I’ve bemoaned the selling off of my precious Sub Pop singles many a time on Life in the Vinyl Lane. I’m not entirely sure how many I had, but it was maybe around 20 or so, probably a few more, most of which came to me via the great indie record store Cellophane Squire (RIP). I had some great stuff – Nirvana, Mudhoney, Dwarves…. tons of if on colored vinyl. <sigh> I promised myself I’d stay away from the nostalgia train and wouldn’t spend a bunch of money trying to reacquire that group, and so far I’ve been pretty successful in sticking to that. The only one I have is a newer release, the 2013 Mudhoney 7″ “New World Charm” / “Swimming in Beer.” But then I went to Easy Street the other day with too much time on my hands and not enough common sense in my back pocket, and walked out of there with the 1997 Sub Pop 7″ box set called Hype! Boxed Set.
But how could I resist? Mudhoney, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Gas Huffer, U-Men… all in one box set!? Eleven songs on four different color 7″ records. Nestled all snug in a nice little box, with a poster inside. It’s like the warm embrace of flannel and a mullet to keep the back of my neck warm on a cold fall day circa 1989.
Hype! was a documentary about the grunge scene that came out in 1996, and this box set is a shortened version of the full length soundtrack. As such most of the material dates from between 1987 and 1992, with only Girl Trouble’s “My Hometown” (1993) and “Return of the Rat” by Portland’s The Wipers (1979) falling outside that range. “Return of the Rat” may seem like an odd choice, but the song is widely cited by Seattle musicians from the late 1980s as an influential track, perhaps most notably by Kurt Cobain, so it definitely fits.
One of the cool aspects of this set is that four of the songs are live recordings – Mudhoney’s “Touch Me I’m Sick,” Gas Huffer’s “Hotcakes,” Mono Men’s “Watch Outside,” and Fastbacks’ “K Street.”
TANGENT: Holly says The Wipers’ “Return of the Rat” reminds her a lot of the Ramone’s “Beat on the Brat” (1976). I want to disagree, but she might be onto something here in a weird way.
The Mudhoney track is a bit trebly, but otherwise captures all the angst and sneering power of “Touch Me I’m Sick.” The Wipers may have been the “Lucy” of grunge, but Mudhoney wiped out the Neanderthals and established its supremacy with this song. The fact that that song is on a 7″ alongside “Negative Creep” and “Return of the Rat” may make this the coolest 7″ record ever. Ever. To me it’s 1980s punk rock in one little 7″ vinyl package.
I have to give some props to the Mono Men and Gas Huffer, both of who kill it with their selections (both live) in this set. I have a Gas Huffer record, but I don’t think I’ve ever owned anything by the Mono Men before. Bravo too to Fastbacks for their brand of lo-fi pop punk.
TANGENT: Note to self. Don’t try to eat a cup cake with gooey frosting while playing 7″ records.
This set of singles definitely took my way back, and while I’m still not a huge fan of the 7″ format (too much work!), it was a great way to recapture my Sub Pop glory days. It’ll get spun again for sure, especially that Wipers/Nirvana/Mudhoney record.