No Nirvana – A Late Show special

Sonic Youth

Since it seems to be Grunge Week on the internet – 20 years since Nevermind came out – with articles in the Guardian and Collapse Board, there seems to have been some controversy as to which bands should be mentioned and which were not part of it at all.

I was reminded of a great episode of The Late Show – a culture programme on BBC2 – called No Nirvana – which simply featured live-in-the-studio performances from alternative rock bands such as Jane’s Addiction, Dinosaur Jr, Sugar, Smashing Pumpkins, etc. I thought Rage Against The Machine’s inclusion was a bit odd (if welcome), and REM downright out of place, but you can’t really argue with Sonic Youth’s amazing performance of Drunken Butterfly.

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Sugar – Hoover Dam

This song has been going around in my head for a while now, through playing too much Fallout: New Vegas.

I was never a Sugar fan. This was, to my mind, the only truly good track on the album, Copper Blue. I never got into Husker Du, and thought that, all in all, Bob Mould was overrated.

This song, though. It’s just exquisite songwriting from start to end. The intriguing reversed start, echoed by the off-kilter guitar solo, and that extremely memorable keyboard hook are what reeled me in. The rousing vocals that are too lazy to be properly anthemic. For all the era’s pretenses of low-budget rebellion, the sound on this is twinkling and pristine, and it’s really just a classic rock song built for driving across the Nevada desert.