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THE GRUNGE MATCH - 029

Match 029:

Alice In Chains "Angry Chair" (1992)
Nirvana "Sliver" (1992)
Pearl Jam "Whipping" (1994)
Soundgarden "I Awake" (1989)

I remember "Angry Chair" being profoundly dark when I first heard it.  Like this was what being in Hell felt like.  Not the "Oh, life is such hell right now," and not the cliché devils, pitchforks and fire, but an actual dimension where you are the only person who has ever heard of compassion and you quickly find out that's the reason you are the perfect victim.  And all the terrible in the world has just noticed you.

Granted, it's a little less scary after a few hundred listens and 25 years of growth as a person (to say nothing of the exponential escalation of terrible in the world at large), but it still builds a hell of an atmosphere.  "Little boy made a mistake" is the point where the seemingly innocuous tilts into the horrific.  It's that point where you were either doing something fun or well-intentioned that couldn't possibly go wrong, and you fuck up and now you've done something you can never take back.  And that's just the beginning.  You see in that instant the long-stretching, long-suffering future ahead of you and the only way to escape the pain and the shame of it all is to die.  Nudge nudge.

The song "Sliver" is an incredibly grounded narrative from the perspective of a five year old who doesn't want to be at his Grandparent's house, kicks and pitches a fit for four verses, then he wakes up in his mother's arms, and wants to go back to Grandma's house.  It's one of the most endearing grunge songs I can think of, because endearing is not a word you'd use for this genre 95% of the time.

"Whipping" seems like it should hit harder than it does.  A lot of production choices take some of the edge off of what could have been a barn-burner that wouldn't have been too out of place on "Vs.", but something's...off.  Something not quite definable.  Like they didn't have the rock knob turned up quite enough.  But all in all it's still got some fire to it, and it's one of the last sane moments on "Vitalogy" before things start to get really weird.

"I Awake" is the last song original bass player Hiro Yamamoto had a hand in writing with the band.  It's a grinder of a song but the lyrics are about someone going through the 9 to 5 grind and telling their significant other they love them in the refrain.  I guess the sludgy friction of the music is there to simulate "the daily grind", but there's quite a disconnect between subject matter and tone.

"Angry Chair": 4
"Sliver": 3
"Whipping": 2
"I Awake": 1

TOTALS:

Pearl Jam: 96
Alice In Chains: 73
Nirvana: 69
Soundgarden: 52

Tomorrow, "Dirt" comes to a close.  Come back to see how good "Would?" dud.

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