Mudhoney, a band name that just screams Seattle “grunge,” formed in 1988 after the demise of the band Green River, setting free Mark Arm and Steve Turner as well as two guys who went on to join Pearl Jam, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament. Vocalist and guitarist Arm and guitarist Turner quickly formed Mudhoney with bassist Matt Lukin and drummer Dan Peters, releasing their debut single, “Touch Me I’m Sick,” on the fledgling Seattle label Sub Pop, and that same year produced their influential EP, Superfuzz Bigmuff. Of course, grunge has proven a less than helpful descriptor for the wide variety of bands coming out of Seattle in the early 90’s. Soundgarden was dabbling in metal, Pearl Jam clearly had classic rock roots, and like Nirvana many of these bands burnished DIY, garage band, and punk spirit, but Mudhoney had more in common sound-wise with Minneapolis bands like the Replacements and Husker Du.
The band’s second album, Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge – the name drawn from the mnemonic device used with young music students to help them remember the notes of the treble clef, which Mudhoney alters changing the more traditional “Fruit,” for their favorite phrase, when in doubt “fudge it” – gets the remastered deluxe reissue treatment here on its 30 year anniversary, including demos and a variety of studio outtakes. One obvious give away here is the numerous variations on the original album track, “Fuzzgun ’91,” in extra tracks like “Fuzzbuster,” “March To Fuzz,” and “March From Fuzz.” While hinting at the band’s fascination with guitar distortion, that last track is the giveaway, hinting at the band’s interest in 60’s surf guitar sounds from the likes of Dick Dale and The Ventures. Another thing the extra 15 reveals, especially the five album tracks that show up described as 24 track demos. They had started out recording in a more professionally equipped studio, but the results proved “a little too fancy, too clean,” according to Turner, sending the band back to more primitive 8-track recording at producer Conrad Uno’s Egg Studio, the name drawn from the egg cartons glued to the walls in the hopes of sound absorption.
Remastered here by Bob Weston, we get the original album in all its raw, edgy and distorted, pop/punk glory, far from the too fancy or clean sound of the earlier effort. The truly grungy brief opening instrumental “Generation Genocide” slides smoothly into “Let It Slide.” The simple, repetitive lyrics seem to echo established blues music patterns, but the band’s grinding rock energy hides anything that smacks of a more traditional approach, the so-called guitar solos a clashing mashup of feedback and frenzied strumming. “Something So Clear” and “Broken Hands,” the one song that stretches out to a full 6 minutes, hints at big power chords a la Pete Townshend, while more aggressive punk rockers like “Thorn,” “Shoot The Moon,” and “Pokin’ Around” reveal the power of a band all grinding in the same direction. As a whole, this re-mastered re-issue of Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge serves as a reminder that the Seattle grunge sound was a far wider and more varied movement than just the 4 or 5 bands who moved on to major label success would suggest.
Brian Q. Newcomb
For more of Brian Q. Newcomb’s music reviews, check out The Fire Note
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