Red Red Meat

Being that I'm neither of a superstitious persuasion or a 9 year old boy I do not have a favourite number. If I was to do so however it would be 45. Being a history geek it resonates with 1945. It constitutes one half of the beautiful game. But really it is a happy conjunction of the fact that classic albums were moulded for the 45 minutes of space on vinyl and that 45 is the number of minutes it takes for me to walk home work. 45 minutes of blissful private head space and immersion music.
 
Working as a music reviewer can reap rich rewards and found gems have always rendered the before mentioned 45 minute walk a pleasure. Red Red Meat made it tortuous and tedious in equal measure. Bunny Gets Paid was the third of a trilogy of albums from the Chicago 'post grunge' band, first released in 1995. The omens are good as Sub Pop proclaims it as 'easily one of the high points of the entire Sub Pop catalog'. With stiff competition that is quite some accolade and prompted some excited anticipation.
 
To my mind it seems there's a perfectly adequate reason as to why Bunny Gets Paid failed to sell first time round. Because it's not that good. The necessary ingredients are all present, with fuzzy guitars and outsider ethos, but it fails to inspire. At the time it would have sounded much like everything else and sadly it stills does. There's no sense of kicking oneself and cursing 'damn how did I miss out on this first time round?'. By some accounts Red Red Meat have turned out to be quite influential but I doubt they will acquire Velvet Underground status as a band feted after the event. To be remembered as significant requires more credentials than that the band were present at the grunge banquet with the obligatory slacker attitudes and a penchant for flannel shirts.
 
Apparently what makes Bunny Gets Paid stand out is that the band decided to play around with form to create a more loose sound. They succeeded with this, whilst also jettisoning melody and coherence. It sounds like a sound check from when Beck had a devil haircut; a sound check at which he couldn't be arsed to boot. The mid nineties obsession with rejecting over-production means that there is almost no quality control. Main man Tim Rutili recalls of the record "when I bring in a song it's usually not that good until other people fuck around with it, and there was a lot of fucking around this time". Somebody should have pointed out that broths that are stirred by too many cooks get spoiled. Red Red Meat lyrics are oblique, something to normally be encouraged, but instead of prompting intrigue, reflection and personal interpretation just lead to bemusement and a shrug of the shoulders.
 
Die hard fans will be pleased to know that this release of Bunny Gets Paid is also accompanied by extras- B-sides and out-takes - but passing trade may find it all utterly tedious. I dare say a handful of listeners may love this cult offering but, much as it would pain my 1995 persona to have to hear me say so, I think Sub Pop is wrong. This is not a Sub Pop high point.