I belong to a Facebook group dedicated to 1990s indie and alternative. The moderator will periodically select a year and provide a spreadsheet of all the albums released in that year and then you have two or three months to submit your ballot, which is a list of up to the 50 best albums of the year, with the top ten ranked. He then scores and compiles the ballots. A ranking from 11-50 earns an album one point. A ranking from 1-10 will give an album from two points (#10 ranking) to 11 points (#1 ranking). When he is done with the math, he posts the entire list of albums that received at least one vote, album by album, as decided by the participants.

I have been a lurker in the group for a while. I decided to participate in the most recent voting, which covers 1992. Even though I don’t believe in top ten lists or rankings. If anything, this exercise proved my misgivings accurate. I think you can at best separate albums into tenths (top ten, next ten, etc) and even that gets difficult as the albums decline in quality. More minute distinctions are impossible.

1992 was the year I saw two of the best concerts of my life. One was the Rollercoaster tour: Spiritualized, Curve, and The Jesus and Mary Chain. I saw them at GW University in Washington, D.C., with my best friend from high school, Meetul. We were both JAMC fans, and he liked Curve; neither of us knew the first thing about Spiritualized, the opener. Well, Spiritualized stole the fucking show, with a mind-blowing performance that converted me into a fan right then. I don’t even remember the Curve portion of the concert, and while the Mary Chain was excellent, it all paled next to Spiritualized.

The other was Social Distortion at the 9:30 Club, also in D.C. Touring behind their best album, the band packed the small venue and delivered a blistering set of material. I was at the very front, the stage being about waist high, and I had a close-up view of the whole show. At one point, I turned around to see behind me and learned that a large mosh pit had been going on inches from where I stood. Social Distortion had one guy on security, who stood off to the side of the not-large stage in almost comical fashion; he was surprisingly efficient in preventing fans from making it up there – that was almost a show in itself.

The List

Top Ten

1 Flaming Lips – Hit to Death in the Future Head

2 Luna – Lunapark

3 Jesus and Mary Chain – Honey’s Dead

4 Spiritualized – Lazer Guided Melodies

5 Heavenly – Le Jardin de Heavenly

6 Vulgar Boatmen – Please Panic

7 Cracker – S/T

8 Catherine Wheel – Ferment

9 Lemonheads – It’s a Shame About Ray

10 Pavement – Slanted & Enchanted

Next Ten

11 Morrissey – Your Arsenal

12 Jayhawks – Hollywood Town Hall

13 Beat Happening – You Turn Me On

14 Magnetic Fields – The Wayward Bus

15 Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine – 1992: The Love Album

16 Chills – Soft Bomb

17 Guided by Voices – Propeller

18 Ride – Going Blank Again

19 Cure – Wish

20 Social Distortion – Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell

Third Ten

21 Buffalo Tom – Let Me Come Over

22 Frank and Walters – Trains, Boats and Planes

23 Kitchens of Distinction – The Death of Cool

24 Church – Priest = Aura

25 Magnolias – Off the Hook

26 Material Issue – Destination Universe

27 House of Love – Babe Rainbow

28 Bettie Serveert – Palomine

29 Boo Radleys – Everything’s Alright Forever

30 Damon & Naomi – More Sad Hits

Fourth Ten

31 Ned’s Atomic Dustbin – Are You Normal?

32 Soul Asylum – Grave Dancers Union

33 Seam – Headsparks

34 Michael Penn – Free-For-All

35 Magnapop – S/T

36 Grant McLennan – Fireboy

37 Mighty Mighty Bosstones – More Noise and Other Disturbances

38 Sugarcubes – Stick Around for Joy

39 Young Fresh Fellows – It’s Low Beat Time

40 Eugenius – Oomalama

Last Ten

41 James – Seven

42 3Ds – Hellzapoppin

43 Sugar – Copper Blue

44 Gin Blossoms – New Miserable Experience

45 Jawbreaker – Bivouac

46 Jonathan Richman – I, Jonathan

47 They Might Be Giants – Apollo 18

48 John Wesley Harding – Why We Fight

49 Beastie Boys – Check Your Head

50 Yo La Tengo – May I Sing With Me

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