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THE GRUNGE MATCH - 053

Match 053:

Alice In Chains "Sludge Factory" (Unplugged) (1996)
Nirvana "tourette's" (1993)
Pearl Jam "No Way" (1998)
Soundgarden "Superunknown" (1994)

Layne seems more awake for this one.  He even cracks a few jokes before the song starts.  It's the first inkling that this band is alive playing in a live setting.  It's also the first song on this "Unplugged" album that wasn't originally an acoustic number.  They manage to keep the swagger if not the heaviness of the original.  The real interesting aspect is on the album version, Staley's voice is so layered and effected up that it sounds post-human.  This is one guy singing the thing.  And he goes for the high harmony line on the chorus, which makes for a shaky, cracking delivery, but despite being jarring isn't necessarily the worst.

"tourette's" is random on purpose.  It's short, it's noisy...and that's it.  It's 90 seconds of anarchy, and as close to punk as any of these bands got after 1991.

If "No Way" was played clean tone, it'd be some lighter-waving bullshit, but because it's got electricity and wah petals going on, it's got some life to it.  Definitely more groove oriented than Pearl Jam are normally, but they handle it well.  Points for taking it somewhere new, guys.  (New for them, anyway.)  It almost reminds me of a more happy go lucky "Blow Up The Outside World" in a way.

In an album full of absolute dynamite, the title track to "Superunknown" can feel like forgotten ordinance that fell of the cart on the way to the battle.  It's not as heavy as "Mailman", "4th Of July" or "Let Me Drown".  It's not as weird as "My Wave", "Spoonman" or "Half".  On first blush its verses may seem a little plain.  But it makes up for it with a chorus that doesn't quit.  That may not be obvious on first blush either, but after a couple listens, believe me it's there.

"Superunknown": 4
"Sludge Factory" (Unplugged): 3
"tourette's": 2
"No Way": 1

TOTALS:

Pearl Jam: 144
Alice In Chains: 138
Soundgarden: 127
Nirvana: 121

Tomorrow, we discuss one of several pieces that could be considered Kurt Cobain's swansong: "All Apologies".  (And three other songs.)

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