Album: Meat Puppets

Classic Puppets, Rykodisc
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The Independent Culture

Prophets largely without honour in their own time, the Meat Puppets have left a legacy that can be heard all over the Americana scene now, almost a decade after they broke up. Comprised of the drummer Derrick Bostrom and the brothers Curt and Cris Kirkwood on guitar and bass respectively, the Phoenix-based trio began in the early Eighties as a "punk-rock jamming band". Their eponymous first album was a largely incoherent howl of punk rage, but by the follow-up, Meat Puppets II, they had settled on their signature sound, an acid-fried, desert-baked psychedelic-country style that owed as much to the Grateful Dead as to Black Flag. Curt Kirkwood was the band's driving force, his guitar-work marked by dizzy, cascading runs, while the uncertain pitching of his vocals gave their music a distinctive light-headed feel. Their best work, on MPII and Up on the Sun, furnished one of the decisive foundations of, a courageous voyage into untrodden territory at a time of regressive punk Stalinism A few dedicated souls championed their cause; Kurt Cobain's final masterstroke was his use of the Puppets as part of Nirvana's Unplugged band. But now this splendid compilation affords latecomers the opportunity to catch up with one of the seminal American groups of the Eighties.