Melvins – ‘Night Goat’

Night Goat appears on the Melvins’ first major label album in 1993. That album, Houdini, is a blinding release, featuring other Melvins classics like Hooch and Honey Bucket, but the 1992 Amphetamine Reptile version of Night Goat is the definitive one, and that’s today’s Record of the Day.

The album version is slightly lower key and more laid back, with a similar vibe to Mudhoney’s When Tomorrow Hits. The 7” iteration is an altogether more threatening proposition.

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This Record of the Day selection has had a bit of an unusual gestation period. Brace yourself; NoiseCrumbs is about to lift the curtain. See, a big part of the job of writing a weekly bit about your favourite tunes, when a high percentage of your favourite tunes are loud little ditties with dirty guitar sounds, is coming up with synonyms for the word ‘heavy’ to describe those sounds. ‘Crunching’, ‘thunderous’, ‘thumping’, ‘punishing’, ‘bludgeoning’, ‘uncompromising’ – we’re gonna need a bigger thesaurus.

So, anyway, early this week I read the word ‘monstrous’ somewhere. This got me thinking, “That’s a good word to describe a nice, weighty guitar riff”. So for the next couple of days, I’m kicking contenders for this crown around my mind and consider several records that would very nicely fit the billing of ‘monstrous’. Then I remember the Melvins; then Night Goat. And it’s settled.

The Night Goat 7” was recorded with Earth bassist Joe Preston during his brief stint as a Melvin, and he sure did make a lasting impression.

The opening bass riff is a colossal, distorted, downtuned, denizen. It’s a huge, brooding, terrifying, prehistoric beast of a thing, lying there, snarling deeply and eyeing you contemptuously. It’s so intimidating it has to be left on its own for a minute and half before the other components of the song will go anywhere near it. It’s not often you see legends like Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover displaying this kind of caution. But this creature demands deference. Even when the drums, guitar and vocals do get involved, they give it plenty of room and are careful not to challenge it – they back it up, they don’t step on its talons. Truly, this is a monstrous riff.

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Nick Perry

Nick writes fact, fiction and opinion in various places including
his music blog noisecrumbs.com. His musical tastes cover indie, grunge, golden-era hip hop, punk, funk, psychedelia and a big portion of distortion. You can and should follow him on Twitter @NoiseCrumbs.

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