Looking Through Time: 1992
With the anniversaries of culturally important albums sprouting up each and every year, the CommRadio Arts department will be diving into albums from select years and breaking down their impact. Here are the albums from 1992.
Dr. Dre – The Chronic
Following his separation from the rap group N.W.A, Dr. Dre released his first solo album in 1992, The Chronic. Even though it is a solo album for Dr. Dre, it has several Snoop Dogg features. Snoop, like Dr. Dre, would use this album to propel his career. The Chronic is considered by most one of the best produced hip hop albums of all time. Many believe that this album marks the creation of the “G-Funk” west coast sound, which dominated how mainstream hip hop would sound for some time.
This album is known for its production because it was a shift in pace for hip hop. During this time, most hip hop relied solely on samples and break beats. Dre slowed down the sound of hip hop with an influx of heavy synths and funky bass lines. Songs like “Nuthin’ but a G Thang” and “Let Me Ride” are two of the most known songs off the album and are also two of the most easily recognized songs in hip hop because of Dre’s production. Lyrically, the album is also a change in pace for hip hop as the lyrics are simpler than a lot of music that was coming out at the time. This gives the album crossover appeal in contrast to a group like Public Enemy whose political content at the time made people uneasy. However, Dr. Dre does continue to rap explicit lyrics that his former group N.W.A. had been known for. Dr. Dre does not forget about the group either as this album contains several aggressive lyrics directed at the former group.
The Chronic will forever be considered a classic for the production on the album, pushing two superstars into the mainstream, as well as pushing hip hop further into the spotlight. – Jerome Taylor
R.E.M. – Automatic for the People
R.E.M.’s 1992 album Automatic for the People marked the second musical style change for the band. R.E.M. burst onto the scene in the early 1980s with purely alternative records like Murmur and Reckoning, which made them college radio favorites. Later, R.E.M. entered mainstream rock with heavier songs like “The One I Love,” “Orange Crush” and “Turn You Inside-Out.” After the success of 1991’s Out of Time, R.E.M. changed styles once again with Automatic for the People, a much quieter record that introduced darker material while still maintaining their status as a political act.
The album’s opening single, “Drive,” is an excellent example of this change. “Drive” is powered by nontraditional instruments like violins and accordions while displaying R.E.M.’s support of the Motor Voter Act, which requires the government to provide voter registration services for those renewing a driver’s license. The one true rocker of the album, the underrated “Ignoreland,” describes R.E.M.’s discontent with the state of American politics at the time.
The album was not entirely political, however. Some of its most popular songs are focused elsewhere. “Everybody Hurts” was intended to halt rising teenage suicide rates. “Man on the Moon” is a wonderful tribute to comedian Andy Kaufman and it was even incorporated into the 1999 film of the same name. Automatic for the People closes with two beautiful tunes, “Nightswimming” and “Find the River,” both of which are clear indicators of the diversity that R.E.M. brought to the music world.
Automatic for the People is often viewed as R.E.M.’s crowning achievement. Rolling Stone magazine listed the album at 18 on its list of the greatest albums of the 1990s. It was also nominated for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Every song on the record is a winner and it deserves all the admiration it receives. – DJ Bauer
Neil Young – Harvest Moon
Neil Young embarked on an extremely successful solo career after his split from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young in 1970, releasing his third solo album, After the Gold Rush, and embarking on a tour of North America that same year. After a long career of mainly experimental rock and trying to find a solid sound, he released his twelfth studio album Harvest Moon in 1992, an obvious and abrupt return to the same country, folk and soft rock that accompanied 1972’s Harvest. Harvest Moon has been credited to be the “sequel” to Harvest, including much of the same familiar soft axe and smooth guitar solos. He also reunited with former musicians from Harvest, including singers Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor. The album was well received by critics, reaching 16 on the Billboard 200. It was named the album of the year by the website Classic Rock Review and won the Juno Award for Album of the Year in 1994.
Harvest Moon has an incredibly unique way of making the audience feel the same throughout the entirety, even though the songs don’t necessarily sound very similar. The mixed feelings of sadness, nostalgia, hope and in general feeling like you’re aging with Young as he enters into his midlife reflection. Young in general seems to sound softer, more delicate and making peace with the world around him and situation that he’s in. He reminisces on his life, talking about old love flings and relationships that have faded between friends, yet remains calm and at peace. It’s an immensely beautiful and soothing album and it’s no secret as to why it’s credited as one of Young’s best albums, even though it may not have been his most successful. – Lilly Adams
The Cure – The Wish
The 1990s were a memorable decade in the music world. With a progressive turn to what would be known as the “grunge era,” many artists created albums that would be overlooked and unappreciated. One of those albums was The Wish, which was released in 1992 by the English rock band, The Cure. In a time when Nirvana was growing popular in the music scene, alternative rock albums like The Wish were not given the credit they deserved until many years down the road.
Although The Cure did not do anything monumental or completely wild with this album, they once again nailed it on the head with dense lyrics and intense vocals from lead singer Robert Smith. The Wish follows eight studio albums released by the band. One of those preceding albums is Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, which was recorded in 1987. Many compare The Wish to this record in terms of style with an overall angsty tone.
The most notable and popular track on the album, “Friday I’m In Love,” remains a classic hit today. The single was so successful due to its catchy beat and fun lyrics. Robert Smith even noted that he was a lot happier when recording the album, which is noticeable on a tracklist that is comprised of 12 songs. Although The Wish was not the biggest album for The Cure, it will remain a highlight in their discography. – Jenna Minnig
Jerome Taylor is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
DJ Bauer is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lilly Adams is a freshman majoring in film/video. To contact her, email email@example.com.
Jenna Minnig is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Freshman / Film/Video Studies
Freshman / Broadcast Journalism