Formed in Seattle in 1984 and imploding during the recording of their debut album in 1987, Grunge pioneers Green River left a small but indelible mark on the music world during their brief existence, yet they went on to influence a whole host of bands and define a whole musical movement.

Put together by singer/guitarist Mark Arm, guitarist Steve Turner, bassist Jeff Ament and drummer Alex Vincent, (soon to be completed by guitarist Stone Gossard), Green River were part of a growing post-hardcore evolution in Seattle spearheaded by the likes of Sonic Youth, The Replacements and Butthole Surfers. Green River’s genre defining sound straddled post-hardcore punk, blues and, dare I say it, classic rock.


Recorded in June 1986 and released the following year, ‘Dry as A Bone’ was Green River’s second EP. Produced by the now legendary Jack Endino and released on a fledgling label called SubPop. It was a sludgy mix of hard rock, punk and metal, promoted as “ultra-loose grunge that destroyed the morals of a generation”.

Yet, band in-fighting was already rife by the time the band entered the studio to record their debut album. Ament and Gossard wanted to pursue a major label deal while Arm wanted to stay fiercely independent. They agreed to complete the album, but Ament, Gossard and guitarist Bruce Fairweather had already decided to quit. By October 1987 the band was over and ‘Rehab Doll’ finally surfaced the following year.

By this time Arm and Turner had formed Mudhoney and recorded their debut single ‘Touch Me, I’m Sick’, while Ament, Gossard and Fairweather were already making waves across Seattle with Mother Love Bone. And the rest as they say is history.


While these two releases previously surfaced as a single CD back in 1990, they have been unavailable on vinyl for many years. Now, they have been given the long overdue deluxe reissue treatment, with a whole host of previously unheard songs and 8 track demos recorded at Endino’s Reciprocal Recordings studio, which capture the true energy of the band live.

If you weren’t aware of Green River at the time, on first listen you may wonder what all the fuss was about. While in 2019 the sound of these two albums has aged remarkably well, to the casual newcomer they may sound derivative of a genre that was, let’s face it, oversaturated. But you have to think back to 30 years ago, and listen to them in the context of an 80’s musical climate and how fresh they must’ve sounded up against the mainstream US radio and the glam metal that was coming out of LA and beyond.


Originally a 5 track EP, ‘Dry As A Bone’ has a whopping additional 11 tracks on this re-issue. Some only previously available on much sought after and long deleted compilation albums. Sludgy, garage rock chaos, the brooding riffage and rambling Iggy-like vocals laying the blueprint for what would define the sound of Grunge a few years down the line. The likes of ‘Searchin’ and the dark, psychotic ‘Bazaar’ are just as essential as ‘This Town’ and ‘Unwind’. This is the raw punk delivery of a band trying to channel the energy of The Stooges to mid 80’s America. A storming cover of The Dead Boys ‘Ain’t Nothin’ To Do’ just goes to seal the deal really.


Considering the band were falling apart at the time, their one and only full length album ‘Rehab Doll’ sounds more focused and together than the raw sounding EP. Production wise, the hardcore elements have been polished up giving a more alternative sound.

The title track has a 70’s rock swagger and the first tastes of the signature sound that would propel certain members to mega stardom a few years later is evident. The acoustic slide and cowbell of ‘Take A Dive’ make way for a cool as you like, sleazy Stooges workout. And the brooding ‘One More Stitch’ has the sort of stripped-back, dark acoustic feel that Alice In Chains would make their own on 1994’s ‘Jar Of Flies’.

While the demo versions are not sonically that far removed from the album versions, the addition of the boisterous ‘Somebody’ and a killer version of Bowie’s ‘Queen Bitch’ make them essential listening.


While Ament and Gossard got the major label, muliti-platinum success they desired with Pearl Jam, Mudhoney still remain influential, and match Pearl Jam with album releases and world tours. Whether either band are better or more essential than Green River is open to debate, but one thing’s for sure, Green River were pioneers of the Grunge movement and remain the most rock ‘n’ roll of the bunch.

These two re-issues have been lovingly restored by original producer Jack Endino and are a snapshot of an exciting period of musical history. They show the raw beginnings and the evolution of musicians in a scene that would go on to do bigger and better things. But wherever they went the legacy of Green River would always follow.

Essential listening for both Grunge aficionados and any casual fans of garage-based rock ‘n’ roll.

Buy Dry As A Bone Here

Buy Rehab Doll Here

Author: Ben Hughes