The memory, as they say, cheats. As revolutionary as “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was, as much as Nevermind’s release marked the moment where the ’90s truly began, there was really never one single day where we all woke up, washed the Aqua Net out of our hair, strapped on our Doc Martens, and stopped referring to women as “chicks.” Sure seems like it, though.
Maybe you weren’t “there” in 1991. I was barely there in 1991. I was eleven in 1991. I was far less concerned with the cultural zeitgeist than I was with, say, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Lik-M-Aid. Nothing wrong with that, really, though I was listening to the radio a lot, and I remember hearing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and thinking “hey, this is different than Extreme,” but that didn’t mean I stopped listening to the tape of Pornograffiti my friend made for me.
Music evolves. Everything comes out of something else. Nevermind wouldn’t have had the impact it did if it was produced and recorded like a punk record – it was produced and recorded like a pop–metal record. The pill was sugared. It was Pixies-esque weirdness that sounded okay next to Guns N’Roses. Consequently, we can look at the other huge megaband of that time period – Pearl Jam – and their sound is basically The Who meets The Clash, with the occasional Zeppelin or Replacements influence, depending on their mood.
Speaking of Pearl Jam, here’s the band that had to die so that Pearl Jam could live: Mother Love Bone. Andrew Wood died of a cerebral hemmorage brought on by his profound smack addiction at the tender age of 24, just before their massively awesome record Apple was released in stores and it’s all very ironic and they would have been huge, blah blah blah.
Well… all right. Apple’s not that great. A lot of it sounds like Queen meets Quiet Riot, but you could tell this Wood kid was going places. Then he died, and two of his bandmates (Stone and Jeff) got together with Chris Cornell and this weird little surfer guy to record a tribute album called Temple of the Dog. The weird little surfer guy was up in Seattle for the week from his native San Diego, where he’d been writing some tunes of his own, and one was about a kid who finds out his real dad was dead and his whole life’s a lie but he… he’s still aliiiiive and hey look it’s Pearl Jam.
The point is… if there was ever a missing link between grunge and hair metal, it’s Mother Love Bone. In anthropological terms, they are “Lucy.” They are the Ape That Spoke. And “Stardog Champion” is a fucking amazing song.