this is probably the most under-rated album Mudhoney ever did and yet it is easily one of their best. it came out in 1998 and was the last record they made for Reprise. fairly late in the scheme of things - nobody in the mainstream cared about "grunge" or even rock music really at that point. point being that it did receive some good press at the time but it was really more than a cult hit. on their wiki page, the album is barely mentioned:
Mudhoney's melding of styles would become more pronounced on their following album, Tomorrow Hit Today, recorded and released in 1998. The album continued their garage and grunge sound but demonstrated a strong blues-rock influence. Sensing a "use-it-or-lose-it" budget, they hired Jim Dickinson, an eccentric legend who worked with the Rolling Stones. They recorded in 3 different cities
After a few years of touring, Reprise decided to release Mudhoney from their label. One of the reasons was that the band's record sales had reached a career low, despite the fact their concerts were drawing larger audiences than before. Subsequently, bassist Matt Lukin called it quits, due primarily to his dislike of touring.
commercially unsuccessful, but this album is fantastic - filled with great songs. it is definitely a hallmark in their songwriting. if you listen to the album before this, My Brother The Cow... it's like all of a sudden they did a 180 and lived 15 hard years between the two records. the music is totally solid, catchy and indelible. all the lyrics are equally fantastic, with lots of dark humor and an air of maturity that was long absent from their music.
the first half especially is flawless - great lead-off song, then I Have To Laugh is one of my favorite Mudhoney songs of all time. it's a total classic. here's one of my favorite Mudhoney lyrics ever, from the song Oblivion:
She rolled up from the bar with Kahlua and cream
Parked her wheelchair by the karaoke machine
Closed her eyes and sang Dancing Queen
She sang the shit out of Dancing Queen
but the hits don't stop there, it goes straight into a veritable masterpiece of blues rock, Try To Be Kind. another unforgettable song. Poisoned Water sounds more like old-school Mudhoney which is more than welcome. Real Low Vibe is another classic staple of the band. that's just the first half - you have a perfect Mudhoney set right there.
then they give you a little time to rest before bringing the house down again. wait for Move With The Wind to climax and it pays off big. then straight into Ghost, another huge grunge hit that never was, with a chorus you'll be singing all week. the jammy soloing at the end is particularly excellent.
then after you have been completely rocked out, you need two epic slow numbers to round out the album. I Will Fight No More Forever is and instrumental but it is not filler. it is a great song that could have been on some weird perfect british blues rock album from 1967, but no, it is Mudhoney in 1998, at the peak of their power. then the grand finale of this album needs no introduction, it is the sludgey big muff tone that Mudhoney has been rocking since the 80's. another dirty, filthy, grungey(!) dirge that is also irresistably catchy and rocks slooow. this is a another beautiful, ugly poem, rife with romance and self-effacement:
In the Catholic seamen's club
Every sailor is sacred
In the arcade right next door
All the girls dance naked
Down on my knees scrubbin' the floors
Scratchin' at festering sores
If I'm the guy you're lookin' for
Just look down under some rock
all in all, this is easily one of the very best records Mudhoney ever did. it has elements of all their best techniques and although it is big and stretches out, it never gets boring or overstays its welcome. highly recommended!