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You always know what to expect with the Melvins, if that thing is something totally bloody weird and obnoxious and surprising. This time around, just like last time around, they’re doing something a bit different. This time, though, that something is playing other people’s songs with their famous friends. Yep, on this album they’re blasting through songs by everyone from David Bowie, Queen, the Kinks and Roxy Music to The Scientists, Venom, Tales Of Terror and even Throbbing Gristle! Not only that, but they’re helped in these reinterpretations by buddies like Mark Arm, Jello Biafra, Scott Kelly and JG Thirlwell, as well as three of the tracks being done in their ‘Melvins Lite’ form of Buzzo, Dale and Trevor Dunn! Yowzers!
As you’d expect, then, it’s a mixed bag, but overall the quality is much higher than you would expect from other bands attempting this kind of project. With such wilful contrarians as The Melvins, you know they can take an album concept which in any other hands would be dogdirt and turn it into something worthwhile. That’s the case here, with a rip-roaring ‘Black Betty’, a surprisingly faithful ‘Best Friend’ by Queen, a brilliant stoner-riffin’ ‘Station To Station’, the Tom Waits-esque grizzled post-blues of Divine’s ‘Trouble’ and a blisteringly raw grind through Tales Of Terror’s ‘Romance’ from their sole lost-classic LP (could somebody please re-press that?) being some of the ones which grabbed my attention on first listen.
One thing I’m really enjoying about this record is that it’s a chance to see the Melvins doing something which is unusually poppy for them, exuberant and even glammy (check out their Kinks cover that sounds like if Slade made a noise rock single), but their mischievously anarchic side is never far from the surface and they’ve clearly taken great joy in sludging up some of their favourite songs. It’s a silly record bordering on novelty, no question about that, but totally enjoyable too!
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