Sausage for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Dessert
How do the Melvins do it? How do Buzz Osborne and company keep releasing album after album, well into their third decade, while keeping things fresh and interesting? The band answers these questions and more with their latest release, an all-covers album, Everybody Loves Sausages. In these thirteen tracks, the boys show who influenced (and continues to influence) their sound, reveal the company they currently keep (peers and heroes), and demonstrate their ability to interpret existing songs to fit their own sound. The goal of Sausages was not necessarily to record the best collection of tributes, but rather to give fans a peek into the internal psyche of The Melvins.
The artists represented on Sausages are all over the map genre-wise, but most have one thing in common: excess. Death metal godfathers Venom, whose blatant satanic imagery paved the way for bands to follow, are first to be represented with “Warhead,” featuring Scott Kelly of the industrial-metal band Neurosis. The Melvins’ version is at once faithful but could also be mistaken for an original, a characteristic of much of the rest of the album. Queen’s “Best Friend,” with Caleb Benjamin of Tweak Bird, is instantly recognizable but a little more playful than the original. Tom Jones, not one known for subtlety, is represented with the rocked-up “Black Betty,” and Mudhoney’s Mark Arm helms the mic on The Scientists’ “Set It On Fire,” one of the most natural-sounding tracks on Sausages.
Noise-rock pioneer J.G. Thirlwell lends his talents to Bowie’s 1976 psych-classic, “Station to Station.” Jello Biafra provides his signature overwrought trill on Roxy Music’s “In Every Dream Home a Heartache,” a song that begins somber but by the close, everyone gives all they got. Halo of Flies’ Tom Hazelmeyer punks up The Jam’s “Art School” and also shows that all players on Sausages likely had one heck of a time.
That includes the standard Melvins lineup (and sometimes the not-really-a-side-project Melvins Lite) who backed up these guests. But when they reach deep down in their 7″ collection, they do the work themselves, like on the theme to the John Waters movie of the same name, “Female Trouble” and not-quite-a-joke-band The Pop-o-Pies “Timothy Leary Lives.” What Buzz et al want us to know is this: music should be fun — fun to hear, fun to play, fun to see (as evidenced by many of the artists represented) and fun to remember. But also, if you’re going to make it your career, it’s important to find your influences in more places than the Billboard charts..