The Presidents of the United States of America (album)

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The Presidents of the United States of America
Studio album by The Presidents of the United States of America
Released March 1995
Recorded 1994, The Laundry Room and Egg Studio
Genre Alternative rock
Post-grunge
Power pop
Rock
Length 38:02
Label PopLlama
Producer The Presidents of the United States of America, Conrad Uno
The Presidents of the United States of America chronology
Froggystyle
(1994)
The Presidents of the United States of America
(1995)
II
(1996)
Singles from The Presidents of the United States of America
  1. "Kitty"
    Released: 1995
  2. "Lump"
    Released: 1995
  3. "Peaches"
    Released: 1996
  4. "Dune Buggy"
    Released: 1996

The Presidents of the United States of America is the debut album by The Presidents of the United States of America, released in March 1995 via PopLlama Records. Columbia Records signed the band shortly after its release to handle increased distribution for the album.

Released during the grunge and punk music breakthrough-era, the album produced four singles — "Kitty", "Lump", "Peaches" and "Dune Buggy" — that helped the group gain mainstream popularity, and "Lump" can be found on the band's 2000 compilation album with the same title. The Presidents of the United States of America received positive reviews, and has been certified triple Platinum by the RIAA.[1]

Background and recording[edit]

In late 1993, Chris Ballew and Dave Dederer met while attending The Bush School in Seattle. Initially a drummerless duo, they performed a half-dozen or so shows in 1993 as "The Lo-Fis", "The Dynamic Duo", and "Pure Frosting." Ballew eventually came upon the name "The Presidents of the United States of America." Shortly after settling on their name, Ballew and Dederer added drummer Jason Finn. In early December 1993, the band played their first show as a trio at Romper Room in Seattle. At the time, Finn was also the drummer in the band Love Battery, who had recently changed record labels from Sub Pop to Atlas Records, an A&M subsidiary.

In early 1994, The Presidents recorded a 10-song cassette, Froggystyle, at Laundry Room Studios. The band sold the cassette at shows in 1994. Perry also sold the cassette from behind the bar of Seattle's legendary Comet Tavern, where he bartended.

In 1994, the Presidents signed with the tiny Seattle label PopLlama Records and released their self-titled debut in the following year. The band also released a limited edition blue vinyl 7" single, "Fuck California", on C/Z Records. Columbia Records signed the band shortly thereafter and re-released the album in late July 1995. Driven by the singles "Lump", "Peaches", and "Kitty", their debut album proved to be a smash, eventually selling over three million copies.

Composition[edit]

Critics praised the bands catchy, humorous, and self-deprecating songs, which were a major departure from the grunge/post-grunge sound present on the airwaves. The album received Grammy nominations in 1996 and 1997. Though "Peaches" met the most critical success, the band credits "Lump" as their favorite single. The song's strange lyrics came from a dream that Ballew had while fighting pneumonia. The antibiotics he was taking caused an allergic reaction that produced several consecutive nights of wild and crazy dreams. The lyrics for "Peaches" were written about a crush Ballew used to have on a girl. According to him, she had a peach tree in the front of her yard, and when he finally summoned the courage to go talk to her, he stood under the tree and smashed peaches in his fist until he decided not to talk to her.

Packaging and release[edit]

Originally, the album was released in March 1995 on independent Seattle label, PopLlama Records. This version of the album was noticeably different than other subsequent releases. The inside cover featured a picture of the band with Bill Clinton, who was the president of the United States at the time. CD looked like a food inspection stamp. "Feather Pluckn" included a verse which was somewhat of a parody of The Beatles' "I've Got a Feeling". The PopLlama release was also pressed on yellow vinyl with two bonus tracks. After the band signed to Columbia Records, the album was re-released on July 25, 1995. This version's inside cover featured a picture of the band members painted in red, white and blue in multiple pictures. The CD looks like a vinyl record label. All of the songs were re-mixed, and "Feather Pluckn" lost the "I've Got A Feeling" verse. In 2004 PUSA Inc., the band independently re-released the album as a Ten Year Super Bonus Special Anniversary Edition. The re-released featured 13 bonus tracks, including b-sides and demos, and a bonus DVD of music videos and performance footage. In 2008, the album was re-released for a final time by the bands current label, Fugitive Recordings. This version features the food inspection stamp-like design that originally appeared on the 1995 edition. The insert picture features a collage of band performances. In addition, the liner notes have been slightly updated.

Reception[edit]

Commercial performance[edit]

The Presidents of the United States of America peaked at number six on the Billboard 200. As of 1997, the album has shipped over three million copies as has been certified triple platinum.[1]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[2]
Entertainment Weekly D[3]
NME (7/10)[4]
Q 3/5 stars[4]
Robert Christgau (1-star Honorable Mention)[5]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3/5 stars[6]

Critical reception to The Presidents of the United States of America was mostly positive. Despite its positive 4 out of 5 star rating though, the Allmusic review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine was oddly negative, saying: "It's novelty punk. Granted, that approach can occasionally produce a couple of naggingly catchy songs — particularly their breakthrough hit, 'Lump' — but it basically results in a series of smug, self-satisfied songs that are neither funny nor catchy."[2]

Legacy and influence[edit]

  • "Boll Weevil" was featured in the 1995 film Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.
  • "Lump" was featured in the 2009 film Fanboys.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic released a parody version of "Lump" known as "Gump", a joking tribute to Forrest Gump.
  • ApologetiX also recorded a parody of "Lump" entitled "Plump".
  • Canadian ska punk band The Johnstones covered "Lump" on their 2008 EP SEX.
  • Accordionist Duckmandu (Jason Seeman) covered "Lump" on his compilation album Quack Rock: Five Duckades of Accordion Mega-Hits.
  • "Peaches" was parodied in the TV series Bill Nye the Science Guy as "Farm Foods", with lead singer Chris Ballew playing basitar in the parody.
  • In the King of the Hill episode "Next of Shin", somebody asks Hank Hill about peaches. Thinking he is referring to the song, Hank takes out his guitar and sings the song's chorus.
  • British electronica duo Lemon Jelly heavily sampled the opening riffs of "Peaches" played in reverse as well as the lines "Yeah, yeah" and "Millions of peaches/Peaches for me/Millions of peaches/Peaches for free" in their song "The Fruity Track".

Track listing[edit]

All songs by Chris Ballew unless otherwise noted.

  1. "Kitty" – 3:23
  2. "Feather Pluckn" – 2:57
  3. "Lump" – 2:14
  4. "Stranger" – 3:04
  5. "Boll Weevil" – 3:16
  6. "Peaches" – 2:51
  7. "Dune Buggy" – 2:44
  8. "We Are Not Going to Make It" (Ben Reiser) – 1:52
  9. "Kick Out the Jams" (Michael Davis, Wayne Kramer, Fred "Sonic" Smith, Dennis Thompson, Robin Tyner) – 1:25
  10. "Body" – 4:11
  11. "Back Porch" – 2:59
  12. "Candy" – 3:16
  13. "Naked and Famous" – 3:42

Ten Year Super Bonus Special Anniversary Edition bonus tracks[edit]

Tracks 14–19 are from their various singles from the time the album was originally in release. Tracks 20–26 are demos recorded in the cities and years noted; Chris Ballew is the only performer on tracks 20–24.

  1. "Confusion" – 2:44
  2. "Candy Cigarette" – 2:02
  3. "Wake Up" – 2:41
  4. "Carolyn's Booty" – 2:17
  5. "Fuck California" – 3:05
  6. "Puffy Little Shoes" – 3:35
  7. "Kitty (Demo)" (Boston, 1992) – 1:26
  8. "Lump (Demo)" (Ballard, WA, 1994) – 2:39
  9. "Stranger (Demo)" (Seattle, 1992) – 2:50
  10. "Boll Weevil (Demo)" (Boston, 1991) – 2:07
  11. "Candy (Demo)" (Boston, 1989) – 3:51
  12. "Naked and Famous (Boston Demo)" (Boston, 1989, by the band Egg) – 2:37
  13. "Naked and Famous (New York Demo)" (New York, 1987) – 2:08

Super Bonus Thrillpack DVD[edit]

The DVD features some of their music videos, three live performances, and video commentary by the group.

  1. "Lump"
  2. "Lump" Version 2
  3. "Peaches"
  4. "Mach 5"
  5. "Jupiter" (live)
    • With Duff McKagan on bass; performed live at Jupiter Studios, Seattle WA, winter 2000.
  6. "Volcano" (Live)
    • Performed live for the Seattle WA late-night TV show Almost Live, 1997. With then-Washington State Governor Gary Locke on backing vocals
  7. "Lunatic To Love" (Live)
    • Performed live at La Luna, Portland, OR, April 1997
  8. "Tiny Explosions"

French Edition bonus disc[edit]

This CD was bundled with the original French edition. The live songs were recorded for the French radio show Inrockuptible on France Inter on December 1, 1996. It was also released as a single in France.

  1. "Ça Plane Pour Moi" – 1:53
  2. "Feather Pluckin (Live)" – 3:20
  3. "Boll Weevil (Live)" – 3:16
  4. "Dune Buggy (Live)" – 2:44

Personnel[edit]

The Presidents of the United States of America
Additional musicians

Chart history[edit]

Singles[edit]

Year Title Chart positions
US
[9]
US
Air
US
Mod. Rock

[9]
US
Main. Rock

[9]
UK
[10]
CAN
[11]
CAN
Alt

[12]
FRA
[13]
SWE
[14]
NLD
[15]
NZL
[16]
AUS
[17]
1995 "Kitty" 13 30 19
"Lump" 21 1 7 15 21 1 10 8 11
1996 "Peaches" 29 37 8 24 8 15 1 34 28 29 9 13
"Dune Buggy" 15 16

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label Format Catalog
World July 25, 1995 Columbia Records CD -
United States CD CK67291
March 1995 PopLlama Records LP, CD -
2004 PUSA Inc. CD -
2008 Fugitive Records CD -
United Kingdom July 25, 1995 Columbia Records CD COL 481039 2

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Gold & Platinum - Search Results: The Presidents of the United States of America". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2010-10-23. 
  2. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The Presidents of the United States of America - The Presidents of the United States of America". Allmusic. Macrovision Corporation. Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  3. ^ Mirkin, Steven (22 September 1995). "The Presidents of the United States of America Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 25 February 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Presidents of the United States of America CD Album". CD Universe. Retrieved 25 February 2013. 
  5. ^ Christgau, Robert. "The Presidents of the United States of America (Columbia, 1995)". RobertChristgau.com. Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  6. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Christian Hoard (2004). The Rolling Stone Album Guide. New York City, New York: Simon and Schuster. pp. 646–7. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  7. ^ a b "The Presidents of the United States of America - The Presidents of the United States of America". Billboard Albums. Retrieved 2010-10-23. 
  8. ^ "Gold Platinum Database: The Presidents of the United States of America". Canadian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 2011-12-24. 
  9. ^ a b c "The Presidents of the United States of America - The Presidents of the United States of America - Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-10-23. 
  10. ^ UK Charting
  11. ^ "The Presidents of the United States of America Top Singles positions". RPM. Retrieved 2010-06-23. 
  12. ^ "The Presidents of the United States of America Rock/Alternative positions". RPM. Retrieved 2010-06-23. 
  13. ^ French Charting
  14. ^ Swedish Charting
  15. ^ Dutch Charting
  16. ^ New Zealand Charting
  17. ^ Australian Charting

External links[edit]