Monday, June 04, 2007

Mudhoney, Melvins, Sonic Youth, Steel Pole Bathtub

As we’ve mentioned here before, we fondly recall the days when each new Sub Pop release spent a few weeks in the singles section at Cellophane Square before the managers “promoted” it to the wall behind the cash register and raised the price ten-fold. We can’t accuse Cellophane of fleecing the customers (well, I suppose we can), because they were dealing with simple supply and demand issues. People wanted these records, and they became scarce almost immediately upon release. Among the most coveted of those early records was the famous Sonic Youth/Mudhoney “Touch Me I’m Sick”/“Halloween” split. At one time—I’m not making this up—I read that it could fetch $400. (Apparently the demand still exists: somebody on eBay has a copy available for a mere $75).

This single (we have the 12”) still makes me feel warm with nostalgia. Mudhoney sneers and drones through the Sonic Youth song, and Kim Gordon completely embodies the sickness of the Mudhoney track: she vomits, not sings, the lyrics. It’s great stuff. Sub Pop released it in 1988, before Mudhoney had even celebrated its first birthday and just after Sonic Youth cemented their reputation with Daydream Nation. It was the second single in Sub Pop’s deeply lamented Singles of the Month Club.

Less than a year later, Matt Lukin’s ex-bandmates, the Melvins, responded in 1989 with a Mudhoney/Sonic Youth split of their own: the Melvins tackle the B-side to “Touch Me I’m Sick” (“Sweet Young Thing Ain’t Sweet No More”), and Bay Area noisemakers Steel Pole Bathtub cover Sonic Youths “I Dreamed, I Dream.” Boner Records parodied the “Touch Me I’m Sick” cover and Sub Pop logo for the Melvins side and Sonic Youth’s Death Valley 69 EP for their side. Interestingly, Steel Pole Bathtub’s drummer, Darren Morey, formerly played in Mr. Epp and the Calculations with Mudhoney’s Mark Arm.

One web site claims that the Melvins recorded this record as a “diss” of Lukin’s new band. Although a Maximum Rock & Roll interview with Mudhoney indicates some tension between the two bands, I have a hard time believing that there was some Suge Knight/2-Pac shit goin’ down here. The Melvins seethe out the song, emphasizing how the song’s sinister undercurrent. Clearly, this is no pisstake.

We like Steel Pole Bathtub’s cover, too.

Mudhoney “Halloween”
Sonic Youth “Touch Me I’m Sick”
Melvins “Sweet Young Thing Ain’t Sweet No More”
Steel Pole Bathtub “I Dreamed I Dream”

The tracks can also be obtained via .zip file here. Also, for your reading pleasure, here's an article from late 80s/early 90s NW music rag Backlash about early Mudhoney.



Fred said...

Could you upload the Malfunkshun cover The Melvins did?

Anonymous said...

You should put up more steel pole bathtub, I cant find their stuff anywere!

Makata-kun said...

I just have to say: Awesome

frank said...

i second the steel pole bathtub request. a crucially underrated band!

Kegan said...

for those faithful readers of the great Lamestain who may reside in the Windy City...

(California & Chicago)

DJs Kegan and Greg Shirilla present:
(aka - a Night of Rock from the Northwest and Sub Pop Rock City)

Sure you'll get to hear some Nirvana, Soundgarden, and yer Mudhoney, but these boys will be DIGGING DEEP. How 'bout some Cat Butt and Blood Circus?! Ever listen to the lonely moans or daddy hate box? you will soon...

El Capitan said...

I remember catching I think Steel Pole Bathtub's first Seattle show at Washington Hall. They kicked off with their fucked up cover of Sabbath's Paranoid. I still listen to their Butterfly Love on vinyl a couple times a year, they were great, if only for a short period of time.

Anonymous said...

Hi! The link seems to be dead...Can you re-upload the songs pleeeeaaase?

Anonymous said...

Steel pole to play MFNW portland Sept 3-6. Yes indeed.

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BlueCatOne said...

Hi, I tried to download the songs but the link doesn't work. Can you share that again?