Thirty years of Grunge
Published on 9th February 2021
It’s hard to believe that later on this year sees the 30th anniversary of grunge exploding onto the music scene. While all bands on the Seattle scene apart from Pearl Jam had released albums prior to 1991, it was the release of Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana in September of that year that made Seattle the centre of the rock music scene.
Between radio airplay and MTV picking up Teen Spirit’s memorable video (remember that??) Nirvana went from playing small clubs and theatres to major arenas in the space of a few months, swiftly followed by the likes of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.
No doubt there will be plenty written about this era over the next few months so let’s see what Freegal has to offer grungewise. (Most, if not all albums not currently available on Freegal will be available to order from your library once restrictions are lifted, so get working on your lists!!)
Only fair we start with Nirvana, and while there are no studio albums on Freegal at the moment there's plenty of the radio broadcasts that Freegal is so good at getting to keep you going, including a home town show from Seattle in 1993.
Pearl Jam next, the only major band of the era still releasing albums and touring with the original line up, and you're spoilt for choice. All but one of their studio albums from 1991 debut Ten (including the deluxe version) through to 2006's self-titled are here along with both official live albums and even the excellent MTV Unplugged. If that's not enough there are more radio broadcasts to get through, best being Live at San Diego from 1995 and Live at the Orpheum Theatre from 1994.
Onto Grunge’s darkest group, and - similar to Pearl Jam - there's lots of Alice in Chains official releases here, in fact everything involving original vocalist Layne Staley including the massive Music Bank box set which includes demos, singles, alternative versions etc. Highlight of theirs has to be the Dirt album, an absolute masterpiece.
A couple of bands that never broke as big as the ones above but deserve a mention are Screaming Trees and Mudhoney. I first heard Screaming Trees on the Singles soundtrack but never went any further with them until now. They have some really good albums on here, Sweet Oblivion and Dust being the pick of them.
Mudhoney have come across in the past as being quite bitter about not making it as big as some of the bands above, (add Mark Yarm's book Everybody Loves Our Town to your reserve list!) and considering they were one of the first grunge bands releasing albums, and were/are constantly mentioned as an influence by the more popular bands, you can see why they think like that. Their live album that’s on here, Live at El Sol, has some really great songs but unfortunately for them sometimes that's just not enough!
Finally two compilations worth mentioning, the already mentioned Singles soundtrack has all of Seattle’s big names on it and there is also Best of Grunge -the Live Broadcasts, which includes all bands mentioned above and also has the only Soundgarden songs available at the moment on it.
So plenty there to occupy you after home schooling is done and while waiting for the "reserve" buttons to be switched back on! Enjoy.
Watch our how-to video for Freegal to get you started.
Submitted by Jennifer in Finglas library.