Inspired by Jez from the excellent A History Of Dubious Taste who, in featuring a song by Violent Femmes, said this about their debut LP

one of my favourite albums ever, all killer no filler, but most people only seem to know “Blister in the Sun”, the opening song from the album. For me, though, “Add It Up” is the best thing on there.

This was an album that I covered in some depth over on the old blog back in January 2008 and again in 2013 just before Google closed me down. As I more or less said on both occasions….It is a true classic which has gone onto to sell millions but yet rarely appears in any long lists of best ever records by critics in magazines.

I’ve a great memory of my first time hearing the record. To my ears at least, American music was really appalling in the early 80s. Maybe I was so accustomed to the punk/post-punk/new wave/indie stuff that I was wrapped up in my student flat that I missed some things. But America was, at time, all stadium anthems from the likes of Broooooce, Van Halen, Fleetwood Mac and the like.

One day, a flatmate came in and demanded we all listen to a new album he had picked up. It was from an American band called Violent Femmes. Not expecting much, the other four of us gathered round the turntable and speakers …wow!!

This was something truly different. Songs of unrequited love, misery and suicide but not like we had heard before. These tunes were upbeat…the lyrics were funny….you could even dance to them!! It was a truly innovative record – it was the first time that I realised a ‘punk’ record could be made with acoustic instruments.

Over the years, this is a record that has made it into the collections of many, and yet the band have never really gotten anything beyond cult status. Seemingly, it reached platinum status in the US ten years after its release – and remains the only record to have sold over 1,000,000 copies without ever breaking into the Billboard Top 200.

This record is now more than 30 years old and it still sounds fantastic today. The full track listing of Violent Femmes:-

01 Blister In The Sun
02 Kiss Off
03 Please Do Not Go
04 Add It Up
05 Confessions
06 Prove My Love
07 Promise
08 To The Kill
09 Gone Daddy Gone
10 Good Feeling

It’s almost the perfect album. There’s not a single duff track on it, and the whole thing ticks over in just 36 minutes. I love it so much that I’ve got a vinyl copy, a CD copy and a remastered CD copy that came with extra tracks.

A groundbreaking effort in all sorts of ways. Who could have realised that angst-ridden and miserable lyrics could be so infectiously enjoyable??

The opening track, Blister In The Sun, is just a fantastic pop song – and is probably the best-known song the band have recorded, thanks to its use in the John Cusack movie Gross Pointe Blank. Jez,  I don’t think that you can beat Add It Up – simply the best song ever written about not being able to have sex. I always thought it would have been great fun if, at the height of their fame, The Smiths had recorded Add It Up as a cover version.

mp3 : Violent Femmes – Blister In The Sun
mp3 : Violent Femmes – Add It Up
mp3 : Violent Femmes – Prove My Love

But all in all, it offers ten superb songs that would make a perfect ICA, except that it exists in reality.

Bonus cover and acoustic versions:-

mp3 : The Wannadies – Blister In The Sun (live)
mp3 : The Schla La Las – Add It Up
mp3 : Violent Femmes – Prove My Love (acoustic live)



  1. A great review of a truly great album. ‘Hallowed Ground’ and ‘The Blind Leading the Naked’ are of a similar high quality. Violent Femmes were an exceptional live band too, I saw them in concert several times on tours for those first three albums.

  2. I think by the time Violent Femmes had released their debut I had moved on from their sound. I just never got into it in the way that the music press and many of my friends had. I can blame some of this on early exposure to The Modern Lovers, Talking Heads, even The dB’s and The Cramps and it wasn’t really new territory for me. The came of as “hipsters” before that would become a thing.
    Listening back to The Violent Femmes, detached from the times and over rotation Blister In The Sun and Gone Daddy Gone got on alternative and college radio, it is a much more pleasing experience. Time to give them a reassessment.

  3. Apart from Blister, this album somehow passed me by. And that only came to my attention thanks to Grosse Pointe Blank. On the strength of this post, have just gone and borrowed this CD from the library.

  4. Aww shucks, thanks for the name check! I got one of those Facebook round robin things the other day, where you had to name “12 albums that had stayed with you” throughout your life. Needless to say, this was right in there. A fine appraisal of a fine album there, JC.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.