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Mother Love Bone

Entry written and researched by: Kristy Parker

Think of it...its the late 80's, you're in Seattle, Washington cupping your ears, trying to figure out the "new" sound that seems to be everywhere. You already thought that George Michael was beginning to seem like the anti-christ of rock  All the glam pop/rock of the late 70's is dying out, and something darker and heavier is fusing with the remains. No longer is every band trying to get on the space ship with Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars; they are trying to find a space somewhere grounded on this planet. Their elevation comes instead from a wall of muddy sound coursing through Marshall amps as tall as small buildings. The aura of the music has the sneer of Sid Viscious and the stage antics of the over-the-top Elton John. Who shall herald in this change, be the ringleader with the magic guitar pick of gold...and the voice that can be heard above the thunderous crowds?

Many say that Nirvana broke through with the most innovative force, and they would be quite wrong. Kurt even admitted on numerous occasions that his music was greatly influenced by other artists such as the Pixies and The Melvins. So he was pretty much putting a megaphone up to sounds already circulating the alternative music scene. Yes, there was Soundgarden, The Melvins, Alice In Chains, Nirvana...but there was also one band that stood out amongst them all: the infamous Mother Love Bone.

Never heard of them? Well, that could be because they never got the chance to shine like so many of the other Seattle bands. Like so many other sad rock n' roll stories, their lead singer Andrew Wood (from the band Malfunkshun), died of a heroin overdose before the release of their first album, Apple. The other reason you might still be scratching your head could be because two of the band members went on to form an even more sucessful band, some would say the most powerful rock band fame wise other than U2: Pearl Jam.

Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, while best known as guitarist/bassist for Pearl Jam, actually wrote some of their greatest stuff musically during their short lived musical project, Mother Love Bone. Mother Love Bone mixed the beautiful piano arrangements of Elton John withAndrew Wood's vocal stylings (somewhere between the sexual howl of Robert Plant and the flambuoyant energy of Freddie Mercury). On top of all that, add the scorching guitar licks of Stone Gossard in his post-glam/punk glory, and you have the best band to come out of the Seattle scene. Or at least, the band with the most outright potential for earth shattering rock. I suppose we'll never know for sure what could have been since there is only one album, some bootlegs, and some old frayed concert t-shirts.

I write this article not to say I have less love for bands like Pearl Jam, I just think that many grunge fans are missing out if they don't also have a place for Mother Love Bone beside Pearl Jam's debut Ten. Since I'm not the kind of girl who wants to leave her readers hanging, I'm going to leave you with two music videos. The first is Pearl Jam covering my favorite Mother Love Bone song by far, "Chloe Dancer-Crown of Thorns." Then, I'll leave with you with Star Dog Champion, a rare video from Mother Love Bone. Let me know what you think, seriously. I'm way suprised nobody in here ever mentioned this band before because I know most of you are obessesed with grunge and Pearl Jam.

Some trivia for you: did you know that the band Temple of the Dog was formed to create such tribute songs as "Say Hello to Heaven" for the late Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone who was Chris Cornell's roomate? The band included members of Sound Garden and Pearl Jam. Also, Eddie Vedder sings lead vocals on "Hungerstrike."

"Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns" Mother Love Bone cover performed by Pearl Jam; from the 2003 DVD, Live at the Garden.

"Stardog Champion" rare video by Mother Love Bone circa 1989

jinkesvelma @ 7/8/2006 |

July 13, 2006   02:06 AM PDT
Another 'damn shame' moment. I never heard of MLB until long, long after Andrew Wood died...thank you for the videos.

Jeez this certainly is dead rock genius week, isn't it?
July 8, 2006   07:24 PM PDT
Oh yes...... Mother Love Bone :)

Btw, you should check out the rest of that Temple Of The Dog album - it's great.

And I notice Mad Season on the side bar! Sweet! That album is excellent, I haven't listened to it for ages.

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November 19th 1985  (Age 32)
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There has been much coming and going of the authors here at Vintage Rock. If you have not posted an entry in over two months, I'm either deleting you from Vintage Rock or marking you as inactive on the side-bar. I don't think its fair to give authors credit here if they don't post any entries. Its nothing personal, I'm sure you all understand.

Kristy (founder)
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What Is "Vintage Rock" About?

Vintage Rock has officially been on the internet in various forms for about five years now. I started it on a whim of boredom at the terrible, I met some great friends there, and we ended up forming a super-group; a forum where it was okay to speak our minds about anything and everything music. And since there were multiple authors here, we were able to learn about an eclectic variety of music news, recommendations, and bands.

In the last few years, many of the authors who helped co-found this blog quit posting entries. I'm not bitter about their absence, because I know it takes a lot of time and dedication to write quality articles and posts. I will never forget them, but I think its time I quit expecting them to come back. I'd really like to see Vintage Rock turn back into the place it once was. I really don't forsee that happening though. I do however think it is valid for me to keep up this blog in hopes I can inspire even one person to realize that MTV is not the only way to define one's musical tastes. I know its difficult, and takes a lot of research, but there are amazing bands out there just waiting to be discovered. And that is the purpose of this blog. I've never made one penny for running Vintage Rock, and that's okay. Its worth all the hard work when I hear one person say, "Hey, that band kicks ass!" So yes, if you like Vintage Rock and what we stand for, don't be afraid to comment on an entry or say hi on the tag-board. The more input from you readers, the more likely I am to be inspired to post more entries. Anyway, I'm off my soap-box for today. I just thought I'd let you know that things are going to be a bit different here. I'm taking the focus off the side bar and deleting a lot of things I don't find relevant anymore.


Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart closed with Lowery singing about how "Life Is Grand" in pointed response to "those of you who have appointed yourselves to expect us to say something darker." So when Key Lime Pie came out, its moodier music and imagery, not to mention that soon after the fact the band fell apart on the tour for the album, led more than one person to think those darker times had finally arrived. As it is, the group had already gone through one major shake-up between the two albums -- founding member Segel had taken a powder to concentrate on other efforts, with Morgan Fichter brought in as a replacement violinist. Her abilities were certainly praiseworthy, as the album-starting instrumental "Opening Theme" shows quite well. However, it's definitely not the same band that did Telephone Free Landslide Victory a mere four years previous -- things are more straightforwardly rock here most of the time, perhaps not too surprising in light of Lowery's subsequent work in Cracker. As it is, though, it's excellently conceived rock, with space, moodiness, and more to spare. Consider "Jack Ruby," with its wordless backing vocals, tense rhythms, and thick soloing, or "Laundromat" and its steady but unnerving crunch. It's not all potential melancholia, though -- "June" in particular is an underrated number, celebrating the early summer with sweetness and love (at least up to the increasingly stranger ending). Lowery's singing is his best yet, perhaps a little less prone to wackiness but an emergent, distinct voice all the same, and certainly prone to sing a quirky lyric or two still. The oddest thing of all was that the band actually gained a little mainstream attention on MTV and radio via a cover of Status Quo's psych-era nugget "Pictures of Matchstick Men."--- Ned Raggett

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