The Meat Puppets were, in my opinion, one of the best bands of the 80s. I have sometimes seen them referred to as the originators of "cowpunk," which I think is a pretty silly term, and does not adequately describe their music. Yes, both country and punk music feature prominently in the Meat Puppets' sonic hybrid, but the 'Pups were a band that treated the various dividing lines between musical genres that the rest of us rely on to organize our record collections as if they simply didn't exist. I'm not sure if Duke Ellington would have dug the Meat Puppets or not, but his term "beyond category" certainly applies to their music.
The Meat Puppets have never gotten the respect they deserve. I recently found myself screaming at my television due to a slight against the band. I was channel surfing and stopped at an ABC special report on Satan or Hell or Satanism, or something. It looked pretty stupid. They interviewed Marylin Manson. Anyway, they briefly cut away to Kurt Cobain singing "Lake Of Fire" then in voice-over said something along the lines of, "Tortured soul and important artist Kurt Cobain wondered where bad folks go when they die, then he committed suicide." Despite the fact that my son was within earshot, I couldn't help but utter a string of obscenities: "You stupid %$$**!! Kurt Cobain didn't write that song! He was covering the Meat Puppets! Curt Kirkwood wrote that song!!!" With such sloppy and/or dishonest reporting from our network news organizations, is it any wonder so many Americans believe Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11? I turned off the TV and put on Meat Puppets II.
Like many bands from this period, the Meat Puppets recently reunited for a new album. Well, sort of; brothers Curt and Cris Kirkwood are working together following Cris's release from prison, but drummer Derrick Bostrom is not involved. Bostrom does run the Meat Puppets excellent website, where he has made a compilation of rare Meat Puppets material available for download. The songs were compiled from various singles and promotional releases mostly during the band's tenure at London Records, but also featuring a few cuts from their SST years not represented on the Rykodisc album reissues, along with some material from Curt Kirkwood's brief faux-Meat Puppets tenure on Atlantic.
Bostrom's own blog, Bostworld, is very much worth checking out. As you might expect from someone who spent so much time in such a heterodox musical outfit, Bostrom's taste in music is all over the map. He currently has up all three albums by the Doodletown Pipers. He also has a post on The Klowns, a short-lived Jeff Barry soft-pop/bubblegum project involving musicians in Harlequin makeup. I planned to post on The Klowns at some point as well (and probably still will since it appears the music link in Derrick's post is no longer active). Derrick's writing is witty, intelligent and engaging.
Here are a couple tracks from the Rare Meat compilation, although I suspect you will want to just download the whole thing. "Up On The Sun" is one of my all-time Meat Puppet favorites, this version was a b-side on the "Backwater" CD-single. The acoustic version of "Lake Of Fire" (written by Curt Kirkwood not Kurt Cobain) was taken from a promotional CD.