Exposé Online banner

The Muffins — <185>
(Cuneiform 55013, 1981/1996, CD)

by Steve Robey, Published 1997-02-01

<185> Cover art

This newly re-released version of <185> is an excellent document of the final recordings by this talented Washington, DC quartet. First, a little history: Fred Frith produced the album in 1981, culling compositions and improvisations from the Muffins' live repertoire. Electronic effects and overdubs were added, making this a truly unique and intriguing Muffins album. However, over the years (as drummer Paul Sears recounts in his liner notes) they couldn't help feeling that the album "didn't sound like us." And so the idea came for the CD re-release: in addition to the original album, seven of the ten tracks were "remixed" to more closely resemble the original live tapes from which the original album was made. These seven tracks appear on the CD as "bonus tracks," bringing this hearty CD up to a 75-minute length.

While I can't make a definitive decision on which "version" of the album I like better, suffice it to say that regardless of the mix, this is some of the best music the Muffins ever recorded. The compositions are both wilder and more concise than much of their previous output. The squealing woodwind (with the emphasis on wind) sounds on "Horsebones" are astounding, and the manic riffing at the beginning of "Queenside" is as grungy as Canterbury/RIO-styled music is likely to get. Along with Open City (which contains music from the same period but was released posthumously), this release is a fine example of the Muffins' last days.


Filed under: Reissues, Issue 11, 1996 releases, 1981 recordings

Related artist(s): Fred Frith, The Muffins, Dave Newhouse (Manna / Mirage)

Latest news

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart $amp; Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more

2017-09-06
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more

2017-08-22
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

The Brimstone Solar Radiation Band - Smorgasbord – Apparently this is the third recording by this excellent Norwegian quintet, although they are new to me. Where have I been? Like their countrymen Motorpsycho and The Last James / Haakon Ellingsen,...  (2010) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues