Summing up the Melvins' contribution to rock and roll is a fool's errand at best. While the band introduced the world to a slow-plodding sludge later marketed as grunge, the sound's early pioneers moved from Washington to San Francisco well before the mega-hype hit the fan.
And though former Melvins roadie Kurt Cobain once pined for a role in the outfit and sang its praises after achieving sainthood himself, his friend and mentor, Roger "Buzz" Osborne, along with mainstay drummer Dale Crover (one of Nirvana's many timekeepers), gave marketing execs migraines from day one: The Melvins spoofed Kiss solo albums; they offered cockeyed covers of Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman" and Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" with help from fallen teen idol Leif Garrett; they burned bridges by releasing Prick, an unlistenable monstrosity that made Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music sound tuneful by comparison.
But for all that experimental aggression, the Melvins (whose revolving roster of bassists includes Shirley Temple's punk-rock daughter, Lorax, Osborne's former paramour) endured two decades of being unfairly tagged as Black Sabbath clones. Perhaps Ira Robbins of Trouser Press gave us the best working definition of them: "Oppressive in the best possible sense, the Melvins produce richly sensual, stunningly ugly music that gives the feeling of being crushed by a friendly fat guy tripping his brains out."
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