Spin - "The lower-end emphasis suits the burnt-out grooves they've developed over the years just fine....The best bits are when the band's own drummer Dale Crover picks up the bass for a third of the album's 12 tracks..."
Personnel: King Buzzo (vocals, guitar); Dale Crover (drums); Kristy Joy (background vocals).
Recording information: Sound Of Sirens Studio.
Like the great American filmmaker William Castle, the Melvins have learned that a gimmick is a big help in getting folks to pay attention to what you're doing. The grunge pioneers have a long, rich tradition of creatively rearranging their membership, and for a band obsessed with a thick and heavy low end, they've taken the logical step and made an album with a rotating lineup of bass players. Basses Loaded feature six different bassists scattered among its 12 tracks, including Steven McDonald (of Redd Kross and OFF!), Jeff Pinkus (from the Butthole Surfers and Honky), Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle and Fantômas), Jared Warren (from Big Business), and Krist Novoselic (formerly of Sweet 75, Eyes Adrift, and some band from Aberdeen). The Melvins' longtime drummer Dale Crover even gets into the act, handling the four-strings on four numbers. The Melvins' twin trademarks of thundering heaviness and snarky wit are audible throughout the album. Steven McDonald, the guy with the best-documented pop sensibility of this project, is the one who brings in a Beatles cover, though "I Want to Tell You" ends up referencing "Helter Skelter" once they're done with it. (McDonald also shows off his love for Black Sabbath on "War Pussy.") Trevor Dunn's busy upright bass lines lend a coda of jazz and prog rock to "Planet Distructo"'s metallic assault. And Crover seems to be the go-to guy when the Melvins just want to be silly on covers of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and "Shaving Cream" (beware, unlike on Benny Bell's famous recording, these men have no truck with shaving cream), though Novoselic's appearance on "Maybe I Am Amused" is goofy in a truly ambitious manner. Buzz Osborne's trademark guitar style, clever but bludgeoning, gives Basses Loaded its greatest stylistic unity, and Dale Crover's drumming is outstanding throughout. ~ Mark Deming