Psychic... Powerless... Another Man's Sac

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Psychic... Powerless... Another Man's Sac
Butthole Surfers Psychic Front.jpg
Studio album by Butthole Surfers
Released December 1984 (US)
July 1985 (UK)
Recorded 1984
Genre Avant-garde, psychedelic rock, noise rock, hardcore punk
Length 35:04
Label Touch and Go (US)
Fundamental (UK)
Latino Buggerveil (reissue)
Producer Butthole Surfers
Butthole Surfers chronology
Psychic... Powerless... Another Man's Sac
Cream Corn from the Socket of Davis
Back cover
Alternative cover
UK cover
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[2]
Robert Christgau B+[3]

Psychic... Powerless... Another Man's Sac is the first full-length studio album by American noise rock band Butthole Surfers, released in December 1984 by Touch and Go Records in America and Fundamental Records in England. All songs were written and produced by the Butthole Surfers.

This was Butthole Surfers' first album on Touch and Go, and was originally released on clear vinyl. It was reissued on Latino Buggerveil in 1999.

The album's back cover and label photos were produced by artist Michael Macioce.[4]


The band embarked on a decidedly more psychedelic direction with their first LP. However, while the album's first half, and in particular "Cherub," have definite psychedelic qualities, elements of traditional punk ("Butthole Surfer"), blues ("Lady Sniff"), surf rock ("Mexican Caravan"), and country rock ("Gary Floyd") are also on display.

Dum Dum is also notable for being another song in Butthole Surfers' catalogue to be based around parts of a Black Sabbath song although the lyrics revolve around an entirely different concept from the original. Specifically, the drums are lifted from Children of the Grave, from the Master of Reality album.

Many of Psychic...'s tracks were enhanced with extensive tape editing and, in some cases, the addition of non-traditional instrumentation, including the barrage of bizarre sounds (spitting, vomiting, Spanish radio station, etc.) heard in "Lady Sniff." Lead vocalist Gibby Haynes debuted a new vocal technique by singing through a bullhorn for some songs, and played saxophone on "Negro Observer" and "Cowboy Bob". This was the first Butthole Surfers studio album to feature double drummers King Coffey and Teresa Nervosa, and the last with bass player Bill Jolly, who had also performed on the band's first two releases.

Approximately half the songs on this album, including "Negro Observer," "Lady Sniff," "Cherub," "Mexican Caravan," "Cowboy Bob," and "Gary Floyd," are staples of Butthole Surfers' live shows.


According to guitarist Paul Leary, Psychic... was recorded in a very substandard studio. Leary also claims he and Haynes were living in a tool shed at the time of the sessions.[5]

Butthole Surfers weren't under contract to any record label when they recorded this album. Upon its completion they offered it to Alternative Tentacles, who had released the band's first two EPs but could not afford to distribute the new project.[6] This, combined with questions the group had regarding Alternative Tentacles' handling of royalties from Butthole Surfers and Live PCPPEP, resulted in the album ultimately being released on Touch and Go.[7]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and produced by Butthole Surfers.

Side A[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Concubine" 2:27
2. "Eye of the Chicken" 1:36
3. "Dum Dum" 3:47
4. "Woly Boly" 2:45
5. "Negro Observer" 3:39
6. "Butthole Surfer" 3:02

Side B[edit]

No. Title Length
7. "Lady Sniff" 3:45
8. "Cherub" 6:22
9. "Mexican Caravan" 2:46
10. "Cowboy Bob" 2:55
11. "Gary Floyd" 1:56
Total length: 35:04

UK CD bonus tracks[edit]

  1. "Moving to Florida" – 4:32
  2. "Lou Reed" – 4:57
  3. "Two Part" – 4:20
  4. "Tornadoes" – 2:36



Chart (1985) Peak
UK Indie Chart[8] 12


  1. ^ Raggett, Ned. "allmusic ((( Psychic...Powerless...Another Man's Sac > 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"., Retrieved on March 17, 2010.
  4. ^ Michael Azerrad, Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991 (New York, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 2001) 306.
  5. ^ Ken Lieck, "Reissuing the Butthole Surfers," The Austin Chronicle Newspaper Vol. 18 Issue 52
  6. ^ Michael Azerrad, Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991 (New York, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 2001) 281.
  7. ^ Mark Paytress, “The Butthole Surfers: Mark Paytress Unravels the Career of the Cult American Band,” Record Collector No. 114, February 1989, archived at Butthole Surfers fan website, Negro Observer
  8. ^ Lazell, Barry (1997). Indie Hits 1980-1989. Cherry Red Books. Retrieved September 5, 2014.