Former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, on Meat Puppets II, the second album by Phoenix rock band Meat Puppets. It is considered one of the most influential albums of the ’80s even though it did not chart.
“I first heard that album at [The Melvins‘] Buzz Osborne’s house when I was discovering American hardcore punk rock music. It reminded me of Neil Young‘s Zuma but it was punk rock, it had that spirit. And it was on SST Records, the same label that Black Flag was on, so it was punk rock in its attitude and the community it was rooted in. It reflected the diversity of independent music at the time — there was no musical orthodoxy. It had a lot of personality and they’re well crafted songs. It was way off but in some ways it was incredibly on — so on that it was transcendental, pulling you into its world of magic cactuses, but some sort of twisted magic cactus.
Out of all the other records that came out that year, [Zen Arcade, Let It Be, Double Nickels on the Dime, My War], that one meant the most to me — the lyrical imagery, the music, that record captured my imagination — there was just something about it. Meat Puppets II showed that there were no barriers, no musical orthodoxy. You didn’t have to be this militant punk rocker listening to cookie-cutter punk rock music. You didn’t have to fall in line — why would you want to be a non-conformist and then fall into a conformist group? That’s what punk rock is about — being yourself. I mean, nirvana means freedom.–As told to Michael Azerrad
An edited version of this article first appeared in the Nov. 1 issue of Billboard.