Did you know that it was Seattle's Sub Pop that put out one of the best JAMC albums? In my opinion, it's true. Munki was released in 1998 and not only is it a glorious 18 tracks long, but it's one of Jim and William Reid's most cohesive, listenable records of their collection. It also happened to be their last, but who can knock all the great pop on that album? Munki begins with the horn-laden "I Love Rock 'n' Roll," with the lyrics: "I had trouble then I found my start/I found myself an electric guitar/when I was some kind of messed up kid/and look what you did/look what you did/You made me yeah/you made me yeah/Now I'm not preaching or making a case/Not trying to make the world a better place/No I ain't evil, but I ain't good/I did what I could to save me yeah, to save me yeah." Now does anyone, players or merely just fans of this column--the Stranger audience as a whole--find a problem with those words saying just how we all feel about rock?
"Birthday," off the same record, features all the things that make for a great JAMC song: fuzz, shakers, lyrics about desolation and love, death and happiness (ever-present, across every one of the band's albums), and a line like "I'm a mean motherfucker now but I once was cool" followed with some of the prettiest-sounding keyboard pop and tinkling thoughts of Christmas. Then there's some trademark Jesus and Mary Chain soul-shaking feedback--that kind that makes you want to grab a wall for support--followed by tons of soothing reverb.
Munki's "Fizzy" could be an Archies song with its female-sounding backing vocals, before the Reids' little sister Linda goes it all alone on "Moe Tucker," a song about a woman who doesn't need a man's power but eventually realizes that as long as she's the backbone of the relationship, things could be all right. Here's a line the ladies can relate to: "You're all fucked up but it don't show/Tell me something I don't know?" "Perfume" is another girl song, full of a pounding pulse and ether provided by Hope Sandoval before the boys come and start worrying about whether things really exist or if they're all just in the head. Munki's single, "Crackin' Up," is like a Duane Eddy song, only it's about a mental case who doesn't give two shits about his crumbling state of mind. (It's the standout rocker of the album, and if you stick around for the Turn-Ons' live version of it on Thursday, I can promise it will be a performance to remember.)
Munki ends with the pre-released "I Hate Rock 'n' Roll" (also on a 1995 compilation), which should provide a sense of solidarity for people who've been in a band and felt compromised by the outside world once they've tasted success. But at its core, despite all the hate, is the same sentiment as the album's similarly titled opener--that even for all the crap that has to be endured, "rock and roll is me."
Anyway, there's my recommendation to go out and buy an album that at least one post-1998 Sub Pop employee never even knew existed in the label's catalog. And I'll vouch for the fact that just because Munki was the band's swan song doesn't mean it had to suck. It was a fine bow for a singular band that I've had the pleasure of loving and living through since day one. Some Candy Talking? You bet your reverb rock- and pop-pleased ass.