Hairway to Steven

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Hairway to Steven
Butthole Surfers Hairway Front.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedApril 11, 1988 (US)
1988 (UK) (Australia)
RecordedJanuary 1988
Dallas, Texas
LabelTouch and Go (original release)
Latino Buggerveil (1999 reissue)
Blast First
Au Go Go
ProducerButthole Surfers
Butthole Surfers chronology
Locust Abortion Technician
Hairway to Steven
Double Live
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic4.5/5 stars[1]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[2]

Hairway to Steven is the fourth full-length studio album by American experimental rock band Butthole Surfers, released in April 1988. All songs were written by Butthole Surfers, co-produced by Butthole Surfers and Ric Wallace, and mixed by Wallace. The album was recorded at January Sound Studio in Dallas.

The album was originally released on Touch and Go, and was reissued on Latino Buggerveil in 1999.

Hairway to Steven's title is a play on Led Zeppelin's popular song "Stairway to Heaven". Some of its tracks also make allusions to other famous musicians, such as Julio Iglesias.


The last full-length Butthole Surfers album of the 1980s marked a midway point in the band's career, straddling their psychedelic-noise roots and the more accessible recordings that would follow. Like Butthole Surfers' previous releases, Hairway to Steven uses nontraditional instrumentation, extensive tape editing, and sound modulation. Unlike its predecessors, which relied almost exclusively on a foundation of electric guitar, bass, and dual drummers, it makes equally heavy use of the acoustic guitar.

This was drummer Teresa Nervosa's final studio recording with Butthole Surfers.

Live performances of all of the album's songs, with the exception of "Julio Iglesias", were included on 1989's Double Live. "Rocky" and "Fast" continue to be regular features of their concerts.

Song titles[edit]

This album used no actual song titles when originally released; each song was represented by an absurdist, often scatological cartoon printed on the vinyl record's label and in the CD's packaging. In the years since, fans have extrapolated the songs' actual names by cross-referencing this album with official and bootleg recordings of the Surfers' live performances, particularly 1989's Double Live. Many online music services use these widely accepted titles (see "Track listing").


Hairway to Steven was recorded at one studio in a relatively short period of time. According to bassist Jeff Pinkus, the band had been performing most of these songs for years before recording them for this album. Many of the band's previous releases had been piecemeal affairs, recorded over several months in numerous studios, and their songs underwent far more in-studio development.

Butthole Surfers opted to follow this album's blueprint on future recordings, entering the studio with more fully formed songs than they had in the past. Pinkus has expressed the opinion that these better-organized recording sessions stifled much of the spontaneous creativity that had propelled the group's previous albums.[3]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and co-produced by Butthole Surfers. The following titles were extrapolated by matching the songs to those found on 1989's Double Live, with the exception of "Julio Iglesias," which is inferred from the song's oft-repeated mention of the singer's name.

Side 1[edit]

1."Jimi/Cartoon Song"12:38
3."I Saw an X-Ray of a Girl Passing Gas"4:56

Side 2[edit]

4."John E. Smoke"6:40
6."Julio Iglesias"3:05



Chart (1988) Peak
UK Indie Chart[4] 6


  1. ^ Raggett, Ned. "allmusic ((( Hairway to Steven > Review )))". Allmusic. Retrieved March 17, 2010.
  2. ^ Brackett, Nathan. "Butthole Surfers". The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. November 2004. pg. 123, cited March 17, 2010
  3. ^ Ken Lieck, "Reissuing the Butthole Surfers," The Austin Chronicle Newspaper Vol. 18 Issue 52 Archived 2007-11-10 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Lazell, Barry (1997). Indie Hits 1980-1989. Cherry Red Books. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2014.