Fans of the Seattle music scene (let’s not call it “Grunge”, for that truly is a misnomer) have been spoiled in recent months with a veritable feast of re-issues and anniversary editions. ‘Badmotorfinger’ from Soundgarden got a facelift for it’s 25th birthday, as did arguably one of the best rock albums of the last three decades – the self-titled album from Temple Of The Dog. Featuring members of Soundgarden and Mother Love Bone (as well as the then relatively unknown Eddie Vedder), Temple Of The Dog was a heartfelt, passionate tribute to Mother Love Bone vocalist Andrew Wood. One can only imagine what heights Mother Love Bone could have reached had it not been for Wood’s fatal heroin overdose in 1990. From the ashes of Mother Love Bone rose Pearl Jam, but before that, Mother Love Bone managed to release one terrific album and an EP. Now sees the release of “On Earth As It Is”, a box set that brings together both of those releases, along with demos, b-sides, and many other unreleased tracks along with a DVD of the “Love Bone Earth Affair” (previously only available on VHS).
This is literally everything that Mother Love Bone did, from “Thru Fade Away”, the first song on the ‘Shine’ EP, to “Stardog Champion” performed live by Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell, in 2011. It’s all contained in a beautifully packaged slip case, featuring gatefold sleeves to house each of the three discs. The cover itself was painted by bassist Jeff Ament, and is a recreation of the original graffiti found outside the Vogue in Seattle, featured in the movie “Singles”.
The DVD is short, but captures the band with some nice grainy footage, added live clips, and a music video for “Captain Hi Top”. Musically, it’s a treat, with obvious highlights being the amazing “Chloe Dancer/Crown Of Thorns” from the ‘Shine’ EP, and “Bloodshot Ruby”, one of the many rarities in this package. Any fan of grunge or alt. rock owes it to themselves to grab this release and indulge in one of the pivotal, yet thoroughly underrated, bands from Seattle. Obviously inspired by the likes of Led Zeppelin, and a prequel to the mighty Pearl Jam, their sound continues to be heard in the latter’s music. For a moment, Mother Love Bone were destined to be huge. Sadly, we’ll never know for sure.
If you managed to catch Temple Of The Dog on their recent short bout of live shows in America, then you will realize just how crucial Mother Love Bone were to so many fellow musicians.
Review: Colin Plumb