|True story: This cover got TAD sued and they
had to replace it with something less interesting
The early '90s grungequake remains one of my favorite periods of rock 'n' roll. Sure there was a ton of crap, and yes "Alternative Rock Radio" quickly became as pathetic as Top 40 pop or Hot New Country.
But still, it was a time of many great bands and exciting albums. And that was the period that inspired me to want to do my own radio shows.
To be honest, I wasn't all that impressed with the list by Julie Anne Exter. Too many useless bands like Bush and Stone Temple Pilots and too many obvious choices like "Jeremy" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
You know me I usually shoot for more obscure and more obnoxious sounds.
But Exter's piece got me thinking ... So here, in no particular order, are the top 10 songs I would choose for this theoretical '90s Alt Rock cover band. I'd definitely pay the cover charge to see any band that did decent versions of the following;
1 "Man in the Box" by Alice in Chains. This is the only song that Exter and I have in common. It's the first Alice in Chains song I ever heard and for my money, the best thing they ever did.
2 "Jack Pepsi" by TAD. As stated above, the original cover of 8-Way Santa got TAD sued. And this song, the best track from that fine album (and, in fact, the greatest of TAD's career) got the group a nice cease and desist from Pepsi Cola because they decided to use a version of the soft drink's logo when they released the song as a single.
3 "Jesus Christ Pose" by Soundgarden. I know "Black Hole Sun" was their big hit. But that dreary dirge sounded better by Steve & Eydie. This was Soundgarden at their fiercest.
4 "Jesus Built My Hotrod" by Ministry (with Gibby Haynes) Another song for the Lord ...
5 "Andres" by L7. This was Suzi Gardner's greatest moment with this band. I always wanted to know what exactly the "problem" was with long-haired Andres.
6 "Papa Won't Leave You, Henry" by Nick Cave. This is like a grim update of Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall." But it makes Dylan's tune seem like a quaint little political morality play by comparison. There is no "Ban the Bomb" message here. It's a young man cast into a world of "lynch mobs, death squads, babies being born without brains ..." The bittersweet refrain of "Papa won't leave you, Henry" seems like nothing more than a broken promise remembered in bitter nostalgia. But the damned kid keeps going on down that road.
7 "The Wagon" by Dinosaur Jr. When this band was rocking, they sounded like an explosion that never stopped.
8 "My Name is Mud" by Primus. Les Claypool's bass-centric band created rock 'n' roll's answer to Deliverance.
9 "Buckskin Stallion Blues" by Mudhoney & Jimmie Dale Gilmore. A couple of years before anyone was talking about "alternative country," Mudhoney teamed up with Texas singer Jimmie Dale Gilmore for a split EP with Mudhoney doing a Gilmore song, Gilmore doing a Mudhoney song and the two acts teaming up on this old Townes Van Zandt tune. Made me proud to be an American.
10 "Serve the Servants" by Nirvana 'Teenage angst has paid off well. Now I'm bored and old ..." When I first heard these lyrics, the first line of the first song from In Utero -- Nirvana's much anticipated follow to Nevermind -- I though Kurt Cobain had weathered whatever psychic typhoons he'd had to endure with grace and humor .
A few months later he killed himself.