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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!


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