Much has been said about the Melvins' formative years -- they inspired Kurt Cobain to start a band, they single-handedly invented grunge by slowing down punk rock to a snail's crawl (etc., etc.). But as evidenced by the majority of the songs that comprise Mangled Demos from 1983, there was very little metal in their sound at this time, as they started as a noisy punk band. Granted, they were one heck of a noisy punk band, as evidenced by such speed-of-light thrashers as "If You Get Bored," "I'm Dry," and "The Real You." But the biggest standout here is a great take of their early classic, "Set Me Straight," which obviously served as a blueprint for Nirvana's Bleach. Also included is a funny beginning bit, where the original Melvins' lineup was asked to play an Elks Lodge Christmas Broadcast, complete with observations from announcers that sound straight out of a Wide World of Sports broadcast from the '70s. Also, you get some extensive, yet uncredited, liner notes from Buzz Osborne (who has a bit of venom to vent regarding a certain member of Metal Church), as he explains what the suburbs of Olympia, Washington were like before the great grunge gold rush of the early '90s. With surprisingly good sound throughout (especially for a collection of "old mangled demos"), this is a must-have for Melvins addicts.
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AllMusic Review by Greg Prato