Review: My Brother the Cow by Mudhoney (1995)

"I'm really feeling that the content of our record is really nicely represented by all of these spaceships and colours. Stellar work."
“I’m definitely feeling that the content of our record is really nicely represented by all of these spaceships and colours.”

My Brother the Cow could be considered an unusual album (not least for the colourful cover art) amongst the other lot from the Seattle scene, seeing as Mudhoney most definitely don’t hate themselves and want to die.

"Hey guys, you mind if I just sit right here? Thanks."
“Hey guys, you mind if I just sit right here? Thanks.”

The album starts off with the sickly slide guitar of Judgement, Rage, Retribution & Thyme. My girlfriend makes me change to the next song every time because it somehow gives her motion sickness or something. I think it’s great, but maybe take your pills beforehand.

Generation Spokesmodel is the first stand-out track, showcasing singer Mark Arm’s horrifically sarcastic, slightly camp delivery (in true Iggy Pop style). The song, along with Into Yer Shtik is an attack on grunge itself and the absolute miserypies associated with it – featuring lines such as “Hey kids, how would I look on the cover of SPIN?”

The dudes bring it down nicely for In My Finest Suit before bringing it the hell up again for F.D.K. (Fearless Doctor Killers). F.D.K. is absolutely my most favourite song on the whole album – besides having a great groove it also features some of the best lyrics on the record, somehow managing to be humorous and accusatory all at once.

Orange Ball-peen Hammer is all about Florida or something and also has slide guitar in the style of the first track, so beware. The album finishes in outdated style with the grungiest song yet, the menacing 1995. Very end-times.

Got to look snazzy for the apocalypse, dudes.

If you’re lucky enough to own the 2003 reissue, next comes six torturous minutes of bonus tracks.

Mudhoney Funky Butt through to Small Animals were featured on a bonus 7″ that came with the original vinyl release of the album. They’re sort of funny for a while but also agonising to listen to and the whole sequence is overlong and I kind of hate it.

Salvation comes in the form of Not Goin’ Down That Road Again, b-side to Generation Spokemodel – if only because it means the album ends on a Real Song. It’s a cool bluesy Captain Beefheart type song. It’s got the slide guitar, it’s got harmonica and it probably should have been on the real album. If nothing else it’s worth suffering through what comes before it.

It says a lot for the quality of My Brother the Cow that it can have no less than six fucking awful songs on it and still be a great record.

My Brother the Cow track list:

  1. Judgement, Rage, Retribution & Thyme
  2. Generation Spokesmodel
  3. What Moves the Heart?
  4. Today, Is a Good Day
  5. Into Yer Shtik
  6. In My Finest Suit
  7. F.D.K. (Fearless Doctor Killers)
  8. Orange Ball-peen Hammer
  9. Crankcase Blues
  10. Execution Style
  11. Dissolve
  12. 1995

Bonus tracks:

  1. Mudhoney Funky Butt
  2. West Seattle Hardcore
  3. Sissy Bar
  4. Carjack ’94
  5. Sailor
  6. Small Animals
  7. Not Goin’ Down That Road Again
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