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THE GRUNGE MATCH - 068

Match 068:

Jerry Cantrell "Jesus Hands" (1998)
Nirvana "All Apologies" (Unplugged) (1994)
Pearl Jam "Nothing As It Seems" (2000)
Soundgarden "Like Suicide" (Acoustic Version) (1995)

"Jesus Hands" tells us right off the bat we're in for a morose matchup, repeating the same clean Eb arpeggio over and over with barely there vocal accompaniment.  The chorus is fine, but it sounds like cut rate Alice In Chains.  It really sounds like something scraped off the literal cutting room floor.  Then they go back to that incessant arpeggio, with drums this time.  It's not the worst song in the world, and it doesn't get on my nerves nearly as much as this description may make you think it does, but it's certainly nothing to write home about.

"All Apologies" revisits the same eerie, ret-conned to super important ground that we covered back in Matchup 054, but this time it's on an album released after Kurt Cobain's death and recorded on a stage he specifically directed to be done up like a funeral.  Make of that what you will; it sure as shit got heavy rotation in the wake of...you know.

There's not a whole lot of difference between the mellow and electric versions, other than I like this song better when it rocks and Cobain is a little more strained vocally at this point in the performance.  Trying to hit those Meat Puppets high notes would fuck up a lot of people so eh.

Aaaand "Nothing As It Seems" is a dirge too.  Seriously, the unplugged version of "All Apologies" is the most upbeat song we have today.  "Nothing As It Seems" is simple, but it stays on message.  Though now that I look at the lyrics, it's mostly a rhyming exercise to see how many things rhyme with "phone".  This slow burning pile of dreck that wears out its welcome by the halfway mark was the first single off "Binaural" according to Genius.  Never heard it on the radio, and there's a reason.

In another creepy coincidence, "Like Suicide" rounds out the match with Kurt Cobain's "swansong", a song called "Jesus Hands" and a graveyard trek that rhymes with the word "methodone".  This version has enough interesting differences from the original to justify its existence: It's got dueling twelve strings, no bass or drums and Chris Cornell stays in the mid to low range that he begins both versions with.  The only thing that weirded me out is there's some sound subliminally mixed into the track, and because it's not playing on the beat it sounds like someone's playing on their phone or something, which can't be the case because this was tracked 23 years ago.  It's annoying and I wish I could unhear it.  Other than that, this is proof positive it's a crime Soundgarden is the only band out of the four that never got an "Unplugged" special.

"Like Suicide" (Acoustic): 4
"All Apologies" (Unplugged): 3
"Jesus Hands": 2
"Nothing As It Seems": 1

TOTALS:

Alice In Chains: 178
Soundgarden: 174
Pearl Jam: 171
Nirvana: 157

Soundgarden creates some space between itself and Pearl Jam while catching up a bit to Alice In Chains.  Nirvana scores some much needed points to claw ever closer to Pearl Jam.  The fight continues in Matchup 069!  (Huhhuhuhuhuhuhh  Yeah, hehnhenhhenhhenh.  Sixty Nine.)

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