I still remember the CD.
My Mudhoney collection was fairly impressive in â€™93, having dug deep into the bandâ€™s Sub Pop soil, but the disc I found at Vintage Vinyl, Jackâ€™s or wherever I was buying records at the time was of special interest: it was a live bootleg.
Hearing a band live â€“ or hearing a live recording they had no control over releasing or not releasing â€“ can be a sacred act, and live recordings, at their best, illustrate what an outfit sounds like at its most organic. That anonymous Mudhoney disc, a self-titled outing sometimes referred to as A Fulminant Live Act In Early Summer 1992, was good. And it give me a sneak peek into the Mudhoney live shows I was, then, too young to attend.
Enter LiE, short for “Live In Europe.” Out today on Sub Pop, the bandâ€™s once and future home, the not-limited, not-bootlegged live disc assembles some recent thrashings of Mark Arm & Co. and, for Mudhoney aficionados, itâ€™s pretty essential stuff. Itâ€™s viciously performed and carefully recorded. In short, itâ€™s a good disc. But thatâ€™s where I stop.
Yes, songs like â€œGet Into Yours,â€ off 1989â€™s Mudhoney, and â€œJudgement, Rage, Retribution and Thyme,â€ off 1995â€™s My Brother The Cow, are blister-inducing. The closer, the epic â€œBroken Hands,â€ off Every Good Boy Deserve Fudge, is wonderful. But, itâ€™s not an introduction to the bandâ€™s best work â€“ nor its best lineup: Lukin snatch â€“ or a must-have addition to the catalog. As grunge goes, it falls into familiar territory: like Melvinsâ€™ Your Choice Live or even Nirvanaâ€™s From The Muddy Banks of the Wishkah, itâ€™s only for completists.
What does it do well? It gets the anthemic â€œSuck You Dryâ€ right, thatâ€™s for sure. The groupâ€™s two-guitar assault is on full display there. Iâ€™ve always enjoyed its take on Roxy Musicâ€™s â€œEditions of You,â€ originally released as a single in â€™99, and provided here with true vitriol. And the band made the right move by not including all-too-obvious staples like â€œTouch Me, Iâ€™m Sickâ€ or â€œHere Comes Sickness.â€ In the end, itâ€™s a good offering for people on the inside. Given this descends from Seattle in the Age of Grunge, thatâ€™s a pretty big circle. But Iâ€™d take that bootleg, for all its warts, over LiE â€“ it was full of wonder because the band didnâ€™t know they were being captured. It was more true to some idyllic form. And, though LiE is a good disc â€“ I canâ€™t really say that enough â€“ that says a lot.