Mudhoney is, without a doubt, one of my favorite local (Seattle) bands… maybe my absolute favorite. We’ve seen them live a few times and their shows here are always completely nuts, filled with middle aged moshers and stage divers, and Vanishing Point made my personal list of Top 5 new releases in 2013. They’ve managed to keep their sound raw and lo-fi, and Mark Arm continues to write smart, caustic, and smarmy lyrics that he sings with just the right amount of “screw you”.
I was excited to learn that Mudhoney did a Third Man Records show and I immediately went online to buy the vinyl. If you haven’t bought any of the “Live At Third Man Records” albums, you owe it to yourself to check out their website and see if any of your favorite bands have done a live set there. The production quality is fantastic and the shows are immediately ripped to vinyl. No CDs here. Just old school. And you can’t beat the prices, which are usually in the $15 range (though I was surprised to come across this album on Saturday at Seattle’s Everyday Music, new for only $11.99!).
Five of the 10 tracks on Live At Third Man Records are from the band’s 2013 release Vanishing Point, including arguably that album’s best song, “Slipping Away,” as well as its smartest and most interesting, “The Only Son Of The Widow Of Nain.” The one I would have really liked to see, though, is “Douchebags On Parade,” but hey, you can’t get everything you want (but if you try sometimes… you’ll find… you get what you need…). Some early tracks also made the cut including “In ‘N’ Out Of Grace” off their 1988 debut EP Superfuzz Bigmuff and “Here Comes Sickness” from their 1989 self-titled LP, as well as a cover of “Ghost” by Cheater Slicks. The one thing missing, of course, is their definitive song, the anthem that launched grunge, “Touch Me I’m Sick,” which is a bummer – but I get it, since it’s not like they haven’t put out a lot of great stuff in the last 25 or so years, and they’re probably a bit tired of playing that song over and over again.
“In ‘N’ Out Of Grace” is Mudhoney at their best, raw and edgy, music spilling out all over the place and Arm still channeling the angst and pissed off-ness of a much younger man. Meanwhile they slow “What To Do With The Neutral” way down, making it a heavy, sludgy number that almost sounds like my record player was spinning just a bit slow, giving it a lot of weight. Arm brings the vocals way deep and low at points, which has the effect of creating a greater contrast when he moves up into the higher end of his range. The cover of “Ghost” was something new to me – I don’t know the song, nor do I think I’ve ever heard Cheater Slicks before. It was a great choice by the band, because it fits well with their overall sound and vibe – I’d have never suspected it was a cover.
If you’re a Mudhoney fan you’re going to want to get Live At Third Man Records. Hopefully you still have your turntable…