photo & text by nacrowe
LIVE THROUGH THIS (DGC, 1994) by HOLE was undoubtedly such a CONSEQUENTIAL album for me growing up in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. i have distinct memories of hearing COURTNEY LOVE's impassioned, almost feral or inconsolable, primal screaming on "VIOLET" blasting out of my parent's speakers from their HONDA ACCORD. i just recall wondering who that was and never questioning how fundamentally pained and pissed-off she sounded. this felt like a private exorcism paraded as a rock song. it felt and still feels unquestionably AUTHENTIC.
which is why its always baffled me the extent to which music critics and journalists ascribe LOVE's artistic achievements with that of her late husband KURT COBAIN of legendary ALTERNATIVE ROCK band NIRVANA. its worse than lazy, its inaccurate. both IN UTERO (DGC, 1993) and LIVE THROUGH THIS were written and recorded more or less concurrently. if anything you can see the influence of LOVE in the more CONCEPTUAL and deeply personal POETIC writing of COBAIN on that final studio album in songs like "HEART-SHAPED BOX" and "ALL APOLOGIES." ive always held the conviction that LOVE was a stronger writer who has never gotten her due as such. even in "VIOLET" there is that EVOCATIVE opening couplet "and the sky was made of amethyst / and all the stars were just like little fish." that was more SOPHISTICATED and lyrical than anything on BLEACH (SUB POP, 1989) or NEVERMIND (DGC, 1991). just saying. obviously COBAIN is a generational talent and a singular songwriter/cultural figure whose approach to melody and dissonance will be analyzed long down the line, i dont want to come off like i am dismissing his achievements. only point i am trying to make is that IN UTERO is more influenced by the influence LOVE than LIVE THROUGH THIS is by COBAIN. both are landmark records and my personal favorite by both bands. hands down.
there are so many standout tracks on LIVE THROUGH THIS including the aforementioned "VIOLET" as well as singles "DOLL PARTS" and "MISS WORLD," but some of my personal favorites include "GUTLESS," "ROCK STAR," "ASKING FOR IT" and the stellar cover of the YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS track "CREDIT IN THE STRAIGHT WORLD." many of the songs deal with themes related to AMERICA's PERVERSE, UNATTAINABLE and downright PERNICIOUS CULTURAL EXPEXTATIONS regarding FEMININITY and feeling trapped by such. LOVE is such a compelling cultural figure because she is both fragile yet ferociously UNAPOLOGETIC, INTELLIGENT yet prone to impulse, loyal yet susceptible to CAUSTIC outbursts of provoked. she is such a CONTRADICTION which is to say that she is human. like all women, her FEMININITY is not confined by patriarchal prescriptions pushed on her from the news media and music press. the way i see it, she's out TOMMY LEE'd and NIKKI SIXX'd both TOMMY LEE and NIKKI SIXX. but somehow being a MOTHER, WIDOW and CARETAKER untangles such and renders her the target of scorn in the public eye. i will never understand that.
i know i did not due LIVE THROUGH THIS justice with this review, but trust me, this is a great record. it is well worth your time to check out if you are a fan of ROCK AND ROLL of any genre from the 1970s onwards that matters: PUNK ROCK, ALTERNATIVE ROCK, HARDCORE, GLAM ROCK, POWER POP and so on. it holds up and transcends most of what came out in the 1990s (and beyond) and i consider LOVE to be a singer and band leader without peer amongst her cohorts, including the likes of CHRIS CORNELL, EDDIE VEDDER, SCOTT WEILAND, BILLY CORGAN, SHIRLEY MANSON, MARK ARM, BRAD NOWELL, SHANNON HOON, LAYNE STALEY, GIBBY HAYNES, THOM YORKE, MARK LANEGAN and even her late husband.
she is ONE OF ONE and LIVE THROUGH THIS is her arguably peak creative work for both its unbridled FEROCITY and unadulterated VULNERABILITY. it is absolutely required listening.