Butthole Surfers
Hairway to Steven


3.5
great

Review

by Sean H. CONTRIBUTOR (124 Reviews)
February 6th, 2019 | 7 replies


Release Date: 1989 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Chapter 5: “What Do You Know About Reality? I Am Reality!”

Where do you go stylistically after an artistic statement like Locust Abortion Technician, a soon-to-be cult classic record that prioritized deconstructing the Surfers’ sound to its most ugly and unappealing❓ Do you throw your hands up, accepting that you've reached the peak of your collective trajectory❓ Do you climb back upon your jet ski and try to jump the shark again, knowing damn well it could be your final ride❓ Or, do you aim for something else, something a bit more traditional, for lack of a better word❓ The Surfers opted for Hairway to Steven, a record that opts the last of those choices. Yes, despite the title and cover giving off the same “bastardization-of-rock-and-roll” vibe as much of their discography, this full-length was, at the time of release, the group’s most accessible record.

The thing to understand about the sessions of Hairway, and therefore the whole record, is it was much more cohesive. Recorded in a much shorter amount of time, in only one studio, and with completely written songs, Hairway plays out like a much more stable collection of songs that carry uncharacteristically consistent melodies and ideas. Barring “Jimi,” the 12 minute opener that shifts from sludgy riffs to a simple acoustic jam about 9 minutes in, every song here follows one straightforward idea for its entire run time . “I Saw an X-Ray of a Girl Passing Gas” is a catchy psychedelic fuzz song. “Rocky” is a guitar driven rocker with a mocking conviction. “Backass” is a noise rock jam that offers a more stripped down version of Rembrandt Pussyhorse’s style. “John E. Smoke” is a nonsensical folk narrative played in front of a fake audience of adoring masses. Every song has a clear aim, with tunefulness, progression, and forethought.

Because of that, Hairway To Steven loses some the Surfer’s previous magic. I mean, we've still got humorous lyrics about fucking the pope and jerking off in outer-space (you can thank album highlight “Julio Iglesias” for those specific mental images) and obtuse concepts like originally titling every song with stupid doodles instead of with letters [1], but what is the Surfers without music that makes me feel like I’m being harassed by Texan asswipes with bullhorns❓ I guess it’s easier to point out the flaws in a record that strips back the layers of rotten meat and pungent fog, such as the repetitive song structures towards the back end or some rough mixing choices on songs that feature acoustic and electric instrumentation.

It’s hard for me to say whether or not I’d be harder or softer on this release if it wasn't put out by this band. What I do know is that Hairway to Steven would most likely offer a very good gateway album for the band as a whole and that this style change most likely netted more fans who wanted dick and shit jokes with less Gibbytronix. I also will say that a majority of these songs appear in a much more lively fashion on the superior Double Live album, which manages to re-contextualize this album into the group’s back catalogue. But, as for this record, it’s an undeniably fun album that would soon lead the group on a new path.

[1] - http://www.buttholesurfers.com/img/hairwayfront.jpg [scatological/sexual doodles, possibly NSFW]



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3.8
excellent
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Bloon
Contributing Reviewer
February 6th 2019


2955 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks to granitenotebook for helping me out. :]

Stream the album here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvWG0AuvF4U

Chapter 5...

Previous Review: https://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/78712/Butthole-Surfers-Locust-Abortion-Technician/

Next Review: coming soon

Side note: Shout out to the other review on the site, its old but it's pretty cool.

https://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/34089/Butthole-Surfers-Hairway-to-Steven

ArsMoriendi
February 6th 2019


27288 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice.

Digging: J Dilla - Donuts

ArsMoriendi
February 6th 2019


27288 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

JULIO IGLESIAS



JACKED OFF IN OUTER SPACIAS

Bloon
Contributing Reviewer
February 6th 2019


2955 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

julio iglesias is honestly one of my favorite surfers songs at this point

you like double live ars?

ArsMoriendi
February 7th 2019


27288 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm terrible when it comes to live albums



I never listen to 'em

TheSonomaDude
February 7th 2019


6875 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I remember I'd jam this and other Butthole Suffers albums every day after school in the 8th grade with this kid from Ireland. this was def his favorite from them but i prefered IWS way more...brings back memories, might give this another spin

Bloon
Contributing Reviewer
February 7th 2019


2955 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

That's cool, iws is better than this one imo



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