Skip to main content

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 052

Match 052:

Alice In Chains "No Excuses" (Unplugged) (1996)
Nirvana "Radio Friendly Unit Shifter" (1993)
Pearl Jam "Faithful" (1998)
Soundgarden "Mailman" (1994)

A serviceable version of the same song from "Jar Of Flies", but without the power of Layne Staley's voice or the wail of Cantrell's lead work.  It's still "No Excuses" though, so it's got something going for it, but it's a less good copy of the exact same song.

I always thought "Radio Friendly Unit Shifter" was about spies when I was a kid.  Y'know, like a "Radio Friendly Unit Shifter" would be a piece of equipment for intercepting radio signals clandestinely without generating interference.  But I see now that the song is a clever double-entendre, being that "Radio Friendly Unit Shifter" is an industry term for a song that sells records and gets radio play.  The crazy part is how the title still works both ways.  "Use just once, then destroy" could refer to a piece of spy equipment or the record industry chewing up and spitting out a one-hit wonder.  Even the feedback of the guitar is mimicking radio interference.

The song has some pep to it, a good head-nodding beat and in spite of its simplicity, Cobain's delivery works.  It's not as hard-hitting as I remembered it, even at high volume, so I guess it gets a few penalty marks for that, because this used to be a sonic billy club; now I feel like I'm in a slap fight.

"Faithful" is a mid-paced jam, but it's got nice jazzy chords during the quiet parts and nice, bouncy power chords during the chorus and mid section.  Again, Vedder's vocals aren't 100% on point; they're decent enough, but I'm starting to fear that if he doesn't learn a new way to sing at some point this is going to be the beginning of a long, painful descent into unlistenability.

"Mailman" is grindingly slow, but somehow manages to project life.  It's a life that's smoldering with jealous rage that wants to end all other life, but it doesn't sound dead is what I'm saying.  The soulful crooning of the verses gives way to the barely contained accusatory bellow of the chorus.  (It gets so heated that the vocals peg the meter and distort, but it fits the character of the song so well.)

"Mailman": 4
"Faithful": 3
"Radio Friendly Unit Shifter": 2
"No Excuses": 1

TOTALS:

Pearl Jam: 143
Alice In Chains: 135
Soundgarden: 123
Nirvana: 119

Come back for Match 053 tomorrow!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

THE BIG FOUR SONG CHALLENGE SERIES - Update Wrap-Up

Well, The Big Four Song Challenge Series Update has drawn to a close, and here we are in the aftermath.  Metallica edged out Megadeth on the strength of bonus material, Anthrax did okay and Slayer should have broken up when Jeff Hanneman died.  For real, all coming back with another album did for them was...well, make them money and allow them to keep touring and making more money, so there's that.  But more importantly, by releasing "Repentless", they dropped from two to three on my completely arbitrary opinion based blog series status ranking system!  Surely, that can't have been worth a couple million bucks?

Anyhow, I'm getting the feeling that rock music in general is going to need to evolve into something completely different or call it quits altogether.  Rock has had its 60 year run just like jazz did before it, and if it doesn't come up with something soon, it will fade away from the public consciousness, only to return in Gap commercials in the 2040…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - Conclusion

This has certainly been a heck of a thing.

Writing this started out as a labor of love to a subgenre of rock and roll that came along at the perfect time for me (both when I was entering middle school in the bottom 5 of the popularity pecking order and when I started buying albums at the impressionable age of 11).  It obviously took a long time to put together: August 29th, 2016 is when I began planning, May 24th is when I wrote the last entry, the wee hours of August 1st, 2017 is when I finished proofreading and uploading the entries to the blog with video links, and here I am typing these words on August 15th.

The elephant in the room is this genre seems to be built on death.  Three of the four frontmen of these bands are dead, one of which occurred during the run of this series.  (Shouts to Alice In Chains bassist Mike Starr as well.  R.I.P.)  On top of that, Pearl Jam only exists because the lead singer of Mother Love Bone died, causing that band to break up.  If you go down the nex…

THE BIG FOUR SONG CHALLENGE SERIES - Matchup 185

Anthrax "Vice Of The People" (2016) VS Megadeth "Melt The Ice Away" (2016) VS Metallica "When A Blind Man Cries" (2016) VS Slayer "Pride In Prejudice" (2015)

"Vice Of The People" is the Japanese bonus track for "For All Kings".  Aaaand it starts with that doofy march beat.  Wonderful.  The lyrics don't do it any favors in the "I should take this seriously" department either.  And like most of the songs I've slagged in this Update process, it's not bad.  It's just so "...whatever."

"Melt The Ice Away" is a Budgie cover that was the Spotify exclusive bonus track for "Dystopia".  It's funny how the original Budgie tracks are often much softer than the bands that cover them and turn them into fucking barnburners.  This song sounds a little goofy in the vocals and lyrics department, but knowing it's a Budgie song, it totally gets a pass.  And unlike some covers of Budgi…