Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Girl Trouble: Grunge By Association

Hey Lamestain –

Girl Trouble has no business being on your blog. Five reasons:

1. They didn't play grunge. Instead of that sludgy, angst-filled, punk-metal hybrid popularized in late'80s/early '90s Seattle, Girl Trouble's upbeat, dance-friendly, '60s R&B/garage-type music had far more in common with the Sonics than, say, Skin Yard. Still, they shared area gigs with the 'Yard, along with other grungebags like Green River and the Screaming Trees. On February 29, 1989, at the University of Washington's HUB Ballroom, a relatively unknown Nirvana opened for them. Likewise, GT's first LP, Hit It or Quit It, was released on Sub Pop in September 1988, before the seminal grunge label issued Nirvana's "Love Buzz" or Bleach (or, for that matter, Superfuzz Bigmuff and God's Balls, but not before Screaming Life, Dry as a Bone and "Touch Me I'm Sick"). Besides a couple earlier singles on K Records, Girl Trouble also contributed a track to the '88 compilation Sub Pop 200. Amongst typically heavy, brooding cuts by Blood Circus and Cat Butt (whose David Duet briefly sang for Girl Trouble), GT represented with an atypical cover of "Gonna Find a Cave" by the Banana Splits. Not grunge.

2. They didn't look grunge. Despite being photographed by unofficial grunge photog Charles Petersen, Girl Trouble did without the customary flannels, thermals, shaggy manes, Doc Martens and whatnot. Instead, the foursome dressed more like, what, Salvation Army beatniks? During their shows they'd often wear top hats, motorcycle helmets and beanies. For "Six Days on the Road" they wore trucker caps; for "Give Me Back My Wig" they wore -- wait for it! -- wigs. Instead of stage-divers, GT's shows attracted go-go dancers, ages 8 to 80 (actually, at her last performance, Granny Go-Go was 82). And instead of showering audiences with sweat and beer, they showered their crowds with cheap novelty trinkets. Better yet, after most shows, they'd hand out copies of Wig Out! -- the official GT 'zine -- which covered such topics as junk food, thrift-store scores, kiddie-show hosts, lousy movies and the Trinity Broadcasting Network. But yeah, they didn't look grunge.

3. They weren't from Seattle. Girl Trouble hailed from Tacoma -- as the seagull flies, that's 26 miles down the sound from Sub Pop Rock City. In spite of the relative proximity, they certainly weren't a part of any so-called "Seattle scene." In fact, they were conspicuously proud of their hometown roots, as celebrated in "My Hometown" (heard in the grunge documentary Hype!, as well as on the film's soundtrack). If anything, as far as "livability" circa '88, Tacoma was a far grungier burg than Seattle!

4. They didn't break up. Girl Trouble formed in 1983, long before most outfits featured on this blog, and they've rocked with regularity right up to the present, long after most of these bands expired (the mighty Melvins notwithstanding). After nearly a quarter-century of musical mirth, wildman singer Kurt " K.P." Kendall, guitarist Bill "Kahuna" Henderson, bassist Dale "Buddy Love" Phillips and drummer Bon Von Wheelie continue to prove themselves trend-proof, recession-proof, and, well, grunge-proof.

5. They also didn't do heroin, flaunt tattoos and piercings, inspire clueless fashion trends, marry Courtney Hole, appear on MTV, get signed by a major label, get dumped by a major label, get involved in lawsuits, commit suicide, or do anything else to embarrass themselves. Still, Girl Trouble remains lumped in with all those other grungewads, simply because they happened to play in the same approximate geographic area, during the same era, and in the same "underground" clubs as the Tads and the Pearl Jams.

But whatever. At the risk of perpetuating the Girl-Trouble-is-grunge myth at this late date, they remain one of my all-time favorite bands, and I'm happy to spread the word whenever I can.


--Steve


Cleopatra and the Slaves EP

Cleopatra and the Slaves
Who Do You Think You're Foolin'
Mercy

Riverbed 7"

She No Rattle My Cage
Riverbed

Misc.

I'll Make You Sorry
Mohair Sam
Strychnine

7 comments:

yannick said...

Great topic!!!!

Matt said...

I just got new american shame :)
Girl Trouble rock

mr ed said...

my girlfriend is the drummer in the band!!! i will forward this to her.
ed

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