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THE GRUNGE MATCH - 024

Match 024:

Alice In Chains "Junkhead" (1992)
Nirvana "Something In The Way" (1991)
Pearl Jam "Last Exit" (1994)
Soundgarden "Gun" (1989)

It's at this point I've come to realize something, and it's probably a controversial opinion, but "Facelift" > "Dirt".  Think about it.  This album slows to a crawl at track three and doesn't get over itself until track 9.  The lyrics on this album are almost comically depressing, and I know that's the point, but they're not even particularly good lyrics.  "Junkhead" specifically is about taking the drug user's side, which is an interesting concept, but the chorus is "What's my drug of choice? | Well what have you got? | I don't go broke | And I do it a lot".  You're not saying anything; you're just bragging about how good at drugs you are.  Switch that to selling drugs, and that could be any top 40 rap song of the last 15 years.  Hey, I get it:  You really like drugs, I mean half the musicians on this record died from them.  But I don't have to like that you like them, especially when you aren't really saying anything about them.  (Musically, it's boring enough to be relegated to a parenthetical how slow and dull the song is.  The solo's kinda cool, though.)

"Something In The Way" is about some real shit the singer went through, but despite being super maudlin and having kind of doofy lyrics, manages to feel honest.  It earns its harrowing worldview.  Matter of fact, when you know the story about the song (Kurt Cobain living under a bridge in Seattle, trying to trap animals to eat but not being able to kill them, but being okay with eating fish instead because he's able to convince himself they don't have feelings) the line "It's okay to eat fish cuz they don't have any feelings" stops being a goofy sounding aside and becomes depressing as fuck.  The cello in the song is a nice touch to an otherwise sparse affair.

"Last Exit" is the first fiery salvo from "Vitalogy", an album who's gestation process is too crazy to be believed.  "Vitalogy" was written and recorded while on the road for "Vs.", and was pretty much done by April of '94 ("Vs." came out November of '93).  This is such a deeply strange, involved, intricate sounding album you wouldn't think that it was written exclusively at soundchecks, featured two songs that were left off of "Vs." ("Better Man" and "Whipping") and "eighty percent of the songs were written 20 minutes before they were recorded" according to Stone Gossard, who almost quit the band at this point because things were becoming too strained.

"Last Exit" is a great opener; it drives, it pulses, it gets your blood going as it kicks the door down and sets a tone.  But it really doesn't prepare you for the fucking strangeness that lies ahead on "Vitalogy".  It's downright normal in comparison.  When you think about it, it's almost like a warning: "This is your last chance to get off this train before the shit really goes down.  Nope?  Still here?  Okay..."  I mean, it takes until about track six before you suspect things are odd, but...that's something we'll see as this review process unfolds.

"Gun" is an interesting concept that's well executed: Start a song slow and speed up consistently during its run time to where you're at about triple time at the apex, then come back down for the ending.  It also helps that the songs is on point with the crunchiness, the vocals, the lyrics and the little details, like some of the quick cut-offs Matt Cameron does in the first "chorus" I guess you'd call it.  Taking the lyrics and putting them into context with the velocitized bpm structure of the song, it's kind of about how revolution starts as a trickle, then becomes a dam bursting flood as the wave of populism sweeps everybody up and we all get carried away until the power structure is toppled and we're all left with the wreckage and the aftermath, which is when the song tumbles then slows down again.  And of course, the last line in the song is the same as the first, guaranteeing that the cycle will repeat itself: "I got an idea of something we can do with a Gun..."

"Gun": 4
"Last Exit": 3
"Something In The Way": 2
"Junkhead": 1

TOTALS:

Pearl Jam: 80
Nirvana: 60
Alice In Chains: 59
Soundgarden: 41

Match 025 tomorrow!

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