Mudhoney - Cleveland 1998 (part 1)I started this post three times yesterday but, for some reason, couldn’t seem to get to the point. So today, I’m going to start with the point: Mudhoney is a legendary band that I feel has been underappreciated.
How the hell did Mudhoney not become Nirvana? I saw these guys play Friday night at Churchill’s here in Miami and I sure felt like I was in the presence of legends. Mudhoney’s front man, Mark Arm, and guitarist Steve Turner, were both there at the birth of grunge. In the Kurt Cobain biography “Heavier Than Heaven,” Charles R. Cross referred to Arm as “the tastemaker for Seattle punk rock... Arm, with his band Mudhoney, and his previous group Green River, had virtually invented (grunge).”
Ultimately, I guess it was loyalty and a “non-careerist” attitude that left them on the sidelines while Nirvana and Pearl Jam used Mudhoney’s sound as a blueprint to restructure rock and roll.
In the early '90s, Sub Pop Records (Mudhoney's original label) was not making very much money. As a result, many of its bands left the label to seek backing from major labels. However, Mudhoney decided to stay with Sub Pop. After their second album, in 1992, they accepted a deal with Reprise Records. But just as grunge became mainstream, they moved toward a more garage-oriented sound. They would not return to their earlier sound until 1995’s My Brother the Cow album. By that time, Kurt Cobain was dead and grunge was fast going the same way.
These thoughts – in a more abstract way – were on my mind as I waited Friday night for Mudhoney to take the stage. But I didn’t feel like I was seeing a band paying homage to themselves or one past its time. Arm’s voice is as strong as it was 10 or 15 years ago. The band still plays the heavy music that can whip a crowd into a moshing frenzy. The new album, The Lucky Ones, is grunge enough that the songs fit very comfortably alongside classics like “Sweet Young Thing Ain’t Sweet No More” and “Touch Me I’m Sick.” That night I wondered where these guys would be if they had taken the same path as Nirvana. Alternatively, I wondered – if Kurt Cobain were alive – what would Nirvana be doing in 2008?
If you get a chance to see Mudhoney on their current tour, I very strongly recommend you do so. Particularly if you they happen to be in a club setting. Superstardom may have eluded the band, but they deserve their place in the rock and roll echelon as the legends they are.
Today’s music is a soundboard recording from Mudhoney’s Oct. 28, 1998, show at the Euclid Tavern in Cleveland, Ohio. I hate doing two-part posts, but this is a big file, so I had to do it that way. I’ll post up Part 2 soon. Probably whether you show me love or not....
Suck You Dry.mp3
Sweet Young Thing Ain’t Sweet No More.mp3
Judgement, Rage, Retribution, and Thyme.mp3
Move With the Wind.mp3
Touch Me I’m Sick.mp3
Try to be Kind.mp3
I Have to Laugh.mp3
Unzip Me I’m Sick