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Showing posts from 2017

THE TOP 20 SONGS OF 2017 (Updated)

Here it is: My favorite songs of 2017.  This podcast won't be up forever so listen while you can before I end up putting something else up on Soundcloud (with its 3 hour limit ass).  [BLOGGER'S NOTE: The Top Albums podcast was longer than I anticipated, so it's already down.  Sorry.  Instead, I've linked to the songs below.]  I hope you enjoy the fruits of my labor.  This year has been better than quite a few in recent memory, which took me by surprise.  Music is pretty sweet if you know where to look.

20. "Gucci" Qveen Herby
19. "Learn To Let Go" Kesha
18. "New York" St. Vincent
17. "Praying" Kesha
16. "Avalanche Alley" The New Pornographers
15. "Automaton" Robotaki
14. "Dreams" Beck
13. "Them Changes" Thundercat
12. "Woman" Kesha
11. "Rainbow" Kesha
10. "Automaton" Jamiroquai
9. "Constellations" Grant & Jessi Mason
8. "Wow Wow" Neil Cicierega
7. &qu…


This has certainly been a heck of a thing.

Writing this started out as a labor of love to a subgenre of rock and roll that came along at the perfect time for me (both when I was entering middle school in the bottom 5 of the popularity pecking order and when I started buying albums at the impressionable age of 11).  It obviously took a long time to put together: August 29th, 2016 is when I began planning, May 24th is when I wrote the last entry, the wee hours of August 1st, 2017 is when I finished proofreading and uploading the entries to the blog with video links, and here I am typing these words on August 15th.

The elephant in the room is this genre seems to be built on death.  Three of the four frontmen of these bands are dead, one of which occurred during the run of this series.  (Shouts to Alice In Chains bassist Mike Starr as well.  R.I.P.)  On top of that, Pearl Jam only exists because the lead singer of Mother Love Bone died, causing that band to break up.  If you go down the nex…


Match 127:

Alice N' Chains "Lip Lock Rock" (1987)
Nirvana "Seasons In The Sun" (1993)
Pearl Jam "Future Days" (2013)
Soundgarden "A Splice Of Space Jam" (1996)

In 1984, a band called Sleze auditioned a new singer named Layne Elmer.  Elmer would later change his name to Staley, but you've probably already figured that out.  What you probably didn't know is the history of the band.  Johnny Barcolas played guitar, James Bergstrom played drums, and later members Nick Pollock and Jim Sheppard would join on guitar and bass respectively, but not necessarily concurrently.  (This is further complicated because Barcolas left, then rejoined as a bass player at one point.)

The band decided in 1986 to rename themselves Alice N' Chains.  (I'm not kidding.)  They recorded two demos, with the lineup of Layne Staley on vocals, Nick Pollock on guitar, Johnny Barcolas on bass and James Bergstrom on drums.  This demo is where today's song comes …


Match 126:

Alice In Chains "Choke" (2013)
Nirvana "Talk To Me" (1992)
Pearl Jam "Yellow Moon" (2013)
Soundgarden "Night Surf" (1993)

With "Choke", "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here" is finally put out of its misery, and not a moment too soon.  If you mashed up "Choke" and "Hung On A Hook", you really would have "Down In A Hole" except not.  MAN this is some lazy shit.

"Talk To Me" is an original song by Nirvana, but the only recording of it that seems to exist is a bootleg camcorder version from a concert in 1992.  It's a lot more poppy than anything they were working on for "In Utero", but it's definitely good, walking that line of early 60's pop rock and 90's cuthroat harshness.  It would have been in the pantheon of Nirvana songs we're sick of if they'd ever bothered to issue it as a single (or, you know, record it at all).

No, "Yellow Moon" isn…


Match 125:

Alice In Chains "Hung On A Hook" (2013)
Nirvana "Territorial Pissings" (Live '91)
Pearl Jam "Sleeping By Myself" (2013)
Soundgarden "Twin Tower" (1988?)

Holy SHIT that lead is trying and failing to be "Down In A Hole".  The whole song feels like it wants to be "Down In A Hole" part two.  At least they let William DuVall sing a clear lead on this one.  It's not as bad as the dregs of this album, but it sounds like a lesser version of something Alice In Chains has already done.  (For real, it's almost "The Unforgiven II" up in here.)  The other problem "Hung On A Hook" has (besides not living up to its awesome title) is it's too sleepy to be threatening, even during the bridge where they try to tighten the noose, it doesn't rock nearly hard enough to do what it wants to do.

A shitty bootleg of Nirvana's fastest song from 1991.

Dude, if "Infallible" gave me commercial …


Match 124:

Alice In Chains "Phantom Limb" (2013)
Nirvana "Sappy" (1993)
Pearl Jam "Let The Records Play" (2013)
Soundgarden "I Don't Care About You" (1992)

Yo, "Phantom Limb"'s riff is a ripoff of something I've heard before in 4/4 instead of the original 3/4 (really wish I could place it),'s so much better than 90% of "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here" that I'll TAKE it!  This one is a heavy bruiser without being a dirge, and after seven full minutes it leaves you wanting more.  In fact, it's among their best with William DuVall.  Now that I look, this was his only writing credit with the band besides "Last Of My Kind".  And that was one of the better joints from the last album.  Let DuVall write more!

This is the song I thought was "Verse, Chorus, Verse", but that was because a) It plays perfectly in a loop; like, if you have it on repeat, the song ends and begins again on beat a…


Match 123:

Alice In Chains "Scalpel" (2013)
Nirvana "In Bloom" (Sub Pop Version) (1990)
Pearl Jam "Swallowed Whole" (2013)
Soundgarden "I Can't Give You Anything" (1992)

Take the most cheesy, uplifting positivity song Jerry Cantrell had in him for his solo career and make it worse.  That's "Scalpel".

This version of "In Bloom" was done for Sub Pop records in 1990.  It sounds like a demo of the "Nevermind" version, but with sloppier drums and not nearly as well produced.

"Swallowed Whole" is a decent little acoustic rock song.  It doesn't punch above its weight or anything, but it's a contender in it's class.  Other than being solid, it doesn't really have too many other attributes.

Sadly, this isn't a cover of Judy Garland's "I Can't Give You Anything But Love", but it is a Ramones song instead, so there's potential.  Man, the vocals don't even sound like C…


Match 122:

Alice In Chains "Breath On A Window" (2013)
Nirvana "Big Cheese" (Live '89)
Pearl Jam "Pendulum" (2013)
Soundgarden "Homicidal Suicidal" (1992)

"Breath On A Window", despite a cool title, starts off sounding like a cheap retread of "Lesson Learned" (maybe the sixth best song on "Black Gives Way To Blue") and dies a death from there.

Nirvana as a four piece is a sort of weird proposition, being there's not exactly an intricate tapestry of guitar leads or anything, but in a live setting it makes sense to thicken up the sound.  This is a quality performance of one of their earlier songs (even if it's taken from a camcorder) at a Rhino Records store in 1989.

Man, "Lightning Bolt" does live up to its name.  It starts with a brilliant flash followed by loud thunder, then the echo dies real quick.  "Pendulum" is the kind of song that thinks it can coast by on atmosphere alone, and it …


Match 121:

Alice In Chains "Low Ceiling" (2013)
Nirvana "Immigrant Song" (Band Rehearsal, 1988)
Pearl Jam "Infallible" (2013)
Soundgarden "Can You See Me?" (1992) can we get people to like this new album better?  I know!  Let's put that Dave Jerden style gated reverb on the drums!  That'll totally make them nostalgic enough to ignore how milquetoast and boring this "Low Ceiling" song is!  (Ron Howard's voice: It didn't.)

This is kind of fucking great.  It's Nirvana at Kurt's mom's house playing Led Zeppelin, Cobain uses his yell of aggro-anguish (aggrish?) to do the famous call in the song, and the best parts are a) There's one guy in shot sitting against the wall looking bored, and b) They have a strobe light going.  This is the level of adorably ghetto that only bands just starting out can get away with.  (Also helps this isn't the worst cover of "Immigrant Song" either.)



Match 120:

Alice In Chains "Lab Monkey" (2013)
Nirvana "Do Re Mi" (1994)
Pearl Jam "Lightning Bolt" (2013)
Soundgarden "Touch Me" (1991)

"Lab Monkey" is musically pedestrian, but just grungy enough to stand out, I guess.  The lyrics are its real strength (which for Alice In Chains is a HUGE shock).  The title is literal: the song is from the point of view of a lab monkey, with a chorus from the point of view of the scientists.  For this album, this is high fucking caliber.  For this matchup, it's mildly interesting.

"Do Re Mi" is Kurt Cobain's attempt to write a late 60's pop song a-la The Byrds or The Mamas & The Papas.  The recording is a solo acoustic demo, and you can only kind of tell it's Cobain singing because he's trying to do something with his voice that's more sunny, yet somehow haunting at the same time (which, when listening to "California Dreaming" is about right).  This is surp…


Match 119:

Alice In Chains "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here" (2013)
Nirvana "The Other Improv" (1993)
Pearl Jam "Sirens" (2013)
Soundgarden "Come Together" (1990)

The lyric "The devil put dinosaurs here / Jesus don't like a queer" somehow manages to be cringe-worthy and poignant at the same time.  People actually believe this shit.  This isn't about whether or not you believe in God, it's about whether you believe the Earth is only 6,000 years old and that the literal embodiment of Christian love and forgiveness would draw the line at gay people.  Unfortunately, it's the only interesting thing about this slog of a song that is, musically, the most fitting title track for this album.  And this is one of the better songs on this disc.  It's all downhill from here, I'm afraid.

Continuing with the theme of painfully slow six minute songs, here's Nirvana with a demo recording from Rio '93 again.  You can't make …


Match 118:

Alice In Chains "Voices" (2013)
Nirvana "Moist Vagina" (1993)
Pearl Jam "My Father's Son"  (2013)
Soundgarden "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)" (1989)

"Voices" gets off to a great start with a muscular and catchy verse, but the chorus is watered down.  It's not horrible, but it feels like they dulled the edge of the blade and then pulled their punch when hitting you with the flat part of it.  What I'm trying to say with this tortured metaphor is it could have been better if they weren't trying to make it a radio single.  Just beef up the chorus and the bridge a little...just a little...and it gets so much better.  Instead we're left with merely okay.

Kurt Cobain moans the opening lyric of this song in as low a pitch as his voice can muster.  Then the second line is an octave higher.  Then the next is about...half a scale?  (Is that a thing?  I got a D in theory.)  It sounds like this song was a half-…


Match 117:

Alice In Chains "Stone" (2013)
Nirvana "Milk It" (Live In The Studio) (1993)
Pearl Jam "Mind Your Manners" (2013)
Soundgarden "Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey" (1989)

"Stone" has the most bad-ass riff of comeback-era Alice In Chains.  That shit sinks its teeth into the listener hard and because I hadn't heard the song in years, I forgot the relatively melodic elements of the...pre-chorus?  Second half of the verse?  Whatever.  This is the best thing they've done with William DuVall.  The middle section kills, the leads are tasteful, the melodic parts are a nice all around kick-ass song.  I wish they were all this good.

This is a studio session recording from Brazil, ten months before "In Utero" came out.  It has different lyrics than the album version, other than that, there's nothing to say about it.  It's a less good recording of the album version perfor…


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…


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…


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…


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'…


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.



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…


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 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'…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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.…


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 …


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 "…


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 …


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, whoa, whoa.  (SHIT that…


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 "…


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…


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…


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…


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.…