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“Meat Puppets 101: Dolby Disaster Style”

* And to think people thought “Fountains of Wayne” was a bad band name.

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Like a true egotistical aspiring tastemaker, on Facebook, I make a regular habit of sharing those trusty little Youtube links with songs on them, preferring those without the ads and also official music videos from imvdb.com, NONE of which in fact include ads, which is amazing. I get likes a fair amount of time and I’m the type of person who has a lot of people I don’t get along with so even when I don’t, I sometimes nonetheless get the feeling like I’m reaching people.
On musical paper, the Meat Puppets song “Flaming Heart,” a song from their commercial breakthrough [1] Too High to Die (1994) [2] would be a SHOE IN for likes. It’s trippy without being psychedelic [3], poppy without being static, and a regular whirlwind of Black and Decker, heavy duty lead guitar exchanges. I mean, these guys are absolute guitar MECHANICS by this time in their career.
Of course, there is the album cover to take into account here, as a possible mitigating factor toward consummate enthusiasm for said song. It’s bright fu**in’ pink, for god’s sake, and features this ostensible boy-slash-girl who isn’t exactly Jennifer freakin’ Lopez. Indeed, it’s almost as if it were the primary goal of the band to avoid listenership. [4]
My next theory on why “Flaming Heart” isn’t more popular is less dark, I suppose, but in a way even more depressing in that it bespeaks blank, inexcusable ignorance on the part of the populace. Let me backtrack here and mention the Meat Puppets book biography, Too High to Die: Meet the Meat Puppets by Greg Prato. God, this guy’s even Italian, just like the great Eminem scribe Anthony Bozza — he should know better than to suck up, especially since the Puppets are a bunch of stinkin’ Krauts. But suck up he does, saying something like “I used to not realize how much of a classic Meat Puppets – II was,” or something like that. Um, news flash: if you didn’t like music, you shouldn’t just start liking it non-artistically toward the endeavor of social climbing. Call it the Third Eye Blind – Blue syndrome.
Or, more accurately, call it the Nirvana unplugged syndrome. As you may know, if you’re a historian of punk… er… grunge… er… fu** it we’ll call it “psychedelic lo-fi,” for Nirvana’s unplugged performance they not only covered the Puppets, the way they granted also did with David Bowie, the Vaselines and Leadbelly, but actually BROUGHT THE MEMBERS OUT… the songs they culled, “Plateau, “Oh Me” and “Lake of Fire,” all come from the Meat Puppets second album II. Who does number two work for? Exactly. That album is fu**in’ diarrhea compared the band’s other ones, even Up on the Sun and Out My Way far outstretch in terms of… well, everything, from technical skill, to songs, to inspiration, to, he**, just plain not sounding like a fu**in’ bird farting. To call Meat Puppets – II a classic, even worse than the sucking up factor, is to undermine Kurt Cobain’s curative ability in choosing covers material.
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[1] A success likely the result of a bolstered studio budget, yielding bolstered musical efficacy and completeness, as compared to their earlier work, combined with the newfound LSD influence of grunge they would have by the mid-nineties imbibed.
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[2] Too High to Die is primarily known for the monumentally successful, and deserving of its praise, radio single “Backwater,” a song my Dad even liked so much he almost went crazy trying to figure out who it was… he asked a bunch of radio DJ’s and they didn’t know and then decided it was actually Red Red Meat, an outfit some of whose members would go on to form my favorite band on the planet, Califone.
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[3] This is actually ironic because one of the guys, either Chris or Kurt Kirkwood, went on the record in an interview as saying “If life isn’t psychedelic, I’ll eat my own sh**.”
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[4] And the way famous people seem to get assassinated these days, can you even blame ‘em?

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