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THE GRUNGE MATCH - 005

Match 005:

Alice In Chains "I Can't Remember" (1990)
Nirvana "Love Buzz" (1989)
Pearl Jam "Black" (1991)
Soundgarden "Little Joe" (1987)

"I Can't Remember" opens with a creepy 12-string arpeggio, then segues into a gruffer verse structure, but it's all kind of uninspiring.  The thing that saves this song is Layne Staley's passionate delivery; without it, this would be a milquetoast and forgettable deep cut.  As it is, it's still not the best: it's sludgy, and that ending comes out of nowhere, kind of like they just got bored.  Oh, hey.  Meta.

"Love Buzz" is the first cover song of this series, originally done by Shocking Blue (who were, ironically, contemporaries of the psychedelic rock band called "Nirvana" in 1968).  It's a bouncy, catchy little number and it's one of the better tracks on "Bleach".  Nirvana slurs the delivery a bit, but that's their thing, and it doesn't detract from the song.

"Black" is another in a litany of songs from "Ten" that everyone in the world is sick to death of hearing, but even twenty five years on this song is still incredibly powerful to me.  That lilting refrain that trails off at the end and through the choruses, Eddie Vedder's motherfucking PATHOS... The production plays a part too, because if this had been a claustrophobic, intimate sounding mix or over quantified or anything like that, the song wouldn't be nearly as good.  You need all the reverb, all the space, the size of this song to properly get across what its narrator is trying to exorcize.  The feeling of loss we all come to know when someone leaves.  It's a cliché topic because people keep being interested in it, which is why bands keep going back to it.  They needn't.  Pearl Jam perfected it 25 years ago.

(Weirdly enough, this was not a single from "Ten".  There were only four: "Even Flow", "Alive", "Jeremy" and..."Oceans"?  I have never once heard that song on the radio to the best of my recollection.  "Black"?  More times than anyone should.  But the song still makes me feel something after all that, which is a testament to its quality.)

"Little Joe" is fucking weird.  It's kind of a lighter, jammy thing with high-pitched, intercommed vocals and no real chorus to speak of.  It just kind of keeps jamming for four minutes until it stops.  In fact, it feels as phoned in as the vocals sound.

"Black": 4
"Love Buzz": 3
"I Can't Remember": 2
"Little Joe": 1

TOTALS:

Pearl Jam: 18
Alice In Chains: 14
Nirvana: 11
Soundgarden: 7

Match 006 tomorrow!

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