Legacy of Sludge 

The Return of Green River

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Green River was the first grunge band—the first to release an EP anyway. They were a collision of hardcore punk and decidedly non-LA metal, featuring members who would go on to such acclaimed stations as Mudhoney and Pearl Jam.

Green River formed in 1984. To contextualize that distant, alien time, here is some frightening terminology: "Falcon Crest," "cassingle," "Whitesnake," "crack cocaine." Ronald Reagan was president, and many bands thought that if they drove their van too far in any one direction it would plunge off the end of the earth. Indeed, touring was a magnanimous proposition in the dark days before MySpace, reasonably sized cell phones, and digital recording technology.

As bands began to flirt with combining the brutal attack of the still-thriving hardcore scene, melody, and Iggy-style vocals, things started to change. Following in the footsteps of bands like Hüsker Dü, smart kids started playing pop using metal chops, and thus, 1984 saw the birth of bands like Dinosaur Jr., the Melvins and, of course, Green River.

At a time when questionable taste was de rigueur, Green River picked some great influences. They churned out sleazy, sloppy rock 'n' roll—à la the Stooges, New York Dolls, and the Dead Boys—and did so with an obscene quantity of oomph. Anchored by a thwacking rhythm section, the epochal holler of a newly minted 22-year-old named Mark Arm would cut through the slime like a titanic, white Screamin' Jay Hawkins. The whole mess was glued together with wanky guitars played at top volume through the most affordable equipment available. Green River were an I-5 corridor force to be reckoned with, but alas, like so many other volatile suspensions, Green River collapsed into a fragmented array, like so much rock 'n' roll peanut brittle, yielding hard lessons and astounding yet-to-be-seen successes.

Unlike many of their contemporaries and successors, Green River is rife with surviving members. This boon heralds doubtless worthiness and an excuse to revisit a time when all you needed was a Hagstrom, an Econoline, and a wall of Ampeg speakers. Come embrace Green River's legacy of sludge.

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