Thursday, April 10, 2008

Butthole Surfers - Texas Chainsaw Massacre

(???, 198?)

This is a mysterious record. In 1989, Killdozer released a 5x7” version of their For Ladies Only album on Touch & Go, catalog number TG-39. Attractive not only for its extravagant (and funny) packaging, that set is worth finding because it has an extra song – “Mr. Soul” – that doesn’t show up on the LP or CD. The 7” in question here was advertised on eBay last fall as a test pressing of one of the 45s from that edition, and I purchased it, hoping it’d be the disc with the bonus track. If it turned out to be one of the other discs, well, I’d just have a nifty Killdozer collectable and wouldn’t be too sad about that. It all seemed reasonable enough: First, the guy was selling many other Touch & Go test pressings from the same era. Second, it had the appearance of a legitimate test pressing – generic pressing-plant label (Electrosound Group) with a catalog number (TG-39) handwritten on it. So imagine my bafflement when I put this record on my turntable and had my ears caressed not by the sweet sounds of Killdozer but by the noisome nastiness of the Butthole Surfers. Whaaaa?!

Putting on my Sherlock cap, I did some research and eventually learned that the music on this was identical to the well-known “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” bootleg 45, meaning live versions of “Cherub” and “Come Together” from 1986 and 1985, respectively (thanks, internet!). Still, why the test labels and the Touch & Go catalog number? I suppose there are three possibilities here. (1) Touch & Go intended to release a live Butthole Surfers 7” as TG-39 but scrapped it after the test-press phase for some reason and reassigned the catalog number to For Ladies Only. (2) This is a test pressing for the bootleg, and the bootleggers chose the “TG” prefix as a joke. (3) Some copies of the actual bootleg look like this and I just bought a sleeveless one... although every copy I’ve seen has featured plain green labels. Does anyone have any info for me? Touch & Go ignored my polite inquiry, so here I sit, all a-blubber, dying to know the Truth. Won’t you help?

The music itself, I’m afraid, isn’t as interesting as the mystery (and, uh, is the mystery itself all that interesting??). “Cherub” is a fairly limp performance, hampered further by a lousy recording that flattens the drums and bass into a shapeless mass of low-end that dominates the track. Gibby is singing through the megaphone and doesn’t sound particularly engaged, nor does his voice blend well with the band’s playing. The whole thing’s sloppy, and not in an entertaining or exciting way. Zzzz. The snares do crunch more on “Come Together,” which sticks pretty close to the Beatles’ original when it isn’t blasting off into frantic bursts of guitar squall, but still… the ultimate impression this record leaves, even in its best moments, is, “Huh, guess I hadta be there.”

2 comments:

notsaved said...

Another possibility is that that is one of the 7" that the band acquired to repress themselves to stem the flow of shitty bootlegs. they would press up limited quantities of the bootlegs and sell it themselves...

hard to believe there woulda been a test press fer it, let alone a T&G catalog number, but strager things have happened...especially where the Butthole Surfers are concerned.

lubes17319 said...

My copy has TG - 39 A/B, which is slashed out, along with BHS - 222 - A/B & (T) in the inner grooves. Plain green label on both sides and a light blue cover w/a clown giving us the bird.
(Having trouble linking it to ImageShack right now)

So far, you have the most info I've seen!