Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday Old Stuff: The Vaselines

For this band, the buzz and the legend are longer than their recording and performing career and ..... What? You ask how a band that released an album last year qualifies as "old stuff"? I'm getting there, but listen to a song while I continue.

"Son of A Gun"

The Vaselines were formed in 1986 by Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee, Glasgow kids in their early 20s who then were a couple. Originally a duo, they added James Seenan on bass and Eugene's brother Charlie on drums. They recorded two short EPs. In 1989, as their first LP, Dum Dum was readied for release, the band broke up. In total, they last three years and recorded fewer than 20 songs.

"Rory Rides Me Raw", supposedly a song about a bike with a rough saddle:

Why the fame? For one, they were good. Whether you call their brand twee, lo-fi, indie pop, punk, DIY or garage pop (and I've seen all labels employed), they were energetic, lewd, perverted, silly, original, charming, and naive. And while they could be chancy live, given a tendency to drink before performances, they were good songwriters--especially if you like songs about sex, or songs that might be about something else but definitely could be about sex as well. One reviewer calls the Sup Pop compilation of The Vaselines' material, The Way of the Vaselines: A Complete History, "the Holy Grail of indie pop music".

Second, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana loved them and said they were his favorite songwriters. At his request, they reformed to open for Nirvana in Edinburgh in 1990, and the story is that Kurt named his daughter after Frances. Nirvana covered The Vaselines "Son of a Gun" and "Molly's Lips" on record, and "Jesus Doesn't Want Me for A Sunbeam" on MTV Unplugged. Kurt's opinion didn't make them good--they were good on their own--but he helped make them famous beyond Scotland.

"Monsterpussey", supposedly about Frances' cat:

"Molly's Lips", the original pre-Nirvana version:

After The Vaselines disbanded in 1989, Kelly and McKee both recorded with other projects. In 2008 they were invited to play at Sup Pop's birthday party. They toured in Europe and South America, and decided to record a new album. So 20 years after their first album, they are a recording band again.

This promotional video for the 2010 album, Sex With An X shows that Kelly and McKee have a refreshing resistance to "growing up":

The Vaselines - Sex With An X from Sub Pop Records on Vimeo.

Artist Page on Sub Pop Website

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