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As many Meat Puppets fans had realized by 1987’s Mirage, the trio would change gears and broaden their sound with each successive album. This was never more apparent than on their fourth full-length release. Synthesizers were used to add textures to the tunes, while the drums sounded metronome-perfect, almost as if a drum machine was supplying the patterns. Strangely, although Mirage was the trio’s most experimental album, it also turned out to be one of their most psychedelia-based works. The groovy little ditty “Get on Down” turned out to be one of the band’s first videos aired on MTV, while the title track, the melodic “Leaves,” the country rocker “Confusion Fog,” the unrelenting “Beauty,” and the album-closing punk freak-out “Liquified” are all standouts. Several previously unreleased demos were included on the 1999 Rykodisc reissue, as well as a solo Curt Kirkwood original, “Grand Intro.”

Recorded and released just a few months after the experimental Mirage, 1987’s Huevos was a return to the Meat Puppets’ earlier, more straight-ahead direction. The band (guitarist/singer Curt Kirkwood in particular) had always voiced their admiration of ZZ Top, and Huevos contained Billy Gibbons & Co.’s influence more than any other Puppets release. But don’t be misled — it wasn’t a ripoff, the trio simply incorporated ZZ’s sound into their energetic, unpredictable rock. It also didn’t hurt that Huevos contained the band’s best set of songs since 1985’s classic Up on the Sun, comprised almost entirely of heavy rockers (“Paradise,” “Look at the Rain,” “Crazy,” “Fruit,” “Automatic Mojo,” “Dry Rain,” etc.). Another major improvement of Huevos over Mirage was that Derrick Bostrom’s drums no longer sounded metronome-perfect and robotic, giving the performances a much livelier edge. The bonus tracks included on the ’99 Ryko reissue included several demos of Huevos tunes, including a lengthier and much more laid-back version of “Sexy Music,” as well as a medley of “I Can’t Be Counted On” and Jimmy Reed’s “Baby What You Want Me to Do.”

-Greg Prato,

MIRAGE (1987)
HUEVOS (1987)


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