photo & text by nacrowe
THE BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD EXPERIENCE (GEFFEN, 1993) is quite the interesting 1990s CULTURAL ARTIFACT. produced by none other than STEVE ALBINI, this compilation was obviously a bit of a cash grab at the height of the ALTERNATIVE ROCK movement that the BEAVIS & BUTT-HEAD TV SHOW had no small part in helping popularize (just as WINGER and all those HAIR METAL bands that got pilloried and became instant cultural pariahs), but as such go this one had staying power.
the unquestioned standout track by a mile is the strong NIRVANA track "I HATE MYSELF AND WANT TO DIE" which was one of the last tracks released prior to his suicide. in fact, this song was the would-be title track to IN UTERO (review linked HERE), as I HATE MYSELF AND WANT TO DIE was the original working title for their third album. other notable tracks include a memorable ANTHRAX cover of the BEASTIE BOYS' "LOOKING DOWN THE BARREL OF A GUN" track (off PAUL'S BOUTIQUE) and the hard-charging WHITE ZOMBIE song "I AM HELL." the album is rounded out by largely forgettable, hit-or-miss tracks by the likes of THE RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, PRIMUS and MEGADETH.
i originally had this record on cd back in elementary school in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA and the two songs i remember pretty distinctly (aside from the NIRVANA, ANTHRAX and WHITE ZOMBIE tracks) was the updated CHER duet "I'VE GOT YOU BABE" with BEAVIS & BUTTHEAD and of course the epic BUTTHEAD slow jam "COME TO BUTTHEAD." looking back now you have to hand it to CHER that she had a sense of humor and was able to laugh at herself. you wonder how much her inclusion may have also been to show how cool she was to her young son ELIJAH BLUE ALLMAN (of much later DEADSY fame). i wouldnt blame her for a second if that was the case. it's pretty badass. "COME TO BUTTHEAD" is also surprisingly well-produced and no wonder, it was composed and recorded by none other than funk brother par excellence NILE RODGERS himself. BEAVIS & BUTT-HEAD creator MIKE JUDGE definitely had lots of surprises on this cash grab no doubt.
the humor surrounding teenage attitudes towards BODILY-FUNCTIONS and SEXUALITY would be a hard sell in today's environment, but that is why it is interesting to revisit this record from time to time. it also makes you consider how the reboot of this show will fair now 30 years later from a different historical moment with TECHNOLOGY and CULTURE moving at speeds unheard of back in the day. it is an interesting conceit nonetheless.
i love this record but i am completely biased. i listened to this record during my formative years so of course id recommend it. definitely worth checking out.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
if you are fan of music then you already know about NILE RODGERS. he is arguably one of the great composers, arrangers and musicians of the 20th century with a list of musical collaborations that spans from DAVID BOWIE, SISTER SLEDGE, DEBORAH HARRY, MADONNA and BRYAN FERRY to AVICII, DURAN DURAN, DAFT PUNK, GRACE JONES, THE B-52s and even his legendary 70s outfit CHIC. he is very much a musician's musician and no less a guitar-playing connoisseur than JOHNNY MARR named his son after him. just let that one sink in for a moment.
but until recently his public profile was behind the scenes in production.
the documentary NILE RODGERS: THE HITMAKER (BBC, 2013) is attempt to change all that. filmed during a break from rehearsing for a worldwide CHIC tour at time he was fighting prostate cancer, this film very much feels like an opportunity for the man and his admirers to give their props should the worst happen (thankfully he survived and continues to work to present day).
and survive the dude has. raised by heroin-addicted, bohemian parents in MANHATTAN, he grew up intimately aware of street life and drug culture along with the lexicon of music by devouring his parents JAZZ and CLASSICAL vinyl records. their is an aspirational quality to the uplifting, kinetic rhythms of CHIC and their escapist messaging to the audience of the emerging DISCO scene all over NYC. their is an almost symbiotic relationship between his guitar work and the pulsing, driving FUNK rhythms of bassist and collaborator BERNARD EDWARDS. They rode that initial wave in the late 1970s until the xenophobic, anti-BLACK and anti-LGBT DISCO SUX wave effectively stopped them in the their tracks. this led to his production career which was jumpstarted by DAVID BOWIE with the "LET'S DANCE" record basically has sustained him since as an in-demand writer, arranger, composer, guest musician and producer.
what i appreciated most about this film was how past collaborators spoke of his uncanny ear to see space in a mix where he could contribute a guitar line or texture. these small contributions are the details that make a record pop and although maybe unnoticed by your average listener, these are the sonic details that musicians strive to achieve in the studio. they notice. participants included that of BRYAN FERRY, JOHNNY MARR, DEBBIE HARRY and CHRIS STEIN of BLONDIE, JOHN TAYLOR of DURAN DURAN, STEVE WINWOOD, LA ROUX, NORMA JEAN WRIGHT of CHIC and NILE RODGERS himself.
I think it is touching that this documentary was showcased before his biggest hit in decades, "GET LUCKY" by FRENCH electronic duo DAFT PUNK, was released to worldwide admiration. just proves the dude always has something up his sleeve.