Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Green River ~ Rehab Doll

(No official website.)
Style: hard rock
Label: Sub Pop
Year: 1988
Home: Seattle (disbanded)

Members: Mark Arm ~ vocals
Stone Gossard ~ guitars/b. vocals
Bruce Fairweather ~ guitars
Alex Vincent ~ drums
Jeff Ament ~ bass/b. vocals
Stone Gossard ~ guitar

Additional: Bruce Calder, Sharka Stern ~ b. vocals


GR needs no explanation for those familiar with grunge history. Active for only 4 years in the late 80's they had little impact outside of the region, even with a brief national tour, but in the long term would have an unexpected legacy. There was no grunge movement when they formed, but their debut Come On Down in hindsight would be called the first release by a grunge band as they shortly pre-date their grunge forefather peers the U-Men, Melvins, Skin Yard & Soundgarden & the release of Sub Pop's groundbreaking Deep Six compilation that would overnight turn a city into a musical movement. Thus, musically GR is there at the fore. Further, their second EP was the first non-compilation released by Sub Pop. But, its hard to say whether musically GR had an impact through their own music or the music that came after. Meaning, the band was fronted by vocalist Mark Arm & included guitarists Steve Turner, Stone Gossard, drummer Alex Vincent & bassist Jeff Ament. Bruce Fairweather would replace Turner on guitar. Here everything should make sense. Arm & Turner formed Mudhoney. Ament & Gossard formed Mother Love Bone, later Temple Of the Dog & Pearl Jam. Fairweather joined Malfunkshun with future Mother Love Bone singer Andrew Wood & later would be in Love Battery. Sans Nirvana no further explantion is needed on how GR have influenced grunge. Only Vincent would leave music, except for some GR reunions, moving to Japan & later get into politics. Rehab Doll is GR's third & final album. In-fighting over the direction the band should go caused Ament, Gossard & Fairweather to say goodbye. The group stuck together only long enough to finish recording, gone by the time it hit the shelves. But, the big question - is this grunge? If you define grunge by any of the above heavy-hitters then this may take you as a shock. "Forever Means" & the worth hearing title track have riffs that sound more comfortable in much of the rough & tumble hard rock that was on the scene. If you've ever thought Pearl Jam had a classic rock tinge, listen to GR & you'll hear that even more so, mixed with a bit of Sonic Youth & Iggy Pop. If there's anything that screams grunge its primarily on the shoulders of frontman Arm who really gives the music its personality. His vocals go from high & low, I almost think of Jim Morrison or Jizzy Pearl of L.A. Guns in that way of using his full range, if not sometimes twist off into faux-hair metal turns while crying out anything but cliched lyrics. It's less about a structured melody & more loose, wavering & almost experimental at times. Actually, the music feels too structured at times for where he seems to want to go. For those that know Mudhoney, no further explanation is needed, though musically this is far more hard rock & less Sonic Youth than Mudhoney, but the musical similiarities are profound. Though, poor production that keeps Arm too low in the mix & not jumping out like he should. It's Arm that also gives a large psychedelic bend to the album as musically its not as experimental as one might think considering its an early grunge band. This is the other side of grunge. The dirty rock side. The step between the mainstream rock & Sonic Youth colliding underground scene & what would become known as grunge. Collectors will obviously want to find GR's debut. While this album is often said to not be the pure sound of GR, but GR with a harder edge. But, consider it was under this album's shadow that Mudhoney & Mother Love Bone were created, not the music of 4 years earlier. So, is it worth hearing? Certainly, but if you're not a Mudhoney fan you may not enjoy it as much as you may want to as Arm dominates the affair musically. While you won't find the twin guitar work of Pearl Jam or the glam of Mother Love Bone. If you're not familiar with Mudhoney ... check out the Singles Motion Picture Soundtrack & you'll get a pretty good taste. There's a few tracks here that don't verge that much farther, just without the heavy distortion. GR reunited in 1993, 2008 & 2009 for a handful of shows. The standout twisted single "Swallow My Pride" comes from their debut EP, while "Together We'll Never" was released earlier as a single. Cassette version includes Bowie's "Queen Bitch".

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