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Match 083:

Alice In Chains "Fear The Voices" (1991)
Nirvana "Breed" (Live) (1989)
Pearl Jam "Thumbing My Way" (2002)
Soundgarden "Never The Machine Forever" (1996)

"Fear The Voices", which sounds like it was written for the 1988 demo, was actually part of the "Dirt" sessions, and it totally sticks out like a sore thumb.  This was the single from the boxed set proper, where "Get Born Again" was the single for "Nothing Safe: The Best Of The Box", a one disc comp of stuff from "Music Bank".  It's not as good as I remember it, always threatening to take it over the top and really rock, but instead feels just a bit too goofy and kind of restrained.

"Breed" is another recording from the tail end of 1989 of a song the world got to know from "Nevermind".  And holy shit does this performance suck.  Cobain sounds like he doesn't know or care what he's doing with the vocals.  I don't even think this song had lyrics yet.  If it did, he doesn't remember any of them.

"Thumbing My Way" is on some Americana shit, yo.  The sound of the acoustics and the drums is going for hella rustic and succeeds.  I'm not sure Vedder's voice quite fits, but it isn't the worst folk singer impression I've heard.  It idealizes the old ways of hitchhiking, the journey itself, even the destination he's going to is called "Heaven".  It's all a bit too pie in the sky for me.  The song has atmosphere, but no planet to encapsulate.

One of the reasons "Down On The Upside" sounds different (and less heavy) is because Kim Thayill only has one writing credit: "Never The Machine Forever".  It's certainly the heaviest song on here.  The rest is written by Ben Shepherd and Chris Cornell, with Matt Cameron penning "Applebite" and "Rhinosaur".  This was one of the sticking points that led to the band's breakup a year later.  Granted, Thayill only had four on "Superunknown", but eh.  The other thing I noticed is Ben Shepherd wrote my two least favorite tracks on "Superunknown", and then wrote half this album.  And the songwriting has his fingerprints.

What does it all add up to?  I'uh'no.  As far as the song goes, I'm not a huge fan of Cornell's vocals on it, but the song is bouncy and energetic; it injects a dose of balls that was sorely needed on this slightly-too-artsy rock album.

"Never The Machine Forever": 4
"Fear The Voices": 3
"Thumbing My Way": 2
"Breed" (Live): 1


Alice In Chains: 220
Soundgarden: 216
Pearl Jam: 202
Nirvana: 192


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