Butthole Surfers - Rembrandt Pussyhorse

$40.00 (AUD)


I'll spare you the whole "I've never been on drugs/but this band makes me feel fresh from the dealer" schtick that gets included for bands like this. Yes it would be easy to call the Buttholes that kind of band. Why? Because they are. The band was quite popular for taking many drugs in the early 80's and reflected this by their stage show (which included footage of penis reconstructive surgery, flaming cymbals, and a stripper) but its not the kind of thing you can just hang your musical cap on and just say "ah those trippy surfers, of buttholes". The band were much more than a fun illusionary mind trip, at the time they were an abrasive freak show with their music being a good demonstration of such. Rembrandt Pussyhorsecontinues in the noisy and unconventional ways of its predecessor Psychic... Powerless... Another Man's Sac but took much longer to reach shelves because of the Alternative Tentacles decline. Two year delay and all; the album still hit hard with tape editing, a special appearance by Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad (not the human), and a classic rock cover which hangs on the edge of sanity. In other words, just another record for Gibby Haynes and his band of misfits.

The oddity that is this album comes into focus right from the beginning, and not even from the already bizarre content. "Creep in the Celler" doesn't go for ten seconds until an abrupt violin solo fires through. Legend (fact) has it that the 16 track recorder the band was using had previously been used by a western band who were unable to pay for recording. The band tweaked with it until they learned how to get rid of it, however at that point they had decided to keep it. Even without the solo perfectly and coincidentally fitting into the song's scheme, it already is a creepy tale; lines about skin being peeled back and " the fish are flying backwards and they're all in despair/Cause the turkeys talkin' backwards" work well to introduce Rembrandt Pussyhorse and to show what additional tricks the band picked up for this release. What is noteworthy of the band is their unusual affinity for classic rock which gets shown off in their deranged but brilliant version of The Guess Who's perennial favorite, "American Woman". The deconstruction begins with an industrial like drum sequence which feels very distant and cold, eventually a human sounding guitar chord sequence sets in, dispelling this from being a total emotionless robot fest. It takes a little bit of this to go by, but then the weird starts to hit the fan with Gibby distorting his voice so hard it sounds like hes squealing out of his ass. I guess this could be considered a half cover since most of the lyrics appearing hear weren't on the original song, maybe its just me but I don't recall Burton Cummings droning on about war machines or speaking through a megaphone. The previously mentioned concrete drum beat remains throughout the song, enhancing it by making it seemed very mechanized. Paul Leary makes his prescence known by letting his guitar wail during some of the tune's drum filled breaks, especially near the end of the song. Also near the end of the cover is any semblance to the original with some of the right lyrics being spoken. The song ends with a repetition of "American Woman" being spoken over and over with the creepy drum still going.

The band's connection to popular culture doesn't end there. "Perry" features the tune to television's Perry Mason, except instead of being fronted with loud and scary keyboard (the Perry Mason opening was no love and sunshine music, mind you), the focus is on the band playing as a whole with both the melody and Gibby Haynes sounding higher than usual. The theme is extended and features one of those Surfer voices saying things that did not appear in the original television version of the song ("Its about growing up/It's about licking the *** off the floors"). Further proof that the band still connects the weirdness on the record to the weirdness of real life can be found on "Mark Says Alright" which features Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad on vocals (not the person, their dog). Though more purely entertaining than musically substantial, the song does what most of the filler on this album does, but at least it has a dog bark. Speaking of which, what does bring this album down a tad is the go nowhere instrumentals. There are many good songs on this album, but seeing that it's only nine songs long (not counting the final four tracks as they are carry ons from their earlier EP Cream Corn from the Socket of Davis) and the final one is a lame reprise of the opener, there could have been some cuts made to make this an EP as it was originally meant to be.