Saturday, February 16, 2008

Grunge 101: Punk-Metal for the 80's

Grunge was not just an exception in the 80’s but clearly a by-product of the most commercialised era in rock and roll to that date. Born in Seattle, it was essentially a combination of punk and metal, following an established trend in rock of hybrid forms of music breaking boundaries (prog = classical plus psychedelic, southern rock= country plus hard rock).

The first bands to put one and one together were Green River, Mudhoney and a band that is arguably the best Grunge ever, The Melvins (check out the track ‘Rovolve’) in the mid 80’s. Think Led Zeppelin plus Black Flag. Think an indie Black Sabbath.

The sound was grunge (Sweat Leaf) and the subject mater was social alienation (punk). Punk fans swore and gobbed at their idols (spat); Grunge fans crowd surfed, stage dived and head-banged. Lumber-jack shirts were essential.

By the late 80’s grunge was going mainstream: Pearl Jam and Nirvana were on everybody’s lips, by 1992 Nirvana played on MTV Unplugged !

Nivana’s Nevermind was a paradox of Grunge: was it a ‘sea change’ in rock, or a sell-out of Grunge ? Was Seattle the new Liverpool ? if so, did this mean the end ?

By the 1990’s Grunge has been killed of by Brit-Pop, remaining in the public consiousness only through the deification if Kurt Cobain.

Here are Rock Revival’s top 10 Grunge tracks of all time:

1 The Melvins Revolove
2 Alice in Chains Junkhead
3 Mad Season Artificial Red
4 Mudhoney Touch Me I’m Sick
5 Nirvana Very Ape
6 Pearl Jam Alive
7 Silverchair Tomorrow
8 Soundgarden Black Hole Sun
9 Gruntruck Tribe
10 Tad Jack Pepsi
Image: Courtesy Man's Ruin

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