Category: Butthole Surfers

Butthole Surfers: Hurdy Gurdy Man Remixes

R-2173279-1332602930

Rough Trade 1991.  RTT240R

Discogs

This 12″ came free with the first few (UK) copies of the Piouhgd album.  It comes with no information at all, nor can I find anything on the net about it, so all I can tell you is that it contains three remixes of Hurdy Gurdy Man, originally on the album and also a single.  I have no idea what the remixes are called or who did them.  I suspect that it was intended as a separate release, but only a handful of test pressings were made which were given away when the project was abandoned.

The song is a Donovan composition from 1968, and the Butties are surprisingly faithful to the original, especially the extreme vibrato Donovan used.  Donovan used John-Paul Jones (of Led Zep) for the noisy guitars on his version – there are more noisy guitars here.  The result I think is excellent and it suits their style very well.  These remixes mostly obsess over detail – picking a small element of the original which they emphasise and repeat it to make something which is both instantly recognisable as a remix, but also totally new.  The idea of a Butthole Surfers remix 12″ is bizarre, but the quality of these mixes means they pull it off I think.

Piouhgd has been re-issued and you should buy it.  It’s not their best work, but it’s a fine album and includes the Widdowermaker EP, but not these tracks.

Various Artists: The Devil’s Jukebox

R-679122-1205112695

Blast First! 1989. BFDJ 1 – 10

Discogs

Ripping this boxed set of 10 7″ singles was a job for a rainy day, and since it rained yesterday, it got done at last.  It’s a compilation from the heyday of Paul Smith’s consistently excellent Blast First! label, containing mostly exclusive tracks from bands which are too important to ignore.  Detailed info is hard to come by, but there’s only one track here (by Sun Ra) which I know is definately available elsewhere.  To add to the confusion, this also came out on CD, cassette and LP as Nothing Short Of Total War with a different tracklisting on each format.

Sonic Youth are at their chaotic best, mixing the fairly conventional rock sound they perfected on Daydream Nation with the more experimental material they were better known for back then.  They also appear as their bizarre Ciccone Youth alter ego.  For me though, Steve Albini’s contributions; 2 tracks as Big Black and another as, well, I can’t bring myself to type it, are the highlight here.  There’s an electrifying version of Kerosene, a truly depressing track about small town nihilism and a surprisingly laid back take on He’s A Whore.  Dutch Courage by the unmentionable band is a shockingly badly recorded live version, but oddly, all the better for it.  Big Stick contribute a version of their classic Drag Racing, which frankly is the only thing they did really worth hearing. UT, the all women New York noise monsters are here with a re-recording of Evangelist, the stand-out from their In Gut’s House album which I’ll post another time.  Dinosaur Jr. are reliable as always, and there’s a suitably unhinged live version of a track from Locust Abortion Technician by the Butthole Surfers, slightly ruined by being way too long to fit on a 7″.

Blast First! was known as a noise label, and so this boxed set is predictably noisy.  There was more to Paul Smith than that though, and like Alan McGee over at Creation, he used the label as a platform for his own musical interests.  That side of him appears on disc 9, which has a rare 60s recording from Sun Ra paired with a Glenn Branca piece from his orchestra of electric guitars project.

As you might imagine, the box is a bit inconsistent in places, but overall the quality of the music is remarkably high.  The essential tracks more than make up for the filler; this was a compilation the label made a real effort with, and it shows.

Butthole Surfers: Widowermaker!

Folder

A vinyl rip at last!  This is an old one done before I had my current system, but it still sounds pretty good.

This EP came out in 1992, round about the same time as Piouhgd, when the band’s uncompromising weirdness, especially during their live shows had started to diminish.   They were panned for it of course, and it’s certainly true that compared to their landmark Locust Abortion Technician from 1987, this EP was a bit of a disappointment.

20 years down the line though it stands up pretty well.  It’s not as groundbreaking as their earlier work, but it’s a pretty good slab of psychedelic punk worth of 15 minutes of anyone’s life.

This is ripped from the UK vinyl issue on the achingly cool (back then) Blast First! label, which for reasons unknown is a 10″, unlike the US 12″ issue.  It also came out as a CD.

Further listening?  Well for me Locust Abortion Technician and Hairway To Steven catch the band at their peak.  Both are startlingly inventive and defy categorisation, but are also listenable unlike the chaos of their earlier stuff.  Get them from those delightful tax evaders at Amazon if you really must, but preferably at a proper record shop.  There are also loads of free (low quality) MP3s on their web site.