by Popty Ping Records
I was 16 in 1992, the age when everything seems to change for a teenage boy.
It was a year of odd times, at least with regards to growing up. I lost my virginity, got served a pint in the pub for the first time, went to my first gig. I somehow scraped through my GCSE’s, entered sixth form and began the process of failing my A levels. My reading literature changed from Amiga User to the NME, I fell in love with Gaby Roslin on the Big Breakfast, and secretly stayed up late to see Jennifer Ehle get her boobs out in the Camomile Lawn. Thankfully it was to be the year I went on holiday with my parents for the last time.
1992 was the year the nineties finally seemed to get going, thanks to Kurt Cobain, grunge was at its height and people were discovering guitars once more and the farcical events with the Happy Mondays in Barbados finally brought Manchester, dance and the initial love affair with ecstacy to a lull. And so, this is was what you would have found in my tape deck :
The Lemonheads - It's A Shame About Ray
Evan Dando’s masterpiece album, of which this single was always the highlight to me. Every sixth former had this in their walkman, or their 1.0 litre 1984 Ford Fiesta tape player. I had a massive crush on Juliana Hatfield (secretly I still do), I’ve seen him play this album three times and it still never bores me, simply a lovely little song, and before drugs began to take their toll, which it would seem Dando’s output and creative tendancies never really recovered from.
Manic Street Preachers - Little Baby Nothing
Generation Terrorists sounds like it’s been recorded in a shed, is far, far too long and has way too much filler. However this single remains utterly fantastic. They wanted Kylie to sing it, they ended up with Traci Lords the porn star. Jacqui and Carrie Shampoo feature in the video, and the song contains one of the band's finest ever lyrical snippets ("Rock 'n' roll is our epiphany. Culture, alienation, boredom and despair").
Senseless Things - Homophobic Asshole
Discovering the NME in 1992 exposed me to the word homophobia for the first time. In those days homosexuality was still significantly less open and acceptable then it is today. Back then the NME was far more political and controversial then the mainstream major label tainted remnant you can still buy in WH Smiths today. Steven Wells was the propelling force behind a lot that activisim, and this four minutes of pop punk is a brilliant example of raising anti homophobia issues. I seem to recall the video features everyone from John Peel to Boy George in a pro homosexuality view. The Senseless Things went on to soundtrack the next two years for me, The Things' Mark Keds wrote most of the Libertines' Can’t Stand Me Now, sadly his involvement with Doherty also brought about a heroin habit he too sadly cannot seem to shake. It would be nice to see him healthy and performing once more.
Sugar - The Act We Act
Sadly these days everything associated with Creation Records is overshadowed, possibly tainted even by the Oasis brand. But way before the Burnage boys knocked everyone for six, McGee and his cohorts were already signing quality band after quality band. Clearly everyone knows about Teenage Fanclub and Primal Scream, but these days Sugar seem to be quietly forgotten. Licensing Bob Mould’s post-Husker Du outfit Sugar for a UK release was a wise move, and NME voted this the album of 1992 in their end of year polls. A truly fantastic album, and possibly the perfect mix between pop and grunge, I never ever get sick of it, even to this day 19 years later. I went to see them once, downstairs in the Newcastle Uni student union, sadly they were truly awful. Shame really. If popty-ping ever sign anything like this I’d be the proudest failed record label boss in the world.
Spiritualized - Run
I was born and grew up in Rugby, and as a child remember Spacemen 3 posters plastered all across the town. My dad taught Jason Pierce, and my mum and gran bought their wool from Websters, Sonic Boom’s family wool store in Dunchurch. So when Spiritualized produced their first album at the same time as I discovered the NME, my love of Spiritualized was born, made more so my father's acknowledgement that Pierce has become his most successful ever former student (even last year Dad was impressed to see an interview with Jason in the Guardian). Lazer Guided Melodies is a beautiful album, highly rated as a post E comedown soundtrack, and at the time was considered ambient. NME reckoned it no. 72 in the greatest albums ever released, and still nearly 20 years later appears in such polls. The fact that it took two years from recording to final mixing and mastering shows just how much drugs they must have all been consuming at the time.
U2 - Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses
Ah ok, Bono. Theres not that much that can be said about U2. Bono is a dick, and they’ve become the new Rolling Stones. But to me at least, Achtung Baby was their creative peak, before they started attempting to go all disco, and ripping off The Sun Always Shines On TV by A-ha. I’d have loved to see U2 tour the Achtung Baby/Zoo TV tour, but theres no way you’d find me paying £100 to see them now. His voice is on its way out for starters. I do like this album though, and this is the only single from 1992 I could fit in. Richey Edwards once said he hated U2, but loved this single. I kind of agree with him.
REM - Man On The Moon
Every so often an album appears which literally everyone you know will buy, listen to and play over and over again (eg Definitely Maybe, or more recently the xx). The sort of album which appears on tv adverts, voice overs, promotional breaks, films, the lot for the entire year. In 1992 it was REM’s Automatic For The People, and this was my favourite single. During aforementioned last family holiday with the parents I discovered MTV Europe for the first time and they hammered this song, closely followed by The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight again and again.
Carter USM - The Only Living Boy In New Cross
Seems odd to think now, but in 1992 Carter USM were the Saturday night Pyramid stage headliners at Glastonbury. Needless to say they managed to cock it up, went on stage late, insulted Michael Eavis and were promptly banned from ever playing again. The band got so big their album (funnily enough entitled 1992 : The Love album) hit the number one slot for several weeks, and this was their biggest pop hit. On a Radio 1 show even Kylie said it was her current favourite song. When the Arctic Monkeys first arose people refused to believe Alex Turner could actually write such lyrics, and the common belief was that it was a manufactured pop act and the actual lyricist was Jim Bob from Carter USM. I hope both gentlemen are quite impressed with that tale, it’s actually really rather credible.
The Beautiful South - 36D
The popular image of the Beautiful South is one of sweet saccharine pop, but people often completely miss the somewhat harder imagery often hidden in their lyrics. Messers Heaton and Rotheray often picked somewhat more challenging topics for their lyrics, and reportedly it was the issue of this song which resulted in Briana Corrigan leaving the band and ending possibly their finest line up. The song targets glamour models for using their physical assets to promote themselves when in reality possibly it’s the media itself which should be criticised for utilising such women. Either way, it's got a bloody brilliant singalong chorus.
Ned's Atomic Dustbin - Intact
Everyone at school had a Ned's Atomic Dustbin T-shirt and both the God Fodder and Are You Normal? albums. The Neds played De Montfort Hall in Leicester in November 1992 and pretty much my entire sixth form went to watch, and the next day the annual sixth form photo featured some 20+ people in Neds t-shirts from the night before. I can’t wax lyrical enough about this band, Are You Normal? is still an album I can listen to again and again. If only their imagery hadn't tied them to fraggle and they toured God Fodder a little longer they’d have completely broken America big style like their mates EMF.