John Alapick | Wilkes-Barre, PA United States | 02/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Too High To Die would be the most successful album that the Meat Puppets would release. Before this, they had released several strong albums but only had a small but loyal following. The members of Nirvana were part of this following and they had the Meat Puppets open for them on their last tour and also featured the band and their music on their MTV Unplugged special. This finally gave the Meat Puppets some long overdue exposure as radio and MTV finally started playing their music.It remains a mystery how Too High To Die didn't become a huge success. The music presented here fit right in with the alternative and acoustic rock that was popular in the mid-90's. Although the track "Backwater" would become a minor hit single, several other tracks such as the acoustic ballads "Shine" and "Why?" could have also been hits if marketed correctly. The electicism of their earlier albums is on full display here. Whether it's the heavy riffing of "Violet Eyes" and "We Don't Exist", the great melodic alternative tracks "Severed Goddess Hand" and "Flaming Heart", the country of "Comin' Down", or the blues-rock of "Roof With A Hole", everything here is top notch. Other great tracks here include "Things", "Evil Love", and "Never To Be Found." There's also an unlisted remake of their song "Lake Of Fire", which was popularized by Nirvana on MTV Unplugged, at the end of the album. Simply a great album. Highly recommended."
My Personal 2nd favorite Puppets (after UP ON THE SUN)
Rich Latta | Albuquerque, NM - Land of Entitlement | 09/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not trying to say it's better than II (commonly considered their best along with UOTS). Personal preferences sometimes have to do with, say, the great summer you had listening to a cool record, or maybe when one saved your sanity at a boring job. But I really do think TOO HIGH TO DIE is truly one of their best, and I even know a few Meat-heads who insist it is, in fact, their greatest.
This kind of praise unfortunately gets thrown around a lot, but I must (type) that I think Curt Kirkwood is a highly underrated guitar genius. His playing is pretty unique, super-melodic and he's technically gifted. The Kirkwood brothers' voices ("Cris" on bass) are less so. They tend to sing in the same basic range here, but they actually SING (no screaming, posturing, etc.) and do it well - I dig their voices!
This album rocks, but there's also a lot of variety. There's quite a bit of country influence and it's ironic that I love it so much cuz I'm no country fan. I didn't go for a lot of this album at first, but now some of those songs I didn't go for initially get stuck in my head - and I like that! The following notes are my personal impressions of TOO HIGH TO DIE:
"Violet Eyes" - kicks it off with a killer, the hardest rocker on the record. Awesome feedback-laden soloing from Curt - trippy!
"Never To Be Found" - catchy and tuneful, this groover is addictive. The bass is simple and perfect. It starts off lighter than "Violet Eyes" with some crisp strumming, but takes off to great heights. "We got road, we got time, so we're out of here . . ." Love the epic guitar coda at the end before the band kicks in again with a faster tempo.
"We Don't Exist" - cool rocker. I'm not sure why the singer wants and needs "Cayenne" so bad or what it will do for him, but his longing for it is powerful. Or maybe Cayenne's just a girl.
"Severed Goddess Head" - Sweet and easy-going rocker with cool vocal harmonies.
"Flaming Heart" - drummer Derrick Bostrom gradually and skillfully increases the tempo over the course of this song with the effect of intensifying it (contrary to some opinions, that's a compliment). This is one of the songs that sometimes just pops in my head and starts playing - the part towards the end where the lead guitar kicks in.
"Shine" - unlike the other songs here, this one is really mellow and beautiful.
"Station" - This track sounds like a demented country circus. I couldn't deal with it when I first heard this album. Now I'm addicted to it.
"Roof With a Hole" - a loooow down, powerful, blues-y #. "There may be diamonds in that dream on the hill/ But the people who live there still complain/ Cause the roof's got a hole in it/ And everything's been ruined by the rain." (Listening to this song today struck me as poignant in the wake of Hurricane Katrina's devestation.)
"Backwater" - a great song and pretty much their lone hit on alt-rock radio. I don't think it's necessarily the best on the album, but it's certainly a strong contender and it did sound great on the radio. Killer rhythm!
"Things" - another great one (I'd rate every song on TOO HIGH TO DIE a 5) with some truly wild and strange guitar moves from Curt.
"Why?" - a gorgeous, folky little tune.
"Evil Love" - Another excellent rock groove.
"Comin Down" - great, bouncy tune and (more or less) a straight-up country track.
bonus hidden track - a deadpan, super-cool re-recording of their classic "Lake of Fire." Doesn't surplant the original, but it's way cool and Curt solos his ass off."
Among the best of the decade
Rich Latta | 11/16/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Too High to Die" isn't the best Meat Puppets album (that award goes to the 1985 masterpiece "Up on the Sun") but this is as close as they've gotten. This much-overlooked Tucson-based trio has outlasted practically every early-post-punk band that sprung up in the early 80s. And they've done so by consistently delivering on their country-psychedlic-folk-punk brand of irresistable songcraft. About every other Puppets release is a fringe disappointment, but they always return to the fore with their next release. This is one of those return-to-the-fore CDs. On "Too High," Curt Kirwood's singing has never been stronger and is now holds a solid attachment to the band's musical chops. The songs are tight but still explode with a transcendent, soaring brilliance. Combines the meaty strength of "Monsters" with the thoughtfulness of "Forbidden Places" and easily ranks as one of the best rock albums of the decade, and among the finest dozen or so ever made. That's No Joke, for real."
No plaster in my eye.
Marc (with a 'c') | Orlando, FL | 07/07/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Aside from a few songs that seem to be there as filler... this is the best of the later Mup's period. And, contrary to popular belief, there is more to this record than just "Backwater". Nothing wrong with that song, either... but one listen to "Things" or "Severed Goddess Hand", and the true charcter of this desperate longing album will come out and smack ya in the nose. Presuming that you want to be smacked in the nose, that is. And why wouldn't you? Because it hurts... that's why. But, the nice country groove of "Comin Down" will cradle you in it's arms and make it all better, I promise. Oh... and let's not forget the extra track... the kickin' reworking of "Lake Of Fire"... with listenable vocals!!!"
One of the nineties' best albums
Marc (with a 'c') | 10/17/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Things" is perhaps the best Puppets tune you've ever heard, and you can't beat this eclectic collection which jumps from hard-driven rock to country twang, all with as much feeling and musicianship as any band out there. Buy it!"