The Upshot: L.A. band’s classic ’93 debut had heart, and it had songs—and is now abetted by bonus tracks for a must-own reissue.
BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Diehard fans of the Muffs might well argue that the band’s self-titled 1993 debut isn’t the classic LP in their catalog. (The band certainly has.) Let’s leave that to the trainspotters, but one thing is for sure: The Muffs is a unique item in the group’s repertoire. This is the only album the group recorded as a quartet, as leader Kim Shattuck and bassist Ronnie Barnett are joined by drummer Criss Crass, holding down the chair for Roy McDonald (who would join with the next album and remains in place), and rhythm guitarist Melanie Vammen (another direct link to Shattuck’s previous band the Pandoras). It’s also the band’s most “produced” record, made with soon-to-be superstar boardsman Rob Cavallo just prior to his work with Green Day, and clearly geared to the nascent alt.rock radio overground.
Radio sheen notwithstanding, though, The Muffs lays out a plan of attack for the rest of the group’s career: short, sharp would-be singles that evenly split responsibilities between punk rock and power pop. Take away the distortion and Shattuck’s Joan Jettesque snarl and “From Your Girl,” “I Need You” and “Everywhere I Go” wouldn’t be out of place in a ‘60s hit parade. On the other chord, remove the troutfishing hooks from “Big Mouth,” “Not Like Me” and “Lucky Guy” and the sneering blast would take over. “Another Day” could be dropped onto a Nuggets compilation and fit in just fine. Catchy tunes and punk attitude still make a tasty meal, and the Muffs mastered it from the get-go.
This edition not only includes the usual remaster, but also adds a slew of bonus tracks. There’s an intriguing “cassette version” of “Everywhere I Go,” while the pile of solo four-track demos includes non-album songs and a raw feel that still highlights her way with a pop hook. Add illuminating song-by-song commentary from Shattuck and you’ve got a reissue package done the way it should be, keeping the music sounding as it should while adding the kind of extras that actually make it worth the repurchase. Plus, as Barnett says in his liner note essay, “It had heart, it had songs, and is the basis for our still ongoing career.” Spin it again 22 years later and all those things still prove true.
DOWNLOAD: “I Need You,” “Another Day,” “Everywhere I Go” (cassette version)