The grunge family tree is not complicated. Before there was Nirvana or Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, or even those grand imitators the Stone Temple Pilots, there was a Bellevue, Washington band called Green River. Green River grew into full-fledged bandhood from various adolescent high school collaborations between Mark Arm (né McLaughlin) and Steve Turner. Green River was a hard-rocking heavy metal-ish band and is important to note because their first record, Come on Down, is said by many to be the first grunge recording ever. Kurt Cobain and Chris Cornell would later cite Green River as influences. Two of Green River’s members, Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard, went on to form a wildly successful band called Pearl Jam. Indeed, most of the grunge bands that emerged after Come on Down would garner far greater financial success than did Green River or the band they eventually morphed into: Mudhoney.
Listen to early Mudhoney gold like “Hate the Police,” and you will hear the gleeful sounds of rock and roll dinosaurs — simple power chords, sloppy playing, amps on the loudest settings, adrenaline on high. That grunge owes everything to garage rock is no mystery. I’ve often wondered: Could there ever have been a grunge movement without garage? For the record, garage is the music that American bands were making in the mid-’60s, although at the time it was not called garage. In a word, garage refers to an actual place (lots of young bands practice in them) as well as a volatile and amateurish sound long on emotions and short on skills.
Decades later, Green River (and Mudhoney) would inspire a new genre and make flannel shirts cool again by reliving those same fundamentals of garage rock. If not the money or the fame, they should at least get the credit.
MUDHONEY, Casbah, Saturday, November 15, 8:30 p.m. 619-232-4355. $22.