Various Artists

The Grunge Years: A Sub Pop Compilation

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This 13-track, sardonically packaged (complete with suited, briefcase-toting executive types on the front cover) set compiles material from Sub Pop's late-'80s/early-'90s period, when the company had just been tagged (and saddled) with the grunge label. Much of it was originally released on vinyl 45s, and some has subsequently resurfaced on CD; indeed, only dedicated collectors could probably tell you which of these tracks are truly rare by now. In any case, it's a decent sampler, with cuts by Nirvana, Tad, L7, Mark Lanegan, Screaming Trees, Mudhoney, Afghan Whigs, Babes in Toyland, and less expected entries like Beat Happening and the decidedly un-grunge Walkabouts. The Hype! soundtrack -- which includes material by several of these acts and adds songs by many Seattle-area bands not represented here -- is actually a better genre overview, at least until the inevitable day when the grunge box sets start appearing.

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