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THE GRUNGE MATCH - 116

Match 116:

Alice In Chains "Pretty Done" (2013)
Nirvana "I Hate Myself And Want To Die" (1993)
Pearl Jam "Getaway" (2013)
Soundgarden "Storm" (2014)

"Pretty Done" is when I was pretty done with "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here".  It has an okay mid section, but you have to get through those shitty verses to get there, and the first time I heard this album, I just wasn't having it, so I skipped it before I got that far.  I've only listened to "Dinosaurs" twice, and there's a reason.  Clunkers like "Pretty Done" are the exception, not the rule.  Sure, the mid part repeats again after the third verse, but it's still not worth the time of day.

"I Hate Myself And Want To Die" was the leadoff track to "The Beavis And Butt-Head Experience", and it features a minute long intro from the titular characters.  It was recorded during the "In Utero" sessions, and it's not a son…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 115

Match 115:

Alice In Chains "Hollow" (2013)
Nirvana "Return Of The Rat" (1992)
Pearl Jam "The End" (2009)
Soundgarden "Kristi" (1995)

"Hollow" is one of the best songs Alice In Chains has done with William DuVall.  I'm not sure it should have started an album, but it's definitely solid.  It's got the slow grind in the verses and the harmonious swells in the chorus, plus a simple, effective solo from Jerry Cantrell.  Definitely a bait and switch given the lackluster album that follows.

"Return Of The Rat" was recorded for a tribute album to the punk band The Wipers right when the concept of tribute albums was becoming a thing.  It's a peppy little number with just enough harmony keeping it together to make it a coherent song instead of what I've come to expect from these "With The Lights Out" tracks.  It sounds like a more biting version of what G.B.H. were doing around the same time.

"The End&quo…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 114

Match 114:

Alice In Chains "Black Gives Way To Blue" (2009)
Nirvana "Curmudgeon" (1992)
Pearl Jam "Force Of Nature" (2009)
Soundgarden "Live To Rise" (2012)

"Black Gives Way To Blue" is a piano ballad sendoff to this album, and in a way, Layne Staley.  With help from Elton John on the ivories, Alice In Chains tries with this piece to pay homage to and simultaneously move on from their former front man.  It's got pathos to it, especially in the piano line in the second verse.  It's a fitting end to an album that had to crawl out from an impossibly large shadow to earn its existence, and much like the life it honors, it ends abruptly.

"Curmudgeon" is a less good version of "Oh, The Guilt".  It's got the same attitude, but the execution isn't quite as sharp, and it's almost identical in structure.  But it's still got it's moments of brazen noise rock goodness.

For a song called "Force Of Na…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 113

Match 113:

Alice In Chains "Private Hell" (2009)
Nirvana "Oh, The Guilt" (1992)
Pearl Jam "Speed Of Sound" (2009)
Soundgarden "Blind Dogs" (1995)

"Private Hell" has always been too slight to make an impression on me.  The drums sound weaker than the rest of the record for some reason.  It's supposed to be a more positive take on "Down In A Hole", like climbing out, but it sounds like that song crossed with a new wave-era rock ballad.  Lyrically, it at least follows the theme without tripping into corny territory.

"Oh, The Guilt" is closer to a "real" Nirvana song than anything we've heard on "With The Lights Out" so far.  This was recorded in a studio, they weren't fucking around, and it's the band at its full potential unleashing a sonic pummeling.  I'm down with this.

"Speed Of Sound" (which immediately follows "Supersonic") starts with the lyric "It'…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 112

Match 112:

Alice In Chains "Take Her Out" (2009)
Nirvana "Dumb" (Live '91, Peel Session)
Pearl Jam "Supersonic" (2009)
Soundgarden "Show Me" (1992/93)

"Take Her Out" is perfectly acceptable wannabe radio rock single bait.  Catchy, but not catchy enough.  Gutsy but not at all threatening.  Soaring chorus that's not memorable in the least.  There's nothing wrong with it at all, but not nearly enough right with it to warrant further investigation.

This version of "Dumb" is from the same Peel Session as "Endless, Nameless", which means it's almost 26 months before the album version came out on "In Utero" in 1993.  It's tuned a half step up to standard E tuning, which is typical of Nirvana's live performances at the time.  This version is slower, sloppier and desperately missing the cello accompaniment.  It's passable for a teenage band covering it, not the genuine article.

"Superso…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 111

Match 111:

Alice In Chains "Lesson Learned" (2009)
Nirvana "Endless, Nameless" (Live) (199)
Pearl Jam "Unthought Known" (2009)
Soundgarden "HIV Baby" (199)

"Lesson Learned" is downright aspirational.  The chorus is "Know when you find it / In your darkest hour, you strike gold / A thought clicks: It's not the be all, end all / Just another Lesson Learned".  Life is a process, a journey, and no single event can encapsulate it, regardless of how impactful.  The song itself is basic in all the ways that make Alice In Chains both catchy, yet still feel like they're hampered from their full potential somehow.  It's a good song that should have been great, like quite a few from their catalog for one reason or another.

"Endless, Nameless" is taken from a live radio performance on the Peel Sessions, September 1991.  This was three weeks before "Nevermind" came out, and this almost nine minute version of th…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 110

Match 110:

Alice In Chains "Acid Bubble" (2009)
Nirvana "Old Age" (1991)
Pearl Jam "Amongst The Waves" (2009)
Soundgarden "Fresh Deadly Roses" (1990)

"Acid Bubble" is the "Hate To Feel" of the bunch.  It's the "Love, Hate, Love".  It's the other slow, dark song.  The one with the knife twist in it.  And I don't dislike it.  It's a necessary component to a good Alice In Chains album.  The riff that comes cutting in at the three minute mark, grinding through with odd time and jagged force is what makes this song worth while.  Without it, it'd be an intolerable slog.  But with the payoff...it casts the set-up in a different light and validates it.

"Old Age" was recorded during the "Nevermind" sessions.  It's an uncharacteristically tender sound from Cobain, especially since its musically reminiscent of mid-period Pearl Jam, but with a rhythm section that gives it a soul.  It'…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 109

Match 109:

Alice In Chains "When The Sun Rose Again" (2009)
Nirvana "Verse Chorus Verse" (1991)
Pearl Jam "Just Breathe" (2009)
Soundgarden "Heretic" (1990)

Now this sounds like Alice In Chains.  "When The Sun Rose Again" is one of the better songs they've done with William DuVall.  Which is weird, because...there's nothing to it.  It's an acoustic song with a shaker for percussion, some pretty standard lyrics, and I've already written more about it than I thought I would.  But for some reason (the vocal harmony), it works.

"Verse Chorus Verse" is not the song I thought it was.  I always thought "Sappy" was "Verse Chorus Verse" (which it was on the "No Alternative" compilation), so I'm a bit thrown for a loop to hear this "Nevermind" outtake that is distinct enough from the rest of its brethren but only because it's a cut below their mark.  It's "Nevermind&q…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 107

Match 107:

Alice In Chains "Your Decision" (2009)
Nirvana "Pay To Play" (1990)
Pearl Jam "The Fixer" (2009)
Soundgarden "Sub Pop Rock City" (1988)

"Your Decision" is a sunnier take on the slow acoustic Alice In Chains song, a nicer equivalent of songs like "Heaven Beside You" and way less twisted than something of the "I Stay Away" ilk.  It's middle of the road.  It gets the job done.  And it's catchy, despite being droll; not an easy line to walk.

"Pay To Play" is "Stay Away" with a word swap for the chorus and the second verse.  It's all around an almost identical but not as good version of the one from "Nevermind", so there's not a whole lot to say about it.

"The Fixer" was all over rock radio in 2009.  I remember really liking it, and it got me genuinely interested in Pearl Jam for the first time in almost fifteen years.  Then, I listened to the samples from &q…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 108

Match 108:

Alice In Chains "A Looking In View" (2009)
Nirvana "Here She Comes Now" (1990)
Pearl Jam "Johnny Guitar" (2009)
Soundgarden "Toy Box" (1989)

"A Looking In View" was the first new Alice In Chains song in ten years, debuting as a single well ahead of the album.  It's at once no-nonsense and goes for the jugular with a buzzsaw, but it's also seven minutes long.  And the chorus exposes this as "Not Really Alice In Chains".  It sounds like a not so great approximation that I only realize now that I've reviewed 107 other songs by the band.  If I can block that out, however, "A Looking In View" is a perfectly serviceable hard rock sludge-fest with a soaring chorus.  And as the song goes on, they get better at it; the last chorus is the best one as far as delivery.  They get to what they were trying to do.  Structurally, the song is a cross between "Sludge Factory" and the second half of "L…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 106

Match 106:

Alice In Chains "Last Of My Kind" (2009)
Nirvana "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" (Boom Box Demo) (1990)
Pearl Jam "Got Some" (2009)
Soundgarden "Rowing" (2012)

"Last Of My Kind" finally has Alice In Chains showing some balls.  (Man that doesn't sound right.  Why was "balls" ever a thing?)  It's only on the chorus but at this point I'll take what I can get.  This song isn't as good as I remembered it either.  It's still fair to midland, but the verses are pretty weak sauce, coupled with some meh lyrics.  The mid section gets pretty dark and I like that.  The simple, slightly too loud to be understated solo is the perfect touch because it's the bruising riffs that we want to hear in that part.  Matter of fact, the whole second half of the song really turns it around, getting a lot more meaty and coming through with some creepy mid-tone wah lead to ride out on.  It almost harkens back to some kind…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 105

Match 105:

Alice In Chains "Check My Brain" (2009)
Nirvana "Opinion" (1990)
Pearl Jam "Gonna See My Friend" (2009)
Soundgarden "Eyelid's Mouth" (2012)

The Red Hot Chili Peppers made any band ever singing the word "California" ever again uncool to a painful degree circa 1999, so with that in mind, plus a lazy sounding riff, "Check My Brain" had a tough hill to climb for me to like it.  I eventually came around, because that bendy riff is actually nifty for how simple it is, but this song isn't nearly as fun as it was when I first heard it eight years ago.  It's still catchy and has life, but it's not as anthemic as I remember.  Time has sapped some of its strength and it doesn't punch like it used to.

"Opinion" is from almost exactly a year later than the previous session, emanating from The Boy Meets Girls show on KAOS 89.3 in Olympia, Washington.  It's a solo acoustic performance by Kurt Cobain.…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 104

Match 104:

Alice In Chains "All Secrets Known" (2009)
Nirvana "Even In His Youth" (Live In The Studio, 1989)
Pearl Jam "Inside Job" (2006)
Soundgarden "Worse Dreams" (2012)

Alice In Chains played the last show of their first run on July 3, 1996.  From there on, the band was in limbo, with the tease of a comeback in 1999 when two new songs were included on their boxed set, but nothing materialized before the untimely demise of Layne Staley in 2002.  The band played a one-off reunion gig in 2005 with former Damageplan singer Pat Lachman (that dude needs a new band; underrated) to benefit survivors of the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, then made an appearance for a 2006 VH1 special dedicated to Heart.  Phil Anselmo sang a song with them, Ann Wilson sang a song with them, and the singer from some band called Comes With The Fall sang "Rooster" with them.  The band had actually opened for Jerry Cantrell on his 2002 tour, and their rhythm section …

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 103

Match 103:

Alice In Chains "Dam That River" (Live) (1996)
Nirvana "Token Eastern Song" (1989)
Pearl Jam "Come Back" (2006)
Soundgarden "Halfway There" (2012)

"Dam That River", being one of the quintessential "Track Two"s in album history, is a curious choice to end a disc with, especially knowing now how final that ending was.  They certainly went out with a bang on this one.  Alice In Chains manages to sound tougher than the "Dirt" version and musically tries to kick your teeth in.  Layne is mostly on point, bringing the last of his vitriol to the fore to be expended.  Unfortunately, he would be found unresponsive a few hours after the show, and the tour was cancelled.  Staley would make one other public appearance at a Jerry Cantrell solo show in 1998 before his untimely death in 2002.  So yeah, this was it.

There's not much else I can add to it.

"Token Eastern Song" doesn't have a whole lot of "…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 102

Match 102:

Alice In Chains "A Little Bitter" (Live) (1996)
Nirvana "Ain't It A Shame" (1989)
Pearl Jam "Army Reserve" (2006)
Soundgarden "Black Saturday" (2012)

I'm genuinely shocked to hear "A Little Bitter" in a live setting.  It was the other "Last Action Hero" song, the cult classic.  The Alice In Chains deep cut of deep cuts.  And given the state of the band and the kind of bland recording style of these live shows, this is still passionate.  This still, with all its flaws, has balls.

"Ain't It A Shame" is the only song The Jury did that's worth hearing.  It sounds like an aggro version of the Jackass theme.  Cobain goes in on this one.  And that drummer's nuckin' futs too.  You wanna talk about fire, this is like taking a bath in everclear.

Pearl Jam takes a more funk tinged, mid-70's Stones ballad approach with "Army Reserve".  The chorus reminds me of earlier Pearl Jam, but …

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 101

Match 101:

Alice In Chains "Again" (Live) (1996)
Nirvana "Grey Goose" (1989)
Pearl Jam "Wasted Reprise" (2006) "Yellow Ledbetter" (1993)
Soundgarden "Attrition" (2012)

And so we start the last live performance of Layne Staley (and the last three times he'll appear on The Grunge Match).  The vocals on this song are pretty bad, but that's because it really needs that doubling effect to work.  It's just not a song that works well in a live setting.  Or so I thought until I looked up a 2013 performance of the song.  It's not the greatest thing I've ever heard or anything, but I think William DuVall is better at vocal arrangement, maybe?  He is singing a different part than Layne is in the harmony, and it sounds closer to what it's supposed to be like.  But even William DuVall wasn't perfect with this song; a 2006 clip had him making the same mistake, ow; No, I didn't say it was okay...no, whoa, whoa.  (SHIT that…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 100

Match 100:

Alice In Chains "God Am" (Live) (1996)
Nirvana "They Hung Him On A Cross" (1989)
Pearl Jam "Gone" (2006)
Soundgarden "Taree" (2012)

Here we are at the centennial Grunge Match.  And it starts with a voice I presume to be Mike Inez saying "Everybody be quiet; this is serious."  Then Jerry Cantrell launches into a hot shit guitar lead, so I'm presuming they're just having a bit of fun.  And that's the shame of Alice In Chains; they could be fun when they wanted, but it usually wasn't as good, so they might've felt forced to be dark and brooding in spite of the gems like the 1988 Facelift demos showing they had range.  Layne Staley is belting his heart out on this one, which is a contrast from the album's calm, cold, yet otherworldly vocal trio approach.  It definitely makes the song rock more.

"They Hung Him On A Cross" is the first of three Lead Belly covers performed by a studio band called "…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 099

Match 099:

Alice In Chains "Them Bones" (Live) (1996)
Nirvana "Dive" (Live In The Studio, 1989)
Pearl Jam "Big Wave" (2006)
Soundgarden "Bones Of Birds" (2012)

Well, we're off to a good start.  For a man that's two days away from overdosing, Layne Staley sounds okay.  Still a shell of what he'd been three years ago, but not as bad as I was fearing.  This is a passable performance of a great song.  You can even hear a little bit of fire in the chorus.

This is a slower, more lo-fi version of the song that kicks off "Incesticide".  As a matter of fact, it's almost a full minute longer.  This recording sounds like a shitty cover band playing at Nirvana tribute.

"Big Wave" keeps with the "hang ten" feel of some of the earlier songs on "Pearl Jam", even with the title.  It's got frenetic energy, it's got a brightness to it and the key switch for the pre-solo is just what it needed to put it o…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 098

Match 098:

Alice In Chains "Dirt" (Drunk And Disorderly Version) (1993)
Nirvana "Blandest" (1988)
Pearl Jam "Unemployable" (2006)
Soundgarden "Blood On The Valley Floor" (2012)

You can tell Layne Staley's pretty fucked up on this one.  I'm not sure why they put this on the album.  He gets the city name wrong, then can barely remember what album the song "Dirt" is from.  Then he doesn't sing it very well.  This is one of those clips you play during "Behind The Music" to show the band in freefall.  Why on Earth they would willingly include this on an official release is beyond me.

"Blandest" lives up to its name.  It's the most bland song I've heard Nirvana do so far.  There's no lyrics good enough to pretend they're deep nor bad enough to lambaste.  The rhythm section just sits there and the guitar does the vocal line.  It's flaccid.

"Unemployable" sounds like Tom Petty with bett…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 097

Match 097:

Alice In Chains "Junkhead" (Live) (1993)
Nirvana "Clean Up Before She Comes" (1986-88)
Pearl Jam "Parachutes" (2006)
Soundgarden "A Thousand Days Before" (2012)

This is the last of the Glasgow songs from the "Live" album, and I'm kind of sad to see it go because that performance sounded pretty on.  This has Alice In Chains sounding the most metal they've ever sounded.  The guitar tone, the palm muted arpeggios where there were none before, Layne Staley's gruff, guttural delivery...this shit hard.  It adds life to a song that's supposed to be morose, and it may be missing the point by doing that, but dude it's a gnarled take I didn't see coming.

"Clean Up Before She Comes" is likewise the last song from the 1986-88 Kurt Cobain home recordings.  And again, it's the beginnings of something that was never returned to.  It could have been a single; it's catchy and even the vocal harmonies are…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 096

Match 096:

Alice In Chains "Would?" (Live) (1993)
Nirvana "Don't Want It All (aka Seed)" (1986-88)
Pearl Jam "Marker In The Sand" (2006)
Soundgarden "By Crooked Steps" (2012)

The live version of "Would?" is more like the demo than the finished "Dirt" one, opting for a tenuous, even cautious pace, and it sucks some of the life out of the song.  Also, they don't quite capture the vocal magic, which would have been hard live anyway, but eh.  It all comes off a tad milquetoast.

"Don't Want It All" sounds like a lot of teenagers' first attempt to write something brooding and dark with shitty recording implements.  It's nothing special in this form, but even then, in the right hands, this could've been something approaching half as good as "Would?" with some re-arranging and decent production.

"Marker In The Sand" has kind of a surf vibe to start off, so points for staying on theme.…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 095

Match 095:

Alice In Chains "Rooster" (Live) (1993)
Nirvana "Beans" (1986-88)
Pearl Jam "Severed Hand" (2006)
Soundgarden "Non-State Actor" (2012)

Man, if they played this after "Love, Hate, Love", I would've fallen asleep.  This isn't a particularly good version, a little slower than before and with the quiet parts randomly punctuated with out of place tom hits.

"Beans" is from a group of 4-track recordings done at Kurt Cobain's home between 1986 and 1988.  The only songs anyone's heard of from this group were "About A Girl" and (of course) "Polly".  (I swear, that song's like a bad penny.)  The song in question has high pitched voices that sound like cartoon characters fighting, then the vocals are sung in the same high pitched, warped voice and holy SHIT he slurs the word "naked" so much I had to look it up to make sure it wasn't a different N-Word.  This is the worst drek I…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 094

Match 094:

Alice In Chains "Love, Hate, Love" (Live) (1993)
Nirvana "Raunchola (aka: Erectum) / Moby Dick" (1988)
Pearl Jam "Comatose" (2006)
Soundgarden "Been Away Too Long" (2012)

This version of "Love, Hate, Love" is from the same Glasgow show of the previous two entries.  It sounds like the band is being too cautious with their dynamics going into the song, like they're trying desperately to come down off the high of "Man In The Box" and play this really slow, atmospheric piece.  They get there by the first chorus, but it's a bit of a struggle for restraint.  As a result the pace is kind of all over the place during the verses.  It's still powerful, but not an improvement on the album version like the song before it.

"Raunchola" is a bootleg live recording from January 1988.  It has some spastic bass line, some bullshit guitar chord that sounds once a measure, then a Dead Milkmen style punk chorus comple…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 093

Match 093:

Alice In Chains "Man In The Box" (Live) (1993)
Nirvana "Pen Cap Chew" (1988)
Pearl Jam "World Wide Suicide" (2006)
Soundgarden "Telephantasm" (2010)

You can tell this is from the same performance as the last one, since the first two measures are the outro drum fills from "Angry Chair" leading directly into "Man In The Box" without breaking stride.  The riff loses a lot of power in the live setting, since it's only one guitar with heavy palm muting.  This performance is still pretty damn good considering a) It's a song so overplayed you can't take it seriously, b) I've never been a huge fan of live recordings, and c) they don't really do anything different.  It's just a more lively version of the original, and I think that's what makes the difference.  It gives it a life it doesn't have on the record.  The studio version goes for atmosphere and this goes for the throat.

Man, this 1988 reh…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 092

Match 092:

Alice In Chains "Angry Chair" (Live) (1993)
Nirvana "If You Must" (1988)
Pearl Jam "Life Wasted" (2006)
Soundgarden "Black Rain" (2010)

This version of "Angry Chair" is the band playing it live with no real changes recorded to sound like any live performance for MTV around that time (though I don't think it had anything to do with the network).  It's a good version, especially the vocal harmonies (which isn't easy to pull off live), but hampered by the fact that it's just a less good sounding version of the album.

"If You Must" sounds like Cobain's imitating Bob Dylan now.  It's another waltz (we've become lousy with them recently here at The Grunge Match).  It goes hard in the chorus, which is a welcome change from the flaccid verses.  The bridge is nifty too, getting grindy with the palm mutes.  By the end, this song won me over.

Now, Pearl Jam are halfway through the second term of George…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 091

Match 091:

Alice In Chains "Queen Of The Rodeo" (Live) (1990)
Nirvana "Mrs. Butterworth" (1987)
Pearl Jam "All Or None" (2002)
Soundgarden "Bleed Together" (1997)

This version of "Queen Of The Rodeo" is also on "Music Bank", but since I didn't want to break up the track order of this live album if I have to use the whole thing, I put it here.  It was recorded in Dallas in November 1990.  It's their approximation of a country song, it's got a few cringe-inducing homophobic slurs (used to make the narrator make fun of themselves as a prejudiced piece of shit, but still) and has a thrash part out of nowhere for about four bars twice.  It's a mess that doesn't need to exist and further illustrates that Seattle bands all sucked when they tried to be funny.

"Mrs. Butterworth" has a fucking RIFF.  It also sounds like a song that they turned into something else later, but I can't place it.  In spite of t…

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED - Episode 097: The Music Behind The Memes

For the second week out of the last three, I break a record for most tracks in an episode with (technically) 25.  I originally wanted to go in depth with these memes and explore them, but ain't nobody got time for that, the episode would be two hours and these shownotes would be pages and pages of TL;DR.  So to spare everyone, here's the track list and nothing else.  Look them up on your own and experience the meme for yourself (if it isn't already dead to you from overexposure):





1. "All Star" Smash Mouth
2. "The System Is Down" Strong Bad
3. "Harlem Shake" Baauer
4. "Gangam Style" Psy
5. "Lisa Frank 420 / Modern Computing" Macintosh Plus
6. "Enjoy Yourself" Saint Pepsi
7. Keyboard Cat
8. JOHN CENA
9. CENARANG!!! (technically Skrillex?)
10. "Old Kanye Seinfeld" Seinfeld Current Day feat. Kanye West
11. "Black Beatles" Rae Sremmurd & Gucci Mane
12. "Roundabout" Yes
13. Chimpanzee R…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 090

Match 090:

Alice In Chains "Bleed The Freak" (Live) (1990)
Nirvana "Help Me, I'm Hungry (aka: "Vendetagainst)" (1987)
Pearl Jam "Arc" (2002)
Soundgarden "Karaoke" (1996)

Not a particularly good recording on this one.  It sounds like when they would do live broadcasts of the rock stage at Summerfest.  This was done around Christmas time, 1990 at the Moore Theater in Seattle.  For a live version of a song heavily reliant on vocals, they're the one thing that sounds good on this.  Everything else sounds flat, if expertly played.

"Help Me, I'm Hungry" is by a band trying to be as in your face as possible, while working on the "quiet verse, loud chorus" dynamic thing in as primitive a matter as possible.  It's kind of fun in spite of being utter crap (which, admittedly, may have been what they were aiming for).

"Arc" is a minute long.  It's Eddie Vedder wailing while backed by the LifeSaver's Men…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 089

Match 089:

Alice In Chains "Died" (1999)
Nirvana "White Lace And Strange" (1987)
Pearl Jam "1/2 Full" (2002)
Soundgarden "Boot Camp" (1996)

For Alice In Chains, this was the end of 1) the 1990's, 2) Their three disc boxed set and 3) The career of their lead singer Layne Staley.  Originally written during the "Degradation Trip" sessions (along with "Get Born Again"), this wound up being another creepy farewell, as Layne is singing about how "It's been deflating since you Died" three years before he takes the trip himself.  According to Genius, this song is about his fiancĂ©e's death in October 1996, as if this couldn't get any darker.  Layne took it extremely hard.

Musically, "Died" is a song that really fits the subject, in that it starts with great promise, gets maudlin pretty early, gets hung up on something it can't get over, and just repeats itself for most of its runtime.  It doesn'…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 088

Match 088:

Alice In Chains "Again" (Tatoo Of Pain Mix) (1996)
Nirvana "Anorexorcist" (1987)
Pearl Jam "Bu$hleaguer" (2002)
Soundgarden "An Unkind" (1996)

Oh dear God.  This is the most cringeworthy 90's thing you could imagine.  An industrial techno remix of "Again".  It's...it's just the worst.

"Anorexorcist" is from a radio session for KAOS 89.3 FM in Olympia, WA, recorded on May 6, 1987, two months after their first show.  It's pretty good by "local band just formed and figuring out what we're doing" standards.  It's got some real teeth; even the use of guitar noise seems mostly intentional, which is not something all guitarists pick up on.  It's even got a groove.  I was not expecting to like this nearly as much as I do.

"Bu$hleaguer" is a pretentious anti-Bush protest song.  The problem isn't with the message, but with the fact that the vocals are free-form spoken word with…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 087

Match 087:

Alice In Chains "A Little Bitter" (1993)
Nirvana "Heartbreaker" (1987)
Pearl Jam "Help Help" (2002)
Soundgarden "Overfloater" (1996)

"A Little Bitter" is not a typical Alice In Chains song.  For one, it's pace is frenetic.  It's got a bunch of the band's hallmarks, but set at a speed about 125% above their normal groove.  I think that's why this song stands out for me in their catalog.  It also has a self confidence lacking in much of their material, as most of it deals with being down and out.  This feels like righteous anger being spewed, which is how 12 year old me got out of bed every morning to face the slings and arrows of being shit on by kids looking for an easy target.  The fact that I was a reprehensible little shit who didn't know anything about being a human being nor cared to learn wasn't making me any harder to hit, but c'est la vie.

"Heartbreaker" is a bunch of kids just busti…

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 086

Match 086:

Alice In Chains "What The Hell Have I?" (1993)
Nirvana "You Know You're Right" (2002)
Pearl Jam "Green Disease" (2002)
Soundgarden "Switch Opens" (1996)

If "What The Hell Have I?" had made it on "Dirt" instead of the "Last Action Hero" soundtrack, it would have been one of the best songs on the album.  The verses are creepy without being morose and their seething energy feeds into the bombastic chorus.  The band was rarely this explosive again.

Holy chronological whiplash, Batman!  How can Nirvana suddenly jump into a millennium they didn't even exist in?  Well, there was a greatest hits disc released in 2002 simply called "Nirvana".  Just the band logo in silver, centered on a field of black.  The selling point was a newly cobbled together song called "You Know You're Right", which Kurt Cobain obviously tracked sometime before his demise.  I can tell they were going for a prod…