Leave it to a band like THE MELVINS to release a damn coffee table book. For a while, back when I actually had a coffee table, I did use this for its intended purpose, namely adorning my table and giving my guests something to flip through while they wait for me to entertain them. The looks on their faces were more than worth the price of the book - shock, disgust, even anguish. See, this isn't your everyday, run-of-the-mill coffee table book. This is the art of THE MELVINS and art inspired by THE MELVINS. Needless to say, this is something to be afraid of.
"Neither Here Nor There" collects of 200 pages of artwork, collages, flip-out poster and other things. Some of the pages unfold to reveal more, some of them are cut in half. The thing is, all of them are overflowing with THE MELVINS trademarked disturbing artwork. See, this band has a sense of humor at odds with the temperament of most people in this world and "Neither Here Nor There" captures that sense of humor perfectly. Sure, you'll find pictures of the band, but you'll also find warped advertisements from 50's, deranged childrens' toys and some work that brings to mind artists such as Giger or Maplethorpe. Really folks, don't flip through this with children around, as at times it can get pretty graphic. Mackie Osbourne, wife of MELVINS mastermind Buzz Osbourne, spent countless hours on this little ditty, meticulously putting it together and is also responsible for a large bulk of the artwork. Also contributing is Adam Jones of TOOL and a bunch of random people I've never heard of.
Littered amongst the strange art are a bunch of short essays, some having to do with THE MELVINS and some completely unrelated. They're all got that bitterly sardonic tone that the band is so apt at conveying, so even when they have as much in common with THE MELVINS as my left toe has with the national economy, they still fit.
In the back, sealed in with a band-aid, is a bonus CD of MELVINS material that covers all of their albums except for "The Crybaby." Now, anyone buying this book is probably already a MELVINS fan and if you're a fan of the band you're going to own everything they've ever released, thought about releasing, thought about thought about releasing, or sneezed on. That said, there isn't a whole lot of interesting stuff on the CD, except for the very rare version of "Night Goat," taken off of the pre-"Houdini" single and featuring Joe Preston on bass. We also get a few tracks from the "Mangled Demos," which are not nearly as excited now that Ipecac has re-released them (or rather, given them their first proper, non-bootleg release) and a few tracks off of the "Let's Get Together" comp from 1984. For MELVINS completists (which is to say, MELVINS fans), these tracks alone make "Neither Here Nor There" a worthwhile purchase.
This book will leave you scratching your head. Every time you open, you'll find something new that you've seen before. Maybe you'll notice that a page folds out, or that there's something hidden between the lines of an article. Or maybe you'll just sit there and stare at some of the very disturbing robots, like I did. No matter what is this case, you WILL enjoy "Neither Here Nor There." (Online February 10, 2006)