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THE GRUNGE MATCH - 076

Match 076:

Alice In Chains "I Can't Have You Blues" (1988)
Nirvana "Sliver" (Live) (1993)
Pearl Jam "Parting Ways" (2000)
Soundgarden "Zero Chance" (1996)

"I Can't Have You Blues" is from a pre "Facelift" demo.  I've never heard this song before, but yeah this has "local hard rock outfit" written all over it.  It's a bunch of kids that surely have attitude and even a bit of talent, but it's one of those songs that you write when you're just starting to write songs, especially in the lyrics department.  It screams cut-rate Guns N' Roses, which in 1988 was the hot new thing to be.  It might've even got them noticed at the time, or at least they thought it would.  To be fair, it's a reasonable enough facsimile to avoid displeasure to the listener, but it wound up as boxed set fodder for a reason.

This version of "Sliver" comes from a November 1993 performance at the 8,500 seat Springfield Civic Center in Massachusetts.  You can tell this band (or at the very least Kurt) has been through the fucking ringer in two years.  This is an upbeat song, but Kurt barely sounds like he's there for it (which by this point, he may not have been).  It's played well enough, but if this was a three minute song, I feel like Cobain might not've been able to keep it up.  And going in the opposite direction, this performance feels like it's out of tune in the slightly flat direction instead of the way too sharp songs of  prior entries.

"Parting Ways" is a smooth, inauspicious conclusion to "Binaural".  (Not counting the bonus track which is just a typewriter with reverb for 30 seconds.)  This has tympani and a guitar effect to make one of them sound like a sitar (no sitar is credited on the track) and is really mellow, to the point where I'm a bit apathetic.  It didn't leave any kind of impression on me whatsoever, and considering the leadup to this was a 90 second Eddie Vedder ukulele solo, it's a weak conclusion to an album that really never found itself (especially since the original track listing had 16 songs and was in a completely different order).  It was an album that had potential, lived up to some but ultimately could have (and maybe should have) been better.  I'll have to track down the alternate track list (it's on Wikipedia) and let you know.

"Zero Chance" is positioned weirdly.  It's a really slow song on track three of an album that really hasn't taken off yet.  I like it better than the first two.  It's got a sing-along chorus that I forgot about until just now; I haven't heard it in at least eight years.  The verses have a really cool interplay between the vocals and guitar line.  It captures the melancholy without trivializing it by making it funerial.  It's a great snapshot of how it feels to have a generally down sense of the world while still knowing you've got to get up and go to work tomorrow.  I don't want to care about how futile it all seems right now, thanks.  I've got shit to do that I don't want to.  And Soundgarden somehow manages to make all of it sound really pretty.

"Zero Chance":  4
"I Can't Have You Blues": 3
"Sliver" (Live): 2
"Parting Ways": 1

TOTALS:

Alice In Chains: 196
Soundgarden: 196
Pearl Jam: 191
Nirvana: 177

Soundgarden has re-tied Alice In Chains for the lead while Pearl Jam falls farther behind.  Nirvana did a little better this time, so we'll see what the future holds as Pearl Jam prepares to read us the "Riot Act".  Stay tuned.

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