Meat Puppets: Rise to Your Knees (Anodyne)

CD Review

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More than 25 years ago, guitarist/songwriter Curt Kirkwood embarked on a rare musical journey with Meat Puppets, his Arizona trio, which would encompass both great influence and relative success. Embracing a fiery Punk ethic while incorporating blistering Blues Rock, rootsy Americana and high-desert Psychedelia, Kirkwood and his compadres (brother/bassist Cris Kirkwood, drummer Derrick Bostrom) proved that Punk could be so much more than young, loud and snotty. Meat Puppets generated influence on pioneering indie SST (making a rabid fan of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain) and found success with a major label contract (1994's "Backwater" was a surprise FM hit). But after 1995's No Joke!, Cris Kirkwood's substance issues resulted in jail time, the Puppets unraveled and Curt took the solo path. He revived the Meat Puppets name for 2000's Golden Lies, perhaps sensing that his brother's reclamation was imminent, and, although it took seven more years, the Kirkwoods are once again united under the Meat Puppets banner with Rise to Your Knees, their first work together in 15 years. Although the Kirkwoods are an eternity away from the Punk passion that ignited their early work, the Puppets have integrated all of their various sonic elements into a cohesive and compelling singularity, resulting in an album that smolders with a not-so-quiet intensity, from the brooding squall of "Fly Like the Wind" to the Elvis Costello Pop bounce of "Enemy Love Song" to the Psych/Folk campfire feel of "Island." Rise to Your Knees is a personal triumph for Cris Kirkwood, another career notch for Curt Kirkwood and proof that the Meat Puppets' influential place in music history is well justified. (Brian Baker) Grade: A

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