Green River – “Come On Down” EP

If you wanted to point to one band as being “patient zero” of the grunge genre, a strong case could be made for Green River.  Six men were part of the relatively short-lived band at one time or another, and five of them went on to play with some really well-known groups that sold more than a few records.  Consider:

  • Mark Arm was one of the founding members of Mudhoney, is still with that band today, and even works full time for Sub Pop
  • Steve Turner joined Arm in founding Mudhoney and is a current member
  • Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament were in Mother Love Bone, Temple of the Dog, and then a little band you may have heard of called Pearl Jam.
  • Bruce Fairweather was part of Mother Love Bone with Gossard and Ament, and later played with Love Battery
  • Alex Vincent was the only band member to not go on to more famous bands, instead going back to school and living in Japan for a period of time

That, my friends, is a pretty impressive track record for a band that only had one full length album and two EPs.

I came across this copy, oddly enough, thanks to Facebook, or more specifically Easy Street Records’ Facebook page, on which they mentioned a used copy of this had just come in.  A few hours later it was in my hands.  Thank you interwebs.

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The six-song Come On Down is a classic.  Sonically slow and heavy, it’s still somewhat hollow sounding in the mix – the deep, bass-ey grunge sludge isn’t quite here yet, but it’s right around the corner.  “New God” is perhaps the best jumping off point for what was to come, like a not-quite-as-deep Black Sabbath.  But it’s “Swallow My Pride” that steals the show, a song later covered by Pearl Jam, the Fastbacks, and especially awesomely by Soundgarden on their Fopp EP (my vote for one of the best EPs of all time), with it’s heavy borrowing from Blue Öyster Cult and in-your-face (i.e. F you) attitude.  The classic heavy metal guitar riff on “Corner Of My Eye” also shows the process of transition that Green River and many Seattle bands were undergoing, taking that 70s style of rock/metal and turning it into something different, something rawer and grimier.  Something awesome.

The only song off of Come On Down that made it onto any other Green River release was “Swallow My Pride,” which appeared on the Rehab Doll LP and the Dry As A Bone / Rehab Doll compilation first released in 1990, a few years after the bands demise.  Fortunately Come On Down was re-released a couple of years after that in 1992, so you can track this down in a more affordable format.  And if you want to get to grunge’s roots, there’s no better place to start than here.

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