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), Paul Sears

Latest news

2020-11-20
25 Views of Worthing Finally Gets Released – A while ago, we wrote about the discovery of a "long lost" Canterbury-style gem by a band called 25 Views of Worthing. And now we're pleased to find out that Wind Waker Records has released their music on an LP. » Read more

2020-10-14
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more

2020-10-06
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more

2020-09-09
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

2020-09-05
Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Atoll - Musiciens-Magiciens, L’Araignée-Mal, Tertio & Rock Puzzle – I always thought of Atoll as being the number two French symphonic rock band in the 70s, after Ange. Like Ange, they applied the ideals and techniques of progressive rock to French culture and came up...  (2005) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues