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The Wedge: Hypothetical Grunge Tribute Albums

July 19th, 2011

The September issue of SPIN magazine will soon hit newsstands and on the cover is Kurt Cobain swimming underwater in a celebration of his band Nirvana’s seminal album, Nevermind. With cover text that reads “What Nevermind Means Now,” the mag has graciously compiled a free 13-track download featuring a variety of bands like Titus Andronicus, Surfer Blood and EMA covering the entire album, which you can grab here.

By doing this, SPIN has opened the floodgates for a bunch of similar tributes to some of the other important albums to emerge from the grunge era. You could argue that everything from Melvins’ Bullhead to Mudhoney’s Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge to the ultimate collaboration, Temple of the Dog, deserves such an honour. While we didn’t choose any of those, we have thought of three others: Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger, Pearl Jam’s Ten and the less popular but equally as important, L7’s Smell The Magic (yes, it was originally a 1990 release, but reissued in 1991, so it qualifies!).

And so, here are some suggestions as to who should cover what album from each of these 1991 greats…

For Badmotorfinger, I’d exhaust the stoner, doom and progressive scenes that have evolved from the alternative metal movement Soundgarden were at the forefront of. So, the post-Sleep bands like High On Fire and Om, Japanese noise fiends Boris and Sabbath disciples like Black Mountain, Mastodon and Dead Meadow.

Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger:

Mastodon “Rusty Cage”
Deftones “Outshined”
Big Business “Slaves & Bulldozers”
Queens of the Stone Age “Jesus Christ Pose”
Boris “Face Pollution”
Black Mountain “Somewhere”
Om “Searching with My Good Eye Closed”
Sunn O))) “Room a Thousand Years Wide”
High On Fire “Mind Riot”
Tomahawk “Drawing Flies”
Down “Holy Water”
Dead Meadow “New Damage”

For Ten, I’d completely hijack the songs and assign them to the unlikeliest bands. Pearl Jam’s debut hasn’t aged that gracefully, so why not put a contemporary spin on it and see how strong the songs hold up. So really, anyone could be on this comp, but I’d like to think Girls could really mess with “Garden,” Wavves could overpower the sonic bombast of “Even Flow” and Bon Iver could devistate “Black.”

Pearl Jam’s Ten:

Ty Segall “Once”
Wavves “Even Flow”
Kurt Vile “Alive”
Blank Dogs “Why Go”
Bon Iver “Black”
Cat Power “Jeremy”
How To Dress Well “Oceans”
Vampire Weekend “Porch”
Girls “Garden”
Deerhunter “Deep”
No Age “Release”

For Smell The Magic, okay, I’m gonna play the sex card and make it an all-female-fronted affair just because I feel L7 were very empowering for women at a time when the dudes in flannel were getting most of the attention (see also 7 Year Bitch, Babes in Toyland, Lunachicks and Hole, I guess). I also think this way it’s the most exciting of the three to hear… y’know, if it existed. Hearing a band as twee as Veronica Falls muscling their way through “Shove”? Priceless.

L7’s Smell The Magic:

Veronica Falls “Shove”
Jenny Lewis “Fast and Frightening”
Wild Flag “(Right On) Thru”
No Joy “Deathwish”
Vivian Girls “‘Till the Wheels Fall Off”
Lykke Li “Broomstick”
Best Coast “Packin’ a Rod”
Bleached “Just Like Me”
Dum Dum Girls “American Society”

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