Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes (1983)
Another slightly updated/edited cut’n’ paste job from a previous occasion when the album was covered on the blog.
I’ve a very clear memory of my first time hearing this record. To my ears, at least, American bands were really appalling in the early 80s. OK, I was obsessed with the UK punk/post-punk/new wave/indie stuff, not forgetting a growing love of what would become lovingly referred to as synth-pop and I was biased. But America felt, at the time, to be the home of the stadium anthem from the likes of Broooooce, Van Halen, Fleetwood Mac and the like.
One day, a good friend of the three of us who shared a student flat came in and demanded we all listen to a new album he had picked up on the back of hearing it played in a Glasgow record shop. This friend tended to have good taste and we were intrigued, but we sort of groaned when he told us it was by an American band called Violent Femmes. Not expecting much, we gathered round the turntable and speakers ……….where it proved to be ‘wow’ from the get-go.
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 – looking back, there was a bit of an awakening with the realisation that a ‘punk’ record could be made with acoustic instruments.
Over the years, Violent Femmes has made it into the collections of many, and yet the band have never really gone much beyond cult status. It is a true classic which has eventually proven to sell to a large audience – it was certified with platinum status in the US ten years after its release and remains the only record to sell 1,000,000 copies without ever breaking into the Billboard Top 200. But you would need to look far and wide to find it on ‘best of’ lists so smugly typed out by know-all critics for publication in magazines.
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. The brevity is perhaps why it’s not perfect. 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 would have known that angst-ridden and miserable lyrics could be so infectiously enjoyable??
mp3: Violent Femmes – Add It Up
I bet many of you thought I’d had offered up Blister In The Sun………
Here’s the thing. I no longer have a copy of this album on vinyl. Something that only became clear when I logged everything during the COVID-period downtime. I still have two other 80s-era Violent Femmes LPs on vinyl, but I’ve no idea where the debut has ended up.
The going rate on Discogs and elsewhere is £50 and upwards. No, thank you, but I enjoyed browsing.
This is definitely one that I’ll wait and hope gets the reissued treatment at some point.