Live in Berlin 1988 (!K7 / Sub Pop)
Reviewed by Austin Powell, Fri., Dec. 21, 2012
MudhoneyLive in Berlin 1988 (!K7/Sub Pop)
Here comes sickness. Three years before Nirvana broke Nevermind in 1991, Mudhoney shipped out to the annual Berlin Independence Days Festival, a bellwether for the burgeoning scene in the Pacific Northwest. While only one midrange camera captured the 40-minute industry showcase, the audio belongs in Seattle's Experience Music Project Museum (a bootleg of the set comes with the 2008 reissue of Superfuzz Bigmuff), and the footage captures history. Singer/guitarist Mark Arm looks like the lost poster child of grunge: stumbling drunk, wearing tattered jeans and a white T-shirt branded with the Sub Pop logo on the back and "loser" in all caps. "Pull down your pants if you like us," he tells the rather confused crowd before the Washington Staters rip through then-unreleased debut EP Superfuzz Bigmuff and a couple of early singles in all their feral delinquency. Brash opener "No One Has," ugly blues lament "Sweet Young Thing Ain't Sweet No More," and detonator "Touch Me I'm Sick" are all highlights, but guitar contortionist Steve Turner and Arm come fully unhinged for closer "In 'n' Out of Grace," throwing themselves around like crash-test dummies, a moment perfectly captured in the recent documentary I'm Now: The Story of Mudhoney. Arm ends up sprawled over the front stage monitor, arching his head back and humping the speaker as his guitar squalls in defiance. It's a belligerent, perfect moment – the shape of punk to come.