Before it became the birthplace of grunge, the Pacific Northwest city of Seattle was probably best known as the birth place of Jimi Hendrix, and whilst Hendrix had to up sticks and go and seek out the wider world, true to type, the nascent grunge movement with its slacker slouch turned up the max shrugged its shoulders, skinned up and hung around for the world to come and find them.
That the world took any notice or even cared at all, was probably due to the sounds emanating from Sub Pop Records and a clutch of proto-grunge releases by the likes of Green River. Having pretty much knocked together the whole grunge template, when Green River washed up in 1988, guitarists Mark Arm and Steve Turner formed Mudhoney as a vehicle for their continuing and most excellent adventures in sound.
Whereas Nirvana tended toward solemnity and sonic belligerence, the overriding Mudhoney vibe is one of surprisingly good humour. There’s a lot of fun to be had. “Who You Driving Now?” detonates spiky parcels of distortion at such jaunty angles it’s impossible not to warm to it. “Generation Genocide” pokes fun at the dopey jam-band vernacular, whilst “Judgement, Rage, Retribution and Thyme” sticks the finger at self-reflecting obsession with a smattering of slide and marimba that suggests Zappa and Beefheart can’t have been too far away from the turntable that day.
As eclectic as they are electric, they have an unshakable belief in the rightness of the fuzz pedal: “A Thousand Forms Of Mind” giving vent to a Black Sabbath fixation and a more than credible Ozzie impersonation. Disc 2 also has a smattering of cover versions including a previously unreleased wacky take on Roxy Music’s “Editions Of You.” Homage to Elvis Costello can also be found in a very faithful, though uneventful, “Pump It Up,” included here for no other reason than they like playing it and I suppose, that’s reason enough.
Released in 2000, March To Fuzz marshalled a bunch of rarities, b-sides and a career through-view into an indispensable package that actually lives up the 'best of' moniker. --Sid Smith
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