Meat Puppet - Up On The Sun 12"
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On their second album, the Meat Puppets staggered away from the attempts at punk formalism that hobbled their debut, and with their third LP, 1985's Up on the Sun, they well and truly came out of the musical closet -- not only weren't they punks, they could easily pass for hippies and didn't feel the least bit self-conscious about it. The country influences that played such a big part on Meat Puppets II had faded a bit on Up on the Sun, as a sunburned psychedelia took center stage and the band allowed themselves to get good and trippy. However, Up on the Sun revealed the Puppets had learned one very valuable lesson from punk, and that was to get to the point. The album has an air of carefree drift, but it doesn't meander, and the performances are remarkably tight, full of energy and purpose even when the songs are redolent of goofing off. The title cut churns as Curt Kirkwood's precise but languid guitar figures dance with his brother Cris' insistent basslines and the percussive color of Derrick Bostrom's drumming. "Maiden's Milk" is playful as the abstract jangle of the opening section gives way to a tie-dyed jig, complete with whistling. The swirly phase-shifting and circular melody on "Swimming Ground" sounds as comfortable as a cool dip on a hot day. And the speedy attack of "Buckethead" and "Enchanted Forest" testifies to how strikingly well this band had learned to work as a unit. Up on the Sun isn't as revelatory as Meat Puppets II, and it lacks a song as memorable as "Lake of Fire," but the band rarely sounded as joyous or played with the same fire and accuracy as they demonstrated here, and it's arguably their most purely pleasurable work.