Since their humble beginning as a Boston area "noise" band, Anal Cunt has always served as a vehicle for Seth Putnam's thoughts and observations on modern society. Adding lyrics to his creations several years later, the group has had a long and productive run, despite several lineup changes and public spats with what would become ex-drummer Tim Morse. He and Putnam would have creative differences shortly after the release of this album, likely stemming from the pressure set upon them after releasing the critically acclaimed Everyone Should be Killed
. Putnam would later document Morse's inner torment in the 1999 release It Just Gets Worse
with the song Tim is Gay, a touching ode to his dearest friend's struggle to come out of the closet. A year before that, fans were treated with the timeless classic Picnic of Love
during a particularly experimental period in the band's illustrious career, containing heartwarming ballads about feminism and remembering the greatest mother of all on Mother's Day-- mother Earth. Today, we take a trip back to 1995, to a simpler, yet still devilishly complex A.C.
Putnam has long been known for his bold, and often controversial lyrics. While he has managed to offend a great many people, he has also opened up the minds of young people across the world. Who could forget modern classics such as I Went Back in Time and Voted for Hitler-- a tongue-in-cheek, yet eye-opening insight as to how we as a society crave to be ruled over, to have the so-called "bad guys" do the things that we as individuals cannot bring ourselves to do"
However, Top 40 Hits
serves as evidence of Mr. Putnam's history of touching upon sensitive topics, tackling such issues as gay and immigrant rights in Pepe, the Gay Waiter
; a danceable tune not only featuring thought provoking lyrics on teaching tolerance in the workplace, but seemingly effortless gelling of the instruments. Which of course, is complemented by the phenomenal production values on this record. The subtle layering of the guitars, the carefully placed mics to capture the raw emotion and power of every drum fill, not to mention Seth's flat out refusal to use 'studio magic' to make him sound better-- the man's singing is all his own, and though many have tried, none can duplicate his truly unique vocal stylings.
One of the many strong points of the record is Old Lady Across the Hall With No Life
, which talks about how women in their golden years are often given backseat treatment, due to western society's focus on the young and beautiful. #19 to Go
contains witty, yet informed commentary on the Asian-American community and their struggles with keeping their small businesses afloat in the face of competitors such as McDonalds, which Seth has protested by locking the hardcore band Dropdead
in. Don't Call Japanese Hardcore Japcore
is another look at the Asian community, and the constant racism that they're on the receiving end of. You can really feel Putnam's conviction when he cries out "you racist bastards!
". It's quite a stirring piece, and made me reflect on all the negative stereotypes that Asians are burdened with.
It's not all gloom and doom preaching, however. Art Fag
takes a more lighthearted approach, and takes a gander at various niche groups attempts to defect from the mainstream, their encouragement of others to conform to their own set of standards, and the elitism that stems from such behavior. Still A Freshman After All These Years
takes a look at the state of decline that the U.S. public education system is in, and Lives Ruined By Music
discusses pop culture icons and how they've neglected to serve as positive role models for our young people. I for one am quite pleased to hear such bold, insightful commentary made by a man who actually cares about the issues he sings about, rather than pretending to be political by choosing to rip on political columns A or B. Whether it's criticism of the amount of sex and violence on prime time television, such as on Foreplay With A Tree Shredder
, or simply hearing the lovely operatic vocals during Delicious Face Style
, rest assured that the lyrics are always of the highest quality; wholesome, yet engaging.
Breastfeeding Jim J. Bollock's Toenail Collection
starts off with a soft, mellow riff, with some excellent, chilling cleans by Putnam. However when the song finally kicks into high gear is when it truly becomes moving, ending in a fade-out that almost seems to gently whisper "you can let me go now, but please, don't forget me". Now, I won't claim to be on the same level of understanding as the gentlemen of A.C., but to me, I Liked Earache Better When Dig Answered the Phone
appears to be about the cold sterility of record labels, or rather a rant against automated telephone operators and the sense of depersonalization they bring, perhaps"
In addition to the abundance of fresh material found on this record, Top 40 Hits
also contains several cover songs. I don't know about you, but I dread covers on an album. It comes off as lazy, and often seems rushed. Thankfully, Putnam treats these classics with care, respect, and class, and the results are nothing short of superb. Stayin' Alive (Oi! Version)
is a prime example of A.C.'s mastery of genre-blending, effortlessly fusing punk and disco as if they were long lost lovers. The gang also pays tribute to Rupert Holmes in their rendition of Escape (the Piña Colada Song)
. There is also a brief performance of Elton John
's I'm Still Standing
, but honestly it's lacking a certain, shall we say, gravitas. American Woman
finishes up the album, and is another one the record's strong points. One could only deduce that Seth chose this song as sardonic commentary of sorts as to how sexism is still quite prevalent in American society, even in this day and age
Admittedly, Top 40 Hits
isn't without its share of flaws, either. Some Hits
, Some More Hits
, and Even More Hits
may be infectiously catchy, but the three singles were played to death on top 40 stations and TV commercials across the county when this album was released. The second single having been covered by artists ranging from Tori Amos
, and don't even get me started on the Dance Dance Revolution remix. The lone filler track, Josue
, is nothing but 11 seconds of irritating, senseless noise. Frankly, why this band would put something like that on one of their records is beyond me.
Pepe, the Gay Waiter
Stayin' Alive (Oi! Version)
Flower Shop Guy
Breastfeeding Jim J. Bollock's Toenail Collection
Song #9 (Instrumental)