It seems hard to believe that Mudhoney have never released a live album until now. There probably were live releases here and there from the band over the course of the last 30 years, but the upcoming LiE, out Friday via Sub Pop, represents the very first, wide-release live record from these legends. And it's a scorcher, as if you couldn't guess.
The story of Mudhoney is the story of a band constantly striving to break free of the grunge label. No matter how ferocious their music -- take a listen to early Nineties single "Suck You Dry" here rendered absolutely incendiary -- the band sort of got perpetually lumped in with a lot of groups from the West Coast who weren't quite as raucous. Mudhoney could slow it down occasionally, but at their very best -- like on the surging mid-Nineties anti-anthem "Judgment, Rage, Retribution and Thyme", here a beast -- they harnessed some sort of weird primordial rawness that was both caveman-like and genuinely dangerous. Even on a relatively recent number like "I Like It Small", the band seem to be steering into the storm, the instruments creating a racket that owes as much to the Nuggets generation of groups as it does to the hardcore punks who whipped up noise on these shores a good decade or so before Mudhoney took up together as an early grunge offering. And for a band who remained consistently witty, a surprisingly strong cover of "Editions Of You" here delights in an un-ironic and straightforward way, the glam classic from Roxy Music made over into a roaring bit of business.
If you're a long-time fan of Mudhoney, you're gonna love this live album as it's the one you've always wanted to hear from this band. If you're a relatively new fan of these guys, LiE is a good introduction to these legends of the Pacific Northwest. A real crash course in the harder edges of grunge, this live Mudhoney release is essential.
LiE by Mudhoney is out on Friday from Sub Pop Records.
More details on Mudhoney via the band's official site.
[Photo: Vincent Vannes]