Step back in time with me, my friends, for just a moment. It was 1989 when I first heard this album. I had my shitty little $500 1980 Pontiac Sunbird that I was driving my friends around, up to no good, when my friend Maya plopped a tape that someone had taped this album over. I have no idea what was on the original tape, and about one minute in, I really didn’t care. From the first few notes of “Blister In The Sun”, I was a changed boy. Up until this point, I was all about my prog and my REM (see last post), but with Gordon’s angst fill whine, Brian’s dominating bass, and Victor’s whacky bushel bucket over the single drum. The melodies were simple, continuously asking me to singalong, the lyrics were perfect, the harmonies, the muted guitar, but damn, it was that fucking bass, loud, proud, and owning every song that turned a love at first listen to a genuine teenage obsession.
As soon as I had the scratch, I owned this record. Then Hallowed Ground (an even better record, by the way), then all the records, then all my friends had Violent Femmes mixtapes, then Why Do Birds Sing came out, suddenly all my friends had new & updated Violent Femmes mixtapes, all recorded on tape, from vinyl, of course… When CDs came out and prices finally become reasonable, I owned all the albums again! And of course, with the invention and proliferation of mp3’s, well it only made since to get have a CD of the Violent Femmes discography on mp3, right? right?? And now, I’ve come full circle, haven’t I? Here I am, ripping vinyl for you and me to enjoy and I walk into our local record shop and there sits that photograph, that image tattooed forever in my mind of that girl pushing up against the building… Wow.
Look, there is so much that has already been said, online, in magazines, in concert reviews, amongst friends, etc, etc, etc, about this album… It is the teenage angst album, it’s a masterpiece in it’s simpicity, beauty, and ability to stay on message and capture, not a generation, but a mindset of the teenage boy of any generation… The horniness, the awkwardness, the craving, the anger, the frustration, and the cronic masturbation.
Don’t even get me started on the Horns Of Dilemma and Hallowed Ground. We’ll have to do that rip another day…
If there is one thing that makes me sad when listening to the femmes, is how it looks like their days of making new music are over. They’ve resigned themselves to being a traveling retro-band and it’s disappointing. Their later albums (New Times & Freak Magnet) had some great & challenging music that, though weren’t meant for the average frat-boy who only wants to hear “Blister In The Sun” and drink a shit load of beer, were wonderful and at least gave them a creative outlet. You gotta wonder, what does Gordon think about while he plays “Blister” for the one billionth time while a bunch of kids try to start a mosh pit to it? How different is it from the assembly line worker how turns the same bolt on every widget?
I’m not going say much more, I’ve already taken up so much of your time, I can jibber-jabber about the femmes for days (just ask Tsuru Bride) and you’ve got some grabbing to do… Look, you know this album, I know this album, we all know this album! But now it’s time to fall in love with this album all over again. And, believe me, you will as: