Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Meat Puppets - Meat Puppets

Meat Puppets

Released 1982 on SST (orig) / Ryko (CD reissue)
Reviewed by Dog 3000, 13/11/2003ce

1. Reward
2. Love Offering
3. Blue-Green God
4. Walking Boss
5. Melons Rising
6. Saturday Morning
7. Our Friends
8. Tumblin' Tumbleweeds
9. Milo Sorghum and Maize
10. Meat Puppets
11. Playing Dead
12. Litter Box
13. Electromud
14. The Gold Mine

Curt Kirkwood - guitar, vocals
Cris Kirkwood - bass
Derrick Bostrom - drums

The Meat Puppets first LP is one of the greatest headfuck records ever made. (Or is it an EP? 14 songs, 21-and-a-half minutes, released on a 12" 45rpm record -- even the format is a headfuck!) Recorded in one day, basically live in the studio with no separation between tracks and almost no overdubs, it sounds like nothing else in the Meat Puppets discography, or anyone else's discography for that matter.

It's "punk" in the good old fashioned do-it-yourself, who-cares-what-they-think, non-style style from back in the days before "punk" became another lifestyle choice you could purchase in commodity form (skateboard stickers, t-shirts, MTV, blahdee blahdee blah.) The songs abruptly start and stop, the rhythm section pulsates, explodes and collapses, the guitar blasts out feedback and "electromud" in between chicken-pickin' country riffs, and half the time the guitar's not even in tune!

The vocals are the truly indescribable part -- there is a lyric sheet, but I don't think the singer even knows the words to most of the songs. Curt stutters and bloats and belches out syllables and glossolalia like a german deth-metal singer tripping on speed, booze and acid: "YAAAAHHHHH!!!!! ya-da-da-da-ya-ya-blah, BLUUUUHHHH!!! WHAYYYOOWWWWAAAUUUGGGHHH!!!!"

And those lyrics are a good larf to, mostly tossed off meta-songs about how they're the Meat Puppets and they're making noise and you're listening to it.

For example, here's the complete "Electromud" (all of 48 seconds long):

"It's the only dance there is
You'll be judged when you're through
This is a dance contest
This is a marathon
Do the electromud
You've got no choice
Sensitize your body
Do the electromud
Come on, don't you doubt us
We're all much too ignorant
If you've gotta go to the bathroom
Then go for Christ's sake"

Though of course you can't make out a single word of it!

There's also some instrumentals (like "Our Friends", which is one of the few midtempo numbers and features what sounds like a guitar amp having a nuclear meltdown) and a couple slower country covers ("Tumbleweeds" and "Walkin' Boss", which has a subliminal acoustic guitar overdub -- maybe the only overdub on the whole record.)

On the one hand if you're a Meat Puppets fan, you may not like this record cuz it doesn't sound like the genre-busting "Grateful Dead jamming on Merle Haggard tunes with the Talking Heads backstage at a ZZ Top concert" sound of their (quite diverse actually) later records. On the other hand, if you don't like the Meat Puppets but love "horrible noise" you may like this record best of all!

As far as I am concerned, this is the #1 blow-all-the-bad-shit-out-of-your-head catharsis record of all time. It's easily the most creative "hardcore" record ever made and it makes the Stooges' "Raw Power" sound like over-arranged slick prog mush. Very few bands have ever made a record as original and organic as this one.


The Ryko CD reissue includes an additional 18 songs and a video:

1. Their very first "EP" called "In A Car" (a 7" record with 5 songs that last a little over 5 minutes in total.) It's more traditionally "hardcore" than the self-titled "LP" and doesn't have the glorious explosive slop-sound, but it's still some mighty fine hardcore.

2. Several early and very rare compilation tracks, like "H-Elenore" and "Unpleasant."

3. Some remakes of "tunes" from the first "LP" recorded about 6 months later -- relatively clean and well-recorded, therefore not as great. Also, a primordial version of "Magic Toy Missing" which was on their second LP.

4. A video clip of them performing "Walkin' Boss" -- Derrick is wearing a tye-die shirt and a biker headband, and Curt's hair is so long you can't see his face or even the microphone when he gets up close to it to sing (take that, punks!)

5. And best of all, some fab covers they recorded as warm-ups at various early recording sessions. Such as:

a) an incredibly viscious version of Iggy's "I Got A Right" where Curt's feedback-drenched "guitar solo" sounds like he's trying to rip the strings off his guitar by grinding it against his amp;

b) a goofball mellow take on Nilsson's "Everybody's Talkin'" which features some quite lovely and melodic guitar feedback, and;

c) a (relatively) epic 5 minute version of the Grateful Dead warhorse "Franklin's Tower" which is almost worth the price of admission all by itself!

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