Since I am so familiar with this album, or at least so intimately familiar with my experience with this album, I’m going to focus this re-review on what’s different for me now, 20 years later. By which I mean, what’s different between my experience now and what I remember my experience being then.
I remember liking this album a ton more than I did on these recent listens for this re-review. Specifically, I remember being hit much harder by Alice In Chains’ “Would?” and Pearl Jam’s “State Of Love And Trust” and really liking Pearl Jam’s “Breath,” Chris Cornell’s “Seasons,” and The Lovemongers’ cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Battle Of Evermore.”
I was kind of ready to be less enthused about those last two. I’ve cooled on Zep’s catalog in general, especially the deeper cuts, and I figured that time would diminish the novelty my high school self found in this version. The remaining interesting part of this track, and it’s not to be diminished, is the harmonic and contrapuntal interplay of the Wilson sisters’ vocals and how they evoke Robert Plant’s singular style.
I’ve almost completely soured on Cornell’s solo output after hearing everything that came out after the track here and finding that it all sounds exactly the same as this track. Cooling on “Breath” was more of a surprise as I remember it being something that was easily good enough to be on Ten. It probably still is, but I can hear now why it maybe fell into the B-side bin in the band’s mind.
“Would?” and “State Of Love And Trust” are still awesome, but they’re not completely flooring me the way they did in the past. I’m going to chalk that up to listening to ripped versions on my phone since I know I loved those two songs very recently.
On the other hand, I was expecting to like Soundgarden’s “Birth Ritual” less because over the years I’ve come to hear it as a B-sider of Soundgarden’s, not good enough to make Badmotorfinger, and it’s probably not, but it’s still pretty sweet (and gets bonus points for being in one of the best scenes of the movie).
I expected to like Paul Westerberg’s tracks more than I did back in the day, when I hated them. I still hate them. Though now I at least find some of the lyrics to “Dyslexic Heart” clever. Why those songs have not received more derision for completely bringing this album down and being utterly out of place, I don’t understand. I don’t know what dirt he has on Cameron Crowe to warrant his inclusion here.
It’s a bit sad that “Crown Of Thorns” has become Mother Love Bone’s legacy. They released a couple of great albums and have at least a handful of full-hearted songs. I understand why Pearl Jam’s gone on to play that and only that song, and it’s a great one, but its success has overshadowed the rest of the band’s output.
“Nearly Lost You” always was and still is the best track on the album.
It seems appropriate that Smashing Pumpkins round this thing out since they wouldn’t fit in any other place. Popular at the same time, but Chicago instead of Seattle (Paul Westerberg of Minneapolis is the only other non-Seattle artist) and not at all grungy. I have such an ambivalent relationship with them. Loved Gish, hated the too-clean production of Siamese Dream, though I can appreciate the songcraft there. This song fell in between those two releases. It has some great moments. But I think its verses are too long and quiet, meaning it falls just short of a full heart. It’s interesting to me that it’s not the feedback stuff at the end that takes away the heart but a big chunk of the more traditional song structure part.
I guess this ended up being a comparison of what I remember my old experience being, what I thought my new experience would be, and what my new experience ended up being. #navelgazing
– “Would?” (Alice In Chains), “Breath” (Pearl Jam), “Chloe Dancer/Crown Of Thorns” (Mother Love Bone), “Birth Ritual” (Soundgarden), “State Of Love And Trust” (Pearl Jam), “Overblown” (Mudhoney), “May This Be Love” (Jimi Hendrix), “Nearly Lost You” (Screaming Trees)
– “Seasons” (Chris Cornell), “Battle Of Evermore” (The Lovemongers), “Drown” (Smashing Pumpkins)
– “Dyslexic Heart” (Paul Westerberg), “Waiting For Somebody” (Paul Westerberg)
Filed Between: Frank Sinatra (The Best Of The Capitol Years) and Skeleton Key (Obtainium)
Song Notes: After the jump