Thirteen years after the release of their Atlantic debut "Houdini", THE MELVINS get together with stand-in bassist Trevor Dunn (ex-MR. BUNGLE, FANTÔMAS) in a quiet little warehouse and commit to tape the same album, live in its entirety. Many MELVINS fans cite "Houdini" as the band's best work - with the exception of a few tracks, I find it dull and lifeless. Does "Houdini Live 2005" fall prey to the same? No. Oh hell no. These tracks are hard, heavy and infused with a ravenous energy that just couldn't be found anywhere on the original. Like a fine wine, it seems that THE MELVINS only get better with age.
In typical MELVINS fashion, the band didn't just re-record "Houdini" note-for-note. Nope, they switched around the tracklist, reworked some of the tunes, rewrote some of the lyrics and threw in a CREAM cover. Instead of opening with the pounding drum assault of "Hooch", we are now welcomed in by the stuttering basslines of a completely overhauled and rocking "Pearl Bomb". "Honey Bucket" and "Hag Me" are taken from the middle and stuck near the end, offering a dose of super fast heavy and a dose of super slow heavy. With "Honey Bucket", the band might have played it a bit too fast, as it comes off as sloppy and rushed, but the version of "Hag Me" on here might just be one of the heaviest bits of MELVINS material ever recorded. Simply incredible - the only thing that even comes close to being that heavy is the new and absolutely devastating rendition of the classic "Joan Of Arc". Closing it all off is the 12+ minute mass percussion jam "Spread Eagle Beagle", during which the band is joined by their co-conspirator in noise, Lustmord, who appeared on the "Pigs Of The Roman Empire Album" and recently contributed to TOOL's "10,000 Days".
This was definitely recorded live, but there is absolutely no crowd noise whatsoever, making me wonder if the band recorded in front of an audience at all. But I'm okay with that - I don't typically like live albums and "A Live History Of Gluttony And Lust" has the good production of a proper studio recording while retaining the live energy. In the end, I much prefer this to the original "Houdini" and am glad to be able to hear these songs in a new light. Now here's to hoping that they eventually get around to giving the same treatment to "Bullhead"! (Online August 14, 2006)