Pearl Jam — "Corduroy" (1994)
"Corduroy" gives you a good idea why Pearl Jam became the most commercially successful band to come out of Seattle in the early 1990s: The song's mysterious opening builds to a primal roar, topped with vulnerable lyrics, before unexpectedly simmering down. That gives you just enough time to catch your breath before the maelstrom is unleashed once more. This is clearly a band that has studied "Gimme Shelter"! And in common with Mick, Eddie Vedder is a classic front man, captivating and unpredictable.
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Supergrass — "Pumping on Your Stereo" (1999)
For those who prefer vintage Stones songs from the 1970s and '80s, this three-chord rave-up sounds like a cross between It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (1974) and Tattoo You (1981). Formed in Oxford, England, in the 1990s, Supergrass made it big right away but never stopped exploring new musical terrain. How can you not love a band that appeared as Henson-style Muppets in the video for this song?
The White Stripes — "Seven Nation Army" (2003)
The White Stripes were Jack and Meg White. Were they husband and wife? Brother and sister? The Detroit duo played it coy, understanding, like the Stones, the importance of rock mythology. (They had been married, but were divorced.) Meg played drums and sometimes sang. Jack wrote, sang and played guitar. And that was the entire band! Their stripped-down sound harked back to the Mississippi Delta, but with a heaping dose of rockabilly. "Seven Nation Army" is a perfect example: its tough-but-catchy guitar riff and defiant vocals would not feel out of place on Exile on Main Street. (The "bass" line you think you hear on this track is actually a guitar run through an effects pedal.)
The Black Keys — "Tighten Up" (2010)
The Black Keys prove that some things still work; in their case, it's the shotgun marriage of country music and the blues. You can hear hints of hip-hop in the percussion syncopation on "Tighten Up." But the song's mumbled vocals, distorted guitar riff and gospel organ show that 50 years later playing with fire à la the Rolling Stones continues to drive us out of our heads.
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