Music

Mudhoney: Live at Third Man Records

If this is what a Mudhoney shows sounds like these days, then I say hooray for longevity.


Mudhoney

Live at Third Man Records

Label: Thirdman
US Release Date: 2014-03-04
UK Release Date: 2014-03-04
Label website
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

I've never actually seen Mudhoney play live. In 1998, I watched them do a soundcheck with "A Thousand Forms of Mind". For reasons too complicated, I could not stay for the actual show. In 2008 they came to my hometown but it was my firstborn's first night home from the hospital. A good friend of mine attended; I did not. Not long ago I got to review a live DVD that documented one of their first overseas shows in 1988. It was a crazy little artifact from such an ambiguous era in music, but I suspected that it didn't give me a sense of what Mudhoney was capable of these days. Let's face it, scouring Youtube for live footage will never be a substitute for watching the real thing in person. Do Mudhoney, after all of these years, still put on a hell of a show? That's a question for the eyewitnesses.

As I continue to wait for another opportunity to see Mudhoney, Live at Third Man Records fell in my lap. The influential Seattle quartet was touring in support of its latest album, Vanishing Point, when they barged in on the Nashville label/store Third Man and played this set. It's only 10 songs, and I don't know if it's the full set or not (online details are pretty slim, but you can purchase the vinyl here). But from the moment the emcee announces the name "Mudhoney" to the audience, you know that it's not going to be one of those tame in-store PR opps. The crowd roars, drummer Dan Peters pounds the skins, the ugly guitars of "Slipping Away" grind into gear, and suddenly the cover art of Superfuzz Bigmuff doesn't feel like such a distant memory.

Five songs from Vanishing Point make it onto the record. The remaining five feature a few less-than-obvious choices like "Ghost", "I'm Now", and "When Tomorrow Hits", the last of which has lead singer Mark Arm paraphrasing Wire's "Lowdown" just before it ends. There are a couple of old favorites, but neither of them are "Touch Me I'm Sick". "In 'N' Out of Grace" is a show stealer. The catatonic beginning sounds ungodly loud, so it's a little surprising to hear some screams and yelps cutting through the mix when Arm starts abusing his vocal chords to the tune of "Jesus take me to a higher place!" Speaking of which, it's hard to believe that Arm still has a voice after all of these years. If he sings like this on every night of a tour, he must be doing something miraculous to keep it intact for so long. Peters's drum solo lasts for two minutes before guitarists Arm and Steve Turner slide into their dueling solos for two seemingly different songs. Even when the song lasts eight minutes, the crowd laps it up. "Here Comes Sickness", from a similar era in Mudhoney's history, is another barnstormer that sounds like Mudhoney have yet to grow tired of playing it. That's saying something, considering that the band's eponymous album is now 25 years old.

The five songs from Vanishing Point sound unsurprisingly like their studio renditions. But considering how well the 2013 songs sit alongside the 1989 songs, Live at Third Man Records proves just how Mudhoney have stayed true to themselves over the years. Anyone with a limited knowledge of the band could hear that "The Final Course" has just as much vitality as "Here Comes Sickness". "Chardonnay" cracks faster and louder than almost anything else they've done, and their in-concert rendition does it justice. Only "What to Do with the Neutral" doesn't tap into the high energy in the same way. Guy Maddison's wonky bass line is more funk parody than Stooges homage, but the chorus still packs the punk. Mudhoney's thick guitar sound remains undiluted; put just two of them on stage and it sounds like more.

So I still have yet to catch Mudhoney, but at least I'm safe with the knowledge that their live heyday is not behind them. Live at Third Man Records is proof positive of that. I've watched that 1988 DVD, I've been listening to this record -- I believe they're in good shape. Now I just have to go and see it, not just hear it, for myself.

7


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

The 10 Best Experimental Albums of 2015

Music of all kinds are tending toward a consciously experimental direction. Maybe we’re finally getting through to them.

Books

John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, and Their Fellow Freedom Riders Are Celebrated in 'Breach of Peace'

John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were titans of the Civil Rights struggle, but they are far from alone in fighting for change. Eric Etheridge's masterful then-and-now project, Breach of Peace, tells the stories of many of the Freedom Riders.

Music

Unwed Sailor's Johnathon Ford Discusses Their New Album and 20 Years of Music

Johnathon Ford has overseen Unwed Sailor for more than 20 years. The veteran musician shows no sign of letting up with the latest opus, Look Alive.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Jazz Trombonist Nick Finzer Creates a 'Cast of Characters'

Jazz trombonist Nick Finzer shines with his compositions on this mainstream jazz sextet release, Cast of Characters.

Music

Datura4 Travel Blues-Rock Roads on 'West Coast Highway Cosmic'

Australian rockers Datura4 take inspiration from the never-ending coastal landscape of their home country to deliver a well-grounded album between blues, hard rock, and psychedelia.

Books

Murder Is Most Factorial in 'Eighth Detective'

Mathematician Alex Pavesi's debut novel, The Eighth Detective, posits mathematical rules defining 'detective fiction'.

Music

Eyedress Sets Emotions Against Shoegaze Backdrops on 'Let's Skip to the Wedding'

Eyedress' Let's Skip to the Wedding is a jaggedly dreamy assemblage of sounds that's both temporally compact and imaginatively expansive, all wrapped in vintage shoegaze ephemera.

Film

Of Purges and Prescience: On David France's LGBTQ Documentary, 'Welcome to Chechnya'

The ongoing persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya, or anywhere in the world, should come as no surprise, or "amazement". It's a motif undergirding the history of civil society that certain people will always be identified for extermination.

Television

Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.

Film

Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".

Music

The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.

Music

The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.

Music

Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.

Music

​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.

Music

John Fullbright Salutes Leon Russell with "If the Shoe Fits" (premiere + interview)

John Fullbright and other Tulsa musicians decamped to Leon Russell's defunct studio for a four-day session that's a tribute to Dwight Twilley, Hoyt Axton, the Gap Band and more. Hear Fullbright's take on Russell's "If The Shoe Fits".

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.