Despite being named after a couple of guitar effects pedals and featuring a song that confesses/proudly proclaims that "I've been drunk for 24 hours", it's difficult not to undersell the importance of Mudhoney's debut album Superfuzz Bigmuff and it's place in the timeline of, well, of popular music really. Such grand statements probably sit uneasily with the band themselves and most definately would have when these four long-haired outcasts from Seattle recorded it nearly 20 years ago. After all, they pretty much sound drunk all over it - a mood helped no end by the distorted sludge sound of the eponymous effects pedals. But this distortion, sludge, long hair and beer, laid out over punked-up three minute songs, combined to give the world 'Grunge' - the predominant alternative music scene of the early 90s.
A couple of years before Teen Spirit was a target in the bitter sights of fellow Seattlite Kurt Cobain, Superfuzz Bigmuff (along with its label Sub Pop, formed two years earlier) announced that something was most definitely happening in America's Pacific North West.
"We wanna be free, we wanna be free to do what we anna do. We wanna be free to ride...to ride our machines without being hassled from the man. And we wanna get loaded". Peter Fonda's plea in 'The Wild Angels', sampled as an intro to In 'N' Out Of Grace sums up far better than I ever could, where Mudhoney were coming from. There's no doubt this is an angry album, but whereas Cobain was to implode with that anger, Mudhoney had a sense of humour (and presumably a steady supply of ale) to balance it out and help carry them from the frustration of their surroundings.
Touch Me I'm Sick, which should always be the first name on the teamsheet for a "Grunge Album Select 11", sets the pace: "Well i've been bad. And I've been worse. And I'm a creep yeeeahhh. And I'm a jerk. Touch Me I'm Sick!". And the rest of the album plays out over this cynical, but above all beer-swilling fun, terrain. Extras on this version, re-issued to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the lengendary Sub Pop, include singles, demos, and a couple of live recordings from 1988, which as the promotion blurb states "are all remastered, or in some cases, mastered for the very first time."!
Mark, Steve, Matt and Dan: the John, Paul, George and Ringo of my early adolesence, I salute you. Now let's get loaded.