Review Revue: VA – Sound Bites from the Counterculture

I just realized something: I’ve been posting these old album covers from the ’80s and ’90s for over seven years now, pretty much every Thursday. I think I invented Throwback Thursday, and I didn’t even know it! That’s neither here nor there, but I thought I had to share this important revelation with you all. Don’t let it detract from your desire to donate during the fall pledge drive, of course.

1990 was a different time. The fact that a major label released a spoken-word album with an anti-censorship theme, featuring the likes of Hunter S. Thompson, Eugene McCarthy, Henry Rollins, among many other counterculture types, kind of boggles the mind. The text on the back is just icing on the cake: ”┬áMay contain explicit lyrics descriptive of, advocating, or encouraging one or more fo the following: sodomy, incest, bestiality, sadomasochism, adultery, any form of sexual conduct in a violent context, nudity, satanism, murder, morbid violence, the illegal use of drugs, or the use of alcohol.” I don’t know how many stations played these tracks at the time, but at least the KCMU DJs (particularly gold-star reviewer TAP) were there to parse it all for us.

“Your favorite icons ranting for your listening pleasure. Mostly speeches; only 2.1 and 2.4 are ‘spoken word pieces.’
“1.1 Hunter S. Thompson still railing about Watergate and ’70s-era concerns, probably drunk, sounding eerily like Richard Peterson (the guy with the bucket and trumpet). Grace Slick says ‘shit’ in the intro, but not other red dots. Should appeal to fat, poncho-wearing hippies (like… like… like Grace Slick!)
“1.2 Eugene McCarthy giving a boring speech about our generation. Too many ‘ums’ and stuff. Sounds like a rookie DJ.”
“1.3 Bob Guccione Jr., publisher of Spin, son of Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione. Where he got his English accent is anyone’s guess, but he has a cool speaking voice. Talking about press (mis)treatment of AIDS.
“1.4 Timothy S. Leary. Talking about totalitarianism, and none too clearly. Did way too much acid in the ’60s. RED DOT.
“1.5 Abbie Hoffman. No specific theme, but he touches on the anti-Apartheid and anti-CIA movements to college campuses, drug testing, etc. He sounds kinda desperate, kinda depressed, but he heats up toward the end. His voice reminds you of the stupid guys in cartoons who get outwitted by mice and tweetiebirds. Says ‘piss’ twice, but he’s referring to urine testing.
“2.1 Henry Rollins extolling the virtues of Black Sabbath. Forget about it – about 100 ‘fuck,’ ‘fucked,’ ‘fucking’ and variations thereof. RED DOT.
“2.2 Jello Biafra doing his thing. We’ve all heard him tell this story a million times by now. But did you ever notice how much Jello looks like Neil Sussman?? Well, did you?
“2.3 Danny Sugerman telling us how Jim Morrison showing his organ doomed us all. RED DOT.
“2.4 Jim Carroll something about sex and violence and fear with guitar in the background.
“Either L or M – and let’s have fun with it!”

“This is so hot. At least somebody is doing something to fight the rising tide of censorship in our country (hint – hint – hint).”

“A swell idea. Amazing to see this on a major label. Atlantic, in particular. Do read the back cover.”

“As interesting as this is – it will get pretty wearing on the listener.”

“Abbie Hoffman cut is great. (esp if you mix it w/background instr.)”

“Can we get the CD?”

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