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Bleach Your Works
October 28, 2009 2:30 PM   Subscribe

The first time they came and recorded with me—which was January 23, 1988—they didn't have a band name, and they just had a borrowed drummer, which was Dale from the Melvins. But, yeah, they came and recorded 10 songs with me in one afternoon. I was left going "God, who are these people?" The cassettes I gave out just said "Kurt Cobain and Company" on them, because that's all I knew. - Recording Nirvana Before They Were Nirvana. As Nirvanas first albulm hits 20 years old, with Sub Pop prepare to release a remastered anniversary edition, the Seattle Weekly takes a look back at the album that launched grunge.
posted by Artw (94 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
I bet Eddie Vedder rues the day he didn't shoot himself.
posted by GuyZero at 2:43 PM on October 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


The album that launched Grunge was Superfuzz Bigmuff.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:43 PM on October 28, 2009 [8 favorites]


Well, he'd have to marry Courtney Love first...
posted by Artw at 2:44 PM on October 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mudhoney's killer "Touch Me I'm Sick" and press savvy (flying NME journalist Everette True out to Seattle) laid the foundation for "grudge" rock.
posted by porn in the woods at 2:51 PM on October 28, 2009


Correction: it all started roughly four years earlier (and three hours north of Seattle) with a band called Slow.

Grunge, that is.
posted by philip-random at 2:53 PM on October 28, 2009


Slow - have not been the same ... 1985 or thereabouts. F***ing teenagers.
posted by philip-random at 3:05 PM on October 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, it all worked out for the best.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:06 PM on October 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


As a kid I had a cassette copy of Bleach minus the two final tracks, Big Cheese and Downer. I always wondered if that was some rare copy that would one day be worth big big money.
posted by mannequito at 3:07 PM on October 28, 2009


I'd suggest anyone who really loves Grunge and/or Nirvana check out the book 'Our Band Could Be Your Life' for a great history on the bands that helped make Nirvana's success a possibility.
posted by Bageena at 3:08 PM on October 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


There's a great documentary on the birth, life, and absurdization of grunge. It's called Hype!. Here it is on Youtube in seven parts: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. I've seen it six or eight times and can't recommend it highly enough. It's thorough, sensible, interesting, honest, funny, and chock full of music from bands I would never have heard of otherwise.
posted by Clay201 at 3:09 PM on October 28, 2009 [27 favorites]


If I do an FPP for the Nevermind 20th I think I'm just going to title it "You are really old now".
posted by Artw at 3:14 PM on October 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


If I do an FPP for the Nevermind 20th I think I'm just going to title it "You are really old now".

Not cool, man.
posted by Atreides at 3:22 PM on October 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


Correction: it all started roughly four years earlier (and three hours north of Seattle) with a band called Slow.

*cough*
posted by Sys Rq at 3:23 PM on October 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


The best book on the history of the Seattle DIY/grunge scene is probably still Clark Humphrey's Loser: The Real Seattle Music Story.

I think Clark is also a MeFite, but I can't remember his username. But he's a fine writer and has a dessicatingly dry wit if you ever meet him in person.
posted by dw at 3:23 PM on October 28, 2009


Correction: it all started roughly four years earlier (and three hours north of Seattle) with a band called Slow.

*cough*


Yeah, but Slow were good. I saw the Wipers at least twice and they did nothing for me. Slow took no prisoners, ever. Even when taken prisoner.

Which, of course, is beside the point anyway. YOUR FAVORITE PROTO-GRUNGE BAND SUCKS ... AND SO DOES MINE. The point being, it's never wise to claim any cultural movement ever started precisely anywhere. Unless you're obsessive enough to narrow it down to a single snare shot as Greil Marcus has done for the first half-second of Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone.

Marcus obsesses over the snare shot to a degree that would be irritating if he wasn't so much fun in his analysis. He even admits that he's gone beyond musicology. He claims the moment is "completely singular -- not, it's plain, because it is singular, but because the drama created by the isolation of the sound for 'Like a Rolling Stone,' perhaps the echo that surrounds it, for me erased all analogues." When friends and colleagues point out the vast number of songs that start with a kick-off drum hit, Marcus responds directly: "I am sticking to my guns. There is nothing like it." In moments like this one, as joyful as it is ridiculous and unacademic, Marcus doesn't lack scholarship -- he surpasses it.
posted by philip-random at 3:41 PM on October 28, 2009


The point being, it's never wise to claim any cultural movement ever started precisely anywhere.

I dunno, it's pretty good for nerd-baiting.
posted by Artw at 3:42 PM on October 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


I bet Eddie Vedder rues the day he didn't shoot himself.

Have you heard Pearl Jam's last four or five records? He's basically Sting. Pearl Jam is the musical equivalent of Robert Jordan, just padding out their material over release through release. Vedder threatened to leave America if Bush got elected a second time and I was thinking "God, not here, we don't need another Peter Garrett, even if he's got hair." He didn't, of course, because he's a twat. I downloaded PJ's entire discography over the weekend so according to industry figures that's like ten lost sales, and then I deleted them all out of spite. How do you feel about that, buddy oh pal? That's right, I stole your shit and then I destroyed it!

As for Nirvana, I've never heard a more prolific band that doesn't even exist any more. I think if he was still alive, Cobain would basically be Rob Pollard. Novoselic would be in Queens Of The Stone Age except they would still be Kyuss, which was a superior band, and Grohl would be making cameos in shitty direct-to-video "comedies", which seems to be his real dream. "Hi guys, I'm Dave Grohl from Seattle's infamous grunge band Nirvana, and I'm here to dress as a woman. Here's my friend Jack Black!" Jack enters and they both headbang while playing air guitars, and Jack Black makes that "rocking out" face, and tells us all about Brutal Legend. Also there's a little dog that likes to hump things, and it makes us laugh and laugh. His name will be Lemmy, after the guy from Motorhead. "Oh Lemmy!" Black and Grohl will say, and give each other a "what can you do?" look, and then they will continue to rock out on their invisible guitars. It will make millions!
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:46 PM on October 28, 2009 [26 favorites]


Hype! on Wikipedia, with a quick list of bands included.

Nirvana's return (of sorts) is weird. I was hanging out with a friend after school (Junior High), when I heard Kurt killed himself. I wasn't a huge fan of the band at that time - maybe I was too young to be full of teen angst, or maybe I needed a different sort of angst (I was a big fan of Smashing Pumpkins). Either way, I knew of Nirvana for years (I clearly remember friends trying to figure out the lyrics in 5th or 6th grade, which is kind of weird, looking back), but never found the band and their music to mean much for me. I haven't thought of the band much until a few odd moments, and now with the return of grunge (and flannel).

The first weird moment was when I went with my younger brother to his friend's house. The kid really sharp, and he was going to be the valedictorian of the high school, not the kind of kid who I thought would be into the grunge scene after I thought the scene had died. But there he was, surrounded by Nirvana bootlegs, audio and video of anything he could get, back in 1997 or 1998.

The second was in Cuzco, Peru, in an internet loft (not what I'd call an internet cafe) on one of the major squares of the city. The sign out side said "Nirvana Cafe," and I thought it just was some reference to the broader notion of Nirvana as a place of peace and such. But when we were crouched up there (I think the vertical clearance was between 5 and 6 feet, enough that my brother and I had to duck), we realized that this was a reference to the band Nirvana. Above each computer was a different print-out about the band or about Kurt, and many pages were about the murder conspiracy that I didn't know existed.

In short: there's something about Kurt Cobain and Nirvana that is much bigger than I ever realized. And now I'm coming back to the band, partially with a sense of nostalgia for an era of my youth, but also because the songs are really fantastic in an honest sort of way. Maybe not my scene, but I can appreciate the emotion behind the craft.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:46 PM on October 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


This Nirvana album predates them all, and is pretty darn good to boot!
posted by Faze at 3:48 PM on October 28, 2009


It seems that a Nirvana song plays about twice a deejay shift on Portland's 94.7 alternative station; cradled between In Your Eyes, and a David Bowie song. (Pick one) Yes, I know corporate radio is long defunct, and there seems to be nothing anyone wants to do about that, but does anyone really have a grasp that we will be listening to the same 5-10 Nirvana songs on popular radio for seemingly the rest of our lives?

Oh wait, Sub Pop might sell a few units: to someone just graduating high school, and those that HAVEN'T GOTTEN OVER IT!
posted by captainsohler at 3:48 PM on October 28, 2009


(Not that I would ever nerd bait, but there may have been a moment when I was juggling qualifiers on that launched Grunge sentence and realised that whatever I did someone would quibble it, and a bad angel appeared on my shoulder and said "fuck it - just post it", and I did)
posted by Artw at 3:50 PM on October 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Bonus link: wikipedia summary of discrepancies and theories
posted by filthy light thief at 3:51 PM on October 28, 2009


The album that launched Grunge was Superfuzz Bigmuff.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:43 PM


That's how I'm remembering it too. But then I remembered about Green River's Unwind single from 1987ish, which was the only reason I picked up Superfuzz Bigmuff.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 3:51 PM on October 28, 2009


Not that I would ever nerd bait, but there may have been a moment when I was juggling qualifiers on that launched Grunge sentence and realised that whatever I did someone would quibble it, and a bad angel appeared on my shoulder and said "fuck it - just post it", and I did

I remembering hearing it said once of Elvis. He may not have invented rock and roll, but once he hit the scene, he guaranteed that it would be around for a very long time.
posted by philip-random at 4:02 PM on October 28, 2009


I think you'll find that was The Devil.

...and he's still around, so you're probably in trouble.
posted by Artw at 4:07 PM on October 28, 2009


As for Nirvana, I've never heard a more prolific band that doesn't even exist any more.

Nirvana was together for 7 years and released 3 studio albums.

The Beatles were together for 10 years and released 13 studio albums, each of which is a Beatles album for crying out loud.

I like Nirvana just fine. But I can think of lots of "more prolific band[s] that do[n't] even exist any more." The Beatles immediately sprung to mind. Are you sure you want to stand by your assertion?

(Because, seriously, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Clash, XTC, Squeeze, Bauhaus, Joy Division, The Damned, Meat Puppets, Minor Threat, Husker Du, The Replacements, Pink Floyd, etc . . .)
posted by The World Famous at 4:11 PM on October 28, 2009


I think he means post-breakup releases.

...in which case The Beatles would still win, of course.
posted by Artw at 4:16 PM on October 28, 2009


I think he means post-breakup releases.

...in which case The Beatles would still win, of course.


And there are also lots of other more prolific post-breakup acts than Nirvana.
posted by The World Famous at 4:17 PM on October 28, 2009


All I know about the 'genre' is I (incidentally) broke my arm, painted my plaster-cast with black Nikko™ pen and wrote the names of any 'grunge' band I managed to hear / hear-about in Liquid Paper™ over the top.

I also wore op-shop (Australia/NZ for charity shop) clothing and often two layers of flannelette shirts in 30°C heat (86°F).

I was also packing lettuces in the grocery section of a supermarket when the store background-noise radio told me Kurt was dead.

Excuse me while I don't explore the 'roots of grunge' because that was an awkward time for me... but awesome all the same.
posted by vectr at 4:17 PM on October 28, 2009


Whoops... did I just do a "where were you when Kurt Cobain died" diary entry?

Yep! And it was more cathartic than inane bloviating about the inception of 'Grunge'.

I've made my peace now... out.
posted by vectr at 4:24 PM on October 28, 2009


The best book on the history of the Seattle DIY/grunge scene is probably still Clark Humphrey's Loser: The Real Seattle Music Story.

Rock on Never Mellow Out!
posted by Tube at 4:25 PM on October 28, 2009


This is, in my opinion, the moment grunge music was born. Sadly, no one agrees with me.
posted by elder18 at 4:27 PM on October 28, 2009


Wasn't the album that launched grunge Ozma?
posted by blucevalo at 4:28 PM on October 28, 2009


Unless you're obsessive enough to narrow it down to a single snare shot as Greil Marcus has done for the first half-second of Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone

I prefer the Light My Fire snare shot.
posted by kersplunk at 4:31 PM on October 28, 2009


Even from that 'Love Buzz'/'Big Cheese' Sub Pop Singles Club 7-inch, all the Sub Pop promotional material was like 'these guys are going to make us rich' (around the time Incesticide came out, there were rumors that Sub Pop wanted to name it Cash Cow, or perhaps Piggy Bank). Nirvana was never quite to my taste anyway (I was more of a Beat Happening kind of guy), and so, when they signed to DGC, teenaged me thought they sold out, just like (and I mean just like) Sonic Youth sold out, and I wasn't the least bit surprised. Those 'If you're this kind of person, please don't support us' liner notes, those rationalizations about artists taking advantage of major-label money to do whatever they wanted, and how teenage Kurdts can only buy records at the Wal- and K-Marts, that dress on Headbanger's Ball--all that stuff seemed borderline-delusional, and pathetic. I mean, there were Cobain's putative heroes, dudes like Ian Mackaye and Calvin Johnson (the K-logo tattoo, for Chrissake), doing the things he claimed he wanted to do but couldn't, the things he claimed were impossible for him to do. What a shtick.

My reading is a little more nuanced now, in that at the time I thought Cobain was laughing all the way to the bank and that nowadays I think he was legitimately goddamn miserable, and that I realize now that there were thousands of people for whom Cobain was their, I dunno, Tupac or Jim Morrison or James Dean or Jack Kerouac or whatever, but aside from that it hasn't changed much.
posted by box at 4:31 PM on October 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


Top earning dead celebrities
posted by Artw at 4:33 PM on October 28, 2009


Is this where I get to shout my crazy assertion that In Utero and Live Through This are more or less perfectly track-by-track complementary? 'Cause, yeah: They work really well as a double album.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:40 PM on October 28, 2009


This is, in my opinion, the moment grunge music was born. Sadly, no one agrees with me.

It does seem a bit strange to suggest that a 1979 single by a mod band that looked like they were trying to be The Jam was the birth of grunge.

I usually think of "grunge" as being a Seattle heavy metal interpretation of '80s Minneapolis bands like The Replacements and Husker Du. Queensryche meets Bob Mould, as it were. (That's right, Chris Cornell: I just equated you with Geoff Tate and it's a pretty close equivalence, frankly.)
posted by The World Famous at 4:42 PM on October 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Not shocking--lots of Courtney-haters (Lois Maffeo not as far as I know among them) think that Kurt basically wrote Live Through This.
posted by box at 4:43 PM on October 28, 2009


Um, that was directed as Sys Rq's comment.
posted by box at 4:43 PM on October 28, 2009



I remember back in the mid 80s or so when the Beatles and Stones and so forth 20 year remasters started coming out (On CD!) and how my parents were ga-ga over the videos and talking about revolutionary it all was and yadda yadda.

Mostly, what I remember was wondering if I'd ever get to say the same or of all the good revolutionary music had been invented already. I also wondered if I'd ever live to see Metallica as Old Farts who Should Just Retire already al a mid-80s Rolling Stones, or if the russkies were gonna blow us all to smithereens. (I also kinda wished they'd shut up about it)

The thing about the mid to late 80s is that it was kind of a strange time. Arena rock was dying as genre, pop was fairly stale, Rap was nascent but hadn't really developed yet. There wasn't anything to get that excited about. And then bam! out of nowhere (if you were a clueless solipsistic midwestern white boy from a small town) came this band and those opening chords to "Smells like Teen Spirit". ( and then Alice in Chains, and Soundgarten, and Jane's Addiction and .....)

I caught Nirvana at First Ave. in Minneapolis sometime around the release of Nevermind. I want to say it predates it, but.... My pharmacology results at the time wouldn't support that as being accurate. Anyway, I realized, when I heard SLTS being played on 102.5 KZIO (a top 40 station FFS) that my Beatles had arrived.

I made an effort to see Nirvana every chance I could - meeting them once, even.

It's a little weird to me now - to have gotten my invitation to my 20 year reunion and this....

I'm not at all sure how I feel about it. It's very strange to have become my parents.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:43 PM on October 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was never a Nirvana fan (Smashing Pumpkins angst 4 life yo!) and my only associations are like Weird Al's "Smells Like Nirvana" and this girl I was trying to get with when I was 14 who was still obsessed with Kurt Cobain in like 1998, but last week I was reading all about him and the band on Wikipedia (did you know Teen Spirit was a deodorant??) and I was for some reason overwhelmed with 90s nostalgia. I don't know if it's just because I'm pining for the innocence/mischief of childhood or whatever, but I'll admit they must have defined something if I wasn't even a fan and they evoke that kind of nostalgia.

This will make you feel old while reaffirming your belief that spoiled rich girls are all the same no matter where their genes came from.
posted by palidor at 4:50 PM on October 28, 2009


Calling the "album that launched grunge" is probably inaccurate, but more to the point, Nevermind was a lot more important than "the album that launched grunge."
posted by Bookhouse at 4:50 PM on October 28, 2009


When Cobain checked out, some old fart editorialized, "Yesterday I had the strange experience of reading the front-page obituary of someone I'd never heard of."

Then when this DJ AM business occurred, I realized that the old fart was now me.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:52 PM on October 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Um, ... The Pixies caused grunge.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:52 PM on October 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


I wasn't cool enough to know about Nirvana before they hit radio, but I liked it. I liked the first album, but the more Cobain whined about fame, the more the music turned to complaining about celebrity, the less interesting it got. Nothing is more tedious that rock stars complaining about fame. If you don't like it, I'm sure someone with your qualifications would have no trouble finding a top-flight job in either the food service or housekeeping industries.

To make myself more of a pariah, I take Pearl Jam over Nirvana. Best The Who cover band ever created. Also, Screaming Trees.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:01 PM on October 28, 2009


I'd always figured 'grunge' owed a lot to the Minneapolis scene of the mid-80s. Husker Du & The Replacements specifically - bands that were ostensibly part of the hardcore scene, but they played slow(too slow for me, at the time), even melodic music, and had that same blue collar, no-frills aesthetic.
posted by Flashman at 5:04 PM on October 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Are you sure you want to stand by your assertion?

Yes because there should be an Annals Of Social Research peer-reviewed journal article complete with graphs, footnotes and bibliography for everything anybody ever says. Wait for my upcoming Oxford Press book: My Knee Fucking Itches And I Could Use A Cup Of Coffee ("Impeccably researched" - Steven Pinker; "The most exhilirating, irrefutable work of cultural history I have ever read" - Douglas Hofstadter). Talk about overthinking a grain of salt. Go listen to some Lighthouse Family!
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:11 PM on October 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


One of my students wears a pink nevermind hoodie all over the place, which is rather jarring for me on a couple of levels.
posted by absalom at 5:15 PM on October 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yes because there should be an Annals Of Social Research peer-reviewed journal article complete with graphs, footnotes and bibliography for everything anybody ever says.

Wow.
posted by The World Famous at 5:25 PM on October 28, 2009


...don't forget this guy either.
posted by mannequito at 5:26 PM on October 28, 2009


I first saw Nirvana sometime in 1988-89 at the old Vogue here in Seattle. One their first shows I think. It was a small crowd. I can't remember who they opened for... who I originally came to see... The Rhinohumpers? Nah... I can't remember.

I can't remember becuase they blew everybody the fuck away. These naive freaky long haired nerdy rednecks playing KISS and ABBA covers and shit. Everything about them was ablaze with possibility, enthusiasm, and originality. Really electric. We got home and we couldn't sleep. We were calling people in the middle of night asking them if they had ever hear of these kids from the penninsula.

I have to say out of the hundreds of live shows I've been to — and I saw the early shows of Mother Love Bone, Melvins, Greenriver/Mudhoney, U-men, Tad, Fastbacks, Accused, Screaming Trees, Chemistry Set, Soundgarden, all of them — Nirvana was one of the best I have ever seen. If not the best.
posted by tkchrist at 5:27 PM on October 28, 2009 [16 favorites]


I thought grunge started when some music industry type decided that they could move more units if they slapped some asinine buzzword on all the punk and heavy metal bands coming out of Seattle.
posted by "Elbows" O'Donoghue at 5:30 PM on October 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Aaaand *click* pre-ordered.
posted by threetoed at 5:32 PM on October 28, 2009


I thought grunge started when some music industry type

Mark Arm and Bruce Pavitt, Music Industry Types? Oh the irony.

Of course Arm wasn't using the term kindly.
posted by tkchrist at 5:34 PM on October 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow.

If I can make only one person blink their eyes in dumbstruck confusion a day, I have done my job.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:36 PM on October 28, 2009


I think that Nirvana and the Doors occupy similar places in my heart. Nostalgic teenager anger. The exception is that I don't mind when I still hear Nirvana.
posted by schyler523 at 5:58 PM on October 28, 2009


My singular connection with grunge consisted of walking across my apartment complex parking lot while wearing ripped jeans and thermals while attending BYU in Provo, Utah circa 1992.

[guy looks over at me, staring] "Hey, nice pants!"

Me (foreshadowing Napoleon Dynamite in my sheer dorkiness): "It's called GRUNGE."

Oh the shame.
posted by mecran01 at 6:06 PM on October 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


First up in the Godfathers of Grunge series:

Killdozer's Michael Gerald, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
posted by Hammond Rye at 6:15 PM on October 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Second, King Buzzo of the Melvins (Pepsi Fan of the Game)
posted by Hammond Rye at 6:17 PM on October 28, 2009


Flipper? Flipper.

Corporate Rock Still Sucks.
posted by Hammond Rye at 6:22 PM on October 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cobain's top 50 records *angelfire.com warning*
posted by Hammond Rye at 6:25 PM on October 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I usually think of "grunge" as being a Seattle heavy metal interpretation of '80s Minneapolis bands like The Replacements and Husker Du. Queensryche meets Bob Mould, as it were. (That's right, Chris Cornell: I just equated you with Geoff Tate and it's a pretty close equivalence, frankly.)

For me it was the hard rawk of the likes of ACDC, Aerosmith, Rolling Stones etc meets punk and hardcore. As common as it is to find this mix of sounds nowadays on someone's ipod, back in the day (mid-1980s) it was a very rare thing to find someone capable of arguing for both ... until, to my ears at least, Slow came along.

Um, ... The Pixies caused grunge.

Maybe. But first the Gun Club caused the Pixies.
posted by philip-random at 6:27 PM on October 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


and god bless nirvana for THE DAY HAIR METAL DIED
posted by Hammond Rye at 6:31 PM on October 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


and god bless nirvana for THE DAY HAIR METAL DIED

true enough; grunge may have preceded Nirvana but hair metal definitely did NOT survive Nirvana.
posted by philip-random at 6:45 PM on October 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: I've Seen It All, I Was Here First
posted by entropicamericana at 6:48 PM on October 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


I just know I read somewhere that some guy in a fur diaper banging a stick with another stick started grunge. And a few other genres.
posted by deliquescent at 7:02 PM on October 28, 2009


Maybe. But first the Gun Club caused the Pixies.

Fine. Then Mission of Burma caused Gun Club (I can do this all night).
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:09 PM on October 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I thought this was when grunge started.
posted by marxchivist at 7:15 PM on October 28, 2009


Fine. Then Mission of Burma caused Gun Club (I can do this all night).

Mission of Burma also caused Birdsongs of the Mesozoic.
posted by philip-random at 7:21 PM on October 28, 2009


I thought this was when grunge started.

... or this.

I can also do this all night.
posted by philip-random at 7:25 PM on October 28, 2009


Metafilter: Is this where I get to shout my crazy assertion?
posted by vibrotronica at 7:31 PM on October 28, 2009


Robert Johnson caused Jimi Hendrix.

Ha.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:41 PM on October 28, 2009


I just knew the devil was to blame for Creed.
posted by box at 7:43 PM on October 28, 2009


Didn't the grungy Seattle sound start much earlier?
posted by plastic_animals at 7:55 PM on October 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


As a kid I had a cassette copy of Bleach minus the two final tracks, Big Cheese and Downer. I always wondered if that was some rare copy that would one day be worth big big money.
posted by mannequito at 3:07 PM on October 28 [+] [!]


I have the same tape! Is it worth anything? I'm listening to it right now!
posted by smartypantz at 8:16 PM on October 28, 2009


I guess I started the inevitable flame war. But obviously, that it the purpose of these posts, no?
posted by Ironmouth at 8:28 PM on October 28, 2009


Is it in bad taste for me to point out that the drumming on Bleach is seriously inferior?
posted by Slothrup at 8:42 PM on October 28, 2009


I guess I started the inevitable flame war.

Only because you beat me to it.

But obviously, that it the purpose of these posts, no?

Actually, I love it when someone makes a not so much incorrect statement, as an overly broad one ...

the album that launched grunge

Thus provoking the various experts in the peanut gallery to rise up, ARGUE, and ultimately educate me. Case in point: Pixies caused grunge, Gun Club caused Pixies, Mission to Burma caused Gun Club (I'd never really made this connection), Birdsongs of the Mesozoic evolved out of the breakup of Mission To Burma (I knew this but I never really knew the story but now thanks to the miracle that is Wikipedia ...)

Great, great band by the way ... and about as far away from so-called grunge as ... ummm ... The Knack?
posted by philip-random at 9:00 PM on October 28, 2009


I don't want to get into the "what album started grunge" debate - All I know is that to a dorky kid from the Midwest, Nevermind rocked my socks off, and it was fun to play along with it, LOUD, on electric guitars in friends' basements. It meant something to me, which not a lot of albums did before.

My brother-in-law pointed this out the other day:

We are as many years away from Nevermind as Nevermind was from Dark Side of the Moon.

I don't know why that hits me so hard, it just does.
posted by elmer benson at 9:06 PM on October 28, 2009


Thus provoking the various experts in the peanut gallery to rise up, ARGUE, and ultimately educate me.

No doubt. Love that Over the Edge.

But of course, I merely responded to the category presented by the poster.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:09 PM on October 28, 2009


Is it in bad taste for me to point out that the drumming on Bleach is seriously inferior?

Yup! Chad Channing isn't the tool Dave Grohl is.
posted by Mael Oui at 9:41 PM on October 28, 2009


philip-random: that second slow link, the video, it's not good. at all. anything off the first 3 wipers lp's handily whips the shit out of slow, admittedly i'm biased as a portlander. but i honestly couldn't finish that video.

i'm not prepared to say that the wipers started grunge however.
posted by rainperimeter at 10:33 PM on October 28, 2009


Gotta echo tkchrist. I listened to a lot of different kinds of music and went to a lot of shows in Seattle from the mid 80s through mid 90s, and nothing was like Nirvana. I was compelled to drag friends to shows, to get them to listen to the albums, even my classical-music-only friends. The music we listen to now only sounds good to us because they changed music. They made it impossible to like hair metal bands.

I experienced a similar effect when I visited a Ferrari dealership and closely checked out a bunch of different Ferraris. When I came back out on the street, all other cars pretty much looked like crappy little tin boxes.
posted by Hello Dad, I'm in Jail at 2:53 AM on October 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure most grunge bands would gladly tell you Dead Moon started it all as far as they're concerned.
posted by Sailormom at 5:46 AM on October 29, 2009


did you know Teen Spirit was a deodorant?

Uh, yes.
posted by grubi at 6:24 AM on October 29, 2009


I usually think of "grunge" as being a Seattle heavy metal interpretation of '80s Minneapolis bands like The Replacements and Husker Du. Queensryche meets Bob Mould, as it were. (That's right, Chris Cornell: I just equated you with Geoff Tate and it's a pretty close equivalence, frankly.)

I always saw it sort of like that, or, at least there was this weird moment around 1990 when it was all mixed up and Alice in Chains was getting huge airplay on college radio metal shows with We Die Young (my first exposure to them) and then about a year later Soundgarden also crossed over and won a lot of metal fans with Badmotorfinger, which, you have to admit is a pretty metal album. I mean, Alice in Chains has always been a metal band from day one and I think actually remained pretty uncomprimising in that respect right up until Layne died, I think their last album with him is about as dark and heavy as their material got. I saw Alice in Chains open for Van Halen when they were still only getting college radio play. The crowd hated them and booed the entire time. Layne had a microphone stand made from a hockey stick and was bonking people in the head with it just to piss the crowd off even more. In retrospect I think it's hilarious because I'm sure a year later all those people hopped on the bandwagon and became huge fans.

Around the same time I saw Tad open for Primus (Frizzle Fry tour) and again it was a weird mix of metal heads and punks, like the metal scene was just totally fractured by that point and it was still shaking out who was going to go in a punk direction versus who would get more into the death metal scene. I think that Alice in Chains, Tad, Soundgarden, the Melvins all owe an obvious debt to metal in that they are all Black Sabbath worship bands to a certain degree, it's just that they went in a different direction from that starting point than a lot of metal bands who worshipped Sabbath did. A couple years later Sleep would split the difference exactly down the middle and the whole stoner rock movement would bring a lot of the metalheads back from the extreme metal scene and punks from the dying grunge scene and all of a sudden it's like I'm going to shows with people I used to go to shows with when I was like 16 but we stopped going to shows together for 10 years because we stopped listening to the same bands.
posted by The Straightener at 6:50 AM on October 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Bleach drumkit is coming to my studio for a recording session this Winter. It's older than some of the people on the session. Sigh.
posted by Aquaman at 9:00 AM on October 29, 2009


Well Mr. grubi I never knew it was a deodorant and just found this out on Wikipedia last week! That's why I asked about it rhetorically in parentheses after pointing out I was never a Nirvana fan, to show that after all of these years being aware of the song I never had any idea what it referred to. And apparently neither did Mr. Cobain, so it makes it a doubly or triply ironic song, or something.
posted by palidor at 9:46 AM on October 29, 2009


I think that Alice in Chains, Tad, Soundgarden, the Melvins all owe an obvious debt to metal in that they are all Black Sabbath worship bands to a certain degree

That's about what I always thought, too. Back in I want to say late '91, around the time that Nevermind became absolutely unescapable in the Lower Haight, I knew a guy who was in a band on Sub-Pop, who knew all those grungey Seattle band-dudes, and I said something like "man, all that stuff sounds just like sped-up Sabbath to me."

He told me no, metal had nothing to do with it, what they actually all had in common was seeing the Butthole Surfers play live in the '80's. Like, it was a sort of collective every-proto-punk-in-England seeing the Ramones in '75 kind of thing.

I don't know, it kind of made a lot of sense - the Buttholes live was pretty mindfucking - so even though he was full of shit about a lot of things, I always kind of believed him about that.

(I also remember him being happy for Nirvana's success - 'cos it meant the other Sub-Pop bands would actually get paid - and ranting about Cobain's whining about having to be a rock star - "If he can't stand the heat, he should get the hell out of the kitchen." Guess he was right about that, too.)
posted by hap_hazard at 9:58 AM on October 29, 2009


Oh yeah...right..Cracks..they did everything first

Cracks in the Sidewalk
posted by xjudson at 10:02 AM on October 29, 2009


Didn't the grungy Seattle sound start much earlier?

Absolutely, but it's not just the Sonics -- it's also the Wailers and the Kingsmen and (at least before they turned pop in the late 60s) Paul Revere and the Raiders. Essentially, the four biggest bands in the very local (Seattle-Tacoma-Portland), very loud garage scene of the early-mid 1960s.

The crucial thing, of course, is that the Stooges' music is a Detroit version of the Seattle-Portland garage sound, and all the band members cite the Kingsmen, Sonics, and Wailers as influences.

Who was Mission of Burma influenced by? The Stooges.
Who did the Ramones cite as an early influence? The Stooges.
Husker Du? Stooges.

So it creates a bit of a loop. Cobain's influences were in a sense influenced themselves by the generation of Northwesterners that came before Cobain. Nirvana fits perfectly into the pantheon of Northwest garage rock -- it's just they arrived there by following the music back from Detroit, Minneapolis, Boston, New York, LA, and London.

And it does mean, oddly, that one could argue the great-granddaddy of all punk/grunge songs is the most cliched rock song of all time.
posted by dw at 10:45 AM on October 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


Apparently, any Nirvana thread or conversation must include dumb jokes about how Kurt Cobain killed himself because of Courtney Love, a link to a list of conspiracy theories about his death, and another tired-ass accusation that he wrote Live Through This. I need to actively keep this in mind for the future, rather than just remembering it afresh every time I the name of Kurt Cobain is uttered or typed.
posted by Coatlicue at 10:55 AM on October 29, 2009


Courtney Love is a Dracula.
posted by Artw at 10:57 AM on October 29, 2009


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