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THE GRUNGE MATCH - 077

Match 077:

Alice In Chains "Whatcha Gonna Do" (1988)
Nirvana "Spank Thru" (Live) (1991)
Pearl Jam "Can't Keep" (2002)
Soundgarden "Dusty" (1996)

"Whatcha Gonna Do", along with the next four entries, is also from the pre "Facelift" demo in 1988.  It's still got a pseudo-Guns vibe, but it's way less basic, it's got more attitude, Sean Kinney don't give a FUCK on them drum fills, the pre-chorus takes a vicious turn...this is the best Alice In Chains song I've reviewed since at least "Jar Of Flies".  It does have a weird mid-section that goes all funk rock for no good reason, but the verses and chorus are so energetic, so biting and so...FUN you can't really deny it.  It benefits greatly from remaster, because there's no way it sounded this good as a demo.  In fact, as far as pure sound, this might be the best they've ever sounded.  It's definitely the best drum sound they've ever…
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EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED - Episode 095: Cool Shit, Vol. 1

As you may have noticed, I stopped doing shownotes for Expect The Unexpected a couple of weeks ago.  This is due to WXRW's Soundcloud archive being felled by a third copyright strike out of nowhere.  So now that shows like mine can't be saved on their account (because I play copyright protected music) and because my personal Soundcloud can only store three episodes at a time, there's no point in putting extensive (or even thin) commentary about episodes the public won't be able to listen to two weeks down the road.

But since I did not have time to tell the listeners what they were hearing this week on the show, I felt it only fair to list what I played here.  Also, I did some research and actually found out what some of these songs were after 15-16 years, so hey!  Not a total loss!

So what is Cool Shit?  Cool Shit started out as the name I gave to a series of burnt CD mixes of stuff I made with my dad's CD burner deck (MAN was that a piece of shit; so temperamental…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 076

Match 076:

Alice In Chains "I Can't Have You Blues" (1988)
Nirvana "Sliver" (Live) (1993)
Pearl Jam "Parting Ways" (2000)
Soundgarden "Zero Chance" (1996)

"I Can't Have You Blues" is from a pre "Facelift" demo.  I've never heard this song before, but yeah this has "local hard rock outfit" written all over it.  It's a bunch of kids that surely have attitude and even a bit of talent, but it's one of those songs that you write when you're just starting to write songs, especially in the lyrics department.  It screams cut-rate Guns N' Roses, which in 1988 was the hot new thing to be.  It might've even got them noticed at the time, or at least they thought it would.  To be fair, it's a reasonable enough facsimile to avoid displeasure to the listener, but it wound up as boxed set fodder for a reason.

This version of "Sliver" comes from a November 1993 performance at the 8,500 seat …

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 075

Match 075:

Alice In Chains "Get Born Again" (1999)
Nirvana "Lithium" (Live) (1991)
Pearl Jam "Soon Forget" (2000)
Soundgarden "Rhinosaur" (1996)

"Get Born Again" is the last single Alice In Chains released with Layne Staley.  The song is more "Dirt" than anything they've done since.  In fact, it's more accurate to say it's like a darker "What The Hell Have I?" from the Last Action Hero soundtrack.  At the time it felt like a tantalizing hint at a new beginning, but alas it was not to be.  The only real criticism of the song is the production feels a little flat, a little dimensionless, but other than that, this is a lost classic in the Alice In Chains oeuvre.

This version of "Lithium" sounds like it's on either a pop station or a shitty cassette tape, because it's in E# without quite making it to F.  As a result of playing it in such a high key, Cobain's vocals suffer.  Seriously, it…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 074

Match 074:

Jerry Cantrell "Cold Piece" (1998)
Nirvana "Been A Son" (Live) (1991)
Pearl Jam "Sleight Of Hand" (2000)
Soundgarden "Pretty Noose" (1996)

"Cold Piece" is the longest Jerry Cantrell composition on record, clocking in at 8:29.  It's much better than most of "Boggy Depot" while somehow not being super different.  It's got a shuffle groove that keeps things interesting, the chorus is just the right level of hard to mesh with the breezy groove of the verses, it's got horns via Fishbone and bass via Les Claypool, it's got clarinets and pianos & shit, and it earns its length by making a skeleton worth building on top of in the first place.  I don't even mind the lyrics because they're not central to the song.  It's just important that this has soul and you can bob your head and tap your feet to it.  And there's the ingredient we've been missing: soul.  Even a dour dirge can be great if…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 073

Match 073:

Jerry Cantrell "Between" (1998)
Nirvana "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (Live) (1991)
Pearl Jam "Rival" (2000)
Soundgarden "She Likes Surprises" (1995)

I never liked this song, even when I thought "Boggy Depot" was okay.  It's got some of the worst lyrics Cantrell ever wrote, it's musically dull...well, maybe not as bad in that department as I remember it.  It's his attempt at writing a country song.  It's got some pretty nice lead work, it's got an okay chorus...but the verse about going to his ranch?  Never quite got over that.  At least it's more alive that 7/8 of this album, in spite of being a middle of the road country rock song.

And now "Smells Like Teen Spirit" gets the fairgrounds treatment.  It's popular enough at this point that the crowd recognizes it from the clean tone part, but not like going ballistic or anything.  It's also early enough in the run that Nirvana don't hate t…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 072

Match 072:

Jerry Cantrell "Hurt A Long Time" (1998)
Nirvana "Aneurysm" (Live) (1991)
Pearl Jam "Grievance" (2000)
Soundgarden "Cold Bitch" (1991)

Is there such a thing as a grunge hair metal ballad?  This might be the closest thing I can think of to that.  It's so SAPPY.  Also, the perfect place to end it would have been at the 3:45 mark.  (It's 5:42).  Might be my least favorite song Jerry Cantrell ever had a hand in writing.  Even if it came from a place of earnestness...it's still really lame.  And the thing is, it could have been saved.  The hook, such as it is, of "Oh, oh, It's a bad dream (I've got only time)" isn't bad.  It's just not the hook for a lighter-wavey major key song about writing a suicide note for your family.  The subject matter does not work with the levels of saccharine on display.

"Aneurysm" was the big single from "Wishkah", and this is actually the first version of t…