Book Review: 33 Revolutions Per Page

Tall tales of Texas and beyond

33 Revolutions Per Page

Too High To Die: Meet the Meat Puppets

by Greg Prato, 396 pp., $24.99

Even the best stories need context or, at the very least, a decent editor. This extensive oral history of a now-local act that Red Hot Chili Peppers' bassist Flea calls "a fucking truly psychedelic, wild, dangerous, beautiful band," lacks both. The potential's certainly here. Brothers Curt and Cris Kirkwood are delightfully candid in their recollections of the desert, drugs, and touring experiences that shaped the band's twisted psych-punk – not to mention the harrowing scars it left on Cris and the duo's triumphant comeback with 2009's Sewn Together. Contributions from Mark Arm of Mudhoney, Black Flag's Chuck Dukowski and Henry Rollins, producer Jack Endino, and Ian MacKaye – among many others – lend credibility and occasional insight, even if printed ad nauseam (see the chapter dedicated to Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil's thoughts on the Meat Puppets eponymous debut). Local fans will appreciate commentary from bandmate Shandon Sahm and members of the Butthole Surfers. (Paul Leary in Phoenix, 1981: "I remember thinking how bizarre it was that they liked Neil Young ... I thought they were kidding at first.") Even then, author Greg Prato fails to put it all together in a manner that captivates the reader – accomplishing less in 396 pages than Michael Azerrad did with the Puppets' contemporaries in chapterlong summations for Our Band Could Be Your Life.

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Meat Puppets, Shandon Sahm, Butthole Surfers, Paul Leary, Soundgarden

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