Named after the band's favorite distortion pedal, Superfuzz Bigmuff was actually Mudhoney's first EP; the Superfuzz Bigmuff Plus Early Singles package collects that recording, as well as the A- and B-sides of their first two 45s and two covers (of the Dicks and Sonic Youth), all released in 1988-1989. Taken as a whole, this output makes a case for Mudhoney as the first true grunge band; due to the time constraints of the forms in which this material was originally released, it also makes for their best, most consistent album, as the band largely refrains from the sort of aimless, grinding Stooges updates that slow the momentum of most of its records. Instead, Superfuzz Bigmuff has all the best attributes of Mudhoney's Stooges fixation -- whether slow or fast, this music is grimy, raucous, and violently enthusiastic, with a stronger melodic sensibility than Iggy's band possessed. Mudhoney's dominant traits are simple chord progressions and a filthy-sounding, ultradistorted guitar racket, punctuated by Mark Arm's snarling, demonic howls. It isn't the most original approach to rock & roll, but when it all comes into focus -- as on their (and Sub Pop's) debut single, the ultimate grunge anthem "Touch Me I'm Sick" -- Mudhoney's power is absolutely throttling. "Touch Me I'm Sick" would be essential listening for anyone even remotely interested in the genesis of the Seattle scene, but the album is full of menacing, vital rock & roll, plus sharp songwriting that elevates several other songs to classic status. Mudhoney's musical range may be quite limited, but as Superfuzz Bigmuff proves, they can be amazing at what they can do. This is the birth of grunge, and a reminder of exactly why the music was christened with a word meaning "dirt."
Superfuzz Bigmuff Plus Early Singles Review
by Steve Huey