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Grunge rock turns 'Twenty'

Eddie Vedder

Eddie Vedder Photo Credit: Eddie Vedder (Getty Images)

With the release of the new Cameron Crowe-directed documentary “Pearl Jam
Twenty” this week and the 20th anniversary reissue of Nirvana’s “Nevermind” due Tuesday, we can all be forgiven for resuming arguments begun in 1991, when casting your lot with one or the other of the then-young Pacific Northwest bands seemed to be really, really important.

Like it or not, the ’90s are hot again, and so to properly revel in the grungy glory, am- NewYork takes a look at the current status of some of the era’s main attractions:

Pearl Jam
They’re still alive. The clear winners in both longevity and commercial success, Eddie Vedder and the gang have ticked off the rock-biopic boxes with seeming ease, from basement shows to stadium tours, money/fame issues and, finally, to mellowed-out lead-singer solo projects such as Vedder’s recent ukulele kick.

Nirvana
Famously defunct. After the martyr-making suicide of Kurt Cobain in 1994, the band that personified the era’s angsty aesthetic had no capacity to continue, but the widowed Courtney Love is still around to keep things interesting, and drummer Dave Grohl has gone on to rule rock radio for the past decade as frontman for the Foo Fighters.

Soundgarden
There and back again. Cresting with their breakout album “Superunknown,” which spawned hits such as “Black Hole Sun” and “Spoonman” (only in ’94, folks), this group disintegrated at the end of the decade (with singer Chris Cornell joining members of Rage Against the Machine to form the bland-rock collective Audioslave), but has recently reunited for sold-out shows. Yes, really.

Alice in Chains
Still kicking. Though often heaped in with the grunge greats, the tag never seemed to describe this beloved but troubled band, whose uneven tenure has been marred by long hiatuses and the death of vocalist Layne Staley in 2002 and bassist Mike Starr earlier this year. A new album is reportedly in the works.

The Melvins
Standing tall (in the shadows). Despite acting as mentors to breakout acts such as Nirvana and Mudhoney, this band has never cracked the cult barrier, keeping close to their Black Sabbath-inspired roots. With two founding members still around, the group soldiers on. 

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