photo & text by nacrowe
as a paean to all things sonically BLOWN-OUT and DISTORTED to high hell, MUDHONEY's iconic debut EP SUPERFUZZ BIGMUFF (SUB POP, 1988) fittingly takes its name from the much celebrated and sought after UNIVOX SUPER FUZZ and ELECTRO-HARMONIX MIG MUFF guitar pedals. prominent users of both range from PETE TOWNSEND (THE WHO), ALEX LIFESON (RUSH), ROBERT FRIPP (KING CRIMSON), ACE FREHLEY (KISS), CARLOS SANTANA, DAN AUERBACH (THE BLACK KEYS) STEVE HOWE (YES) and DAVID GILMOUR (PINK FLORD) to J MASCIS (DINOSAUR JR), KEVIN SHIELDS (MY BLOODY VALENTINE), RIVERS CUOMO (WEEZER), JACK WHITE (THE WHITE STRIPES), BILLY CORGAN (THE SMASHING PUMPKINS), DIMEBAG DARREL (PANTERA) and KURT COBAIN (NIRVANA) among countless others over the years. with its CHAOTIC, barely controlled sonic DISSONANCE, it makes sense that this EP and its lead single "TOUCH ME I'M SICK" basically kicked off in the popular consciousness the SEATTLE ALTERNATIVE ROCK explosion, otherwise known as GRUNGE, that was followed in quick succession by INFLUENTIAL releases the next year by peers in SOUNDGARDEN, TAD and NIRVANA and later ALICE IN CHAINS, MOTHER LOVE BONE and THE MELVINS among others. its not that MUDHONEY was the originator of this regional PACIFIC NORTHWEST sound (as such had percolating in various forms for years in acts like SKIN YARD, MALFUNKSHUN, GREEN RIVER, U-MEN among others), more they were among the first out of the gate to make a cultural impact outside of SEATTLE, it could be argued with SUPERFUZZ BIGMUFF.
listening to SUPERFUZZ BIGMUFF now it is hard to not be taken aback by how CONCISE the songwriting and ENERGETIC the performances are on tracks like "TWENTY FOUR," "CHAIN THAT DOOR" and "NEED." singer and main songwriter MARK ARM may seem a bit wavering and lackadaisical in his vocal delivery, but he is definitely on point when he provides forward momentum and SPARK to the songs with his interesting turns of phrase. it all feels intentional like a NOISY, FEEDBACK-LADEN hybrid of PUNK ROCK and POWER POP. same could probably be said for much of the scene that followed. SUPERFUZZ BIGMUFF is definitely worth check out irrespective of your interest or passion for ALTERNATIVE ROCK or its history. just a great ROCK N ROLL record.