Tuesday, April 30, 2013

ALBUM REVIEW: The Melvins' Everybody Loves Sausages

The Melvins have a new album out today on Ipecac Records! It's called Everybody Loves Sausage, and it is an album of covers. The songs are all from the late 70's and early 80's, clearly a personal nod to their influence.

Everybody Loves Sausage sees The Melvins in various stages of undress: with guest vocalists, sometimes with Big Business, sometimes with Trevor Dunn, and even a track with former bassist Kevin Rutmanis. It kicks off with Venom's Warhead, and who better to sing it than Scott Kelly from Neurosis? No one.

After that comes a surprisingly major key tune: Queen's You're My Best Friend, which the updated production makes come off as one of Ween's more pleasantly polished songs.

Black Betty features the Melvins' lineup with members of Big Business. It is an old work song, though the Melvins seem to be paying tribute to Ram Jam's rendition. I must admit I previously only knew the Leadbelly version, though the Ram Jam one is great too.

Set It On Fire, Attitude, and Station to Station are fairly close to the original, though given an inevitable dose of extra heaviness from the Melvins update. That heaviness, somewhat lacking in the Kinks original, makes Attitude one of my favorites on the album.

Female Trouble features a deep groove by Trevor Dunn on the upright bass. Translated from the 70's funk of the original, the song gives Buzzo's growl a cool Tom Waits-esque context to wallow in.

Their cover of the Fugs' Carpe Diem captures something of the spirit of the song that seemed drowned in the relatively low-fi production of the original. Vaguely recalling the Beach Boys (but with more aggro interjections), this version recalls a hypothetical Mike Patton production.

For In Every Dreamhome a Heartache, they bring in Jello Biafra, drawing attention to how much his vocal vibrato is reminiscent of Brian Ferry's. While Ferry's version is an introverted, early evening aperitif, the cynical hysteria of Jello's voice lends it more of a 4am mushrooms kind of feel. It is also worth noting that for Roxy Music standards of living are "rising daily," while for Biafra they're falling…

Timothy Leary Lives brings back Trevor Dunn, who plays bass and sings the lead vocals. His bowed upright bass give the song a surprisng texture. Is it bad that the vocalise solo became a guitar solo? I can't decide

Tales of Terror's Romance also features Buzz on vocals. Along with Black Betty, it's chord progression sound the most like an Melvins song.

Tom Hazelmyer (of Amphetamine Reptile Records) sings The Jam's Art School. His voice is gutteral and intimidating, giving the song a new degree of believable menace.

The final track, Heathen Earth, seems at first like an album filler, but once you realize it's a Throbbing Gristle tune, it is all OK.

As a cover album of 70's/80's rock, I was reminded at times of Slayer's Undisputed Attitude. As an album featuring lots of guest musicians, I was reminded of Jay-Z's The Dynasty or The Melvins' own Crybaby. Of course, any album of covers depends on the song selection and the interpretation, and the Melvins found a solid lineup of collaborators to shine in both areas.

No comments: