Review Summary: A grunge classic.
This second LP from seminal grunge rockers Mudhoney is one that epitomises all that the grunge movement stood for and is as, ahem… ‘pure’ a grunge album as you will ever hear. This album then is of course anything but ‘pure’ in a normal aesthetic sense. However, the essence of the dirty, heroin laced mix of punk, blues and pop music being played in Seattle bars by hairy, flannelette clad rockers that would later be crowned ‘grunge’ is totally captured here on EGBDF.
Mudhoney’s ‘grunge’ pedigree as one of the original Seattle grunge bands on the now famous SUB-POP records is worth noting because it provides an insight into the roots of the whole genre, before it transformed the music and popular culture of the ‘90s on the back of contemporaries Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Mudhoney’s approach to music, at least in the ‘90s was shambolic, fuzzed out and fun. The punk influences are very apparent here and the songs are short, loud and rough. The lack of connection with contemporary pop culture and ambivalent sense of humour, which was an integral part of the grunge MO, is a major part of the Mudhoney experience. Though they shared many of the same influences as other grunge bands, they never conveyed the same angst, rage or complexity that Kurt Cobain expressed through his music, nor the theatrics of bands like Mother Love Bone. Their sound and personality as a band is more like a mix between the atmosphere of the Screaming Trees and the driving rock sound of Tad.
Sonically, EGBDF is probably best described as a sludgy, blues and punk influenced garage rock sound, heavy on soaring vocal choruses and fuzzy, warbly guitar interludes and solos. This description, which could loosely be applied to any number of grunge albums out there, ultimately suits Mudhoney best. Indeed, their version of the grunge sound is in some ways very typical of the movement as a whole, though their sound remains a unique one. I attribute this primarily to the vocals of Mark Arm, whose voice was neither as abrasive as Kurt Cobain’s or as deep and clear as Eddie Vedder or Mark Lanegan’s. Arm tended combine long, melodic wails with the customary sharp, aggressive grunge shouts. This, combined with the wide range of tones he was able to produce, gave Mudhoney’s choruses great texture and contrast with their melodic, meandering guitar solos.
Overall, EGBDF is easily Mudhoney’s most consistent album. All the songs are great and they fit well together. This is the sound of one of the best bands in their genre at their absolute creative peak. While singles from other albums like ‘Touch Me I’m Sick’ and ‘Suck You Dry’ are some of Mudhoney’s absolute best individual songs, their sound as a whole was totally crystallised on EGBDF. It is in short one of the best grunge albums ever made and should be compulsory listening for any grunge fans yet to hear it.