Hole: Live Through This (1994)

I loved this album back in 1994. As a feminist manifesto of sorts, it served as a complement to Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville from the prior year; Phair offered introspective, quirky, personalized indie rock, while Courtney Love offered more polemical, commercially-shiny punk rock catharsis. Yet though Phair's music has never really left my side, Hole fell out of rotation after a bit. Frankly, I don't think I've played this album in a quarter century. Maybe it was due to all the cultural baggage. There was the (wholly unfounded) critique that Kurt Cobain had a large hand in the record, an ironically sexist charge given the album's subject matter (plus, I thought most the songs were better than much of the Nirvana catalog). There was Courtney Love's unpleasant, hot mess public persona. And the follow-up, Celebrity Skin, was a disappointment, an over-produced bit of alt.rock product (aside from the fantastic title track).

But I pulled it out this morning and... y'know, it's still a f*cking monster. A bit dated perhaps, with that mid-'90s grunge/riot grrrl aesthetic, but the songs remain unique and simply explosive. Love's efforts to sand off some of the abrasiveness of her early recordings give the album a more balanced sound, with both rockers and ballads, and a few that bridge the gap with the famed Pixies-like loud-soft-loud dynamic (most notably opener "Violet," still a stunningly powerful track after all this time). "Miss World" and "Doll Parts" are a great blend of Love's anthemic statements and catchy, polished hard rock tunes. Yeah, it's hard not to pick apart the songs for insights into the Love/Cobain mystique, but with the passage time they're (a little) easier to hear them as simply unusually frank, powerful songs.

Her cover of the Young Marble Giants' "Credit In The Straight World" converts minimalist post-punk artiness into almost radio-friendly alt.rock without losing the thread. And my favorite, closer "Rock Star," adds some lighter fun to what is at times a pretty chilling record (the sexual violence of songs like "Asking For It" still pretty stark and, alas, still painfully relevant).

"Violet":
"Doll Parts":
"Miss World":
Here's a live "Rock Star":
...and a fan-made video for "Straight World":

Comments

  1. "post-pun artiness" seems to be missing a letter :). And I am hoping you appreciate that I would offer this comment.

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  2. This is so weird, but I ended up playing this record yesterday too for the first time in a while before even seeing your post. It sounded even better than I remembered. Violet is such a great album opener. Why doesn't that get as much airplay on radio as about two dozen Nirvana songs? It's really solid all the way through and the production perfectly balances pop sheen with heavy guitars and drums. Also, definitely only post when you want to, but like the others said, I'll always continue to check in to see any recommendations.

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