MUDHONEY Superfuzz Bigmuff (Sub Pop)
Sleeved in a similar all-action black and white guitars-and-hair-in-flight photograph to Nirvana’s near-contemporaneous “Bleach” (both records share a producer, Jack Endino), Mudhoney’s debut EP has become acknowledged as one of grunge’s key texts. “Chain That Door” has a log-heavy melody and blank generation vocals, like a sped-up, fed-up Black Sabbath. A broiling tarpit of guitars, percussion, alienation and anger, it’s near-perfect in its clipped precision. “Mudride” sounds like “Fun House”-era Stooges crawling through sludge, garnished with Mark Arm’s throat-stripping howl. It’s a mild surprise, or perhaps not given its pre-“Smells Like Teen Spirit” chronology, to note that the quiet-bit/loud-bit grunge template only edges its way into the record on “If I Think”, the sensitive, considered joker in the pack, presumably, as it even utilises acoustic guitars. “In ‘N’ Out Of Grace” lassoes Peter Fonda’s “We want to get loaded/And we want to have a good time” dialogue from the film “The Wild Angels” long before Primal Scream sampled it, the song’s “Oh God how I love to hate” line perhaps being the crux of the whole EP, over which the acid stench of negativity hangs like a cloud.
I was fortunate to score a first pressing of “Superfuzz Bigmuff” on vinyl. It sounds appropriately visceral, spittle-flecked and powerful, as it probably should with barely more than eleven minutes of music on either side.