Meat Puppets

Alive in the Nineties

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For the Meat Puppets, the early '90s was a time of incredible highs and lows. While the band scored several hits in 1994 (the gold-certified album Too High to Die, the single "Backwater," and three early songs covered by Nirvana for their Unplugged in New York release), the Meat Puppets would soon come to a grinding halt due to bassist Cris Kirkwood's drug addiction. Several of this era's live performances comprise the 2003 DVD Alive in the Nineties, which includes fan-shot bootleg footage, pro-shot performances, and interviews (almost identical in setup to Metallica's 1987 release, Cliff 'Em All). While the majority of the shows are from 1994, the earlier ones prove to be the best -- a rip-roaring live set from 1992 in Italy (as evidenced by such great renditions of "Automatic Mojo," "Lake of Fire," and "Six Gallon Pie") and an unplugged performance (supposedly the trio's first ever) at N.Y.C.'s Knitting Factory in 1993, where the viewer gets a preview of an acoustic "Plateau," almost identical to the popular Nirvana version later the same year. Not all of the fan-shot footage is worthwhile (annoying strobe lights aimed directly at the camera from the side of the stage hinder the DVD's opener, "Attacked by Monsters"), but a few intimate, in-store acoustic performances prove to be better (including a goofy non-album track, "Wonderful Song"). Overall, Alive in the Nineties is a worthwhile collection of live latter-day Puppets (with a downside being that no complete live sets are included), which includes a lot of extras -- tops being recollections by Derrick Bostrom, Thurston Moore, and Mike Watt; a late-'80s interview with leader Curt Kirkwood for public-access TV; and a rarely seen video for "We Don't Exist," among other bits. Hopefully one day we'll get a follow-up compilation of '80s-era performances.