By: Cat Johnson
In the mid-90s, the epicenter of the alternative rock scene was the Pacific Northwest. But as bands were pouring into Seattle to try their hand and their luck at the grunge game, across the country in Chicago, Red Red Meat was twisting, turning and morphing their blues-based rock into an entirely new sound with an album that snuck under the radar and through the woods but now stands as one of the underexposed gems of that time.
Sub Pop has lovingly reissued Bunny Gets Paid with a respectful remastering that leaves all the noise, buzz and hum that creates the intimacy of this album in place, while somehow deepening the quiet cavern that invites you in to lose yourself.
There are elements of the album that are unmistakably characteristic of the alt-rock era, with sing-along friendly vocal lines and chord changes emerging through amp hum, feedback, tattered emotions and over-fuzzed guitars. Red Red Meat, however, stands upon that solid foundation of rock but then takes flight into the unknown.
Considered their most experimental album, due in large part to the improvisational manner of the recording sessions, the experiment here is less about pushing the noise barrier and more about creating spaces and layers around the noise. Bunny Gets Paid starts out with a Fahey-esque raga that slows you down and gently lulls you into it's embrace and while "Rosewood, Wax, Voltz + Glitter" is the most "out-there" track, with vocals barely audible through the guitar assault, it is followed by "Buttered," a stripped down acoustic guitar track that bridges '90s angst with poetic songwriting that sees the angst and dives in to explore it's deeper realms.
For the uninitiated, there is a journey to be taken here, with secret paths, hidden coves and melodies that creep into your soul. For those in-the-know, this deluxe reissue has everything you loved about this album the first time around, plus a bonus disc with seven unissued tracks that include a demo, a dub, alternate versions and a cover of "Wishing" by Flock of Seagulls.
I've listened to Bunny Gets Paid at home, at work, at the computer and in the car, but my favorite listening moment yet remains the wee hours of the night, with the volume turned way down, leaning up against the speaker, quietly absorbing this subtle and inspired treasure.
Editor's Note: Bandleader Tim Rutili went on to form the terrific Califone.
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