The Meat Puppets are a American rock band formed in January 1980, in the Sunnyslope neighborhood of Phoenix, Arizona. The group's original lineup was Curt Kirkwood (guitar/vocals), his brother Cris Kirkwood (bass guitar), and Derrick Bostrom (drums). The trio met while attending Brophy Prep High School in Phoenix. They then moved to Tempe, Arizona (a Phoenix suburb and home to Arizona State University) where the Kirkwood brothers purchased two adjacent homes, one of which had a practice "shed" in the back where they regularly practiced. This same house would years later be the scene of at least two tragedies.
One of the more notable groups on the roster of SST Records (who released most of their albums), the Meat Puppets started as a punk rock band, but like most of their SST peers, the Meat Puppets established their own unique style, blending punk with country and psychedelic rock, and featuring Curt's warbling vocals. The Meat Puppets later gained significant exposure when the Kirkwood brothers served as guest musicians on Nirvana's MTV Unplugged performance in 1993. The band's 1994 album Too High to Die subsequently became their most successful release. The band broke up twice, in 1996 and 2002, but reunited again in 2006.
Meat Puppets is the first LP by the Meat Puppets. The album is unlike any of their later, and more well-known, releases due to its hardcore punk sound. At first listen many of the songs resemble short blasts of noise with random screaming than actual "songs" with melodies. However, an included lyric sheet shows most of the songs do have actual words, which are rendered almost incomprehensible by Curt Kirkwood's singing style. The alternate studio versions reveal that many of these songs are in fact tightly played compositions, albeit noisy anarchic ones, rather than truly random noise. Also, the inclusion of the country covers "Walking Boss" and "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," indicated that the band's musical taste and ability stretched beyond the hardcore genre.
The album was recorded very quickly and hastily in a matter of days, there are very few overdubs and many of the tracks are first takes. Like other early SST albums the sound quality is rather spotty; there is noticeable fuzz in the background of the music. The band opted for this because they felt more comfortable recording live with only a few microphones rather than employing conventional studio separation techniques.
The 1999 Rykodisc reissue features the entire "In a Car" EP as well as 13 other bonus tracks, many of them studio jams or outtakes, and a video clip of the band performing "Walking Boss" live. The booklet also has liner notes by Gregg Turkington and recording notes by drummer Derrick Bostrom. It is often overshadowed by the their classic second album, Meat Puppets II, but many argue that this album is unique in its own right.