Mudhoney CD review [Sub Pop]

Music Reviews
Mudhoney CD review [Sub Pop]
Oct 27, 2006, 07:04

MUDHONEY Under a Billion Suns CD

Big Rock needs that cauldron of drugs, irreverence, seedy sex and volume to be authentic. When Guns 'n' Roses came along, they were just another hair band to me, peers to Poison and Cinderella and who really cares? But when they staggered onto a stage in 1990 to grab a trophy at the American Music Awards, muttered some “fucks” and “shits,” I was interested.

Kid Rock was one more wigger until he jumped up on Howard Stern and proclaimed his love of blow and strippers and emphasized that his songs on “Devil Without a Cause” were legit. Bleary-eyed and a bit gacked, he was believable.

A guy named Ed Quillen, who pens a column for the Denver Post, wrote in the late 80s about morality, the fading decade and the unfortunate obsession with being clean. In the piece, he cited the drug-addled Keith Richards and his performance on Exile on Main Street, a record that Quillen aptly reported as having “more great loud rock and roll on it than any dozen recordings by people who could pass blood tests.”

Which brings me to what's always been my problem with the alty thunder of the late 80s and early 90s.

When the Seattle scene came online in the late 80s, the sensitivity and political correctness took a lot of heart out of the deal. These bands were nice, they liked some people—at least those who bemoaned “mean people”—and they didn't seem to be as socially disengaged as their predecessors.

Mudhoney's 1988 single, “Touch Me I'm Sick,” was a monster hippy bash that was impossible to dislike, all hate-filled and pissed in a way that punk rock was, if only the bands had had chops.

And while it was dirty and mean, there was great noise and not enough bad boy attitude; no swagger to it.

Mudhoney's great discography is indisputable, though. How can you not like their Blue Cheer obsessions and a successful venture with Jimmie Dale Gilmour, coupled with the good genes that allow them to age gracefully, aesthetically speaking? The latter is an almost impossible task for those who rock their way to their 5th decade on earth, accomplished best most recently by U2 and the Patti Smith Group, circa 2001.

Under a Billion Suns is a beauty, full of bombast and aural bombs. The theme is war, which is bad in the eyes of bandleader Mark Arm, who wrote the words disparaging conflict and spreading a collective alienation that has lost its individuality.

Who's that lurking among the trees They've got bombs that spread disease Who's driving your aeroplane They're up there causing hurricanes What's that lady hiding under her skirt Who are these people populating the Earth They're everywhere, who can you trust We see the enemy and it is us                  -from “It is Us”

Which is where Mudhoney loses me. From this vantage point, the U.S. is under attack from 3rd world religious militants. And there is nothing rock about writing about peace and love in that light. In this case, Arm fails to ponder the balance between freedom and fighting for freedom. Apology withheld, I can't stand a wimp. Even when he wields a mighty righteous musical cudgel. [Sub Pop]


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