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THE GRUNGE MATCH - 100

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 "The Jury", consisting of members of Nirvana and The Screaming Trees.  It's kind of weird to hear a guy who was later deified as the Christ figure of Grunge (especially given how much Cobain would've winced at such a notion) sing about Jesus, but here we are.  It's just Kurt shitting up a blues song about the crucifixion by his lonesome.  Not very good if sincere, and not entertaining as a parody.

"Gone" is a meditation on modern American life and what the price really is, and with the benefit of eleven turbulent years of hindsight, I can say all of us were blind.  We've all taken something or another for granted as permanent along the way, and the last few months especially have shown plain the impermanence of institution.  [And I wrote that sentence 13 days before Chris Cornell's untimely demise. -Blogger's Note, 7/13/17]  Vedder's response seems to be "Enjoy it while you can".  As far as quiet/loud/quiet Pearl Jam songs go, it's a worthy addition to the cannon.

"Taree" somehow manages to be the softest, yet meatiest song on "King Animal" yet.  The chorus is more realized than the "good to great on paper" advances of previous tunes on this album, especially the end where it gets dark and tight, when you realize you've flown too close to the sun far too late to do anything about it.  It even has a little bit of that old Cornell vocal fire to it.  Definitely the coolest thing the reformed Soundgarden has done yet.  I don't even feel weird giving it a good score.

"Taree": 4
"Gone": 3
"God Am" (Live): 2
"They Hung Him On A Cross": 1

TOTALS:

Soundgarden: 271
Alice In Chains: 258
Pearl Jam: 248
Nirvana: 223

Trucking along in the brave new normal...

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