Deep Album Cuts Vol. 65: Violent Femmes

The self-titled debut album by the Violent Femmes is one of those perfect weird records that's been passed down over generations and retains its unique appeal. It was nearly a decade old when it was finally certified platinum in 1991. I started listening to alt-rock around then, and although the band had a couple new singles that got played on the radio in the '90s the regular rotation of songs from that first album on WHFS that got me into them more ("Add It Up," "Gone Daddy Gone," "Kiss Off," and of course "Blister In The Sun" each got plenty of burn, although not all of them were ever really released as singles). I remember finding Violent Femmes in the cheap casseette bin in The Sound Garden as a middle schooler, and my best friend Cody was as excited to listen to it as I was. And the six songs that I didn't hear on HFS were all great too, so I've always meant to dive into the band's less heralded records and hear their other deep cuts.

Violent Femmes Deep Album Cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. Please Do Not Go
2. Good Feelings
3. Prove My Love
4. Confessions
5. Promise
6. Country Death Song
7. I Know It's True But I'm Sorry To Say
8...8...I forget what 8 was for...Hallowed Ground
9. Sweet Misery Blues
10. Black Girls
11. Old Mother Reagan
12. Love & Me Make Three
13. Special
14. Candlelight Song
15. Two People
16. Dating Days
17. Nothing Worth Living For
18. Telephone Book
19. Out The Window
20. Look Like That
21. More Money Tonight
22. This Island Life
23. When Everybody's Happy

Tracks 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 from Violent Femmes (1983)
Tracks 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 from Hallowed Ground (1984)
Tracks 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 from The Blind Leading The Naked (1986)
Tracks 16, 17 and 18 from 3 (1989)
Tracks 19, 20 and 21 from Why Do Birds Sing? (1991)
Tracks 22 and 23 from New Times (1994)

"Country Death Song" and "Please Do Not Go" among other tracks probably got enough college radio airplay to not seem like deep cuts to some, but as usual I went with my gut about what counts and what doesn't. I cut things off after their 6th album, which contained their last radio hit, "Breakin' Up," although they've recorded three more albums since then, including We Can Do Anything, released earlier this year.

Violent Femmes have an interesting niche in the alt-rock canon. They released their debut the same year as R.E.M. and graduated to major labels around the same time, reaping the rewards of the general commercial ascendance of college rock, but obviously never got quite that big. Gordon Gano's odd nervous voice and neurotic on-record persona made him an unlikely rock star in that lineage of other weirdos like Lou Reed, Jonathan Richman, or David Byrne. And while the most famous Violent Femmes songs are catchy, simple punk songs bashed out on acoustic strings and brushed drums, bassist Brian Ritchie's avant garde leanings lead the band into some pretty varied sounds (and collaborators like John Zorn, who appears on "Black Girls"). Ritchie also took a rare lead vocal on the deep cut "Love & Me Make Three."

On-again-off-again founding drummer Victor DeLorenzo has been out of the band, seemingly for good this time, since 2013, and at one point Ritchie sued Gano over letting "Blister In The Sun" be used in a Wendy's commercial. So even though I tend not to clutch pearls about "selling out," there's something kind of depressing about this intriguing, weird band whose cult classic went platinum eventually becoming this embarrassing old band that tours with Barenaked Ladies (maybe because they're both dude bands with feminine names?). But they've got some songs that really feel like they'll last forever, including the deep cuts.

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
Vol. 20: Mariah Carey
Vol. 21: The Pretenders
Vol. 22: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Vol. 23: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Vol. 24: Foo Fighters
Vol. 25: Counting Crows
Vol. 26: T.I.
Vol. 27: Jackson Browne
Vol. 28: Usher
Vol. 29: Mary J. Blige
Vol. 30: The Black Crowes
Vol. 31: Ne-Yo
Vol. 32: Blink-182
Vol. 33: One Direction
Vol. 34: Kelly Clarkson
Vol. 35: The B-52's
Vol. 36: Ludacris
Vol. 37: They Might Be Giants
Vol. 38: T-Pain
Vol. 39: Snoop Dogg
Vol. 40: Ciara
Vol. 41: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Vol. 42: Dwight Yoakam
Vol. 43: Demi Lovato
Vol. 44: Prince
Vol. 45: Duran Duran
Vol. 46: Rihanna
Vol. 47: Janet Jackson
Vol. 48: Sara Bareilles
Vol. 49: Motley Crue
Vol. 50: The Who
Vol. 51: Coldplay
Vol. 52: Alicia Keys
Vol. 53: Stone Temple Pilots
Vol. 54: David Bowie
Vol. 55: The Eagles
Vol. 56: The Beatles
Vol. 57: Beyonce
Vol. 58: Beanie Sigel
Vol. 59: A Tribe Called Quest
Vol. 60: Cheap Trick
Vol. 61: Guns N' Roses
Vol. 62: The Posies
Vol. 63: The Time
Vol. 64: Gucci Mane
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