I will admit, like many people my age, I became a fan of the Meat Puppets because of their appearance on Nirvana Unplugged. Prior to that release, even though I had heard the name, I was not overly familiar with The Puppets. That all changed when I heard Kurt Cobain’s rendition of Lake Of Fire, which, for all intents and purposes, improved that song ten fold. It wouldn’t be long before I would listen to today’s Stand Out Album and realized just what I had been missing.
Why This Album?
On December 16th 1993, I sat in front of the television for a concert I had been waiting for. It was Nirvana stripped down with acoustic guitars and performing a set of songs that, little would I know, would influence my musical tastes even further. Although I really enjoyed the songs Nirvana had written, especially the new rendition of ‘About a Girl’, It was the cover songs that really held my attention. Specifically, three of the last five songs in the set. Just after playing ‘Something in the Way, Kurt and crew introduced Curt and Cris Kirkwood to the stage and soon jumped into a track entitled ‘Plateau’ Instantly, I was enthralled by these brothers who I would find were from a band known as The Meat Puppets. Their music was fascinating and different to that which I had heard from their earlier releases. Instantly me and my friend Grayson began searching for their music and only came up with rather raw versions of the songs we had heard. While the flavor was there, it wasn’t the sound I had fallen for so, I moved on. My good friend Grayson, however, dove deeper.
After Cobain’s death, MTV played the Unplugged in New York album religiously. I, being the devout fan I was, had recorded the original broadcast on VHS, but I would tune in every time it was on the channel and immerse myself in the songs. The three Meat Puppets tracks haunted me and, soon, Grayson introduced me to a new album, one called Too High To Die.
Remembering their time on Unplugged, I figured I probably should give these cats a chance again, I mean, Kurt liked them so there had to be something good there right? To this day, I am glad I gave it a try. Gone was the jarring, disjointed noise of the old Meat Puppets and in it’s place something refined and practiced. I was amazed and I was hooked.
Opening with an instant rock tune by the name of Violet Eyes, the album quickly becomes an amalgam of various styles allowing the Puppets to explore a wide range of music. Touching on rock, folk songs and more, this was instantly an album that became a must have, a must own.
In the years that passed, I soon became a fan of the Meat Puppets with each subsequent album being added to my collection. Cris and Curt Kirkwood would become some of my favorite musicians with Curt even forming another band with Bud Gah and Krist Novoselic under the name Eyes Adrift. Over the years I have even gone back and tried their older stuff again, it’s still bad but I can appreciate it for it’s important place in music history. If it weren’t for the rough album called II, Kurt Cobain would have never covered three songs that would open my world of music even further.
One song I keep coming back to is Severed Goddess Hand. It is a fascinating tune that just resonates with me. I find myself humming it on occasion.
Next up has to be Shine. It is a gentile and lovely song that almost seems to be a love song to someone but done only as the Meat Puppets could do.
One of my all time favorites is Why?. It is a tune that really struck me as a teen and seemed to put to music something I was asking fairly regularly in those days, ‘why?’. even today, it has a deeper meaning.
The rest of the album is fantastic and really deserves multiple listenings. If you get a cd copy, be sure to let the final track play a little past the last notes, you’ll get a cool surprise.
Ok, Where do I get it?
This is one that was once available almost everywhere and, even though Rolling Stone Magazine considers it the 13th best record of 1994, it has since fallen into not being in print. However, you can still listen to it digitally on Spotify or, you may run across a used copy on discogs for a reasonable price.
Late to the Game 11/6/2018
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