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MAY 1, 2000: 

Mudhoney March To Fuzz (Sub Pop)

Forget Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and all those other dyed-in-the-flannel self-provocateurs of grunge, Mudhoney was artistically the undisputed, though often neglected, ruler of the early '90s Seattle rock scene. And March To Fuzz goes to prove it over two splendid, riff-spewing discs of hits, rarities, B-sides, covers and all sorts of musical haberdashery courtesy of these certifiable godfathers of grunge. Disc One gathers together 22 of the most recognizable "hits" from the stockpiled Mudhoney arsenal including fan favorites: "Touch Me I'm Sick," "In 'N' Out Of Grace," "Sweet Young Thing Ain't Sweet No More," "You Got It" and "Here Comes Sickness" being just a few of the too-numerous-to-name highlights. For hardcore disciples who already own all the stupendously underappreciated albums, the companion disc collects 30 wonderfully rare marvels, among them the highly entertaining, rarely available covers "You Stupid Asshole" (Angry Samoans), "Pump It Up" (Elvis Costello) "Fix Me" (Black Flag) and "Revolution" (Spacemen 3). Seldom-heard gems as the distortion-drenched instrumental "Fuzzbuster" and the Captain Beefheart-indebted "Baby O Baby" round out the behind-the-scenes sonic delight. Unfortunately, Mudhoney's unfulfilled potential and creative smugness stalled their career from reaching the commercial height of Messieurs Cobain, Vedder and Cornell. But their fuzzed-out vocals, garage-rock edge and shared affection for second-hand blues progressions (read: Mountain, Blue Cheer, Stooges, etc.) is what set them apart from the commercially more successful grunge-posturing pack from the Pacific Northwest who were adored by millions. March To Fuzz validates Mudhoney as the one grunge group who deserves further scrutiny. -- Ron Bally

The Dirty Three Whatever You Love, You Are (Touch and Go)

The Dirty Three have taken shears to the stolid conventions and tedious precision of symphonic music, and scrapped the stuffy cultural aspects altogether. But unlike Rachels, whose fans would probably like them anyway, The Dirty Three have left the viscera and turned it loose on a life of its own.

The band's music has the feel of just being discovered, of exploring everything that's happened in the last century, and in the last five minutes -- electric guitar here and there, some ambient noise, a rock-loud rave-up. Of the six tracks on Whatever You Love, several can be said to have "movements," but on the first, "Some Summers They Drop Like Flies," these sound suspiciously like verse-chorus-verse. The band occasionally falls in love with a figure and plays it for an entire track, but they turn it over and over, examining its possibilities, in the manner, if not the sound, of jazz.

Like jazz, the music of The Dirty Three offers no answers. It's free association among random events and images that gives you a sense of meaning without making it explicit.

There's no mistaking the pedigree of the music of The Dirty Three. "Lullabye for Christie," for example, lies in the wake of Samuel Barber. Bartok is everywhere. But in this music, it's as if they're playing live at the moment of inspiration, and without the weight of legend. -- Linda Ray

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