Layne Staley died on April 5, 2002 and Kurt Kobain April 5, 1994. Throwthepie listens to some of their best work.
Both were charismatic singers who, despite their differing styles, helped define the term 'grunge'. There's no denying that both struggled with their own personal demons but today is a day for remembering their contributions to music and the influence they still have on today's artists. Here are a few of their best recordings.
Nirvana, 'Where Did You Sleep Last Night'
Kurt admitted that he was terrified of doing the MTV Unplugged performance but the whole band defied expectations to deliver a truly acoustic set of unexpected proportions. Kurt ended with a cover of Leadbelly's 'Where Did You Sleep Last Night?' which starts out gently but ends up with Kurt belting his lungs out over the top. So much so, in fact, that he refused to do an encore as he felt there was no way he could better that as a final song. This was one moment where we saw Kurt as himself as well as unplugged.
Alice In Chains, 'Would?'
It's ironic and tragic that Alice In Chains' 'Would?' was written about the death of their friend, Mother Love Bone's Andrew Wood. Wood was one of grunge's first drug-related deaths and a huge loss to many of whom who would go on to make it big. He was never forgotten though and the sparse riffs of 'Would?', overlain with Staley's belting chorus make sure of that as Layne remembers his mentor and friend.
Explosive cries of 'Yeah, yeah', after such a simple, gentle verse is Kurt delivering his poetic best followed by bursts of pure emotion. Even the bass break is simple, but the song is full of so many catchy hooks and lyrics that appealed to every angst-laden teenager, that it was always going to be a hit,
Mad Season, 'River of Deceit'
It's a shame that such a beautiful, relaxing five minutes is laden with Layne telling his listeners how he's both admitting and lying to himself about his addictions. There are many brilliant songs on the Seattle supergroup's only album but this one is particularly poignant.
'My pain is self chosen', he cries, flawlessly and 'the only direction we flow is down', is admitting your demons but yet again being unable to do anything about them.
One of the most grunge-sounding songs Nirvana ever produced, 'Blew' was a dirty, raw sounding track. It was the sound of a band not particularly proficient with their instruments but they sure knew how to bash them around and create a sound that even they couldn't have predicted would turn the music world on its head.
Alice In Chains, 'Down In A Hole'
I've chosen the MTV Unplugged version for this simply because it encompasses yet again the struggles Layne was going through but in a raw, heartbreaking way. '
I've been guilty of kicking myself in the teeth', never sounded more poignant. This gig should have been the one that skyrocketed Alice In Chains to further stardom but Layne didn't appear live many times after this. Guitarist Jerry Cantrell was clearly the one leading the show but it was Layne's efforts that stole it.