MEAT PUPPETS II - LP
Release Date: February 9, 2024
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Meat Puppets II was a bit star-crossed. "Here we had this record which was going to absolutely be completely different, not just for us, but for what most people thought about punk rock," says Bostrom. "We were going to bust the whole, thing wide open." Various screw-ups prevented Meat Puppets II from being released until April, 1984. In the meantime, some of the record's fire had been stolen by genre-busting masterpieces like Hüsker Dü's Zen Arcade, the Minutemen's Double Nickels on the Dime, Black Flag's My War and the Replacements' Let It Be.
Up until then, punk rock, especially hardcore, was anti-historical - it didn't seem to come from anywhere. Meat Puppets II proved you could embrace old forms and still be punk, that you didn't have to reject the ancient in order to be" modern. Hardcore lived on but barely evolved, while the indie underground followed the lead of Meat Puppets II, from Dinosaur Jr to Nirvana and beyond. The legacy was fully acknowledged when Kurt Cobain invited Curt and his brother, Meat Puppets bassist Cris Kirkwood, to play three songs from Meat Puppets Il for Nirvana's historic 1993 Unplugged show.
Besides the fact that it boasts some of the best songs this great band ever recorded, some of the enduring appeal of Meat Puppets Il surely stems from its many mysteries. "I'm into baffling people," Curt said in 1984. "It leaves me with a sense of having gained something. Confusion is a state of mind, but it's not an undesirable state of mind. If people understand everything it takes the sense of wonder out of everything. And that brings me down." Nowadays, Curt has a simpler explanation, "A lot of it is what Disney said," he Says. "There's a natural hoochie-koochie to a goldfish.'
MICHAEL AZERRAD FALL 1998
The Meat Puppets had been pissing off punkers since the first time we opened a show with "The King and I". We became disenchanted with the "hardcore" scene almost as soon as we began to tour outside of our home town. It seemed that everywhere we went, punkers would take one look at our long hair and begin to shower us with spit and beer cans. Our covers of songs by Neil Young or Creedence Clearwater Revival did little to alleviate the situation. Clearly, a break from the hardcore movement was in order.
In the summer of 1982, we were asked to contribute a song to a flexidisc included with Michael Koenig’s Take It! Magazine. We grabbed a buddy to engineer and booked some time for a recording session which was our best to date. The Take It! cut, “Teenager(s)” (Track 13), was a joining of two songs, the speedy first part by Cris and me and the slower jam part by Curt (originally titled “Tribute to 45 Grave”). In addition, we demoed our current batch of new original songs (as well as one cover). Unlike our previous songs, which were more of a group effort, the new material was written entirely by Curt. Never much of a fan of punk rock, he drew instead upon his own tastes, creating a unique combination of country, psychedelia and classic rock.
The success of "Teenager(s)" encouraged us to get more ambitious on our next album. We split the recording of "Meat Puppets II" into two different sessions, one for the instrumental tracks, and one for the vocals. Both went extremely smoothly, allowing us both to fill out the arrangements and to take the vocals beyond the moaning, grunting and screaming of our first album. The whole thing came together so well that Spot proclaimed the recordings to be "gelatinous" (an expression of high praise).
Less gelatinous was the inexplicable wait we endured between the recording that spring and the mixdown the following fall. Somehow, six months went by before the record was finished. We and Spot just couldn’t seem to hook up. By the time we finally reconvened in November at Phoenix’s Chaton studio, Curt's life had changed forever: he had become a father of twins the night before. He had just enough energy to oversee the mix of “Lake of Fire” (Track 10) before he passed out for the rest of the session.
Derrick Bostrom 1998
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