Live At Third Man Records
Third Man Records
Fuck I love the Melvins! I love ‘em – and I love, among the many things I love about them, that they released not one great record in 2013 but three. I’m just catching up with this one now, in terms of writing about it, but it’s been on and off the platter for seven or eight months now. I loved last year’s covers record; good bit of fun. And then there was Tres Cabrones, the new album of original material with their original drummer. That was amazing. Somewhere in between, and in another novel way to mark their 30-year anniversary, the band recorded this live set at Jack White’s Third Man Records.
Now what I loathe about Jack White (most of his music) is almost made up for by his Third Man endeavour (at least when it’s not releasing Jack White material). The Nashville-based HQ features a store-front record shop and a vinyl processing plant – there’s a concert venue where the performance is recorded onto acetate and then that gig becomes an LP; the ultimate take-home memento; the ultimate fan-boy indulgence; the ultimate consoling gift if you could never get to that sort of awesome show.
Just because you didn’t get to hear and see the Melvins live at Third Man Records doesn’t mean you can’t own and hear the Melvins’ Live At Third Man Records.
So with one record of covers and one of originals for 2013 their live album – this album – had the monster Melvins quartet – the two drum-kits at the back a wonderful indulgence, like some giant squid taking up a part of the stage – going all the way back to 1991 for the set-opening, Side A-filling Charmicarmicat (originally from the EP, Eggnogg). It’s huge and lovely-slow and ugly-grinding, there’s a brutal ominousness about, well, much of the Melvins’ music but this track is almost their career, or a significant part of it, in a nutshell. The way they do the lurching slow creep and crawl is a big part of what makes the magic of the Melvins; the fact that you know – you just know – you could hear any other band try to cover this and they’d fuck it up. They’d sound boring or too urgent or not the right kind of sloppy. And then (also) never ever tight enough.
Side two of the record consists of shorter pieces and sticking with 1991 we get a solid few from the great Bullhead album; more of the lurch of course, there’s the menacing At The Stake, and the vitriolic Queen. It’s Shoved sounds big and Anaconda rightly snakes its way into place.
The thing I guess I love most about Melvins is they always sound urgent. Here (as with last year’s other two records) they gave us yet another side of the band. And another reason to celebrate. They also gave us an album that any other band could hope to offer up. That it was just one of three pretty-much-essential records by the group in one year, its 30th year of existence, is what makes it all the more remarkable. Giants.