Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Oliver: The Monkeywrench - Bottle Up and Go (16 February 1992)

It's always nice to know that there are certain annual events you can set your calendar by.  Comic Relief every two years; Olympics/World Cups every four years; General Elections every five years and most importantly, activity from the Seattle supergroup The Monkeywrench every 8 years.

Pulling together members of Mudhoney, Gas Huffer, The Primevils and, crucially, Poison 13 since it was a meeting between Mudhoney's Mark Arm and Steve Turner with Poison 13's Tim Kerr which got the show on the road.  The admiration which Arm and Turner had for the scuzzed up blues rock of Poison 13, a band who could apply scorchingly exciting treatments to songs by artists as diverse as Willie Dixon, Buffy Saint-Marie, Richard Hell, Reg Presley and Joy Division, led Kerr to mention that he had some songs which had been written for Poison 13, but never recorded, and would they be interested in working on them with him.

Early 1992 saw the release of a 7" single with Bottle Up and Go as the A-side on Sub Pop Records followed by an album, the splendidly named Clean As a Broke-Dick Dog.  My notes as to why I included it were that I liked the slide guitar but in the event it's quite sparingly used.  It fits into a tune which is quite beautifully desparing and which previews another American massacre.  The cliched "woke up this morning" trope is shaken up as our protagonist wakes to consider that the combination of a pointless job and a loveless relationship has seen him reach the stage where drastic action needs to be taken.  "I've been bled dry but you've got blood to lose".  This is a John Doe figure, whose "day to day life would never make the news", but who will change that on this black day.  And then it all explodes on the joyous bridge line, "The going won't get good till I'm good and gone".  Perhaps the suicidally psychotic genuinely think this.  In that rare area where blues rock and shoegaze cross over, then this tune and Wipe It Away by Bleach should find themselves on most pyschos' playlists.  An unpleasant recommendation, but a genuinely heartfelt one nevertheless.

After Clean As a Broke-Dick Dog, The Monkeywrench members went back to their other projects before reconvening for subsequent releases in 20002008 and as Mudhoney's website explains, they will be active again with live dates in late 2016.  Looking ahead to 2024 with bated breath already.

Video courtesy of Canale di Cindelora.

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