Meat Puppets - "Up On the Sun" CD Review (MVD Audio) ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Friday, January 20, 2012

Meat Puppets - "Up On the Sun" CD Review (MVD Audio)

DOWNLOAD: Meat Puppets - Live @ McCabe's Guitar Show, Santa Monica, CA 5-3-85 (Up on the Sun tour)

Meat Puppets - Up on the Sun' CD Review (MVD Audio)In 1985, the Meat Puppets released their third full-length, Up On the Sun, and this disc was the turning point for the band’s sound. There is no sign of the band’s hardcore roots on any of the disc’s twelve tracks as the music continues on the acid-drenched, country-punk path that the band started down on Meat Puppets II. The music on this disc has held up well over the years and there seems to be an ongoing debate among fans over whether this disc or Meat Puppets II is the band’s strongest.

Looking back at this disc, it must be near impossible for anyone who wasn’t there to understand how a bunch of speedballing freaks who were recording for Black Flag’s label could transform themselves into a punk version of the Grateful Dead. In an interview with Goldmine Magazine, Derrick Bostrom described some of the impetus behind the band’s evolution in sound: “Being with SST gave us the opportunity to do even more gigs, expand our base,” Bostrom said. “And also play to their audience, which we found somewhat distasteful. So it led us to, like, blow off punk rock, and kind of go into the more mainstream sound. We started doing country-rock, or Creedence-y sort of stuff, or whatever we’re kind of still known for [today].

Curt’s cover art for Up On the Sun, which shows a coffee mug adorned with a pot leaf, establishes the mood for this disc. Cris and Curt mix intertwined, noodling jams with mellow vocals and deliciously off-key harmonies to come up with a sound that pre-dates the “jam bands” that started to surface in the later part of the 80’s. The music, which is a mixture of mellow jams and blissed-out shoegazing, combined with Curt’s surrealist lyrics led Robert Christgau to declare “Curt Kirkwood is the David Thomas of endearing sloppiness “.

“Up On the Sun” Lyrics
A long time ago / I turned to myself / And said,”you are my daughter” / I saw that the image / I saw there was well, / “so you are my daughter” / Well then maybe we’ve got / Something to talk about. / Who told you so? / That gold burns slow / Like coal camper’s candles / All lost in the snow / Lay down — you’re on / The warmth that I’m weaving / Is for you alone / Up on the sun where it never rains or snows / There’s an ocean / With a wind that never blows / And if you see it closer / Then the finer points will show / Not too much more / Too much more

This is a fun and undemanding disc that you can ‘sink into’ and sail away. Two of the stronger tracks are the refelctive title track and the instrumental “Maiden’s Milk”. The later features an intertwined bass and guitar jam mixed with the band members whistling in harmony.

There are a strong set of bonus tracks on this reissue (the first four tracks are from a scraped recording session for what Derrick Bostrom called a “psychedelic epic” and the last track is an extended instrumental demo of “Hot Pink” (from 1983). The disc also holds a video of a live performance of “Swimming Ground” (which is surprisingly not apparently posted to YouTube).

Up On the Sun Bonus Tracks
1. "Hot Pink (Demo Version 1)" - 3:56
2. "Up on the Sun (Demo Version)" - 4:29
3. "Mother American Marshmallow" - 4:28 (Early version of “Maiden’s Milk”)
4. "Embodiment of Evil" - 1:53
5. "Hot Pink (Demo Version 2)" - 8:35

Meat Puppets