Julian Cope’s Album of the Month

Melvins - Lysol


AOTM #88, September 2007ce
Released 1992 on Boner Records
  1. Hung Bunny (10:59)
  2. Roman Bird Dog (7:60)
  3. Sacrifice (6:07)
  4. Second Coming (1:15)
  5. The Ballad of Dwight Fry (3:10)
  6. With Teeth (2:67)

For Melvinites only? No, unless all shall be Melvinite!

In 1992CE, with the release of LYSOL, Melvins nailed the ritual for the next decade. For, as primo anarcheologists of the sub-sub-culture, it was Dale Crover and Buzz Osbourne who located the order in which the next frontiers should be tackled, they who beat the bounds, as it were, lassoed all the disparate ingredients and shoved them into the big rock pie for younger brothers Sleep and school-mates Earth, Zen Ur-slackers hitching a ride in the snug back-pack of Thor. But whereas Earth seems nowadays slow in a slothful way (a pitcher of Tennants washing down the largactyl), LYSOL was metaphysically immense and exerted intense tectonic pressure, like some 5-day heavy metal cricket match, with Lemmy bowling and Filthy Phil as crazy-eyed wicket-keeper. Tossing a hail of concussion grenades through Buzzo’s permanent flamethrower of sound, Dale Crover is four drummers at the best of times. But, on LYSOL, he was joined in the rhythm battalion by the Generalissimo of bass military coups, Mein Hairy Joe Preston.1 And so they shall wear ye down…

LYSOL was the new fundament, the new archetype, sealed by druids and delivered via Olmec hunchback (the good luck variety, natch). But despite the shock of LYSOL’s affronting newness, Melvins somewhat sugared their colossus by the inclusion of superb versions of Flipper’s ‘Sacrifice’ and Alice Cooper’s ‘Ballad of Dwight Fry’. Despite this, LYSOL was still essentially one enormous and segmented creation, fashioned from an unfolding and non-linear (and in places skeletal) performance that ebbed and flowed, dipped and swayed, and used at all times incredible dynamic ranges. Consider the vast tidal waves of sound that pummel and permeate this record and understand the enormity of a rock act so confident that it dared in ‘92 to begin its new album with seven minutes and fifty seconds of virtually unaccompanied Tony Iommi-isms. Wave upon wave of them. It’s not the difference between Kiss and Super Kiss, motherfuckers. I ain’t simply talking Ace’s new shoulder pads here. It’s the next evolutionary stage… between Super Kiss and Supra Kiss, that weird and cosmic other time around Kiss’s brilliant but arch super flop MUSIC FOR ‘THE ELDER’. Well, like Starchild Paul and the Gene around the time of the aforementioned LP, Melvins round the time of LYSOL understood themselves better than ever, indeed, well enough to make rigorous demands of their audience. Again, I cry, who else with any career expectations whatsoever in 1992 released records that commenced with virtually unaccompanied free-form guitar riffery that demanded eight minutes of concentrated listening from their bedroom audiences? Right, motherfuckers, no one at all. When LYSOL was released, Melvins intuitively knew that they were at the top of their game. Hey, that’s why they chose that name. LYSOL fer Chrissakes… the stuff is a killer, a drain clearer that kills in a slow disgustingly painful way. Lysol killed one of my all time heroes; American poet Vachel Lindsay drank the stuff. And naming the record so almost killed it for the Melvins when the Lysol company threatened to sue. In retreat and hastily recalling the LPs then taping over/magic-markering out the offending name, Melvins were shocked but relieved to discover they soon had a cult on their hands.

Like all the greatest shamanic art, this record operates between worlds… many worlds... and the ZOSO-style album title mix-up only increased this mythical effect. Was the record still called LYSOL or was it now just THE MELVINS? With remarkably poetic justice (for both the artists and the rock’n’roll audience), the righteously-formed sonic ritual of LYSOL has turned out to be most surely Melvins’ most pivotal recording of all. For this record was, in 1992CE, most serpently the new rock’n’roll blueprint, and – though already fifteen years old – will continue for many more years of active service. Follow its moods and directions, and you will have a half-hour of high ritual at your fingertips. Treat it with reverence, and keep it away from other records, even those made by Melvins themselves. Keep it next to other unique alchemical prescriptions such as Sleep’s JERUSALEM, Blue Cheer’s VINCEBUS ERUPTUM and Black Sabbath’s MASTER OF REALITY; and use it as often as is required. Oh, and remember, chill’en, if you are going to buy just one Melvins record for your collection, be sure you make this the one. Before I quit, please allow me a moment for a flight of fancy, if you have the time. I wanna try to try to place Melvins in their correct context, if you will. And I’ll first need a little bit of historical to and fro and overview, too…

Okay, as ye heathen with a grievance against the organised religion and a belief in the will of rock’n’rollers and other activists to change things, it’s my estimation that by the mid-2050s, the Way of Sabbath will have become recognised by society as a strange but acceptable route for a young heathen man to follow. The mass return of organised religion in the early 21st century will inevitably have spurred true rebels and stimulated refuseniks to defy the incoming conservatism by acts of flagrancy and non-collective thinking. And some will inevitably fight religion by making their own beliefs into a religion. For example, another most useful route for the Western artist would be the Way of the MC5, a warrior troubadour route ideal for troubled adventurous young men whose ideals involved an excess of moral fibre and individual bravery.2 Even hardy outsider heathens would start to consider the possibilities, as the government, recognising the zeitgeist and raised themselves on loud rebel music, cut tax breaks to those who admitted to practising ‘Rock’n’roll’. But guaranteed, in this new reality that I’m imagining, would be an almost equally important religious path known as ‘the Way of Buzz’n’Dale’. Yup, in forty years time, Melvins will be up there with the true greats, celebrated as part of the All-Time for their outstanding (and sustained) services to Gnostic Rock’n’roll. Sustaining any long artistic career in a heightened state is problematic, but the Melvins – regardless of many lean artistic periods – have always eventually risen/sunk into shamanistic newness, reborn again and again. Melvins are a sect diabolick, a gateway, a divine portal between innumerable worlds, an outrageously confident and worthy cosmic interface between punk, post-punk and Sabbathian heavy metal, a gateway between accepted classic dark rock Kiss/Alice/Green Manalishi-stylee3 and the far flung future (ie Now, motherfuckers). “Standing outside the boundaries of rock’n’roll and aiming their sounds inside,” as Greil Marcus once put it. And LYSOL is Melvins’ greatest and most sacred gift to future heathens, for its tones and vibrations taken together often and in large doses offer listeners the key to Eternal Cuntedness.

  1. Joe Preston’s mythical place in the ritual forecourt of the Melvins was guaranteed simply because they put their Kiss-styled solo LPs out round about the same time as LYSOL.
  2. The MC5 will also be prime architects of the new temple rituals, for it was they who recognised the power of drama with their unique melding of political rally and soul revue.
  3. Melvins have also covered Kiss’ epic ‘Going Blind’, from HOTTER THAN HELL, as well as one of my all time pre-teen favourites, ‘The Green Manalishi’, Peter Green’s last note to the world before he descended into hell.