The official soundtrack of the American Southwest.
Shotgun Method | NY... No, not *that* NY | 11/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"[My 100th review. Yay!] The hardcore punkers must have regarded the Meat Puppets as if they were aliens, back in 1984 for playing this weird blend of punk, country, and bluegrass. It's an acquired taste--untrained vocals, quirky lyrics, sloppy playing, and an overall rustic feel. The band's trademark sound later became more polished on gems like Up On The Sun, but II is the source. This music was very different from the SST-label punk released back then, and definitely not to everyone's liking. And yet, despite its rough and unpolished feel, this record is compulsively listenable and enjoyable in its dry, acid-drenched Mojave atmosphere. Curt Kirkwood's off-key vocals grate at first but quickly grow on the listener, while his guitar solos attain moments of magic that 90% of polished professional musicians would struggle to reach. Yep, guitar solos, in a "punk" band. Imagine that. Curt's brother Kris (bass) and drummer Derrick Bostrum make up a loose, easygoing backing. From top to bottom, there are no weak tracks, and most of them are stellar. Famously, Plateau, Oh Me and Lake Of Fire were all covered by Nirvana on their '93 MTV Unplugged concert. I used to think Cobain's reworkings were superior, but now I'm not so sure. I love the shimmering electric outro found on this version of Plateau, Curt's plaintive voice on Oh Me, and the epic feel of Lake Of Fire. Other highlights included here are the frantic Split Myself In Two, the disillusioned Lost, the great instrumental Aurora Borealis, and the fine closer The Whistling Song. The bonus tracks don't really add much, nor do they take anything away from this classic album. You can hear the influence of this album all throughout the Seattle alternative and indie genres. Overall, if I was headed on a road trip to the deserts of New Mexico, this would be the first album in the CD changer. Essential to anyone with a taste in indie or alternative."
Good gravy, this is a good record.
Shotgun Method | 01/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Oh, I wonder-wonder hoom-a-doo-doo-who? Who has bought this album and owes it soley to the fact that Kurt Kobain and company played not 1..not 2...but THREE songs with Kris and Kurt Curkwood on MTV's Unplugged and muttered "All these songs are from their second album." ? Cuz that's what I did. Don't expect anything like their (1994?) top-40 hit Backwater; that song's as different from the material on II as their full-length debut--an odd synthesis of slop-hardcowpunk songs that I would NOT recommend to just anyone--is. Kirkwood's off-key, troubled voice grows on one in an EXTREMELY appealing fashion, as the boys slap their instruments through these varied songs that lie somewhere between punk and country; folk and ballad (Listen at the very LEAST for the Neil Young-esque "The Whistling Song"). Awesome.Warning: Takes several listens to fully appreciate, but once one is hooked, they will no doubt curse the rather short-length (under a half an hour? ) of this fine, fine rock masterpiece. The End."
New Fan of Meat Puppets
Bruce | Morristown, NJ United States | 12/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First encounter with Meat Puppets was when I heard "Backwater" on the radio several years ago and decided to buy the album but never got around to it. Heard "Plateau" on Nirvana MTV unplugged and didn't think much of it the first time I heard it. Then after listening to the song several times I began to love the guitar outro. I was looking for a change from REM and Nirvana. Nirvana seems to have been influenced by the Meat Puppets. REM sounds a lot different.I bought my first Meat Puppets album "Up On the Sun" and loved it, especially Hot Pink and Maiden's Milk. Decided to buy two more albums "Huevos" and "Too High To Die". "Backwater" is on Too High To Die" but I liked "Huevos" better. In fact I liked it so much, I bought all of the rest of the Meat Puppets CDs including the live one "Live in Montana". "Meat Puppets II" is excellent, especially the songs "Plateau", "Aurora Borealis", and "Lake of Fire". Their first album "Meat Puppets" is punk rock and too hard for me to digest (especially with the kids in the car) and "Monster" is pretty good. I am looking forward to breaking the seal on the other albums (12 CD's total).To summarize the Meat Puppets: weird, amazing guitar playing, great songwriting, good lyrics, good (sometimes great) singing.Thank god for the Meat Puppets."
Real Influential classic in the "Dificult Music" genre
Herr Frog | Washington DC area | 12/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have just read a few reviewws of this cd, and I can understand that the uneasy hybrid of country, punk, hard rock, and psychedelic rock that this band constituted was definitely hard to swallow for a lot of people. You know, ______ them if they can't take a joke.
For those who weren't on the scene at the time, the 1980's and early 90's were a strange and fascinating time to be alive. The music and the arts were coming alive in a sense that they hadn't before in the United States, and the excitement was reflected in the number of new styles and trends emerging almost weekly -- artists of all sorts were springing up from the ground, creating new works and breaking rules no-one had even realized were rules.
"Alternative rock" was not the mainstream back then like it is nowdays, and few will remember now how subversive it was to even listen to something so mild as REM back then. The Meat Puppets were well in the spirit of those times, defying neat categories of style and sound. And for those who required the assistance of a Rolling Stone article to be able to appreciate a record, help was on the way, but a long way off still.
The bands that most blatantly defied all attempts at being filed into neat stereotypes in the late '80s were all heaped into a bin called "difficult music." All but forgotten now, they were often loosely associated with "punk rock," "hardcore," and the like, but if you want to be really ____ about it, you might do better to associate a few of these bands with the likes of Captain Beefheart, Julian Schnabel, and a handful of the more weird psychedelic and modern artists of the 20th C.
I have jokingly referred to the Meat Puppets as "Grateful Dead on Speed" before, and I recall thinking of them as sort of a hybrid of, say, Yes (Old Yes, back when they were kinda good, 1970s and before) and Merle Haggert. No, Meat Puppets weren't punk rock, and yes, they were on an eminent punk label. But with a band that tight, somebody had to publish them.
Chris and Kurt are like the rare brother or sister duo found in bluegrass music now and then that have a gift of harmony so natural, from a life of playing and singing together since early childhood. But they grew up listening to Van Halen, and then got on the SST label, of all things! Life takes some funny turns, and sometimes raw talent can't be suppressed.
Rock and roll from the west side of things was always changing, and nothing if not eclectic. The skills and talent of the trio, and the elegant guitar stylings of Kurt, (Kurt is a phenomenal guitar player.) all created an album here that is unique and outstanding. If you never buy any other Meat Puppets album, this is the one to get. If you do get another, "Too High to Die" and "Up on the Sun" are the best, I think.
Side note: I was moved to see Kurt Cobain playing some of my favorite songs years later, when he invited the Pups onstage in the "Unplugged" album. really tickled. To me, Cobain couldn't touch the Meat Puppets' rendering, but it was a real nice job and gave me a new appreciation for him."
One of the best alternative albums ever
Herr Frog | 11/04/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although "alternative" has sort of lost its meaning, this album defines entirely what alternative was, is, and should be. The Kirkwoods seem to be oblivious to pop (which they would prove not be later on with their other masterpieces "up on the sun" and "huevos"), but they somehow catch the ear and weld it into the nonsensical bass of cris and the untilligibly fast guitar of curt. derrick might as well have been a drum machine on this album, but his steady and robotic playing were only the precursor to his brilliant skin-pounding on "huevos." the first listen of this record is alienating, which is what the puppets wanted. that's the result when coming out of phoenix after dropping tons of acid. and the puppets put together something that would never be matched again, which doesn't mean it's the best album ever, but it certainly was a milestone in music. the first track starts of with a crying punk-country (which never worked until the puppets invented it) riff and then curt's voice, which perfectly complements his jumbling explorative singing-style. the album is filled with such trippy songs as the greatest instrumental ever written ("aurora borealis"), and the haunting visions of "plateau." this album will not fit in at first. the fact is it didn't make an immediate impact on the sst punk of the eighties, but its brilliance shines through the crack in your head, and the crack of lunacy soon accepts it as a pilot more than anything, and the darkened skies of dawn and dusk await the trip of alternative, shimmering, spontenaity. beautiful."