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I’m not sure if Songpop has a ‘grunge’ category, but if they do I imagine the frustration when disciples of Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains are kept from five for five scores when the odd Mudhoney song slips in. Despite their trio of records released on Reprise and arguably getting there first (or at least the base camp of Grunge Mountain) via the 1988 “Touch Me I’m Sick” seven inch, they were usually scuttled off the peak summit of the grunge pantheon, relegated to second or third tier designation.
Which is a damned shame, because as unbridled rock action goes, you could tell that Mark Arm and company were paying a lot more attention to The Stooges and the long-haired era of Black Flag than their peers were. But I guess that the brass ring was eluded for those very reasons; it’s not like either of those bands were known for their commercial successes either. Regardless of the number of significant figures in their bank accounts, Mudhoney is still putting their head down low and charging ahead, tossing trends aside like seeds from a dandelion in a hurricane. Their newest record, Vanishing Point, is among the strongest of their career, and this first tour stop on the East Coast would find a lot of that material played.
At this point, it’s fruitless to refer to Guy Maddison as the ‘new’ bass player, seeing as though he’s logged about the same amount of time and LPs as Matt Lukin did, and the other three original members (Mark Arm, Steve Turner, Dan Peters) are operating like a well-tuned machine, tossing chunk-sized pieces of disdain, irony, rage and humor into the blender and hitting the liquefy preset. Instant classics like the “I Like It Small” or the snarling “Chardonnay” stood comfortably shoulder to shoulder with the legit classics of “Touch Me (I’m Sick)” and “In ‘N’ Out of Grace.” For those whose active membership in the Mudhoney booster club has lapsed, I suggest watching their excellent I’m Now DVD, buying a copy of the new record, and settling back into that groove.
Openers White Dynomite looked like they just got off the stage at some wedding reception in Reno and high-tailed it over to the Paradise for some fast and loose, cock rockin’ trashy good times. Ruffles, white trousers, flashy shoes and crunchy riffs – the band had a well-formed cadre of appreciative followers who drank in every note and showered the band with praise and beer. The band’s pedigree is mostly metal and punk (Roadsaw, Wrecking Crew, Kilslug) but they put the denim and leather away for party gear, and it’s a surprisingly good fit. And bonus points tonight for both bands having drummers who wore hats.