Butthole Surfers
Independent Worm Saloon


4.5
superb

Review

by Pechorin USER (23 Reviews)
January 30th, 2006 | 20 replies


Release Date: 1993 | Tracklist


The state of Texas is well-known for producing many world-famous musicians. Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Dixie Chicks, and Charlie Christian are all very famous musicians from the state. However, the state of Texas also claims (or rather, more often, fails to claim*) their bastard acid-fueled stepchildren, the Butthole Surfers. Fronted by the enigmatic Gibby Haynes and guitar genius Paul Leary, the band often finds truly unique ways to blend almost any genre conceivable into their records. They also find ways to mix a trademark, creepy humor into their recordings. They're a band that can't really be summed up in one paragraph, and for good reason. They were one of the most innovative bands of the '80's and '90's, and still fail to sound dated today.

*Really, they don't claim the Butthole Surfers, Gibby Haynes, or Paul Leary on a site of Texas Music pioneers listed by the governor's office. Here's the url: [url=http://www.governor.state.tx.us/divisions/music/tour/pioneers.htm]Not Claimed by Texas[/url]?

Independent Worm Saloon is probably the most listenable of all the Butthole Surfers albums out there. While not quite as popular as 1996's Electriclarryland (by overall public opinion), it is, in my opinion, a much better-sounding and overall a smoother sounding record than Larryland. More often than not, the Surfers are placed in the punk category, and this album shows why. While they still add their own twists, calling the Surfers a punk band at this juncture is conceivable.

That's not to say that this is a normal album by any means; it's just a conventional sound for a group famous for making records that can make even non-users feel like they're on an acid trip. Gibby's interesting writing style and haunting vocals are a defining part of the Butthole Surfers sound. Many times they are run through electronics, and have almost a maniacal undertone with them. Paul Leary is a genius on the guitar, as well. He is able of making noises even Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead would be jealous of (I know I am). One of the most versatile and underrated guitarists of the period, Leary can seamlessly switch genres from song to song while maintaining his original edge throughout.

How about the songs on the album? As I said before, there are many examples of excellent musicianship and writing on it. Almost every track is listenable and catchy in a weird sort of way. The album starts off on a weird note with haunting voices and electronic noises that make this sound like it's going to ba very trippy album. Then the guitar blasts its way in, and one of what I feel are the best 5 songs of the 1990's starts - Who Was In My Room Last Night? With an upbeat tempo and excellent guitar work/riffage, it sets the tone for the rest of the album. Next is a song that would surprise many people after the first song, the acoustic ballad, Wooden Song. With almost a country.western feel to it, it shows that the Surfers may have a soft side to them, after all. They still let us know who they really are with a distorted solo that doesn't seem to fit, yet complements the song perfectly.

After an excellent opening, Tongue shows the way the Surfers can combine styles with weird noises and tribal drumming breaks that are interrupted by a catchy, jangly guitar-based section that explodes into a faux-metal riff near the end. As the song finishes, we are introduced to the Surfer's odd humor with Chewin' George Lucas' Chocolate. It's a short skit with the next song, Goofy's Concern, playing in the background as the members are pulled over by a police officer. As for Goofy's Concern, it's a pretty standard punk song by any means. It is still a solid offering, though.

Next is the country-punk offering Alcohol. Sounding like a hoedown from Hell, it plods on as the band members rave on about, well, alcohol. It's not one of my favorite tracks on the album, though, and I regularly skip it. However, another of the best songs on the album, Dog Inside Your Body, follows. With a metal riff and double-bass drums driving the song, it gains the original edge with Gibby's electronically altered vocals and Paul's bizarro-leads filling up the rest of the song.

Strawberry shows the Surfers' penchant for writing things as bizarre as Hell that can be stuck in your head for days, they are so catchy. Another punk verse with strange backing sections gives way to an anthemic chorus with jangly guitars that can be considered to be early REM on LSD. Another of the must-hears on the album. Some Dispute over T-Shirt Sales is another fairly standard, upbeat punk track, featuring Gibby screaming vocals over insane drums and guitars.

Rumbling bass and harmonics open the next number, Dancing Fool. With some riffing that sounds like blues from Hell, it features Paul (I think) screaming in the background about dancing queens and disco queens. It's weird, but if you weren't up for weird things, you probably wouldn't be listening to these guys...You Don't Know Me is a surprisingly happy-sounding song with a riff that echoes Gibby's vocal lines. This and Dancing Fool are relatively bland tracks, but they are still worth a listen.

Another great track follows in the form of The Annoying Song. Featuring a driving bass drum and more punk riffs, it probably features the most distorted Gibby vocals on the album, making him sound a bit like the Crazy frog. In addition to the strange vocals, there is some excellent guitar soloing in this faux-dance piece. Onother of what I fell are the must-hears on the album. This is followed by the longest real song on the album, Dust Devil. Featuring another riff and more insane soloing, it's a pretty straightforward piece with the trademark Butthole Surfers weirdness added to it.

Leave Me Alone is almost a punk-boogie, showing once again how the Surfers can seamlessly blend styles you never see blended together at other times. Then the creepy, driving E.D.G.A.R. kicks in. Almost seeming like an extended jam, this number features indecipherable lyrics accompianied by more great guitar work (are we seeing the pattern yet).

The Ballad of Naked Man exhibits the way the band can keep its oddball sense of humor and still craft a good song. Meant to almost sound like a bluegrass ballad, it features banjo and some creative bass work. My only complaint is that is seems to drag on a bit...What would any Butthole Surfers album be like without the obligatory acid-trip song. Clean It Up is just that. Sounding like something from [i]Locust Abortion Technician[/b], it can be very hard to get through all 8:39 of the song. In my opinion, it's the weakest track on the album. While My Brother's Wife and Space are possible to get through, the first minute of vomiting noises set to guitar feedback and a man yelling at someone to clean it up just doesn't click for me. It may be worth it to try a listen, but they have done much better pieces in this area.

A listen to this album will show you that they aren't for everyone. However, if you've never had the chance to get into their stuff, this is the perfect place to start. It is a great example of how they blend weirdness and conventional songs into a unique sound that is truly their own. The overall quality is high enough to warrant a 4.5/5 in my opinion.

Pros:

Great guitar work throughout the album.
Interesting sound while remaining accessable to most people
Most weaker tracks are still worth a listen
The strong tracks are some of my favorite all-time songs

Cons:

May be too quirky for some
Clean It Up

Recommendations:

Who Was In My Room Last Night?
The Wooden Song
Tongue
Dog Inside Your Body
Strawberry
The Annoying Song
Dust Devil



Thanks for reading my review.



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user ratings (106)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
mx
Moderator
January 30th 2006


733 Comments


Wow, you're cranking these out! Good reviews, though =)

Pechorin
January 30th 2006


160 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, Jeremy. I do have a tendency to do reviews in spurts and then go on breaks. I appreciate the positive feedback, though.

Zebra
Moderator
January 30th 2006


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review I really like your writing style, very similar to your review for 'Electriclarryland.'
I'd give this a strong 4/5. There aren't that many memorable tracks, but everything is solid and extremely unconventional.
'The Annoying Song' is proabably my favorite song off here.

Pechorin
January 30th 2006


160 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I was debating between 4 and 4.5, but since the only track on here I didn't like was "Clean it Up," I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. I really need to go on Amazon and pick up some other things of theirs, though...I'm thinking Hairway to Steven and Psychic Powerless as the next albums I get...

Zebra
Moderator
January 30th 2006


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Locust Abortion Technician is an awesome album, their finest moment IMO. The other two albums you mentioned are also great listens, basically anything from the 80's is great.


Pechorin
January 30th 2006


160 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Locust Abortion Technician is also on my list, too...I was also thinking of Weird Revolution, as well. I know it's generally scorned and all, but I've heard a good percentage of the album. It's not LAT or IWS, but I still like it.

Pizza
January 30th 2006


687 Comments


i heard a few songs from these guys and they are awesome! i need to check this out. which cd of theirs should i get first?

Pechorin
January 30th 2006


160 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

If you want more straightforward stuff, I'd get Independent Worm Saloon. If you want some more different stuff, get Locust Abortion Technician or Hairway to Steven. That's my advice, at least. Others may tell you different.

Pizza
January 31st 2006


687 Comments


alright, thanks. i think im gonna get locust abortion technichian, i heard from somewhere else it was good too

and good reveiw :thumb:This Message Edited On 01.30.06

Pechorin
January 31st 2006


160 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks. But I'll warn you that Locust Abortion Technician is weirder than words can describe. It's good, but if you're expecting a more conventional sound, it may turn you off...

Zebra
Moderator
January 31st 2006


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, it is extremely hard to get into the Butthole Surfers. Their music is just so hard to describe, it can't be classified as anything.

Simon Kent
April 25th 2006


58 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this album is awesome. good review.


Boddah
January 22nd 2007


129 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I enjoy every song on this album except "Dog Inside Your Body". It's just too...bad.

Thuathail
March 16th 2007


17 Comments


"Dog Inside Your Body" feels like a bad trip every time I listen to it. A great album, though.

Thuathail
March 21st 2007


17 Comments


And, ironically, "The Annoying Song" is one of my favourites.

Zebra
Moderator
June 30th 2007


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I actually saw "Who Was In My Room Last Night?" on a Beavis and Butthead re-run last night and it reminded me how much I love the Butthole Surfers. I still feel that this is inferior to a lot of their early 80's material but is still an extremely strong album front to back.

foreverendeared
November 14th 2008


14678 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

awesome album is awesome

random
December 4th 2010


2267 Comments


This album makes me want to headbang.

MementoRepeater
February 11th 2012


8 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The best their straightforward stuff can get is on this album.

zakalwe
March 5th 2014


8485 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The Surfers rule.

Digging: Luciano Basso - Voci



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