I made what I think was my sixth appearance on the WNYC radio show Soundcheck today, participating in their every-Tuesday "Soundcheck Smackdown," where two critics debate the merits of something or other. I've previously been on to discuss the merits of Metallica when Death Magnetic came out, take the anti-Bruce Springsteen position when his last studio album was released, take the anti-White Stripes position upon their breakup, and defend Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven." I was also there once in a non-Smackdown context, when my book Marooned came out.
Today I was there to defend Pearl Jam in a deathmatch with Nirvana (defended by the awesome writer Jeanne Fury), since Ten and Nevermind are both turning 20 this year. I have never liked Nirvana, not ever; when they first got big, I was deep into Napalm Death, Slayer and the Rollins Band, and Nirvana just seemed like whiny bitches compared to any one of those three acts. I was never a big Pearl Jam booster, but they at least had good songs (and guitar solos), and when I dug deep into their catalog in preparation for this debate, I discovered a whole bunch of really solid material. I also came to the conclusion that "Black" is their "Free Bird," and that's a good thing.
Anyway, here's a link to the audio. Somewhere around the 15-minute mark, Vernon Reid(!) calls in to castigate us for not discussing Soundgarden instead. I can't say he's wrong, even if ultimately my favorite Seattle band will always be Tad.