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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 their most brutal, impenetrable, unforgiving song is one of the things they chose to lead with.  Cobain moans the chorus of "Turning Japanese" by The Vapors (now there's a band I didn't think I'd be referencing when I decided to write this) at one point.  This version is bland and lifeless compared to the album version.  It lacks any edge.  It's just three guys fucking around and failing to play any actual music for nine minutes.

"Unthought Known" is middle-of-the-road, but it's got a decent chorus with nice melodic structure.  It's got piano and Gen-X Alt-Dad Rock leads you might hear on like a Kings Of Leon song except with less bite.  It's actually much better than I'm making it sound, but it's totally pedestrian.

"H.I.V. Baby" is in the vein of "Kyle Petty (Son Of Richard)" in that it's a B-Side that wound up on a compilation benefiting a woman's charity and that goes really hard in the paint.  Originally released in 1990 as the B-Side to the single version of "Room A Thousand Years Wide" (which was their last release with Sub Pop, but their first with new bassist Ben Shepherd; in fact this is the first song he had a hand in writing), it's a rough and tumble de-tuned gut punch of a song, moving along at a clip and mugging any pedestrians that get in its path.   The whole back half of this four and a half minute song is the same riff over and over, but it never gets old.  It just keeps kicking ass.

"H.I.V. Baby": 4
"Lesson Learned": 3
"Unthought Known": 2
"Endless Nameless" (Live): 1

TOTALS:

Soundgarden: 305
Alice In Chains: 287
Pearl Jam: 275
Nirvana: 242

Keep comin' back for more.  We're edging ever closer to the finale.

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