve, whose first three EPs were far more feted than their eventual debut LP Doppelganger was when it arrived in 1992. A shame, because they were still firing on all cylinders as far as I was concerned…
Curve -‘Fait Accompli.’
I have kicked myself for missing out on a lot of nineties dance culture -too busy listening to Morrissey at the time, as well as going through a ‘I hate everything’ phase, for which I have no-one to blame but myself. However, this DID filter through to me. I only recently realised that Future Sound Of London had been connected with Humanoid, whose classic acid house track ‘Stakker Humanoid’ had made it onto Top Of The Pops four years previously…
Future Sound Of London -‘Papua New Guinea.’
I’ve always had a soft spot for Michael Franti, and as frontman of Spearhead, he was the first Hip-Hop act I ever saw live. It could have been this or ‘Television, The Drug Of The Nation’ but thistale of how a homophobe gets his comeuppance is pretty groundbreaking. And as at this time rap was becoming ever more confrontational (which was fine) but also displaying aspects of prejudice (which is not fine), it was good to see an act showng it wasn’t all about the benjamins.
Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy -‘The Language of Violence.’
As has been well-documented, in 1992, The Wedding Present issued a new 7″ every month, the a-side being an original song and the b-side being a cover. This saw them make Top Of The Pops several times, have seven entries in that year’s Festive Fifty, rack up twelve top thirty hits…and then get dropped by their record company.
Wedding Present -‘Sticky.’
I wasn’t much into R&B in the nineties, much of it came under the heading of New Jack Swing, a genre that left me cold, mostly. But this track wasn’t like that, and like En Vogue, gave a glimpse of just how big the genre would be in the decade to come…
Shanice -‘I Love Your Smile.’
This wasn’t supposed to happen…or maybe it was. This is actually the track that first brought Bjork into the Top Forty in the UK, being a sizeable hit, even with the mad shoutyness going on, as ever. But by the end of the year the band hd called it a day, with Bjork going off to make a solo album…and actually put the avant garde on Top Of The Pops.
The Sugarcubes -‘Hit.’
Should also be featured here: Ride -‘Leave Them All Behind.’ Jesus and Mary Chain -‘Reverence.’ Primal Scream -‘Movin’ On Up.’ The Cure -‘Friday I’m In Love.’ The Orb -‘Blue Room.’ Faith No More -‘Midlife Crisis. En Vogue -‘My Lovin.’ Boo Radleys -‘Lazarus.’ (Actually, there were good tracks it just felt horrible…)