Lovers Lane
Copernicus Center

Red Red Meat preview

| March 11, 2009

Red Red Meat
Empty Bottle, Chicago
March 17-18, 2009


Following their own 20th-anniversary, Sub Pop Records celebrate the double-decade reign of Nirvana’s Bleach by re-releasing Bunny Gets Paid from Chicago’s Red Red Meat. Eh?

Perhaps inspired by a Pitchfork rave or maybe it accidentally just let it go out of print, Sub Pop’s double-disc reissue might rewrite history (though celebrating something as non-momentous as a 14th birthday would be so so Meat).

For those who don’t know, Red Red Meat is where we got Califone (who are indirectly responsible for what has happened to Iron & Wine) and Brian Deck, who played drums and cut his production teeth (later for I&W, Modest Mouse, Gomez, Josh Ritter) during the Bunny sessions. And listening to it freshly and all at once makes you wonder — despite its lackluster legend and sales — just how pervasive its influence was. Though just unearthed now, an outtake of “Carpet Of Horses” — the album opener — has all the Arcade Fire ingredients minus Talking Heads. A jagged cover of Low’s “Words” foretells where Low would arrive a decade later.

Of course, the original album is as spellbinding as ever. The official version of “Carpet Of Horses” drags its feet onstage to introduce the play and then slinks off again. “Chain Chain Chain” is a loose-limbed roots anthem with the unfortunate context of grunge saying things that aren’t true about it. “Rosewood, Wax, Voltz + Glitter” stills sounds like it either took four seconds or forever to assemble, its clattering mash of noise and lazy punk rock feeling like bad sex leading to an uncommonly comfortable birth. “Buttered” and “Gauze” form the emotional core — if only Tim Rutili’s lyrics could be deciphered to say what that emotion is. “Idiot Son” lays bare Red Red Meat’s idea of a single (though a different recording was released as such), “Variations On Nadia’s Theme” would be expounded on 1997’s There’s A Star Above The Manger Tonight, and the final four tracks, well, Isaac Brock says it best in the liners: “[The album] sold a lot of weed to me.”

Fuzzy and awkward, Bunny Gets Paid will be 14 forever.

Pillars & Tongues open Tuesday; Richard Edwards & The Nukes play first on Wednesday.

Steve Forstneger

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