Melvins: 26 Songs

26songsMelvins launched their recording career in 1986 with the aptly-titled Six Songs on C/Z records. Five years later, they re-recorded (or re-mastered or something) those six songs, added one song to the end of each side and re-released it on vinyl as Eight Songs. At the same time they also added two more songs to the end and released that collection as 10 Songs on CD. These were all small releases that would barely see the light of day after that (I do have a cassette version of their next album, Gluey Porch Treatments, with Six Songs tacked on to the end), until 2003 when Ipecac would release the aforementioned 16 tracks, along with ten other odds-and-ends as this 70-minute beast entitled 26 songs.

What’s most amazing about this release is how fully-formed Melvins emerged from nothing into the sludgemasters they would still be five years later on Bullhead. They’ve evolved, of course, over the nearly 30 years since this seminal release, but their early sound is fully intact and delivered with the confidence of adolescent males who are assured of the force of what they have to say.

What really impresses me about the young ‘uns here is their ability to stay so firmly grounded in their abilities. They’re already quite proficient players and understand song structure, but they kind of invent their own sludgy genre by, often, forcing this deliberate rhythm on you with a harmonic progression that doesn’t seem to follow a pattern and, therefore, lights up what might otherwise be something plodding into a delightfully interesting jackhammer of an experience.

The Six Songs songs suffer from some sonic problems, but for the most part the album sounds better than a lot of what’s put out today, which is especially poignant given how Melvins traffic in distortion and muddy lower frequencies. I could also do without the last 14 minutes or so, dialogue of the boys recorded with a character (who thinks he’s some kind of superhero?) named Hugh, but hell, I’m also not going to let that spoil the wonder of this document. Thank God for Melvins.

Love: “Grinding Process,” “Show Off Your Red Hands,” “At A Crawl (Six Songs version),” “Set Me Straight”
Like: “Easy As It Was,” “Now A Limo,” “#2 Pencil,” “At A Crawl,” “Disinvite,” “Snake Appeal,” “Over From Underground,” “Cray Fish,” “Easy As It Was (Six Songs version)”, “Now A Limo” (Six Songs version),” “Grinding Process (Six Songs version),” “Disinvite (Six Songs version),” “Snake Appeal (Six Songs version),” “Show Off Your Red Hands (v2),” “#2 Pencil (v2),” “Grinding Process (v3),” “At A Crawl (v3),” “Breakfast On The Sly”
Meh: “Snake Appeal (v2),” “Operation Blessing”
Hate: Ever Since My Accident/’Hugh'”
Filed Between: Melvins’ Hostile Ambient Takeover and Trick And Riddle Book from Neither Here Nor There
Song Notes: After the jump

  1. Easy As It Was –
  2. Now A Limo – so much higher in frequency than, like, anything they’ve ever done
  3. Grinding Process – sludgy
  4. #2 Pencil –
  5. At A Crawl –
  6. Disinvite –
  7. Snake Appeal –
  8. Show Off Your Red Hands – “Never is an ugly word.”
  9. Over From Underground – Once you know what’s going on this becomes a fairly clear marker of when Eight Songs ended and the two extra songs on 10 Songs started. Because the prior track works so well as a closer, and then here you have two instrumentals that are closer in attitude than to anything prior, very slow and sludgy, closer to Bullhead.
  10. Cray Fish -`
  11. Easy As It Was – scratchier than the first one
  12. Now A Limo – definitely tinnier than first.
  13. Grinding Process – I Love this solo. Might also be Love but sound.
  14. At A Crawl – tons of popping and the guitars are quite muddy. Not sure why I like this so much more than the Eight/10 Songs version, though. Probably because that guitar sound here is just so massive (behind the pops).
  15. Disinvite –
  16. Snake Appeal –
  17. Set Me Straight – awesome. Here we start a stretch of three tracks taken from the 1986 Outtakes From First 7 inch vinyl single. I can’t believe they didn’t include this track on any of the other releases because it’s so good.
  18. Show Off Your Red Hands – oy sound. “Never is an ugly word.”
  19. #2 Pencil – oy sound
  20. Grinding Process –
  21. Snake Appeal –
  22. At A Crawl –
  23. Operation Blessing – much faster than anything else here. only :44. Experimenting with a thrashy style, and they pull it off pretty well.
  24. Breakfast On The Sly – back to the sludgie
  25. Ever Since My Accident/Hugh – Hard to say I hate this, because I don’t totally, but since it’s like 15 minutes of recorded dialogue of Hugh I don’t ever really want to listen to it again. I even kinda like that last 45 seconds or whatever of the guys doing the blues jam thing.

3 thoughts on “Melvins: 26 Songs

  1. Pingback: Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin [Deluxe Edition] | fatclown

  2. Pingback: Sonic Youth: Sonic Youth | fatclown

  3. Pingback: Melvins: Gluey Porch Treatments | fatclown

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