Meat Puppets (1983)
Curt Kirkwood - Guitar, Vocals
Cris Kirkwood - Bass, Vocals
Derrick Bostrum - Drums
Ranging the furthest regions of alternative, the great remotion that is, the Meat Puppets take punk, folk, pop, and even psychedelic into a giant stewing pot of great guitar work and abstract lyrics. Leading the infamous tale, however, of bands like the Pixies who conducted the musical world behind the curtain, never getting the exposure that bands often get who don’t deserve the recognition. The best bands tend to like it in the dark although, preferring the freedom of expression that mainstream labels don’t take the risk to allow. Although the world turned a brief eye in the direction of the Meat Puppets in 1994 with the album “Too High To Die”, it was 11 years earlier when their magnum opus “Meat Puppets II” was released. Glorified by Nirvana’s unplugged performance, not-so coincidentally released the year the Meat Puppets got their 15 minutes, “Meat Puppets II” is a stunning album that shows a band confident in their skills and ambitious in their growth. From fast and distorted rock segments, to eerie instrumental tracks, to the sheer craftsmanship of these musicians, everything is summed up here that the Meat Puppets have become respected for. Though a few rough edges got smoothed out and shined up over the years, the Meat Puppets sounded consistently well through their 20 year career from their eponymous album in 1982 to 2000's impressive “Golden Lies”.
Opening with the thrashing punk track “Split Myself In Two”, then moving on to a country-rock feel with “Magic Toy Missing”, “Lost”, and “Plateau”, it is clear among the first few tracks that there is a definite diversity among the band. Curt’s amazing guitar playing, coinciding with “stoner” lyrics and vocals that sound beautifully off-key, paint a picture that may be confusing and difficult to swallow at first, but prove to become more and more appreciated as the number of listens increase. The songs provide an interesting look at things, easily stretching the canvas for such acts like Queens Of The Stone Age and Beck to follow. Any fan of Bob Dylan would enjoy listening to “Oh Me” and “Lake Of Fire”, but eerie instrumentals like “Aurora Borealis” and “I’m A Mindless Idiot” put the final piece of the puzzle in place for one of music’s most textural albums to date. Where as some bands just seem artificial, the Meat Puppets are pure and unabashed, never coming off as too “this or that” with anything they did. Their music inspires thought, influences action, and never gets stale.
Overall, don’t be discouraged if you feel so-so about the album after only listening to it once or twice, because it’ll probably take a while to sink in, as do most alternative albums. Once it does, however, don’t get whigged out if you feel an uncontrollable urge to listen to it every possible chance. The music is extremely artistic, and well-crafted from every angle. There is a certain raw energy from the band at this point that makes “Meat Puppets II” an absolute must-have. For anyone not too familiar with the band, “Meat Puppets II” is an excellent introduction. A re-issue of the album includes seven bonus tracks, including the rare “Teenagers”.
0.5-Sad, hardly can be considered noise
1-Horrible, better off never recorded
1.5-Mind numbing, less than mediocre
2-Basic, mainstream machine
2.5- Alright, low expectations
3-Good, but has a few flaws
3.5-Well-done, deserves to be acknowledged
4-Excellent, stands well on its own
4.5-Amazing, always a great listen
5-Perfect, life changing work of art
The reviews I write are without plagiarism or bias to any sound or genre, but as a third-person presenting facts and logical comparisons. My personal feelings are not concrete and solidly agreeable, so when they are presented they are isolated and left to be viewed as such. The ratings for each album are not shifted due to what I am currently interested in, but out of a calculated sum ranging from originality, ability of repeated listens due to consistent effort and solid production, poetic lyrical structure, and overall musicianship.