Grunge Rock

I think that Grunge was probably the last major radical force in Rock Music!

Old time rock and roll

With Rock N’ Roll having been formed out of the best bits of some of America’s most historically iconic genre’s, it seems most fitting that after its conception, Rock music birthed a plethora of sub-genres. From Glam Rock to Folk Rock, Punk Rock to Alternative Rock, there is a niche of Rock N’ Roll for just about any music listener. At the top of this list, ranking as possibly one of the most popular, or at least amongst the highly significant, is Grunge Rock.

When exploring this unique musical nook, it may be best to begin by examining its title.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “grunge” as:

A general term of disparagement for someone or something that is repugnant or odious, unpleasant, or dull; also, dirt, grime.

Similarly, in regard to this word as a genre of music, the OED states:

A style of rock music characterized by a raucous…

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18 thoughts on “Grunge Rock

  1. No, it wasn’t in the least. In fact what you got was the very diluted watered down corporate version. Everything else was left behind on little local labels going nowhere, never leaving their home state to tour and nowhere near national syndicated radio. Because of that stasis there was no possibility to turn that into a major radical force as such would need major exposure. There were hundreds of these garage Grunge bands and only a tiny percentage were ever given any exposure. Only those picked up by the corporate label giants, such as Nirvana (definitely a case of style over substance) or Pearl Jam (piss poor, dull as watching paint dry) got any exposure coast to coast followed by Europe. The initial surge only lasted about a short 18-months, with interested record labels quickly dropping out as numbers of band member drug casualty deaths increased. Apparently it’s quite difficult to make promo videos, media appearances and interviews when the singer has died.
    The stuff that floated to the surface was very mainstream and easily digestible.
    Nirvana and Pearl Jam were crap.

    1. I’m sure that it was an incredible club scene and would have like to have been there to sample it. I am also sure that a lot of those bands were full of energy and great to see live. As always once the corporations become involved you get media-friendly product for mass appeal. While I’ve never been a big fan of Pearl Jam I certainly enjoyed what Nirvana were putting out.

      1. But I bet you hated their first album, if you ever got to hear it, ‘Bleach’, just as everyone else who ever said they liked them also. “Oh, I like Nirvana, but not the first proper Grunge album they did called Bleach.” The one that nobody bought. Nirvana were terribly mediocre average who wrongly or rightly became ever so successful following a crass TV show performing other people’s songs on an acoustic guitar. Grunge my ass. You’ve sold yourself short. Go find the real deal – although not found in your local record store in UK.

  2. I came to Bleach only after I’d got into Nevermind. I liked it well enough – particularly Floyd the Barber and Negative Creep. But I preferred Nevermind and In Utero. I rate them highly. They had something different – and I liked their acoustic stuff. I’m not one for labels or strait-jackets.

  3. Which was about as much as I guessed – few real Grunge fans ever heard Bleach after Nevermind. By all means prefer In Utero, but surely you realised at some point that it had nothing to do with Grunge and just another very average chunk of corporate rock for US FM radio repeat play. I couldn’t ever enjoy any of that acoustic stuff for it was horrendously badly played. Almost everything to do with music performed by white people with electric guitars that’s come out from the US and was commercially successful since the mid-1960’s has been crass, dumb, loud, brash, uninspired, of low-level intelligence, badly performed, poorly produced, repetitively puerile and the worst of that flood of effluence would have to be most of the competing Grunge acts.
    Grunge was a perfect medium for the semi-educated trailer-park no-future wigger- kids in post-industrial US wastelands. Anyone sitting in leafy Surrey listening to this depressing aimless crap most likely struggled with the name of the day of the week.
    I’d have to pass on your claim of not one for labels or strait-jackets – you must have forgotten your very own heading at top of page! That entire sentence labelled you deep into a straight-jacket which you’d have a great deal of trouble trying to shake off.

    It’s all so long ago now and a whole other bunch of genre’s have surpassed Grunge by many factors in terms of global appreciation and popularity. Electronica being an ever present persistent giant, with some of the best stuff ever of the form emanating from California at the same time period as the advent of Seattle Grunge, namely Daisy Glow, Up Above The World, Aquatherium, Single Cell Orchestra, The Ultraviolet Catastrophe, as beginner’s entry essential listening.

    1. X – firstly you will note that the post was not written by me. It was a reblog. I like a lot of the stuff that comes out of Old Time Rock and Roll. She writes with passion about things she likes. I reblogged it not because I thought it was an in depth look at Grunge but because I like Grunge (at least Nirvana) and I like other peoples efforts to write about the things they like.
      For me – I like what I like. I write about what I like. I’m not hung up on excellence of playing. Some of the musicians I like are not good musicians but they produce music that I enjoy listening to. Some of the most brilliant musicians produce stuff I find boring and tedious. If it was based on musical brilliance I’d be listening to classical. That is not to say that I do not like good musicianship and well-crafted songs. It means that I appreciate a wide range of things that I like and it isn’t restricted to good musicianship.
      I don’t really care if Nirvana are corporate Rock. Most things are. Some I like and some I don’t. You can say the same thing about Neil Young and Dylan. I just listen and like it or I don’t. I liked Nirvana but not Pearl Jam. Whether it is Grunge or not is of little significance. Labels are of little consequence. Most bands pull inspiration in from a lot of sources.

      1. Go your own way – nothing I could possibly offer as counter information will resolve what the enthusiastic but ineptly informed originator of the piece seemingly wrote could persuade you from that train of thought. I get to read some of her stuff too and silently complain about the level of inaccuracy spread throughout every piece she writes. A passion she may have, but I wish she had a passion for accuracy too. She completely failed to so much as mention one such bona fide genuine Grunge band within that piece – I can’t get too excited about that. No wonder you got mugged off into believing Nirvana were the real deal. Some hammy BBC radio dj probably told you that on Top Of The Pops.
        That’s a classic example of corporate brainwashing when people start believing the latest myth to be greater than the last myth. The bit you missed, unfortunately, was in the detail that Nirvana were the least grunge anything to do with grunge – yet you’re certain that they’re grunge. You’re tripping all over yourself completely hung up on Nirvana and whether or not their junky jerk could strum a chord or two on some other people’s songs. How could anybody who listens to any kind of rock music ever be remotely satisfied with that as something to like? If they’d swapped his face for Jon Bon Jovi, you’d never have known the difference.
        I would argue with you for a month of Sundays about Neil Young never being corporate – his entire career has been anti – and I can’t imagine where you ever came to that conclusion. I can only guess you’ve confused him with Bruce Springsteen.
        You’ve most definitely not likely heard anything of his last six or so albums, least of all his very latest, “Paradox” that was released last week. You’ll have to eat your own words after hearing this one.

        Your statement on labels is inaccurate and ill-informed plain wrong. You ever heard of One Ton Records from Texas and what their stuff is about?
        They were the core genesis of the entire Grunge scene at the complete opposite spectrum of their sunshine west coast booha’s.
        You’d need to know a little something about the genre to ever have come across them.

        Why is it I get the distinct impression that you hate to be pulled up short and despite all the shortcomings and lack of knowledge on the subject remain intent to project this couldn’t care-less image which is in fact at exact opposite ends to where you had started out in the first place on the commentary. It’s all so obvious too and doesn’t make for any kind of discussion.
        Why do you have such extreme difficulty taking any new information on board?
        Why do I get so pissed off with people with massive opinions yet in possession of only twenty per cent of the facts?

  4. Hey X- I don’t have a problem. I thanked you for your additional info.
    But I like passion and I know what I like.
    Perhaps it’s the way you do it as put downs and negativity? It’s not about facts. It’s about opinion. I like Nirvana. I don’t really care if you call them Grunge or not. In fact I listened to some other Grunge and didn’t much like it. I think it’s more of a live scene than on record.
    I like a positive blog.
    BTW – I’ve got all of his last six and I think I played them once or twice at most. I love Neil Young and he’s a big label artist. They give him some freedom because he sells but there are limits. Ultimately most people are corporate. They run the scene. Enough said.

  5. I like Nirvana and Pearl Jam … their stuff has hooks and sticks in my head. All very well lamenting that other bands never got a look-in, of course, but it may just be that nothing they did hit with enough people. Easy to turn one’s back on what’s popular and go for obscure music – 60s garage bands, Northern Soul, punk, reggae, grunge, whatever – but while it’s great there was a music scene for bands to get good in, it really is a fact that genius is rare and therefore doubly precious.

      1. Ah, which? I have 2 of yours on the go at the moment – Gordian Fetish & Bodies in a Window – the latter received a few days ago so haven’t had more than a glance. The opening hangs together well, will report back later!

    1. Well Dave, all I can say is that I really don’t think you had/have much knowledge, if anything about it at all otherwise you would probably not have so easily settled for that corporate cleaned-up stuff with… pardon me, but ffs, did you really say “hooks”. LOL, it’s fcckin’ Grunge, not the Bee-Gees.
      I think you might find – or would already know had you any modicum of knowledge – that the real deal Grunge band wouldn’t touch a major label with a barge pole, hence, the ‘nothing thy did hit with enough people’, which is simply repetition of what I’d already said as openers on the subject. See above.
      What’s obscure about 60s garage bands, Northern Soul, etc on your above list of genres? It’s certainly not obscure if you’re into it. And if you had bothered to peruse the list of 532 records as featured on the recent Record Store Day on April 21st, you may very well have chosen your words a great deal more carefully on that, too. These genres of music are in fact the biggest selling genres of music within the blossoming and burgeoning cognoscenti scene – as the popular, as you describe it, is readily available in every Tesco. Other mediums are available.
      Basically Dave, you haven’t got a scoobie-doo on this particular topic.

  6. Opher, you asked “what info on labels”?
    At the end of one of your posts above you clearly stated in one short succinct sentence that “Labels are of little consequence”.
    I said then in reply that you were wrong, but I didn’t think it needed any explaining.
    The naivety of your comment speaks volumes as anybody who knows anything about music and in particular anything about Indie labels will tell you that the very label name informs you, the listener or even the newbie interested potential punter, what they’re about. If a listener really hated the sound of a piano, then perhaps he might avoid a label genre such as “Acid Jazz” or having heard what was described as Country & Western and hated it, would probably try and avoid it. That’s why labels exist and have an important information role.
    The Record Labels themselves, too, have an important part to play.
    Basically, you will never buy an album on the 4AD label or Rough Trade or Domino or Bella Union and it will sound like anything ever recorded by Shaggy, Celine Dion, Madonna or Cher. Do you get that? That’s why some labels are regarded as “where it’s at” and why they have serious collectors and comprehensive industry interest and media exposure on many of their releases. 4AD in the 80’s and Creation Records in the 90’s were the centre of the universe. The major labels just don’t have that as they sell bean cans, they go for the percentages and not the artistry and the knowledge that they’re responsible for particularly special and excellent music.
    The recent exposure – and it’s been comprehensive – of Jack White’s new label “Third Man Records” has not been without good reason. But I doubt that you caught any of that otherwise would never have said what you said.
    If you said to my face that “Labels are of little consequence”, I’d have to laugh you out from the room.

    I’d also counter your comment on Neil Young’s releases.
    His label Reprise don’t care what he does – despite your ill-founded claim there are NO limits whatsoever.. In fact they even allow him to release FOUR different catalogues all running concurrently simultaneously.
    Namely, 1) Latest new releases, such as the very recent “Paradox”
    2) Original Release Series (ORS), which are the re-releases of his back catalogue, presently up to as far as 1979’s “Live Rust” and numbering to a total of 12 releases so far.
    3) Performance Series Archives (PS), all live recordings numbering at 9 releases to date.
    4) Special Release Series (SRS), just 2 releases so far, but number codes are allocated for future releases as these above 2 are numbered 5 and 10 respectively.
    If you own any of these releases you will see these ORS, PS and SRS ident codes printed on the top of the sleeve spines, whether CD or Vinyl.
    Basically Reprise support all this – and Young’s the only artist that gets this care – because they are guaranteed to sell millions of copies of Harvest, Harvest Moon and Greatest Hits every year without fail. They couldn’t give a shit that Paradox might only sell 50,000 at most in USA and 10,000 in UK etc.
    I’d also say that you can’t be any kind of Neil Young fan at all if you could only manage to (as per your “think” as per above post) bother yourself to play “Earth” just once or twice at most! That’s an incredible admission as I’d have to remind you that there can’t be more than half a dozen live album releases recorded by anybody in the last 95 years that are anywhere near as good as this or as well recorded. It is nothing short of phenomenal as any major dude will tell you. Shame on you. I bet you just got these terrible sounding freebie download mp3 nonsense, right? Cos if you ever heard a real copy of Earth on a proper system, you’d be swinging from the roof shouting about it and not thinking that you might have played it once or twice at most. Lol.
    And you say you “like a positive blog”! You feckin’ kiddin’ surely.
    I need to positively give you an education of all of this, cos man, do you fall short and you’re blogging this? That’s laughable. That’s like someone turning up at Ferrari’s F1 pit with a shell suit on, all ready for action, then asks how to change a tyre.

    Which is why Opher, that I write album reviews for Mojo and have done for thirteen years.

    Opher, obviously Dave was not right at all. Neither of you were.

    1. X – music is a matter of taste. That’s all it is. One can get geekie about all manner of things but in the end it is about whether you like it or not.
      There are all manner of reasons for liking or not liking things.
      I have been a big Neil Young fan right from his days in Buffalo Springfield. I bought his first album on the day it came out. I rate him up there with Dylan but I don’t like every single thing he’s done and have not really enjoyed too much of what he has produced lately.
      Music is not all about knowing the facts. It is about appreciating the sounds.

      1. I note that continuity of discussion seemingly presents some challenges?
        Nevermind. Yes, that pun was intentional.

        Following on from your above reply:
        Yes, but is there any need to state the obvious? We weren’t talking about likes and dislikes, we were talking about genre labels and in your case the misuse of them.
        My point was if you care to remember precisely that Nirvana etc by the time they became “popular” – for want of a better expression – were nothing like the real Grunge deal at all. The million-selling sound’n’vision of the likes of Nirvana and Pearl Jam has ensured ‘Grunge’ is more a marketing term than a prerequisite for counter-culture activity. Every once of Grunge had been scraped, washed and manicured out of them by corporate record companies. They sold you watered down gloss and you bought it in good faith. You were 3-4 years too late for any Grunge, but didn’t know it because you believed all the marketing b/s and probably weren’t in any information exchange loop that could have informed. As did all the teenyboppers, hence, why Nirvana ended up on several TV programmes that your granny might have watched.
        That was my point. But, I can see you’ve got a problem with that and deliberate on other trivialities that have nothing to do with the subject at hand.
        I never for a second said you shouldn’t like it – what I did in fact say was don’t call it Grunge, because it isn’t. Call it mainstream rock because that’s all it is. Otherwise you’re misleading others and writing total b/s. That’s why knowing the facts are sometimes important because if you don’t know enough you can be mislead – as exactly as per your case in hand.
        Yes, so you bought some records years ago, too. Great. A kind of necessary entity really were one to properly discover a recording artist, I would think.
        Join the club, there’s millions of us.
        Btw, you would’nt want a first pressing of Neil’s first album as they made a dog’s dinner of the mixing on four of the tracks and Neil had it withdrawn and revised. You need the preferred 2nd pressing. Exact same similar situation with Pink Floyd’s A Saucerful Of Secrets.
        Again you talk of appreciating the sounds – like that dreadful acoustic Nirvana? – yet couldn’t get to grips with Earth?
        I’m sure you’ll enjoy and appreciate the sounds of the forthcoming Eurovision Song Contest.
        I think you’ve buried yourself deep enough already and talking without substance for the sake of talking with some lame attempt in saving face or something.
        Here’s a spade. Catch!

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