Mudhoney - LiE - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Mudhoney - LiE

by Sean Hewson Rating:8 Release Date:2018-01-19
Mudhoney - LiE
Mudhoney - LiE

LiE (Live in Europe) is Mudhoney’s first live album (ignoring bootlegs and limited editions). It was recorded during their 2016 tour, which I attended. It’s an imperfect, chaotic slab of fuzz and screaming, and also a good excuse to remember how awesome Mudhoney are and have always been.

I first saw Mudhoney in 1989 when Sonic Youth brought them to the UK. They exploded out of the blocks, falling all over each other whilst still playing their instruments. UK bands were not like this at the time. Spacemen 3 – a fantastic live band – sat in chairs. It is still (along with Loop in 1988) the greatest gig that I have seen. They took our music (Stooges, Wah-wah, Fuzz) and made it fun. They also had and still have a sense of humour and a lack of ego that has limited their sales but lengthened their career. To my eyes, they still look like friends who enjoy hanging out together. The sound of Mudhoney live is an intriguing thing, more so when you listen to it in the cold light of day, as on LiE. Mark Arm, Steve Turner and Dan Peters all seem to have slightly different senses of timing (bassist Guy Maddison appears to be the rock, or just guesses well). This creates a thrilling, tightrope walk each time they try to all land on the same beat. As instrumentalists enter a song, the timing can often change. It’s not always right, but it is always exciting.

The album itself starts with Fuzz Gun ’91 (from Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge). Straight away, Turner and Arm are pulling each other around. Turner with his unhinged leads and Arm with his punching rhythm work. This moves into Get Into Yours, from their eponymous 1989 album. When Arm starts singing, it is with the same, straining-at-the-leash gusto that we have been enjoying since 1988. Beyond The Valley Of The Underdog’s Poisoned Water follows. It’s a breathless start for chaps in their 50s. The Final Course is a more recent song (from 2013’s Vanishing Point) but it serves to show the consistency of Mudhoney, especially when Steve Turner steps on the wah-wah. I’m going on ears and memory here (both past their best), but I think that Arm puts his guitar down on this track and you do feel the loss in the overall sound. Turner’s playing is exemplary however (especially on the one chord middle section, which is everything I like about guitar playing – loud, overdriven and repetitive). This is followed up with another song from Vanishing Point, What To Do With The Neutral. Again, Turner is on his own on guitar. On both songs Mudhoney sound like Blue Cheer on their first album. There is also something about Sonic Youth in Turner’s guitar line – showing that their early influences are still there. 2008’s I’m Now (from The Lucky Ones) is next. It’s driven by a much more 60s Garage-sounding riff from Turner and Arm’s ‘The past made no sense, the future sure looks tense’ lyric. Arm is back on guitar to try to manage the quick chord changes in My Brother The Cow’s Judgement, Rage, Retribution and Thyme.  Another track from their latest album, Vanishing Point, follows. I Like It Small is Punk Rock insanity, more early 80s Hardcore than anything else here. Suck You Dry (from Piece Of Cake) sets off at a cracking pace with Arm just managing to keep up with Turner, Maddison and Peters (to be fair, he is also screaming out a vocal). Next comes a familiar riff that reveals itself to be Roxy Music’s Editions Of You (you can find it on March To Fuzz). Incredibly it lends itself to the boneheaded hammering that Mudhoney give it. The band finish with their second track from 1991’s Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge – Broken Hands. A slower song than anything that’s gone before and, at 7 minutes, something of an epic.

So, there you have it. Possibly feeling that they’ve appeared on record enough times already, the crowd-pleasers that they definitely would have played have mainly been left off (there’s nothing from Superfuzz Bigmuff). Instead you get a real insight into how the strange beast that is Mudhoney works. It’s a ‘more than the sum of its parts’ deal. There are certainly things here that the more musically-uptight amongst us could pick up on. But this is Punk Rock - from The Sonics to 80s Hardcore. It’s messy and it’s grungy. The guys are still great musicians – Turner’s leads, Arm’s voice, Maddison’s dependability and Peters’ forward momentum – but it’s as a rather strange band that they come together best. This is not their greatest album, it’s not the best place for beginners to start, but it is our first real chance to check out the live Mudhoney experience. Hopefully they will be touring for many years to come and I advise everyone to check them out. As this set proves, it’s not a golden oldies trip.

Overall Rating (1)

5 out of 5 stars
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