Mudhoney didn't invent grunge, and Sub Pop Records had close to twenty releases under their belt when they unleashed the band's first twelve-inch release, Superfuzz Bigmuff, in 1988. But if this wasn't the first shot fired in the battle to bring The Seattle Sound to the four corners of the world, it was the first one that well and truly hit the target. Superfuzz Bigmuff codified the first wave of grunge the way the Model T codified the first modern automobile; this is where the ingredients came together in a way that clicked with listeners, reworking the rudiments of hard rock and garage punk into a formula that made sense in the world of alternative rock. The band's snarky wit, brazenly sloppy guitar work and songs that combined melodic hooks with Godzilla-sized riffage reinterpreted the visceral kick of metal into a format that celebrated its power while stripping it of its pomposity. And Superfuzz Bigmuff's six songs captured a great rock band as they were just starting to hit their stride; Mark Arm's vocals dripped attitude even when he was making fun of the material, Steve Turner's guitar work generated massive walls of fuzzy power, and drummer Dan Peters
's secret weapon, his crisp but forceful pounding giving the songs a rock-solid foundation no matter how far Turner and Arm drifted into the void of slop. Mudhoney made better and more compelling music than Superfuzz Bigmuff, but as a snapshot of the moment where grunge became a sound that meant something outside of a few dim Seattle beer joints, it's absolutely invaluable and a lot of grimy fun. Now that seemingly every album of any importance is being given the two-disc expanded version treatment, Sub Pop has chosen to celebrate Superfuzz Bigmuff's twentieth birthday with a "Deluxe Edition" that expands the EP's lineup from six to thirty-two songs. Disc one contains the original EP along with eleven single sides, compilation tracks and demo tapes; ultimately, it's a souped-up version of the Superfuzz Bigmuff Plus Early Singles
compilation that appeared in 1992, though the new track sequence makes more sense (the original six tunes appear in their proper order this time) and the remastering boosts the fidelity by an impressive degree. Disc two presents two live shows from the fall of 1988; the first nine tracks were recorded in Germany on October 10, and while a low-fi audience tape of this show has circulated for years, this version came from a multi-track recording of the gig, and the audio is quite impressive while the band rocks furiously and sounds gloriously silly between tracks, frequently bellowing, "Hey, everybody! We're Mudhoney!" and encouraging their fans to drop trou. The remaining six tracks come from a November 16 radio broadcast recorded in Santa Barbara; the fidelity is considerably lower and the performances meander a lot more, but if you dig your grunge slow, sloppy and Stooges
-esque, this is the stuff for you. Like most upscale double-disc reissues, the deluxe version of Superfuzz Bigmuff was created with the loyal fan in mind and not the casual observer, but even for longtime Mudhoney loyalists who own previous releases of this material, the excellent packaging, remastering, and bonus live material makes this a must for anyone who ever hopped on board for the Mudride.