With the Violent Femmes hitting Australian shores again soon, here’s a Throwback Thursday to lead singer Gordon Gano‘s solo album from 2002.
Hitting the Ground GORDON GANO (Shock)
By Mary Boukouvalas
I think everyone can probably remember the very first time they heard, and sang, a Violent Femmes song. Whether it was singing the chorus to Blister in the Sun –first loudly then softly then loudly again, or chanting the words to Add It Up, or proudly knowing how to sing all ten reasons in Kiss Off.
Now, lead singer and songwriter, Gordon Gano is back with his solo album Hitting the Ground and I am sure many will love singing to these tracks as well.
Gano may have gone solo but unaccompanied is not the best way to describe his first solo album without the Violent Femmes. This album is packed with guests – and what great eclectic line-up of guests they are. He has gathered Mary Lou Lord, John Cale, Lou Reed, They Might Be Giants, Linda Perry, Frank Black, Cynthia Gayneau, Martha Wainwright and the gorgeous PJ Harvey to open with Hitting the Ground.
So It Goes, sung by the former 4 Non Blondes, Linda Perry is evocatively haunting. Oh Wonder by Mary Lou Lord is tenderly ethereal. Frank Black’s thrashy take on Run is fantastic, as is Darlin’ Allison by They Might Be Giants. Religious influence – very apparent with many older Violent Femmes songs- is included on this album with the country-ish Merry Christmas Brother sung by Cynthia Gayneau. Gano’s appreciation of good musicianship comes through in this album as he invites two Velvet Underground greats to perform. Lou Reed’s vocals and guitar on Catch ‘Em in the Act are excellent, as are John Cale’s vocals and piano on Don’t Pretend.
Although Gano wrote all the songs, apart from Caught in the Act which he co-wrote with Lou Reed, his vocals only appear on three songs. Make It Happen is vintage Violent Femmes. Maybe this is why he chose not to perform most songs himself – so that he could detach himself from the unique sounding Violent Femmes. On the entertaining It’s Money, Gano shares vocals with Martha Wainwright. There are two versions of the title track Hitting The Ground. PJ Harvey opens the album with a very Violent Femmes sounding version and Gano closes the album himself, reminding us that he hit the ground running.
Hitting the Ground is an amalgamation of the addictive sound of the Violent Femmes with the perfect delight of an eclectic group of musical idols. The prolific artistic ability of the Violent Femmes lead man Gordon Gano, combined with the all-star vocal line-up, makes this album a necessity.
First Printed in BEAT Magazine, 2002.
For more information about Violent Femmes’ upcoming Australasian tour, see Scene News.