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THE GRUNGE MATCH - 051

Match 051:

Alice In Chains "Brother" (Unplugged) (1996)
Nirvana "Pennyroyal Tea" (1993)
Pearl Jam "Brain Of J." (1998)
Soundgarden "Fell On Black Days" (1994)

Layne's shakiness is a lot more evident trying to replicate Nancy Wilson's vocal from the original recording.  The verses are kind of interesting, but the chorus doesn't quite work.  It's close, but...not quite.  Cantrell is decent, which considering the food poisoning is amazing.  But again, this is a song that was acoustic to begin with being given the Unplugged treatment, substituting a withered husk that used to be Layne for Nancy Wilson from 1992.  He manages to get it together for the last chorus, but it's still not the best.

"Pennyroyal Tea" has always been kind of weak to me (weak pennyroyal tea?).  The lyrics are kind of nonsensical, the riffs are uncompelling, and parts of it make me realize this is the song that spawned half of Bush's first two albums.  For that alone, I kinda gotta downgrade it.

"Brain Of J." is a nice, energetic way to kick off "Yield".  It's a contrast to about half of "No Code", which was a lot more spacey record, and was probably designed to reassure the somewhat dwindling audience that "Hey!  We still know how to rock!  Come back!"  It...kind of worked?  Musically, the noteworthy things about "Brain Of J" are it's pep and...yeah, Eddie Vedder's voice is already starting to show signs that it's about half as good as it was five years ago.  It still works, but you can tell it's been damaged heavily by overuse.

You're not going to be able to top "Fell On Black Days" with much.  Even Soundgarden only has two or three better songs in their arsenal.  It's dark in such delectable ways, I love singing along to it, it's soulful in spite of feeling like you might be losing your soul if you're the narrator...it's got dynamic for days, managing to nail the perfect balance of loud and quiet without pulling the same cliché verse-chorus-verse crap every grunge and nu metal band parroted from Nirvana...(a prime example of how to do it wrong: "Pennyroyal Tea") God DAMMIT this song is so good.  It's like black velvet to keep you warm in the winter or some shit.  I love it!

"Fell On Black Days": 4
"Brain Of J.": 3
"Pennyroyal Tea": 2
"Brother" (Unplugged): 1

TOTALS:

Pearl Jam: 140
Alice In Chains: 134
Soundgarden: 119
Nirvana: 117

Tomorrow, we keep on truckin'!

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