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Earliest grungey-sounding song

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Initial post: Aug 7, 2007 6:54:46 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 7, 2007 7:47:48 PM PDT
Beck says:
My knowledge of alternative music does not run deep, so I'm hoping for some feedback on this question from those of you with greater knowledge of the obscure. I unearthed our CD of Sinead O'Connor's debut, The Lion and the Cobra. This was a stunning album when it came out. I've always liked the track "Just Call Me Joe," and when listening to it recently it occurred to me that it was positively dripping in a strong grunge vibe. But it came out in '87.

Anyone with this CD, please play that track (not just the 30-second clip, which doesn't help much for this discussion) and tell me if you know of anything so "grungey" coming out that early or even earlier. By the way, Kevin Mooney does the guitar on that track.

Also, just for the sake of acknowledgment, this is on the mellow end of grunge.

Late edit: 1) More interested in post-1980, but throw in whatever you've got. 2) Any commentary specifically about "Just Call Me Joe" would be appreciated, just out of curiosity.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 7, 2007 7:13:43 PM PDT
Paul Ess. says:
the Membranes - Spike Milligans Tape Recorder came out about '85 and was certainly dripping with something...
There MUST be stuff from the 60's.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 7, 2007 7:20:49 PM PDT
You have to back to the Troggs "Wild Thing" or the Fugs if you want real origins...

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 7, 2007 7:25:18 PM PDT
Beck says:
Paul Ess., without going and listening to it, I think Iggy and the Stooges had some stuff that sounded a bit grungey (I don't know how I should spell that), and maybe some MC5.

Anybody else got anything from the 80s?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 7, 2007 7:31:30 PM PDT
Beck says:
I'm not sure I'm looking for real origins and roots. I'm more interested in post-1980. Ya know, what fed directly into what the masses consumed as grunge.

BTW, I think you're right about the Troggs.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 7, 2007 7:53:41 PM PDT
Green River is usually considered the first grunge band, they formed (I think) in 1984. I know the lead singer came up with the term grunge, but that's about all I know.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 7, 2007 8:08:15 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 7, 2007 8:10:17 PM PDT
Beck says:
See, I told you I didn't know much.

Devin R. Burman, thanks for the tip on Green River. Just checked 'em out, and they're pretty Pearl Jammy, which ain't a bad thing.

Paul Ess., I checked out The Membranes too. When they're not punk, which isn't often, they're a bit grungey. And, yes, they're "certainly dripping with something"....

I knew I'd get some educatin' from you people. Thanx.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 7, 2007 8:18:38 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 7, 2007 8:19:57 PM PDT
Chris G. says:
I think that it does go further back then 1980.
I like to believe Neil Young's music was an early blueprint to what grunge came to be. You can see it on early albums like 'Rust Never Sleeps' or '81s Re*ac*tor.
Grunge is just an evolution of sound. A term marketed by early Seattle bands like Mudhoney, who I think are way better than those early 90s bands.
I am familiar with all three of The Stooges early work. You can call it grungey, but I think it's more punk. 'Raw Power' from 1973, is closest to that Grungey sound. With their 1970 album 'Funhouse' more jazzed up Rock. Dark and full of anger.
I think that one of the first are yes, Green River and also Dinosaur Jr. 's 1st album from 1985. It's hard to pinpoint a grunge type of band farther back then that, that I am aware of.

- Although listen to a song like "Sedan Delivery" off of 'Rust Never Sleeps' from the late 70s by Neil Young. Now that's a pretty grungey song.
I need to give my MC5 album another listen.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 7, 2007 8:40:18 PM PDT
Beck says:
"Rust Never Sleeps" -- I have it on vinyl and haven't been able to listen to it since before 2000. But I think you're right.

"Raw Power" -- The only Stooges I own, and you're right about that one too.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 8, 2007 6:20:30 AM PDT
The Trashmen's "Surfin' Bird".

Can't get any grungier or lo-fi...

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2007 11:55:34 AM PDT
I'm gonna go with Blue Cheer's cover of "Summertime Blues," from 1968 (?) due to sound and image. Look at the cover of Vincebus Eruptum. You'd see guys like this in the lumberjack shirts ca. 1990.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2007 1:48:21 PM PDT
S. Finefrock says:
Down by the River and Cowgirl in the Sand by Neil could qualify. How about Link Wray?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2007 3:53:26 PM PDT
Chris G. says:
Yes, you're right. 'Everybody Knows This is Nowhere' can qualify. Many good, grungey type of songs.
I guess I was just listening to 'Rust Never Sleeps' the same night and thought it had that grungey type of sound, Beck may be talking about. Yes, Crazy Horse does provide many sounds as what Beck is referring to.

Out of my 16 Neil Young albums, I am not familiar with "Link Wray" - although I am new to a lot of his Classics.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2007 4:05:55 PM PDT
S. Finefrock says:
Link Wray was a guitarist in the late 50's/early 60's who was banned from some radio station because of the lewd, raw sound of his guitar. He was closer to rockabilly, but the sound of grunge guitar may have it's roots with Link. Check out his classic song Rumble for a taste.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 21, 2007 6:19:38 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 5, 2007 1:22:12 PM PDT
Paul Ess. says:
Cor yes. the Link Wray Rumble! An all time noise-beater. Not sure about grunge, but most guitar music is Mickey Mouse compared to this. Still as cool as a baby crunching polo mints in a mountain stream.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 21, 2007 6:21:41 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Feb 9, 2010 4:19:32 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 21, 2007 6:35:05 PM PDT
Not that Nirvana is the be all/end all of grunge, but you could look to the Kurt Cobains favorite bands. I can't remember them all but I'm sure you can find a list of them somewhere online or even on amazon. In particular The Vaselines really stand out to me as relevant to the grunge sound.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 22, 2007 4:39:10 AM PDT
E. Dill says:
Chris G.

I think you have something with Mudhoney. Nirvana may have taken the form and given it more depth but check out the early collection of Mudhoney "Superfuzz Bigmuff Plus Early Singles" on either or Even with 30 sec. clips you can get the idea.

Like a lot of influential bands, they never quite lived up to the initial excitement (IMHO) but their initial burst was undeniable.

Like most "firsts", it always becomes an issue of how far back one wants to go with "precursers" Mudhoney was obviously influened by the Stooges. So, do we say the Stooges are the first grunge band or Mudhoney (or Green River or a dozen other bands).

Seldom, except maybe with bluegrass, can we point a finger at the "inventer" or "originator" of a musical style. Usually, they evolve.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 22, 2007 5:06:59 AM PDT
E. Dill says:
DK Jackson...

One band, a favorite of mine, that Kurt seemed to mention a lot was The Pixies.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 22, 2007 1:25:26 PM PDT
Brody says:
While we are on the subject of grunge. I can't give you an early sound, but a promising grunge act that had a very short stay on the scene, that I enjoyed, was a band called For Squirrels. They were out of Florida and made one album, "Example". It's a great debut, but unfortunately most of their band members died in an automobile accident while touring. I highly recommend folks pick up a copy of the album. Here is the AMG biography:

For Squirrels formed in Gainesville, FL, in early 1993. The original lineup of Jack Vigliatura IV on vocals, guitarist Travis Tooke, drummer Jay Russell and bassist Bill White played around the area, and released Baypath Rd. in early 1994. After tours of the East Coast and the release of the EP Plymouth, For Squirrels signed with Sony/550 Music. The group then replaced Russell with Jack Greigo and in mid-1995 recorded their major-label debut, Example.

On September 8, however, the band's van blew a tire and overturned on the way back to Florida from a gig at CBGB's in New York. Vigliatura, White, and manager Tim Bender were killed, while Tooke and Greigo also suffered injuries. Example, released less than a month later, received overwhelming support from college radio. Tooke and Greigo were encouraged and decided to continue the band with high-school friend Andy Lord on bass.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 23, 2007 10:40:10 PM PDT
C. ashworth says:
I think The Melvins are the godfathers of grunge.

Green River, Temple of the Dog, Skin Yard, The Wipers, Mudhoney, Napalm Beach, Scratch Acid, Big Black, Dinosaur Jr., Black Flag, Sonic Youth, The Minutemen, Coffin Break, and many other bands contributed to it's sound.

"The Big Four" Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden all had roots with the above bands.

There was two ways to tackle grunge music, in my opinion. Nirvana went at it from a punk-rock direction, simplistic, and to the point. Nirvana is nearly stupid at times....But that's for another dicussion. And the second method was to approach it from a more hair-metal way. If you listen to Alice in Chains first record, it sounds very hair metal, especially in the production. But that's just a sign of the times (late 80's), so you can't blame them too much. Before they were Alice in Chains they were known as Alice-n-Chains if that gives you any idea. Funny stuff.

But there's tons of bands that have been forgotten from that period of time.

Wool-contained ex-members of Scream, which Dave Grohl used to drum with
Hater-a Soundgarden side project
Swell-recorded '41' in 1993, a great record
Arcwelder-a touch and go records band, with that classic grunge sound
Seam-another touch and go band
Clutch-their record from 1993 is pretty grunge
The Jesus Lizard-David Yow formed this sludge rock band after scratch acid broke up
Kyuss-members of Queens of the Stone Age used to play in this band, essential
Rapeman-Steve Albini's band after Big Black
Shellac-Steve Albini's band after Rapeman
Versus-Japanese rock with similarities to the Pixies
Slint-slowcore, that came out in the early 90's
Superchunk-pop punk, with grunge undertones
June of 44-basically catch indie rock
Polvo-one of the most unique bands on the face of the planet. To me. Broke up in 97.

So there's lots of music that isn't necessarily "grunge" but came out during that time (from about 1986-1995) that has that overall depressing mood. I live for this stuff and anyone who's bored of what the media called 'grunge' should check out the bands on my list. Enlighten yourself to a truely great time for music.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 26, 2007 10:06:29 PM PDT
Mags says:
I don't really get how this grunge idea started. You listen to Pearl Jam's Ten and compare it to Nirvana's Nevermind, they sound completely different.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 4, 2007 9:26:57 AM PDT
How about Psychotic Reaction by Count Five? Yeah, it's a Yardbirds rip, but Boy Howdy.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 4, 2007 7:28:07 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 4, 2007 8:05:12 PM PDT
Blue Cheer is a good one. Iron Butterfly had their moments of "grunge" as well and sold records. Imagine that!

Sorry Beck...I know you were looking for 80's bands but I couldn't resist.


In reply to an earlier post on Oct 5, 2007 11:41:46 PM PDT
bass boy says:
I agree about Neil Young being an influence on grunge.

I think portions of The Who's "Live at Leeds" has traces of grunge, particularly in Pete Townshend's wonderfully nasty guitar sounds (love it when the signal and volume were too much for his stacks - hence that clicking, cut-out sound on the LP and at Woodstock)

Tin Machine's first album, from 1989, also had some cool grunge-like guitar alongside David Bowie's vocals. Very underrated record and band, for some strange reason.
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Discussion in:  Alternative Rock forum
Participants:  19
Total posts:  27
Initial post:  Aug 7, 2007
Latest post:  Nov 6, 2007

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