Is it possible that, despite what history and everyday logic would tell you, that Soul Asylum invented the Seattle sound… in Minneapolis? Dave Pirner and co started seasoning Neil Young loner folk with country twang and punk aggression back in 1981, the same year Kurt Cobain was picking out Cars covers on his first guitar at 14.
The sound they came up with was definitely grunge. Whether or not Soul Asylum was the first band to play it doesn’t really matter. It’s usually impossible to attribute the origins of musical styles to single artists, anyway.
But the fact that Soul Asylum didn’t come out of the ’90s as notorious as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins did, is a little bit surprising — I mean come on. Look at Dave Pirner! He was like Meg Ryan with dreadlocks! And that scratchy crybaby voice… Man. Sweetest dude ever. No wonder Winona Ryder was so wild for him. Now you can’t even find a decent photo of him on the internet. WEIRD.
In the Unplugged performance below, Soul Asylum go easy on their classic Grave Dancers Union opener, “Somebody To Shove,” fleshing it out with an orchestra. Watch the video, and tell me that song’s not just as good as “Bullet With Butterfly Wings.”