Butthole Surfers (EP)

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Butthole Surfers
Butthole Surfers Front.jpg
EP by Butthole Surfers
Released July 1983
Recorded 1982–1983
San Antonio, Texas
Genre Punk rock, noise rock, psychedelic rock
Length 18:36
Label Alternative Tentacles
Producer Butthole Surfers
Mike Taylor
Butthole Surfers chronology
Butthole Surfers
(1983)
Live PCPPEP
(1984)Live PCPPEP1984
Back cover
Back cover
Alternative cover
Later editions of Alternative Tentacles' 12-inch vinyl version of Butthole Surfers' debut EP include the words "Brown Reason to Live" on the cover.
Later editions of Alternative Tentacles' 12-inch vinyl version of Butthole Surfers' debut EP include the words "Brown Reason to Live" on the cover.
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[1]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[2]
Robert Christgau A−[3]

Butthole Surfers is the debut studio EP by American punk band Butthole Surfers, released in July 1983. It is also known as Brown Reason to Live and Pee Pee the Sailor (see "Title controversy"). All songs were written and produced by Butthole Surfers.

The album was originally released on Alternative Tentacles. Butthole Surfers and 1984's Live PCPPEP were reissued as Butthole Surfers/Live PCPPEP CD on Latino Buggerveil in 2003. The 12-inch vinyl version is still available from Alternative Tentacles, and is listed as Brown Reason to Live.

The center label on Butthole Surfers' vinyl printings invites listeners to erroneously play the record at "69 RPM," a joke referencing the famous sex position. The album's back cover features a mildly distorted image of famed Mexican luchador Santo. Kurt Cobain listed the EP in his top fifty albums of all time.[4][5]

Music[edit]

Butthole Surfers introduced themselves to the world with seven songs full of throbbing bass, crashing drums, and heavily distorted guitar topped off with largely nonsensical, barely intelligible lyrics, alternately sung by lead vocalist Gibby Haynes and guitarist Paul Leary. Haynes also plays saxophone and drums on some tracks. Unlike later Butthole Surfers albums, no electronic instrumentation is present.

Some songs, such as "The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey's Grave" and "Suicide," appear to be either mockeries of, or sloppy attempts to mimic, the hardcore style of music that was rising in popularity amongst then-contemporary American punk fans. "The Revenge of Anus Presley" is likely a Black Flag and Henry Rollins parody. Others, including "Hey" and "Bar-B-Q Pope," are better indicators of the psychedelic direction the band would take on future albums.

Having parted ways with their original drummer, Scott Matthews, shortly before entering the studio, Butthole Surfers used a number of different percussionists on this album. The last of them, King Coffey, is still with the band to this day. Bassist Bill Jolly was also a relatively new addition, joining after original bass player Quinn Matthews quit at the same time as his brother, Scott.[6] Jolly would also play on the Surfers' first official live release, Live PCPPEP, and their first full-length album, Psychic... Powerless... Another Man's Sac.

Most of this album is often included in the band's live performances, including "The Shah Sleeps...," "Hey," "Something," "Bar-B-Q Pope," and "Suicide."

Two songs from the album, "The Shah Sleeps..." and "Bar-B-Q Pope" are available for download on the MP3 section of Butthole Surfers' official website.

Title controversy[edit]

Though this EP is also known as Brown Reason to Live and Pee Pee the Sailor, Butthole Surfers is its official title. Firstly, "Butthole Surfers" were the only words to appear on the front cover of its original release. Furthermore, Latino Buggerveil's 2003 reissue of the EP, together with 1984's Live PCPPEP on a single CD, is titled Butthole Surfers/Live PCPPEP. Perhaps most importantly, it is listed as Butthole Surfers in the "Discography" section of the band's official website.[7]

That said, Brown Reason to Live has a strong claim to title rights, and many fans refer to it by that name. The 12-inch vinyl edition was, and still is, sold as Brown Reason to Live through original label Alternative Tentacles, but it is unclear if it was initially released as such. Also, though the words "Brown Reason to Live" did not appear on the original album's packaging, 'A BROWN REASON FOR LIVING' was etched into the run-out grooves of early pressings of this release and 'Brown Reason To Live' was included below the band's name on later Alternative Tentacles printings (see image).[8] Finally, Latino Buggerveil's reissue of this album is listed as Brown Reason to Live (together with Live PCPPEP) on iTunes.

As for Pee Pee the Sailor; the album has never been officially released or marketed under that name. That title is derived from Alternative Tentacles' vinyl editions, which include a cartoon of a Popeye-esque character with buttocks for a face printed on the record's center label, and the words "Pee Pee the Sailor" written next to it. This cartoon is in addition to the label's humorous suggestion that listeners play the record at 69 RPM. "Pee Pee the Sailor" is featured on the disc art of the 2003 reissue.

Paul Leary recorded a song with Bad Livers called "Pee Pee the Sailor" for their 1992 album Delusions of Banjer. In 1995, Meat Puppets covered this song, renaming it "The Adventures of Pee Pee the Sailor" (or alternately, "Sleepy Pee Pee"). This version of the song fuses the original with new instrumental intro/coda passages written by Curt Kirkwood.

Background[edit]

The sessions for Butthole Surfers were made possible by an earlier Butthole Surfers concert at Los Angeles, California's Whisky a Go Go, where they had opened for Dead Kennedys and T.S.O.L. The band gained an early admirer in Dead Kennedys' lead vocalist Jello Biafra, who also ran Dead Kennedys' Alternative Tentacles record label. Biafra told the band that, if they got someone to loan them studio time, Alternative Tentacles would reimburse the studio once the album was complete.

According to guitarist Paul Leary, the band then talked Bob O'Neill, owner of San Antonio, Texas' BOSS Studios, (a.k.a. Bob O'Neill's Sound Studio, a.k.a. the Boss), into loaning them the required time.[6] Joe Pugliese, a San Antonio music promoter, recalled that lead singer Gibby Haynes slept at the studio during these sessions. Mike Taylor, an engineer at BOSS Studios, assisted with the EP's production. Taylor would later record and assemble the contents of 1984's Live PCPPEP.[9]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and produced by Butthole Surfers.

Side 1[edit]

  1. "The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey's Grave" – 2:09
  2. "Hey" – 2:06
  3. "Something" – 4:36

Side 2[edit]

  1. "Bar-B-Q Pope" – 3:36
  2. "Wichita Cathedral" – 2:22
  3. "Suicide" – 1:24
  4. "The Revenge of Anus Presley" – 2:25

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (1984) Peak
position
UK Indie Chart[11] 21

References[edit]

  1. ^ Huey, Steve. "allmusic ((( Brown Reason to Live > 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. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Butthole Surfers". robertchristgau.com, Retrieved on March 17, 2010.
  4. ^ "Top 50 by Nirvana [MIXTAPE]". Archived from the original on 18 October 2014. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  5. ^ Cross; Gaar; Gendron; Martens; Yarm (2013). Nirvana: The Complete Illustrated History. p. 30. ISBN 978-0-7603-4521-4. 
  6. ^ a b Michael Azerrad, Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991 (New York, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 2001) 279
  7. ^ Discography page at the Butthole Surfers' official website
  8. ^ Brown Reason to Live page, online store, Alternative Tentacles website
  9. ^ Joe Nick Patoski and John Morthland, "Feeding the Fish: An Oral History of the Butthole Surfers," Spin Magazine, 1996 Archived 2007-11-09 at the Wayback Machine., archived at Butthole Surfers fan website, Negro Observer
  10. ^ 07/xx/1983 ‘A Brown Reason to Live’ released, archived at Butthole Surfers fan website "The Anal Obsession"
  11. ^ Lazell, Barry (1997). Indie Hits 1980-1989. Cherry Red Books. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2014.