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THE GRUNGE MATCH - 042

Match 042:

Alice In Chains "Head Creeps" (1995)
Nirvana "Aneurysm" (1992)
Pearl Jam "Smile" (1996)
Soundgarden "Drawing Flies" (1991)

I've always really liked "Head Creeps".  I think because it's the song on "Alice In Chains" that reminds me the most of...well, Alice In Chains.  Specifically "Dirt", but most of this album feels like a loose approximation of the band that was.  Unfortunately, the band didn't quite realize that they were already a "was" by this point.  An album not written to be an Alice In Chains record winds up being their self-titled album and the last one they do with Layne Staley.  Kinda fucked up.  But "Head Creeps" is the spirit of that "was", returning to the realm of "is" for six and a half unflinching minutes.  The riff is simple but pummeling and the drums, though repetitive, add great atmosphere.

"Aneurysm" is a song that didn't get well known until the live version was released as the single for "From The Muddy Banks Of The Wishka", but here's the original in all it's "Fuck do we care?  Rock and roll, bitch." glory.  Nowadays, artists re-release their albums a year later with bonus tracks and wind up getting a hit out of the batch because that's more profitable than just making an EP or something.  Point is, "Aneurysm" would've been the perfect single from such an endeavor if Nirvana would've did something like that for Nevermind in 1992.  The song itself has tempo shifts, with slowed-down verses that don't do "quiet" like the typical "Smells Like Teen Spirit" model.  Attitude does not diminish throughout.  It keeps biting as it chugs along.

"Smile" is a bit dull, maybe by design.  It's got a harmonica in it that's slightly above Bob Dylan levels of competence, but not quite to Neil Young.  (As it happens, Pearl Jam were the backing band for Neil Young's "Mirror Ball" album in 1995 and toured with him quite a bit.)  The song reminisces (or at least encourages reminiscence), proclaims "I miss you already" and then...just ends.  You think it's going into a middle section with a solo to be followed by the most passionate chorus of the three, but just...drifts off and fades out.  Kind of disappointing all around, despite not being bad.

"Drawing Flies" has always struck me as transitional which ain't hard to grasp since it's only two and a half minutes between two songs that feel a lot more weighty.  This one has horns in it, lots of lyrics spit out quickly, a bunch of changes but nothing that really takes the song anywhere new...it manages to be intensely busy but stay on topic and avoid noodling.  Not an easy task. 

"Head Creeps": 4
"Aneurysm": 3
"Drawing Flies": 2
"Smile": 1

TOTALS:

Pearl Jam: 122
Alice In Chains: 116
Nirvana: 94
Soundgarden: 90

"Badmotorfinger" is winding down, with only two more entries to go, and "Incesticide" is over.  Tomorrow, Nirvana's last studio album "In Utero" makes its debut.  Check back and see what goes down.

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