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Melvins | Salad of a Thousand Delights | review | dvd | Lollipop

Melvins

Salad of a Thousand Delights (MVD)
by Brian Varney

Like the wonderful Butthole Surfers Blind Eye Sees All DVD that the fine folks at MVD saw fit to release a while back, this is a DVD reissue of a damn-near-impossible-to-find VHS release. This one captures The Melvins in a tiny ass club in Olympia in 1991. Though this recording is of unquestionably poor quality (visually and aurally), it is so mainly out of necessity. I'm sure the band didn't have a large amount of money to record this show, but they work creatively with the little that they do have. There are three cameras to capture the action from various angles, including typically perverse ones such as putting a camera inside Dale Crover's drums so that you are presented with a jittery, distorted shot of his sticks crashing into the screen. However, if this sort of weirdness were not present to some degree, it wouldn't really be the Melvins, now would it?

Another reason I really like this is because it does an incredible job of capturing the atmosphere of a grimy, packed rock club. At least one of the cameramen appears to be shooting from the crowd, which also explains some of the jittery, potentially nauseating camerawork. The shots of the crowd show a rabid, frothing, crushing mass of bodies (including a fella right in front with long blond hair who I swear is Kurt Cobain), so if someone's standing there with a camera trying to film the band onstage, I'm surprised this came out as clearly as it did (which isn't very). These sorts of jelly-legged views are no stranger to anyone who's ever stood in the pit at just such a show, so this only adds to the afore-mentioned atmosphere. Add a scratch-n-sniff card with puke, nicotine, sweat, and beer scents and it'd be just like the real thing.

The parts you can see show the band in typically fine form. My favorite moment comes near the beginning of the show. The band is doing their thing and the crowd is going insane, tearing into one another like they came straight out of Lord of the Flies. A young kid in a leather jacket works his way onto the stage. He stands and bobs his head, looking into the crowd with a "Hey, look at me" grin/smirk and, just as the band reaches a crescendo, gets a forearm in the back from bassist Joe Preston and goes flying back into the maelstrom in front of the stage. Fucking perfect and liable, for all you old-timers who now wisely avoid such clubs, to inspire nostalgia for something that doesn't really deserve it, but that's what makes this worth owning, even if it's something you won't pull off the shelf terribly often.

In addition to the show, the DVD reissue has a couple of bonuses (boni?), the most amusing of which is a 1984 video of the band. The case labels the track "live in the studio," though it's pretty obviously lip-synched. It's amazing to see just how young these guys look, especially Buzzo, who manages to look baby-faced and old at the same time, due mostly to eyebrows lifted straight from the erotic dreams of the Fuller brush man and his "I wanna be Sid Vicious" hairdo and sneer. Dale Crover looks as goofy as ever, his bleached mullet giving him the look of one who has just staggered from the smoke-filled tour bus of Pyromania-era Def Leppard.
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