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Hairway to Steven

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Album Review

The final album for the Surfers' legendary run on Touch and Go got a reception probably not even the band figured on — lead reviews in major music magazines, increasingly higher profiles, and more. As it is, though, Hairway is actually a touch lazy in comparison to the previous releases, sometimes sounding almost all too normal. When it connects, though, Steven works wonders, whether continuing in the punk/psychedelic fusion vein of the past or exploring a gentler, tuneful side. The lengthy opener "Jimi" is the album's high note, and as one might guess from the title it's something of a tribute to Hendrix — at least, if "Third Stone From the Sun" sounded like it was recorded in a sewer tunnel and was even more gone than it already was. Haynes' alternately deep and hyper-high-pitched vocals work perfectly against Leary's searing, crazed guitar noises, while the Pinkus/Coffey rhythm section lays down a massive beat. Everything concludes with deceptive peacefulness: acoustic guitar, tweeting birds, sounds of bowling, and the like. Other highlights include "I Saw an X-Ray of a Girl Passing Gas," a relatively straightforward, mostly acoustic-plus-rhythm section number sung clearly (!) by Haynes, and the mock live recording "John E. Smokes," with Haynes often sounding like a rural preacher gone mad. The humming guitar buzz of "Backass" and the quick blast of "Fart Song" concludes Steven with vim. As a final note, the song titles themselves can't be found anywhere on the release — instead, and quite notoriously, a series of cartoon drawings stand in for them. Some are fairly calm, but most show things like nude women displaying their butts and rabbits taking dumps on deer. Juvenile? Of course, but the B******e Surfers never pretended to be nice and sweet.


Formed: 1982 in San Antonio, TX

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Arguably the most infamously named band in the annals of popular music -- for years, radio found their moniker unspeakable, and the press deemed it unprintable -- Butthole Surfers long reigned among the most twisted and depraved acts ever to bubble up from the American underground. Masters of calculated outrage, the group fused the sicko antics of shock rock with a distinct and chaotic mishmash of avant-garde, hardcore, and Texas psychedelia; sleazy, confrontational, and spiteful, songs like "The...
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Hairway to Steven, Butthole Surfers
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