Taken from SoundBlab (Dec 22, 2014)
Golden Years: 1992
by D R Pautsch
Cover of TDHOH
1992 could have felt like a hangover after the glorious 1991 watershed of new music. However, a new wave followed quickly, with old favourites also keen to show they could keep up with the new bands. R.E.M. released the dark and career-defining Automatic for the People; The Lemonheads covered a Simon & Garfunkel classic and launched themselves into the mainstream; Neil Young followed up Harvest at long last.
Perhaps the best comeback belonged to one of the grunge's biggest influences, Bob Mould. His new band, Sugar, delivered an NME album of the year with the melodic Copper Blue.
However, it was the next wave of talent which would become the mainstays of the music landscape. 'Creep' launched Radiohead in America before they were noticed at home. PJ Harvey released Dry and started a run which would eventually earn her two Mercury Awards.
The aim of this article is to throw a bit of a spotlight on the albums that have been forgotten. Looking a little further down those album of the year lists, you will find an album that is a blessed relief to our new century ears and one which deserves another listen.
1992 was an excellent year for hip-hop and rap music. Beastie Boys, Cypress Hill, and others were busy and on form. Michael Franti and Rono Tse also released their debut album, only ever followed up by collaboration with William S Burroughs, under the name of Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy.
This was an album of thoughtfulness, politics and melody. Each track on this album takes on another cause and, with lyrics that burst at the seams with ideas, it delivers a heavy brew of politics and music. Television, immigration, celebrity, gang culture, violence, and financial concerns are all raised and given the Heroes treatment.
On 'Television, the Drug of the Nation', Franti vents spleen about America and its love of TV, while fitting more facts and opinions into five minute than most artists do in an entire career. Elsewhere, the groove of 'Music and Politics' hints at a future direction of one of the band. 'Language of Violence' followed a bully and his fate once imprisoned.
Such was the confidence of this duo, they decided to take a punk classic and update it. The result is a version of 'California Uber Alles' which can sit proudly alongside the original.
The Disposable Heroes ended up supporting the like of U2 before splitting without ever really following up this effort. Franti would keep the fire burning though with Spearhead. Moving closer to a groove than a rap, he only let the commerce come into it recently when his music was used for a video game.
Listening to this, you would wonder if the Franti of 1992 would ever consider such a thing. This album isn’t the easiest listening but, with such a political leaning, it would mean nothing unless it sounded good. It does and it has the cross-genre appeal that many albums since have singularly failed to achieve.
'Television, the Drug of the Nation': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ky4uYnsF3kc