Home: Seattle, Washington
Members: Mark Arm ~ guitar/vocals
Matt Lukin ~ bass
Steve Turner ~ guitar
Dan Peters ~ drums/marimba
Additional: E.J. Renestair ~ sax
Jon Wahl ~ harmonica
For some of us grunge didn't start with Nirvana & Pearl Jam, though it certainly may have ended with the former's demise. While the musical differences between the two bands should make most wonder if there is an actual grunge sound that has something to do with more than just living in Seattle. There is, though its a slippery descriptive slope, & it was put into place not by these big guns but by some lesser bands that came earlier & didn't have any real mainstream international success until Nirvana made it big. Thus, those that are the flame holders might end up looking like the weaker imitators, particularly as some of their more popular albums came at the end of grunge though they'd been around longer. While once Nirvana broke through many of these little bands were already moving into new territories, or had broken up or were about to but hung on enough to ride the wave, in the end making the definition of grunge that much more difficult to understand. For such an elusive style there's so many faces & phases to the musical timeline, not to mention the non-Seattle based post-grunge movement. One of these little forefather bands, that deserves more credit than are given by some post-grunge factions who don't see the big picture of how grunge really started, is Mudhoney. They didn't invent grunge, if it was invented at all, but their music was an early influence & their album Superfuzz Bigmuff Plus Early Singles is considered the grunge shot heard around the world that paved the way for Nirvana's machine gun fire. Though, their later release My Brother The Cow is usually considered their best album, though ironically it was recorded after grunge was fading & after they'd taken a break from the style to go in other directions for awhile. But, be warned, if Nirvana & Pearl are your sole definition of grunge Mudhoney may not be for your tastes, though it's your loss. They are noisy where Nirvana was moody, punk where Pearl Jam was classic rock, let alone sloppy where Pearl Jam or Soundgarden were technically tight. What is here, outside of the heavily fuzzed drooling guitars is a lot of attitude, so if your definition of grunge is attitude then you'll enjoy this mudslide. It's the opposite of the rock swagger that ruled the charts for the previous decade. It's out of control into almost sloppiness while across the country other kids were leaning how to keep their Satriani chops fast & complicated. Essentially, that sloppiness is what grunge is all about. It's an attitude adjustment from what ruled the charts, but with more of a rock flavor than punk. Actually, punk is not that bad of a comparison as much of the album is reminiscent of the Stooges both in sound & feeling. "1995" even is homage to the song "1969" by the Stooges & includes a reference to the other Stooges song "L.A. Blues." Lyrically the album takes the same anti-social stance, but it doesn't hold back. This is an album of misery, selfishness, pain, social woes, crooked people including record labels & doctors, religion. It's an album that's a lyrical shotgun going around taking aim at all these targets in society. The lyrics drive the album, not the music. Highlight tracks include: "Judgment, Rage, Retribution & Thyme", "What Moves The Heart", "Today Is A Good Day", "Into Yer Shtik", "(F.D.K.) Fearless Doctor Killer" & "Crankcase Blues." Of note is the CD version which has a hidden thirteenth track which consists of all of the album's preceding tracks played backwards. That's the way to do it. If you're unsure about whether to check out Mudhoney or not pick up the superb soundtrack to the movie Singles to which they contribute a track. If you like that you'll like the rest of their stuff.