Mother-est of All Hips

The Soundscape Preservation Society just posted a Mother Hips show from 1995 on etree. I remember this show... it was at Mississippi Nights in STL, exactly 2 weeks before I got married. Our west coast correspondents at the time were raving, so we were already hip to Back to the Grotto.

They opened for up-and-coming Leftover Salmon on a Friday night for their STL debut. Only 15 people or so attended, but Mother Hips played as if we were 1200 strong.

Mother Hips still confound us. They had a habit of shifting directions just as people were catching on. They emerged as a "Band That Jammed" with exceptionally strong songwriting - well documented on Grotto and also on this bit torrent. But just as word got out, they fired their drummer and turned country-ish along the lines of Gram Parsons. Less explosive, but steadier.

So then they were the new golden california wing of the alt.country party. Appreciation in this sector built, and again shifted with an astounding, Kinks-ish album Green Hills of This Earth. It won Rolling Stone Mag Critics' 2001 album of the year. But nobody else noticed and Mother Hips parted ways. (They have since re-formed and we'll report when we catch up.)

So now I'm listening to this Mother Hips show from almost 10 years ago. So fresh at the time. And it sounds fresh today. Turns out they always wrote good smart songs and possessed vintage country soul. And they could always tear it up and rock your socks off (my favorite example is "Pet Foot"). On this recording, they play 9 songs in a 45-minute set. Glad the Naks were running. "Magazine" and "Cant' Sleep at All" totally blaze. The rare "Mountain Time" is a highlight. We also get an early introduction to "Lady Be Cool" - a song that became a centerpiece for years but was never released. Confounded!!