My Body, the Hand Grenade
|My Body, the Hand Grenade|
|Compilation album by Hole|
|Released||October 28, 1997 (Europe)
December 10, 1997 (US)
|Recorded||March 17, 1990 - August 25, 1995|
|Genre||Alternative rock, grunge, noise rock|
My Body, the Hand Grenade is the first and only compilation album by American alternative rock band Hole. It was released on October 28, 1997 through the band's European label, City Slang Records, and was imported for sale in the United States where it was released on December 10, 1997. The album was compiled with the intent of charting the band's progression from their noise rock beginnings to their more melodic work that appeared on their second album, Live Through This (1994).
It features tracks from the band's first recording session in the spring of 1990, as well as b-sides, demos, singles, and rare live songs from between 1991 and 1995. As a result, the tracks feature various bassists and drummers from past lineups; frontwoman Courtney Love is also featured on bass in one of the tracks. Production and mixing of the album was done chiefly by the band's lead guitarist, Eric Erlandson, with Love designing the album art.
Background and songwriting credits
My Body, the Hand Grenade is the only compilation album to be released by Hole. A significant highlight of the album is that the band's first studio session and first two singles are featured in their entirety (with the exception of "Johnnie's in the Bathroom" from the first), as well as the inclusion of a demo version of "Miss World" (recorded with Courtney Love's husband Kurt Cobain) and parts of Hole's performance at MTV Unplugged.
The live tracks, "Drown Soda" and "Asking for It", were recorded at London's Brixton Academy and the Reading Festival on May 5, 1995 and August 25, 1995, respectively. Tracks from the band's MTV Unplugged session were recorded live at New York City's Brooklyn Academy of Music on February 14, 1995.
Most of the songwriting credits go to Hole, although the official BMI website denotes that most of the songs were written by just Courtney Love and Eric Erlandson, except "Retard Girl", written solely by Love; "Old Age", co-written by Kurt Cobain with additional arrangements by Love, "Beautiful Son" and "20 Years In The Dakota", written by Love, Erlandson and Patty Schemel; and "Drown Soda", the only case on the album of a song credited to a full Hole line-up, which at the time of writing was, Love, Erlandson, Jill Emery and Caroline Rue.
Cobain, though uncredited on the album, plays bass on "Miss World." Courtney Love, who was typically a guitarist, also played bass on "20 Years In The Dakota". "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)" and "Season of the Witch" are cover songs, written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, and Donovan Leitch, respectively.
The liner notes also explain that the compilation was put together to document Hole's progression from the punkier Pretty on the Inside (released in 1991) to the more basic alternative-based Live Through This (released in 1994). The album was dedicated to former Hole bassist Kristen Pfaff and Kurt Cobain.
Since it is a compilation album, the composition of the songs spans across a period of six years. The opening tracks on the album, which are from the band's first recording session, exhibit the band's earliest style, noted for its abrasive guitar work (heavily influenced by noise rock and no wave music) and literate, aggressive lyrics, many of which mix derogatory language with cryptic and religious themes.
In particular, "Retard Girl" is a narrative of a girl being abused and made fun of on a playground, which is likely metaphorical. "Turpentine", as well as "Retard Girl", feature historical and religious references as well; "Turpentine" features lyrics alluding to Christianity ("I know all you devils by your Christian names / And I know all you bitches by your Christian names", "Bless my body and bless my soul / Wrap it in turpentine"), while a line from "Retard Girl", which reads: "As shines the moon among the lesser fires", is directly pulled from a book of Latin poems by Roman poet Horace.
"Burn Black" and "Dicknail" also feature aggressive language and themes alluding to rape, incest, and female competition. "Beautiful Son", written and recorded in 1992, features a more mellow guitar riff than the previous tracks on the album, and its lyrics make references to Kurt Cobain. Love said the song-writing process was an attempt to "be a little dumber" and that she "was always trying to write a very complex song without ever having learned to write an easy Beatles song." "It just had a riff," Love said. "It wasn't super smart but it sounded good and that's when I started learning things don't have to have lots and lots of notes. That the best songs are carried by simple lines and simple melodies." This illustrates the band's turning point from their noise rock beginnings to more mellow, accessible sounds.
The latter half of the album features demos and live recordings of songs, including a demo for "Miss World" and live versions of "Softer, Softest" (recorded on MTV Unplugged) and "Asking For It", all three of which were featured on the band's second album, Live Through This (1994). The track "Old Age", whose intro was featured on the band's cover of "Credit In The Straight World" from Live Through This, was controversial due to it having been originally written by Kurt Cobain. Love stated in an interview that "Old Age" was "partly someone else's composition. It's something somebody had a little bit of and I said 'let me have the rest of it' and I wrote this thing in it and tried to make it goth. I found it, wrote it, and recorded it the same night." It was later revealed that a version of the song was recorded by Nirvana during the Nevermind recording sessions, but Cobain threw the song out and gave it to Love, who rearranged musical pieces and rewrote the lyrics.
My Body, The Hand Grenade also featured two cover songs, "Season of the Witch" by Donovan, and "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)", which was written by Carole King and recorded by The Crystals in the 1960s. Love referred to it as a "feminist anthem" after performing it during MTV Unplugged in 1995.
The album was released in Europe through City Slang on compact disc, and received a standard vinyl LP pressing in Germany in conjunction with EFA distribution, as well as a limited edition pressing, featuring a gatefold cover and a promotional poster. The album was not released officially in the United States, although it was imported for sales in American retail stores and released December 10, 1997.
Artwork and packaging
Most of the artwork featured on the album - as well as in the liner notes - was noted and debated by fans upon its release. In an interview with Melody Maker in 1997, Courtney Love revealed the significance of the choice of artwork included in the album.
Interviewer: "The artwork shows a dress you wore in the early nineties as a sort of museum piece. Is it really in a museum?"Courtney Love: "We actually show Anne Boleyn too. She was Henry VIII's wife who had her head chopped off. When I was little, I used to see these pictures of her with this necklace that had a B on it. I always had a fascination with ancient history, Roman especially, and early English, and I kept imaging her getting her head chopped off, for my whole life. Then, I told my friend Joe, who did the art. He always had an obsession with Marie Antoinette too. She was also decapitated. We also thought about Jayne Mansfield, just the idea of a woman having her mouth and eyes and ears taken away from her. And, hand grenades, the top comes off. You just pull out the pin and it explodes. So, if you take away someone's mouth and their eyes and their senses and their brain, they explode. I saw a grenade in my head, I saw taking out the clip, and then I thought of a human body and what happens if you take out the clip."
Courtney Love: "The dress is still very current. People still design off that silly dress. The truth is I used to wear those dresses more than slips, but those dresses never got as famous as slips and I wanted them to have their due."
Interviewer: "The artwork also has a car wreck and a picture of Marie Antoinette. Why did you choose them?"
In 2010, Hole also reused the images of Marie Antoinette and Anne Boleyn from the My Body, the Hand Grenade artwork on their fourth studio album, Nobody's Daughter. However, both of the images were modified to depict both Antoinette and Boleyn as headless, which Love defines as "symbolic." The vinyl LP release of My Body, The Hand Grenade, also featured the headless portrait of Anne Boleyn on the back cover, the same as depicted on the back cover of Nobody's Daughter. The centerpiece of the vinyl LP on My Body, The Hand Grenade featured a full-bodied portrait of Marie Antoinette, as opposed to the headless version seen on the cover of Nobody's Daughter.
|1.||"Turpentine"||Courtney Love, Eric Erlandson||4:00|
|2.||"Phonebill Song"||Love, Erlandson||1:48|
|4.||"Burn Black"||Love, Erlandson||4:56|
|6.||"Beautiful Son"||Love, Erlandson, Patty Schemel||2:30|
|7.||"20 Years in the Dakota"||Love, Erlandson, Schemel||2:54|
|8.||"Miss World" (demo version)||Love, Erlandson||3:29|
|9.||"Old Age"||Love, Kurt Cobain||4:23|
|10.||"Softer, Softest" (from MTV Unplugged)||Love, Erlandson||3:47|
|11.||"He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)" (from MTV Unplugged)||Carole King, Gerry Goffin||3:44|
|12.||"Season of the Witch" (from MTV Unplugged)||Donovan Leitch||3:42|
|13.||"Drown Soda" (live)||Erlandson, Love, Jill Emery, Caroline Rue||6:10|
|14.||"Asking for It" (live)||Love, Erlandson||3:58|
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- C.E, City Slang Records. From the liner notes of My Body, the Hand Grenade.
- "As shines the moon among the lesser fires" is an English translation of a lyric from Horace's Book I of Odes, written circa 23 BC.
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