March 22, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

These Phoenix indie-rock old-schoolers hit the charts with 1994’s ”Backwater,” but it’s their punkadelic ’80s efforts on SST Records that influenced Kurt Cobain, Eddie Vedder, and a generation of flannel-clad rockers. Part ZZ Top on peyote, part Grateful Dead on steroids, the guitar-driven trio’s eccentric genius emerges on these souped-up rereleases (with bonus tracks and rare videos) of their first seven albums and a never-before-available live disc from 1988.

Beginners should start with the pitch-perfect ”Up on the Sun” or raucous ”Meat Puppets II.” But the sloppy, anarchic ”Live” — complete with goofy onstage banter and Curt Kirkwood’s off-key singing and blazing Les Paul — is strictly for Meat-heads. Studio Records; A- Live: B

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