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Ramones, Butthole Surfers, Violent Femmes and more, covering Saturday morning cartoon theme songs


 
In 1995, MCA Records released Saturday Morning Cartoons Greatest Hits, a compilation of then current alt-rock stars and also-rans transforming the 30-60 second theme songs from classic children’s shows into three-minute pop songs, accompanied by a full length home video that featured all the songs on the comp with the linking device of Drew Barrymore watching them all and commenting with her central-casting Gen-X friends. It dovetailed both with the vogue for alt-rock tribute comps and the ongoing popularity of the Television’s Greatest Hits series, which by then had been around for ten years.

Though they win points for sporting cool Glenn Barr cover art, both the CD and video were pretty crummy overall, but naturally, amid the dross of tepid mid-’90s radio alt (Sponge, Semisonic, Collective Soul, Sublime—I’ll bet you just can’t wait to hear it now, right?) there were some terrific moments. How could the Ramones doing the unforgettable theme to those endearingly cheap 1967 Spider-Man cartoons be bad? IT CANNOT. Violent Femmes went on a marvelously weird tangent. Instead of covering the Jetsons actual theme song, they did a deep cut: “Eep, Opp, Ork, Ah-ah!” by the in-universe teen idol Jet Screamer. It’s pretty great. The Reverend Horton Heat did a roaring psychobilly medley of the Jonny Quest theme and another deep dig, “Stop That Pigeon” from the short-lived Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines. The Butthole Surfers, though they were well past the height of their powers by then, did a mindwarping take on the Underdog theme. And there’s perhaps the album’s most perfect pairing of artist and material, the Aussie folk-pop band Frente! doing a really charming “Open up Your Heart (and Let the Sunshine In),” a 1954 song about rejecting the Devil, which became huge when the infant Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm sang it on The Flintstones.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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10.12.2016
09:22 am
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‘Love Love Love Love Love’: NEW music from Violent Femmes
03.10.2015
09:47 am
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Violent Femmes have unleashed upon the world, via Soundcloud, the new song “Love Love Love Love Love.” Apart from a charmingly odd cover, in 2008, of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” this is the first new release from the band since the 2000 LP Freak Magnet. “Love…” is itself a cover, of a song by a Los Angeles musician named Jake Brebes, but it heralds a new Femmes E.P., Happy New Year, due out next month. There’s good news and bad news. The good news is, while it’s no return to the band’s original, amazing form, “Love…” is quite good, and sets high hopes for the rest of the E.P. The bad news is it’s a goddamn Record Store Day exclusive, so if you want one, you’ll have to stand in line and possibly get into a physical altercation with an eBay-flipper scumbag to get one.
 

 
Formed in 1980 as a coffeehouse/streetcorner trio, Violent Femmes were famously discovered busking by the Pretenders in 1981, and became instant and permanent cult figures with the release of their impossibly angsty and indisputably classic self-titled debut LP in 1983. They followed that up with two more must-haves, 1984’s Southern-Gothic stunner Hallowed Ground, which is definitely the band’s masterpiece and easily one of the best rock albums of the ‘80s, and 1986’s excellent The Blind Leading The Naked. The band long outlived that initial burst of inspiration, declining into mediocrity even while experiencing better album sales during the weirdo-indulgent period of the early ‘90s.

The band made some unfortunate waves in 2007, when their vegetarian singer Gordon Gano bafflingly sold the band’s signature song “Blister in the Sun” for commercial use to the hamburger chain Wendy’s, prompting bassist Brian Ritchie (whose solo albums should be items of interest to people who like good records) to sue him, precipitating a breakup, and not their first. They clearly reconciled by 2013, re-forming the band, but replacing original drummer Victor DeLorenzo with the Dresden Dolls’ Brian Viglione. There’s also more good news and more bad news. The good news is that the revitalized Violent Femmes will be touring this summer. The bad news is they’‘ll be opening for the goddamn Barenaked Ladies, so if you want to catch them, it’ll cost a fortune to see them play for 25 minutes, and you’ll have to endure an ocean of people who like Barenaked Ladies. Here they are during their peak, in a 1985 appearance on the marvelous Spanish music TV show La Edad de Oro.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Violent Femmes live at the Hacienda, 1983 and 1984

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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03.10.2015
09:47 am
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Violent Femmes, live at the Hacienda, 1983 and 1984
06.11.2014
10:48 am
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Cherry Red Records’ generous YouTube channel holds a lot of treasures, but the offerings that have been hogging my attention lately are the handful of Violent Femmes concert clips. Culled from two shows at the legendary Hacienda in Manchester UK, they capture the band at the early height of their powers, when they were touring the material from their first two albums, the immortal self-titled debut full of wrist-slitter singalongs, and the astonishing southern gothic masterpiece Hallowed Ground, which remains the best thing they’ve ever released.
 

 
Despite the austere shooting and thin sound, these clips still compellingly capture a lot of the band’s early angst, though as you’ll see, the ‘83 stuff (the first three seen here) is better than the ‘84. “Add it Up,” especially, absolutely kills. The two entire shows were released on the 2007 DVD Violent Femmes—Live at the Hacienda, but the Cherry Red web site no longer lists it.
 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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06.11.2014
10:48 am
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