Skip to main content


Match 060:

Alice In Chains "Frogs" (Unplugged) (1996)
Nirvana "Pennyroyal Tea" (Unplugged) (1994)
Pearl Jam "Low Light" (1998)
Soundgarden "Fresh Tendrils" (1994)

"Frogs" is another song which proves Alice In Chains would've been better off transforming some of their electric songs instead of resting on their acoustic laurels for this performance.  On the studio version, there's like four Layne Staley's singing in this unsettling arrangement, building to an impactful crescendo of distorted guitar playing a weird chord.  Here, with one voice singing a different melody and the guitar and drums severely downplayed, it makes for a unique experience; a cool twist on something.  It allows the material to be seen in a different light.  This is what this whole "Unplugged" album could have, and probably should have, been.

This version of "Pennyroyal Tea" was a solo performance, which I think was a smart move.  It makes this version more personal.  Though that was never the problem I had with the original, it helps make it something worth existing.  Also on the plus side, he annunciates his words this time, which would be sad if he didn't, being he's the only one on stage.  He does fuck up going into the last verse, but because of the nature of not only "Unplugged In New York" but of Nirvana itself, it comes off as slightly endearing instead of completely cringe-worthy.

Aaaand Pearl Jam bust out the acoustic guitars too.  Jack Irons is solid here for sure.  Simple but solid is underappreciated (and I'm just as guilty as anyone).  Kind of a cool three part harmony going on, but there's something missing.  I can't put my finger on it, but this song feels like it needs one more push to get over the bar.  Pianos and organs float in and out of the mix, as does guitar feedback.  "Low Life" has a soothing quality that I'm coming to appreciate, but I've heard better.  (Though I've certainly heard worse...)

Now it's time for the main event.  I knew going in "Fresh Tendrils" had the easy four.  This song hooked me the first time I heard it: Its placement on the album, its groove, the weird Hammond organ (that I thought was a guitar with an effect on it for years), Chris Cornell's powerful-ass vocal melodies, even the middle section is boss.  Slam dunk.

"Fresh Tendrils": 4
"Frogs" (Unplugged): 3
"Low Life": 2
"Pennyroyal Tea" (Unplugged): 1


Pearl Jam: 158
Alice In Chains: 153
Soundgarden: 151
Nirvana: 138

Now there's a seven point spread between first and third.  Things are getting tense!  Come back tomorrow for Matchup 061!


Popular posts from this blog


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…


Anthrax "Impaled" (2016) VS Megadeth "Dystopia" (2016) VS Metallica "Atlas, Rise!" (2016) VS Slayer "Jihad" (Live from Sofia, Bulgaria) (2010)

Unfortunately, Anthrax drew the short straw here, as "Impaled" is a middling intro that, on top of being a bit of a non-song, goes on a hair too long for its own good.

"Dystopia" is a solid, upbeat fist-pumper that was a no-brainer to make the first single off the album of the same name.  It may seem a little milquetoast for the first half, but once the "single" part falls away, it reveals a banger in the back half that makes you remember why you like this stuff in the first place.  It'll take more than one listen to realize how cool this song is, but on play two or three you'll be nodding your head with a pleased scowl on your face.

My first impression of "Atlas, Rise!" was "This is the most average Metallica song ever."  Like if you took all the Met…


Anthrax "Suzerain" (2016) VS Megadeth "Conquer Or Die!" (2016) VS Metallica "ManUNkind" (2016) VS Slayer "Cast The First Stone" (2015)

"Suzerain" is your pentennial reminder that Charlie Bennante don't fuck around.  Definitely the most fiery song on "For All Kings", and probably the closest to the old Anthrax as we're going to get ever again.  Bang your head in reflection.

"Conquer Or Die!" is more old school, though whether that works for or against it is up to you.  It's the three minute instrumental interlude.  This one is...fine.  Honestly, it's better than fine when compared to the song I have to review next, so I shan't complain too loudly.  But it is a song you wouldn't exactly miss if it fell off the face of the planet either.

"ManUNkind" was the point where I stopped giving "Hardwired...To Self-Destruct" the benefit of the doubt and started dreading the fact that I h…