Meat Puppets


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The Meat Puppets have long been a band whose creative eclecticism walks hand in hand with their playfully contrary nature, and they demonstrated this most clearly in 1987. Early that year, the Meat Puppets released Mirage, a polished set of tunes that was easily their slickest and most pop-oriented album to date. However, the group quickly grew tired of trying to make the material work on-stage, so a few months later they rolled into a recording studio on a Thursday morning in August, walking out with a finished album the following Sunday. Huevos is loose and spontaneous where Mirage was precise, and while the earlier album used keyboards and careful studio technique to give the music an accessible sheen, Huevos was a far closer replication of the sound the Meat Puppets created on-stage, leaving Curt Kirkwood plenty of room to strut his stuff on guitar. However, while Huevos is loose, it's not sloppy; this band had been keeping up a busy road schedule long enough that it could play with a comfortable precision, and there's an amiable enthusiasm and confidence in the way the trio tears into these tunes. Huevos recalls the similarly straightforward but energetic tone of Up on the Sun, but where that album was a showcase for their jam-friendly psychedelic influences, Huevos was cut as the Kirkwood brothers were going through a period of serious ZZ Top worship, and these songs were influenced by that band's arena-size Texas boogie and the thick buzz of Billy Gibbons' guitar work. Huevos is a bit short on the sunburnt eccentricities that were the hallmarks of Meat Puppets II and Up on the Sun, but if you want to hear the Meat Puppets rock the nation, this is the album to reach for; "Paradise" and "Automatic Mojo" suggest what Eliminator might have sounded like without the sequencers, "Bad Love" and "Look at the Rain" run fast but with high-stepping style, "I Can't Be Counted On" is a joyous bad-boy's anthem, and "Sexy Music" almost lives up to its silly name. Huevos is something short of an unqualified triumph, but it captures the Meat Puppets in their stride, and it's a lot more fun than the albums that came immediately before it (Mirage) and immediately after (Monsters).

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