The 1992 Brit Awards were the 12th edition of the biggest UK pop ceremony and took place on 12 February at Birmingham’s Hammersmith Odeon. The host was Simon Mayo. The accompanying album contained 32 tracks and was the fourth in the series.
Best British Group: Queen’s fantastic Innuendo opens the album, a contrast to its closing track placement on Now That’s What I Call Music 19. Freddie Mercury had passed away less than three months beforehand and the band enjoyed #1 successes with a reissued Bohemian Rhapsody and Greatest Hits II. Dire Straits’ final studio album On Every Street was probably their weakest; the meandering Calling Elvis is included here. 1991 had been a very good year for James as they hit the top 40 on four occasions. Sit Down reached #2 at the second time of asking.
Best International Group: U2 had won this award for three successive years – 1988, 1989 and 1990. The groundbreaking reinvention of Achtung Baby was enough to ensure a further nomination. Mysterious Ways was the album’s second single and features a danceable beat, a funked-up guitar hook and conga percussion. Bono sings obliquely about romance and woman; a belly dancer appears in the video. The Zoo TV Tour started its sensory overload on Leap Year day. R.E.M. had their biggest UK hit to date with Shiny Happy People while the parent LP Out Of Time went double platinum. INXS also rubbed shoulders with these two giants; Live Baby Live spawned the decent take of Mystify that concludes the first disc.
Best International Artist: Diamonds and Pearls was a welcome return to quality from Prince who now had The New Power Generation in tow. The frothy funk of Cream is the selection. Madonna’s first retrospective was The Immaculate Collection and the ambitious hidden gem Rescue Me was its second new track. We get the single remix which is nice. Elsewhere Bryan Adams followed up his record-breaking Everything I Do (I Do It For You) with the pile-driving rock of Can’t Stop This Thing We Started. Michael Bolton gave us a passable cover of Percy Sledge’s When A Woman Loves A Woman. And Enya floated on a sea of tranquility with Caribbean Blue.
Best British Album: Simply Red’s Stars was everywhere in late 1991 / early 1992. The video for the enjoyable title track features Mick Hucknall wandering around a desert surrounded by large gold stars with close ups of him and a woman. Meanwhile The KLF provided the most memorable moment of the ’92 ceremony with their attempt to hijack the event. They were booked to open the show and collaborated with Extreme Noise Terror to perform a death metal version of 3AM Eternal. As a result, conductor Sir Georg Solti walked out in disgust. The performance ended with Bill Drummond firing blanks from a vintage machine gun over the audience and KLF publicist/announcer Scott Piering stating, “Ladies and gentlemen, The KLF have now left the music business”. Justified And Ancient was re-recorded as a duet with US country legend Tammy Wynette and namechecks Waterford’s Bridge Hotel. Also nominated were Massive Attack for their astounding debut Blue Lines. Thankfully the compilers have given us the superior and more beat-heavy Nellie Hooper 7″ mix of Unfinished Sympathy.
Best British Male Artist: George Michael and Elton John both received separate nominations having previously won the award in 1988 and 1990 respectively. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me was written by Elton and Bernie Taupin and originally released in May 1974. Caribou. The track was subsequently re-recorded as a duet with George Michael and topped the UK chart in 1991. However neither of them would win in 1992; that prize was granted to Seal on the strength of his fine eponymous debut LP.
Best British Female Artist: Lisa Stansfield was nominated for the third successive year and had previously won Best British Newcomer and Best British Female Artist. The powerful All Woman is sung with passion and verve. Meanwhile the two halves of Eurythmics found themselves separated by category this time around. David Stewart was put forward as Best British Producer while Annie Lennox found herself in this one. The icy Love Is A Stranger was reissued in conjunction with the group’s Greatest Hits album but only reached #46. Beverley Craven’s Promise Me was one of the year’s best ballads and deserves to be here.
Best British Newcomer: Wide boys EMF stole the show with the infectious Unbelievable. Their debut album Schubert Dip remains an underrated odyssey of indie dance. Cathy Dennis’ Move To This LP was an assured pop success with both eyes firmly on the dancefloor. Just Another Dream was a bright slice of groovy funk. Kenny Thomas also lit up ’91 with four top 30 smashes including Thinking About Your Love. Scarlet, red and blue – Zoë’s uptempo Sunshine On A Rainy Day was much funkier once Youth remixed it – however it’s the original 1990 7″ that appears on The Awards 1992. No bad thing.
Best International Newcomer: A mixed bag here. Extreme’s turgid strumming of Hole Hearted is tedious while I could never get excited by Jellyfish who always made me think of a bad Living Color. PM Dawn are best known for their Spandau Ballet-sampling Set Adrift On Memory Bliss but there’s a lot more to them – check out Of The Heart, Of The Soul And Of The Cross. Color Me Badd followed up I Wanna Sex You Up with the lukewarm All 4 Love. There’s Chris Isaak and his brooding Blue Hotel which contrasts with Harry Connick Jr’s lounge swing of It Had To Be You.
Best British Music Video: Erasure’s pounding Love To Hate You is the opening track on the second disc. The song’s music video features them performing on a futuristic stage with a long, connected runway which extends out into the audience. As Andy Bell dances down the runway, it is revealed that the floor is covered in water. Vince Clarke is also seen playing a circular keyboard similar to one previously used by Jean Michel Jarre. In 1991 Seal re-recorded Killer for his eponymous debut album, produced by Trevor Horn. The music video for this version used computer-generated science-fiction themed imagery, largely built around a partial re-creation of the M. C. Escher print Another World. That was enough to win the award for Seal and Don Searll.
Best Soundtrack / Cast Recording: The Commitments was probably the biggest box-office draw in Ireland back in the winter of 1991. I saw it in The Square, Tallaght. Mustang Sally was originally sung by Mack Rice but the Wilson Pickett version is the most famous one. Andrew Strong’s vocal is powerful enough to carry this one off. Finally to Oxford: The atmospheric theme for Inspector Morse was written by Barrington Pheloung and utilises a motif based on the Morse code for “M.O.R.S.E.”. Over and out.
“Well sometimes I go out by myself
And I look across the water
And I think of all the things, what you’re doing
And in my head I paint a picture”.
U2 – Mysterious Ways
Madonna – Rescue Me (Remix)
Erasure – Love To Hate You
Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy
Lest we forget
Barrington Pheloung – Inspector Morse (Main Theme)