Review Revue: Bongwater – The Big Sell-Out

Happy Thursday, everybody! Welcome to another installment of Review Revue. I’d like to start by thanking my esteemed colleague Kurt B. Reighley for filling in for me while I was off gallivanting about the east coast. I’m starting to think I should have picked someone who would make me look better by comparison, not someone who is an actual writer who actually knows what he’s talking about, rather than a glorified typist like myself. I hope you guys will tolerate my addled maunderings now that you’ve had a taste of the good stuff. And if you missed his posts, do go back to the archive and read them; really good stuff. Now, on to the rock!


On the advice of a previous commenter, I decided to look into the work of Bongwater, the art-rock brainchild of Ann Magnuson and Shimmy-Disc (and now Second Shimmy) founder Kramer. The Power of Pussy, despite its provocative title, didn’t really hold the level of discourse that we’ve become accustomed to here. But their final album The Big Sell-Out, with its layers of irony and soft-core porn, was just the thing to get the KCMU folks all riled up in any number of ways. See if you can dissect and distinguish the irony and sarcasm from the genuine concern and criticism.


“Decent enuf ‘n’ all, but I don’t think they’ll ever top Double Bummer. Y’all should check out Ann’s interview with Soundgarden in the new Spin.” [Oh, hooray for the Internet.]

“Kathy, you always say that!”

“Well, it’s true!”

“I’m happy T.A.R. isn’t here any more.”

“If you want a much better peek at her boobs, March issue of Playboy, 3rd to the last page. You’re welcome.” [I’ll let you guys search for that one on your own, ya pervs.]


“Sell out? Hardly. Kinda laid back, though. To be honest, her in-song monologues are my favorite things. Play 8, 12, 6, 16 & 18 (yes, that song; trust me) for those. Good, ‘straight’ material inc. 3, 4 (great guitar), 5, 9, 11, 15 & 17. Just wish her vocals were mixed higher …”

“Wow, she’s very talented.”

“You mean, ‘wow, nice cleavage!”

“You’re exactly what she’s making fun of.”

“You mean Ann’s making fun of guys (or gals, I s’pose) who slaver over women’s cleavage by accenting her own?! So who is Samantha Fox making fun of? (She must get an even bigger laugh! Get it?) What the ironic conceit of this packaging indicates most (along w/ Bandwagonesque, Hate Songs in E Minor, Every Boy Needs His Fudge [sic — I think he means Mudhoney’s Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge], etc.) is the bankruptcy of the indie scene (in general, anyway) as a source of alternative ideas. Not that I have anything against this rec, really. I’ve hardly heard it. [!!????!] P.S. Looking at the rec – again, I haven’t heard much of it — yes, it’s Ann’s breasts I note. I don’t care much for poor Kramer’s suit or haircut. Sorry. Thanks for gettin’ me excited, though.”

“I think she got quite a bit of a silicone injection – maybe she knows LaToya Jackson”

“[If] you can listen to this and find the only thing worth noting to be the size of Ann Magnuson’s tits, then I feel sorry for you. Ever heard of a push-up bra? At any rate, if The Power of Pussy belonged to Magnuson then The Big Sell-Out belongs to Kramer. Some” [I don’t know if we’re missing a sticker, but that’s all we’ve got for that one.]

“These guys and gals are simply brilliant and they’re still putting out vinyl – yeehaw! Good for Shimmy-Disc!”

It seems originally there was much, much more to this record — if you look at the back cover it appears the entire thing might have at one point been covered with an extended dialogue on feminism in the early 90s underground music scene — but sadly, most of it appears to be lost to the ages (maybe deliberately ripped off to better reveal Ann Magnuson’s provocative pose?). There’s another long comment on the front that’s been ripped vertically, so we only get a tantalizing half of every line. (“Yes, J…king fun…by accen…breasts…an artis…that’s gen…stood by…correct…minists’…sker Du’s…”) I guess it’s a good thing for me, as it would probably have taken ages to get it all up here on the blog for you. Still, I can’t help but wonder what we’re missing.





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