So where was I? oh yes, Faster Pussycat Wake Me When it’s Over. Now every rock band back in the late 80’s, always said in interviews that their second LP would be gnarlier and heavier, usually before serving up more of the same, except with fewer good tunes*, Faster Pussycat pretty much pulled it off with their second LP though which landed in September 1989. Right from the start ‘Where There’s a Whip There’s a Way’ sets a dark, rumbling tone fully in keeping with the macabre cover art and the voodoo fetish schtick on the back cover. A twisted tale of bondage which I thought was about the rudest thing I had ever heard at the time, ‘She grinds her leather like Liberace rhines a stone’ being my favourite line.
Some rockers of my acquaintance decided they just thought Faster Pussycat were trying to ‘do an Aerosmith’, but I always thought there was a bit more going on here and on darker cuts like ‘Cryin Shame’ at least they were doing Rocks-era Aerosmith at worst – actually the atmospheric ‘Cryin Shame’ was a bit of a revelation listening to the LP again today, not such lightweight lap cats after all**. I loved the funkier undercarriage that powered ‘Pulling Weeds’, ‘Little Dove’ and ‘Poison Ivy’ and the rockier tracks like ‘Slip of the Tongue’ (‘With a slip of the tongue I’m in deep shit / I’m so bad off I can taste it’ – what could they possibly mean?) did the business, with only the terminally pants ‘Tattoo’ really letting the side down. There was a bit of a shock too with the, inevitable, ballad ‘House of Pain’ which cut an unexpectedly heartfelt and emotional furrow by being about Taime Downe’s broken home, it’s not an easy listen actually for that very reason.
I don’t remember this being a popular LP at the time, but enough people must have bought it because I keep seeing copies in second-hand record shops. My little crew at the time all thought it was great and so when they played at St David’s Hall in Cardiff on 6 December 1989 I was there with gf and friend and it was great, partly because it was my introduction to The Almighty, who supported and because we got chatting to Phil Wilding from Kerrang! who mentioned us in his review of the show!^ True teenage kicks. I was home and dry, my chosen band had really delivered, live they were punchy and tough and I wore my Wake Me When it’s Over tour T-shirt with pride.
Inevitably I went on and bought all the singles from the LP too – 12″s of House of Pain, which included three undistinguished live tracks, Poison Ivy which included 2 very good live versions of ‘Babylon’ and ‘Slip of the Tongue’ and, of course, the 12″ picture disc of House of Pain, complete with cool cat logo picture – although looking at it today the colours in it are bleeding slightly …
I also treated myself to a phenomenon peculiar to the pre-internet, information starved 80’s the BaktaBak Interview Picture Disc LP which turned out to be a truly boring interview with the drummer, Mark Michaels (who got arrested and sacked for accepting a package of heroin through the post, if memory serves me right). Neglecting my 1537 duties for only the second time I’m afraid I only skimmed through it in 2 minute chunks; the interviewer sounds bored out of his mind too. To be entirely fair in the right hands the interview disc works, I have a great Andrew Eldritch one, where he comes across as intelligent, clever and sarcastic, good company basically; maybe comparing the drummer of a scuzzy LA glam band to the High Overlord of Goth is a little unfair, so I won’t. I can’t ever see myself playing this again – this is also not the record I would pick to have played to me if I was in a coma in order to bring me round. Even at the height of my teen fandom, I think I only played this the once.
So there you have it – Faster Pussycat, the rise. In about 2 years time, when I/you can face it, I’ll treat you to the fall. It is slightly odd to listen again to music which meant so much to me at a certain time, formed part of my very identity for a while and because it’s good, but not brilliant, I’m left pretty unmoved by the whole experience. But, hey! if you’re listening to Wake Me When it’s Over looking for emotional impact, then I’m afraid you are letting the wrong guy take you to prom.
*the honourable exception being Skid Row with Slave to the Grind, where they really did mean it.
** ‘They butchered the boy and threw his body in a shallow grave / For weeks under the leaves he just sat there dead / Without a breath of life in his bones’ – not exactly ‘I got your number off the bathroom wall’ is it?
^ To quote (from my scrapbook of course) ‘while ‘Slip of the Tongue’ tells of accidental anal oral sex and the three in front of me punch the air accordingly’. Hmm.