Nirvana and Winger: against the narrative

Whatizitman

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Some genres of popular music start out being about rebellion, alienation, anger and drugs. Eventually they become about cars, money and women and drugs. And sometimes hobbits. Then the next generation comes along singing about rebellion, alienation, anger and drugs. And so it goes.

I will always love this band. Lots of fantastic and truly talented bands like Toad the Wet Sprocket would not have surfaced had bands like Nirvana not been allowed by the record industry to "make it".

 

Willie Johnson

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Blame an incredible band that just happen to inspire a mediocre band?

Fuzzy math.
OK, maybe not "blame" as much as "attrubute." It occurrs to me that there's weren't any direct rip-offs of Pearl Jam or Soundgarden like there were of Nirvana, the most egregious example being (deep breath) Puddle of Mudd.
 

beyer160

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Winger's records hold up, which is more than you can say for all that depressed and boring nil skill sarcasm from Seattle

Winger's records NEVER held up, unless you stacked them under a wobbly table leg.

Sure there was a lot of crap in the "grunge" category, but holding up a B-list hair metal band against an entire era of music is an odd hill to die on. And if you want to issue a blanket statement calling that music "nil skill," we should probably examine Winger's utter lack of songwriting ability which is a far worse sin.

Please. Soundgarden's worst album crushes anything Kip ever recorded.

- D

True, and Soundgarden weren't even all that good.
 

Texicaster

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I'm so lucky I ducked into Grateful Dead, Reggae and Bluegrass during this period!

Norman Blake had a LOT longer lasting impression on me! I still play his version of Whiskey Before Breakfast every time I break out the Collings!
 

Whatizitman

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And while we're on the subject of shred....

Several notable 90s (and beyond) guitarists came up in the 80s shred scenes, but turned their backs on it and openly embraced simplicity and traditional blues/rock leads that fit with the 90s sentiment quite well. All of them could shred. They just chose not to. They are remembered now for being in great bands with great songs, as opposed to only being great guitarists who just happened to appear on some 80s bands' radio cuts.

That's notable. Whether you like their songs and style are beside the point. These cats can not only play, they can play creative and memorable songs.

Mike McCready
Rivers Cuomo
Billy Corgan
Kim Thayil
Adam Jones
Jerry Cantrell* (kinda always kept one foot in shred. The key point being that he never overdid it, and kept it tasteful).
EDIT: oops, forgot Tom Morello

Dave Navarro and Slash get their own mention. Late 80s, and borderline shreddy.

*my favorite out of all of them.
 
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421JAM

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Nirvana is over-credited with killing off the hairspray genre. Before Nirvana got big, people were turning to rock music being made by the likes of REM, B52s, Tom Petty, GnR, Metallica, all of whom had massive rock hits in the year or two leading up to Nirvana’s success.

I’m not denying that Nirvana were massive and influential, but people act like society was clamoring for someone to come along and offer a different kind of guitar rock music and nobody did that until Nirvana came along. And this is simply false.

Hairspray music was dying before Nirvana entered the stage. Erase Nirvana’s existence and hairspray still dies on the same timeline.
 

Whatizitman

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OK, maybe not "blame" as much as "attrubute." It occurrs to me that there's weren't any direct rip-offs of Pearl Jam or Soundgarden like there were of Nirvana, the most egregious example being (deep breath) Puddle of Mudd.

Pearl Jam, yes. Soundgarden, not so much. Despite their more obvious influences, they had their own thing going. Very difficult to reference without sounding like a copycat, IMO. And, well, Chris Cornell.

I thought this was Pearl Jam when I first heard it. After a moment or so realizing it wasn't a great song, it dawned on me it wasn't Pearl Jam.



I don't care how many dropped D bands reared their ugly heads in the last 30 years, I have yet to hear a copycat band of this.

 

Willie Johnson

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Pearl Jam, yes. Soundgarden, not so much. Despite their more obvious influences, they had their own thing going. Very difficult to reference without sounding like a copycat, IMO. And, well, Chris Cornell.

I thought this was Pearl Jam when I first heard it. After a moment or so realizing it wasn't a great song, it dawned on me it wasn't Pearl Jam.


Ooooh, yeah. Matchbox 20/Rob Thomas took Eddie Vedder's yarlowing thing too.
 

StrangerNY

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Nirvana is over-credited with killing off the hairspray genre. Before Nirvana got big, people were turning to rock music being made by the likes of REM, B52s, Tom Petty, GnR, Metallica, all of whom had massive rock hits in the year or two leading up to Nirvana’s success.

I’m not denying that Nirvana were massive and influential, but people act like society was clamoring for someone to come along and offer a different kind of guitar rock music and nobody did that until Nirvana came along. And this is simply false.

Hairspray music was dying before Nirvana entered the stage. Erase Nirvana’s existence and hairspray still dies on the same timeline.

Good points. Popular tastes were already moving away from the hair farmers prior to Nirvana.

But speaking from personal experience here - my band was in the middle of recording our debut album for Warners, and we had the guys who mixed Appetite for Destruction producing our album. Midway through the sessions Nevermind came out, and that was the record that got our A&R guy asking if we could write a few songs that 'sounded like Nirvana.' Marketing went into paralysis, saying they didn't know how to promote us, and ultimately we got dropped.

The movement away from hair metal was already happening, but IMO Nirvana sealed the deal.

- D
 

beyer160

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I’m not denying that Nirvana were massive and influential, but people act like society was clamoring for someone to come along and offer a different kind of guitar rock music and nobody did that until Nirvana came along. And this is simply false.

Hairspray music was dying before Nirvana entered the stage.

These two points argue against each other.

It's true that hair metal was dying, and there WAS a desire for loud, guitar-based music that wasn't so stupid and cartoonish. Nirvana ticked all the boxes while tapping into the Gen-X zeitgeist that was moodier and more cynical than the generation before, and considered the hair metal bands clowns (I mean come on, they even DRESSED like clowns). Would Sonic Youth or Dinosaur Jr have filled the gap if Nirvana hadn't? I don't think so- hair metal would still have died, but none of the other bands in that scene had the perfect storm of characteristics that Nirvana had. Maybe Guns & Roses would have become the new template for hard rock. Maybe hip hop would have attained dominance a decade earlier. Maybe Bjork, who knows.
 

Whatizitman

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These two points argue against each other.

It's true that hair metal was dying, and there WAS a desire for loud, guitar-based music that wasn't so stupid and cartoonish. Nirvana ticked all the boxes while tapping into the Gen-X zeitgeist that was moodier and more cynical than the generation before, and considered the hair metal bands clowns (I mean come on, they even DRESSED like clowns). Would Sonic Youth or Dinosaur Jr have filled the gap if Nirvana hadn't? I don't think so- hair metal would still have died, but none of the other bands in that scene had the perfect storm of characteristics that Nirvana had. Maybe Guns & Roses would have become the new template for hard rock. Maybe hip hop would have attained dominance a decade earlier. Maybe Bjork, who knows.

Alice in Chains Facelift came out in 1990, and Man in the Box had major rotation on both standard rock and alternative rock stations. From the moment I first heard the opening riff on the radio in my truck, I knew some big changes were upon us. And the feeling was goooood. I'd heard Jane's Addiction, and weren't really taken by them. I abhorred Guns n' Roses at the time. More out of general spite of the Sunset Blvd scene than anything else, really. But Alice in Chains did it for me.

In part contrast, Smells Like Teen Spirit sounded like a garage thrash band to me. I was not impressed. I still don't think it's their best song. Come as You Are was. And that's coming from someone who loved Eighties by Killing Joke. :D

Yup. Nirvana helped seal off the 80s off with a song ripped off from an 80s song called Eighties. Cobain knew it, and didn't want to release it as a single. And I never had a problem with any of that.

I also a big fan of irony. Hello, my name is Generation X.
 

sixstringbastard

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I was there, remember that time vividly. I owned a ton of hair metal cassettes.

Winger wrote cringe-inducing songs. Nirvana didn't defeat them. They defeated themselves.

Hair metal sounds very dated to me. I'll stick with the NWOBHM bands.

I remember Warrant's Cherry Pie as being one of the worst of this ilk.
 

northernguitar

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I was there, remember that time vividly. I owned a ton of hair metal cassettes.

Winger wrote cringe-inducing songs. Nirvana didn't defeat them. They defeated themselves.

Hair metal sounds very dated to me. I'll stick with the NWOBHM bands.

I remember Warrant's Cherry Pie as being one of the worst of this ilk.
Cherry Pie was so horrible, the songwriter hated it.
 

StevesBoogie

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In '89 a gorgeous girl agreed to go to a Winger concert with me.

A buddy ran into both of us and asked "You going to Winger?"

I said "I sure hope to after the show!"

Needless to say, that did not occur.
 

David Barnett

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I will always love this band. Lots of fantastic and truly talented bands like Toad the Wet Sprocket would not have surfaced had bands like Nirvana not been allowed by the record industry to "make it".

I would think Toad the Wet Sprocket's path was cleared more by REM than Nirvana.

From reading this thread, one might think that Hair Metal was the only thing going on in the '80s and early '90s, that there was some kind of binary choice between Hair Metal and Grunge. I don't recall Hair Metal ever being the dominant form of Rock music. It was just one of many niches.
 

beninma

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So interesting to see these and everyone has a different generational take.

I'm tail end Gen X. (1977). Hair metal was something I liked as a kid/tween. Grunge hit when I was a teen.

I was totally done with Nirvana pretty much by the time Kurt died. Got totally sick of them. I think they really really appealed to a narrow window of Gen X. There was so much other music in that era and the 5 years after Kurt died that was better than Nirvana.

I think a lot of people my age had a tough time actually having a good time and making grunge the soundtrack of high school/college too. Grunge was so often music to be depressed & moody to.

I really don't like Dave Grohl's later stuff either. He's super talented and the band is tight but Foo fighters is so "safe" and corporate.

So it always just seems odd when Nirvana gets held up as the ivory tower of all this stuff.
 




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