Touch and Go Records
"Well I'm goin' down to Florida,
And I'm gonna' bowl me a perfect game.
I'm gonna' cut my leg off down in Florida,
And I'm gonna' dance one-legged in the rain."
Instead of boring y'all with yet another mindless 'Best of the Eighties in my Useless yet Printed Opinion List', I've chosen to forge ahead into what few are already calling the 'Knock-and-the door-shall-be opened-unto-you Nineties' with the Butthole Surfers.
The Butthole Surfers are an amoral group of drug-using freaks who play loud obnoxious music with no redeeming social value whatsoever.
"Gee Curt, so what?" many of you are saying at this point. "Isn't that a fairly general description of all that so called 'music' to which you bend your ear?" Ah ha. I get it. I suppose you think you are some kind of humorist, is that it? Do you actually believe that this one puny insult to my critical pompitude now suddenly elevates you to the level of the wise old owl or the cunning badger? Bastard! But enough. I shall deal with you later, my friend.
The Butthole Surfers hail from somewhere outside of Austin, Texas. In the eight years that they've been together, the Surfers have recorded nine superb albums with such titles as Rembrandt Pussyhorse, Locust Abortion Technician, Hairway to Steven, Cream Corn From the Sockets of Davis, and my personal favorite, Psychic, Powerless, Another Man's Sack. In addition to their extensive recording exploits, the Surfers tour constantly with a live stage show which few have compared to chopped ham, few to chopped steak. On tour, the Surfers usually play with two drummers -- much like the Grateful Dead or 38 Special, yet somehow different. The lead singer of the Butthole Surfers is a Certified Public Accountant named Gibby Hanes who makes extensive and liberal use of a megaphonic bull-horn, both on stage and elsewhere. Mrs. Hanes thinks her son's band is named after a bunch of mean surfer guys. We know otherwise.
These facts alone should prove conclusively to any well- informed Tom, Dick, or Dick Jr. who has his/her respective hand on the heartbeat of our fast paced and ever shifting cultural lifestyle (as seen on T.V.) that the Butthole Surfers will be the Beatles of the Nineties. I myself know this is true because I recently saw a copy of the Surfers new album (the one I'm supposedly reviewing as we speak) in the University Book Store right here in Sewanee, Tennessee! Some right wing PMRC-type had hidden it behind the Handel where he/she/it could be sure that no one would ever find it. But fear not, gentle reader, I returned the CD to its proper place somewhere between the B-52s and the Byrds. Whew, that was a close one.
You don't care, you say. You're tired of my inane, irrelevant ramblings, you say. "Curt, you loser from Hell, just tell us about the way the album sounds," you say. Before I go any further, I must first reprimand you for your superfluous use of profanity in the previous sentence. How dare you speak to me like that? Has the English language become so depleted in these trying times that one must use phrases like 'from Hell' to emphasize one's point? One should hope not. But enough. Later, my friend. Much, much later.
The Butthole Surfers play your basic brand of Dadaist-psychedelic-
laughing gas-induced-immature-sick-off-planet-Nordic-smock rock with a twist -- much like Debbie Gibson, yet somehow different. Like Dadaist art, the Surfers' music is difficult to appreciate until you know something about the theory behind it, and even then you'll probably still think it sucks. This is that 'weird' music you've heard so much about. No, not punk rock, that other junk. Yeah, that's it.
But the Butthole Surfers are much more than just goofy names, wacky stage antics, disgusting hygiene fetishes, and a small group of attractive young people. The Butthole Surfers are a massive musical force with which to be reckoned. Throughout their career, with songs like "Bar-B-Q Pope", "Hey", "Negro Observer", "Creep in the Cellar", and "Kuntz", the Surfers' have demonstrated an impressive ability to write, dare I say it, hauntingly beautiful experimental pop music. It's songs like these that make it impossible to dismiss the Butthole Surfers as 'just another noise band'.
Most Surfers music sounds like a cross between the loose, acidic meandering of The Thirteenth Floor Elevators and the power-pop, Gothic-metal crunch of Black Sabbath. The Elevators were the dominant Austin band from 1965-68, and I can't help wondering what effect they might have had on the Surfer's sound. On the other hand, the Surfers have publicly acknowledged their musical debt to the sound of early Black Sabbath. The Surfers even rip off two Sabbath songs ("Sweet Leaf" and "Children of the Grave").
Both Sabbath and Elevator influences are evident on the Butthole Surfers newest E.P. Widowermaker, a fine example of classic Buttholism. Its first song, "Helicopter", begins with some corn-ball, falsetto, angelic 'ooh'-ing and ends seven minutes later with the line "crush me doctor". What occurs in the interim is an ultra-fuzz/feedback-fueled, country ditty reminiscent of "Julio Iglesius in Outer Space", but much, much grunge-ier. Noise? Perhaps, but I, who have sinned, shall not be the one to cast such stones.
The second song, simply entitled "Bong Song", does veritably rock. Complete with a cheezy organ, and a tokin' n' coughin' track, "Bong Song" sounds like a backwards rendition of "Sea Ferring" and is my favorite 'piece' off of this, the Surfers' most recent 'effort'. The third song on Widowermaker shows a major REM influence and is a fine example of understated pop craftsmanship cum minimal fuzz-guitar mastery. The fourth and final movement of this Butthole Opus is a funk-metal-beat-box-on-speed 'work' elegantly entitled "Booze, Tobacco, Dope, Pussy, Cars". Here endeth the reading.
Well, by now it should be evident that the Butthole Surfers aren't just for children anymore. They're zany, they're dreamy, and, although they're not viable babysitting candidates, who is these days, in these trying, turbulent times which few historians have already come to call 'The No-one-left-who-is-sufficiently-qualified-to-baby-sit-our-children Nineties'. Just rock, will ya'.