Violent Femmes – Permanent Record: Live & Otherwise

In 1983 I was watching the Whistle Test (“no longer old & grey…”) when a band I’d never heard of before were introduced as the studio guests for that week. What followed was a stripped to the bone, dark country song about a man murdering his youngest daughter. It was hypnotic and dangerous. I knew I was watching something very, very special. The band were The Violent Femmes. I insisted that my mum buy me the album they were promoting (Hallowed Ground, still one of my all time favoutires – but, that’s another story). And so, for the last (I’ve just realised) twenty-odd years I’ve been picking up their sparodic releases as they come along. In all that time I’ve only managed to catch them live the once (in 2000) and needless to say it was a near religious experience for me.

And so to their first DVD. There was a live video previously, released as part of that Channel 4 series that also spawned stuff by The Icicle Works, Orange Juice and Lloyd Cole (and probably some other folk I can’t remember). I had the Icicles one, but that was just because it was avaiable in What Everys for two quid at one point. As with live albums I really don’t have any interest in live footage (or video comps for that matter). But, there’s such a dearth of visual Femmes stuff that this I just had to have.

The live footage is one of the most atmosphere-less sterile pieces of gig filming I think I’ve ever seen. Kudos to the band for still coming across as completely inspired.

The whole DVD has very much an early 90’s MTV type feel to it (with the exception of the Gone Daddy Gone video). It’s as if this was when the label had enough to fork out for videos etc for them, but wasn’t really willing to be too generous. So, everything is so generic or maybe familiar despite never having seen any of them. Worst of all are the two vaguely “industrial/goth” singles off of New Times – looks like such a desperate effort to sell them to the wrong audience. (“Don’t Start Me On The Liquor” should’ve been the single ffom there.)

I keep thinking this is one for the fans only. But, realise that’s because I would hate someone to come to the band through this and think they were that slickly stuck in a certain time. I loved every minute.

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Written by Tony Kiernan

28 September 2005 at 9:51 pm

Posted in DVD

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