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THE GRUNGE MATCH - 108

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 "Last Of My Kind", with a little bit of "Rain When I Die" thrown in for good measure.  All good things to draw from, but the sum of its parts winds up a little short.

"Here She Comes Now" is a Velvet Underground cover that Nirvana put on a split single with The Melvins in 1991.  At first, judging by the Youtube clip I found, I thought maybe they were covering the original British Nirvana from 1968.  Now that would've been interesting.  I never liked Velvet Underground, nor Lou Reed for that matter.  This is passable garage rock with one repeated phrase for lyrics; I can only imagine how insufferable and pretentious the original was and hope to never hear it.

"Johnny Guitar" is (at least tangentially) about one of Frank Zappa's biggest inspirations Johnny "Guitar" Watson.  It's kind of a nothing song.  It's not terrible, but it doesn't have a brilliant story to tell, it doesn't do anything interesting, it just...is.

"Toy Box" was originally released as the B-Side to "Flower" in 1989.  This means it's a reject from "Ultramega OK"; not a good starting place.  However it's not trying to be silly, so that's already ahead of half their material from 1988.  In spite of its go-nowhere sludginess, it's got enough sinister atmosphere to rise above.  It would have been not just the best song on "Ultramega OK", but one of the best on "Louder Than Love".

"A Looking In View": 4
"Toy Box": 3
"Here She Comes Now": 2
"Johnny Guitar": 1

TOTALS:

Soundgarden: 295
Alice In Chains: 278
Pearl Jam: 267
Nirvana: 239

Onward and upward.

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