Various Artists: Deep Six

deepsixOriginally released in 1986, this compilation album was a hallowed, storied holy grail of a record I thought I’d never hear as a kid turning on to the Seattle scene in the early 90’s. This legendary disc was always mentioned in hushed tones. Just check out the line-up:

  • Green River – Probably the single greatest seminal band to come out of the Seattle scene. Featuring Mark Arm and Steve Turner, later of Mudhoney, and Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard, later of Mother Love Bone and then Pearl Jam. “10,000 Things” leads off this album, but the best song on the disc is the penultimate “Your Own Best Friend,” which would have been a full heart if they hadn’t gotten into cackling and spoken word weirdness at the end.
  • Malfunkshun – Lead singer Andrew Wood would join up with Gossard and Ament in Mother Love Bone. Guitarist Kevin Wood is still rocking around in Seattle in bands like From The North and All Hail The Crown. Drummer Regan Hagar would go on to rock in Brad, Satchel, and From The North. Malfunkshun was quite a bit different from Mother Love Bone. These guys were very sloppy, but in a determined way. A live version of “With Yo’ Heart (Not Yo’ Hands)” would appear on the band’s posthumous Return To Olympus and “Stars-N-You” is nutballs, basically a couple minutes of the band coming off the rails, in a good way.
  • Melvins – I don’t need to say anything more about Melvins except that they’re still kicking ass more than 25 years later. “Grinding Process” would appear on their Six Songs album, also released in 1986. “Scared” almost has an arena rock feel and includes xylophone (or glockenspiel or something?) and vocal yipping. Very fun. “She Waits” and “Blessing The Operation” are the band at their most simultaneously abrasive and progressive.
  • Skin Yard – Featuring Jack Endino, who would produce a ton of great albums, including ones by Tad, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Seaweed, and Nirvana. Both of the tracks here are slow throbs (one is even called “Throb”). Endino’s comments here.
  • Soundgarden – Need no introduction, but I’ll take the time to point out here that these guys seemed to be created fully-formed. Aside from Chris Cornell’s voice, which would evolve into the operatic feature it was, the band was making its best music early on. Two of these songs would be re-recorded for later releases and the other, “Heretic,” is one of the rawest things the band would ever do.
  • U-Men – The senior members of this contingent. In hindsight, I always revered this band for their inclusion here, not for ever having heard them. I still don’t think I’ve heard any of their songs besides the lone track here. Which is is good, screamy, fun rocking with a Reverend Horton Heat hillbilly demon feel to it.

This is pretty far off from what the Seattle sound would become. But it’s clearly that sound coming together. Younger, rawer, more garage-y, I love it as much as the later stuff, plus it’s an awesome historical document. You can nitpick the sound, performances, etc. as unprofessional all day, but to me it fits in perfectly with what would happen over the next decade.

– “Scared” (Melvins), “All Your Lies” (Soundgarden)
– “10,000 Things” (Green River), “Blessing The Operation” (Melvins), “With Yo’ Heart (Not Yo’ Hands)” (Malfunkshun), “Throb” (Skin Yard), “Heretic” (Soundgarden), “Tears To Forget” (Soundgarden), “Stars-N-You” (Malfunkshun), “Grinding Process” (Melvins), “The Birds” (Skin Yard), “She Waits” (Melvins), “Your Own Best Friend” (Green River), “They” (U-Men)
Filed Between: Deep Purple (Purpendicular) and Def Leppard (On Through The Night)


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