Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Muffs: “The Muffs” (1993/2015) CD Review

When I was in college, The Muffs were huge. Huge. Then I was a radio DJ from 1994 to 1997, and their music got a lot of airplay. We all enjoyed spinning their discs for people. My main gig was a folk and acoustic radio show, but I would sometimes take random shifts to play stuff like The Muffs. So it's a total fucking joy to revisit the band’s self-titled debut album, which is being re-issued by Omnivore Recordings, with plenty of bonus tracks, including several that were previously unreleased. Does music have the power to keep you young? I don’t know, but if any album can do it, it’s this one. Just put on a track like “Not Like Me” and move around to that wonderful beat, and you’ll be back to your early twenties. (By the way, the bonus tracks include the demo version of “Not Like Me.”) This album has great raw energy, and fun, kick-ass tunes. Turn it up and enjoy. This disc also includes new liner notes by Ronnie Barnett and Kim Shattuck, and lots of photos.

The album kicks off with “Lucky Guy,” which I remember getting a lot of airplay in 1993, 1994. It’s a fun track, with a steady beat and some lyrics that are shouted. In the liner notes, Kim Shattuck talks about how it was written about Ronnie. The bonus tracks include the radio remix version.

“Lucky Guy” is followed by “Saying Goodbye,” which was always one of my personal favorites (and still is). It’s a great break-up song, with a lot of energy. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “No matter what you say/No matter what you do/I'll always have a low opinion of you/I've finally done it/And it's too late for you to try and make up with me.” The bonus tracks include the demo version, which is titled “Saying Goodbye To Phil.” It’s a slower rendition, with some added lyrics at the end delivered as spoken word (which Kim Shattuck explains in the liner notes). The demo version was previously unreleased.

“Everywhere I Go” is another favorite of mine. It’s the best kind of pop tune, with the attitude and energy of punk. It’s about a stalker. Here is a bit of the lyrics: “You understand I'm not afraid/Of your complete devotion now/But if it ever gets out of hand/I'll bring you down/Everywhere I go you're there/Everywhere I go you're there/Everywhere I go you're there/Can't you see you're driving me insane?” I also really like these lines: “It's not that I've done wrong/I never think I'm wrong/But when you're watching me/I feel so guilty.” The bonus tracks include the cassette version. Yes, you heard a different version if you bought the cassette. Kim Shattuck talks about this in the liner notes. I really like both versions.

“Better Than Me” is one of those great angry rock tunes that you turn up and shout along to, thinking about that not-so-special someone, whoever it is that’s pissing you off. “Why don’t you stay away/Why don’t you stay away/Why don’t you stay away/Why don’t you stay away.” And then I dig the mid-1960s rock vibes in “From Your Girl.”

I love “Big Mouth.” It reminds me a bit of early Joan Jett material. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “I believed you and I thought I knew you/And I told you things that I would never tell anybody else/And now it's common knowledge to everyone/And now I can't face anyone.” And at under two minutes, this tune is short and sweet. “Another Day” is another favorite of mine. There is something undeniably catchy about this one. Partly it’s that guitar riff, maybe because it reminds me of certain mid-1960s rock numbers. Well, whatever it is, it’s a very cool song.

“All For Nothing” is the last track of the original album, and the only one from it that actually worked for my folk and acoustic radio program. It’s actually a pretty song. “Am I wise to run away/Are you the kind to always say/Give it a chance/I don't want to think it was all for nothing.” The bonus tracks include the demo version, which has quite a different sound. I enjoy both versions.

Bonus Tracks

This CD includes ten bonus tracks, eight of which were previously unreleased. Besides the ones I’ve already mentioned, there are demo recordings of “Do You Want Her,” “I Don’t Expect It,” “My Face,” “Something On My Mind” and “Ethyl My Love.” “Something On My Mind” is my favorite, a wonderful song with a classic rock and roll vibe. “I can't stop what's in my head/I can't stop what's in my head/I can't stop what's in my head right now/Can't you see what I mean/But I know you don't think of me/Can't you see/I've got something on my mind.” “Ethyl My Love” ended up on the next album from The Muffs, 1995’s Blonder And Blonder.

Actually, there is an eleventh bonus track, an untitled, unlisted track, which is a phone message to Kim from Dave: “Hey, Kim, it's Dave, calling you back. I guess you're not home. It's 1:20 in the morning, it's Wednesday morning. And I don't hate you...” It's followed by a second message: “Pick the phone up, Kim.” This track is pointless, but whatever.

CD Track List
  1. Lucky Guy
  2. Saying Goodbye
  3. Everywhere I Go
  4. Better Than Me
  5. From Your Girl
  6. Not Like Me
  7. Baby Go Round
  8. North Pole
  9. Big Mouth
  10. Every Single Thing
  11. Don’t Waste Another Day
  12. Stupid Jerk
  13. Another Day
  14. Eye To Eye
  15. I Need You
  16. All For Nothing
  17. Lucky Guy (radio remix)
  18. Everywhere I go (cassette version)
  19. All For Nothing (demo)
  20. Do You Want Her (demo)
  21. I Don’t Expect It (demo)
  22. My Face (demo)
  23. Something On My Mind (demo)
  24. Ethyl My Love (demo)
  25. Not Like Me (demo)
  26. Saying Goodbye To Phil (demo)
This special re-issue of The Muffs is scheduled to be released on August 14, 2015 through Omnivore Recordings. 

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