You’ve probably never heard of the Glasgow indie-pop band The Vaselines. And, if you have heard of them, it’s probably only because Kurt Cobain was madly in love with them. Luckily, Sub Pop Records has reissued The Vaselines’ entire (and unfortunately brief) catalogue so that the rest of the world can hear what Cobain was salivating about.
Enter The Vaselines remasters the group’s first two EPs (Sun Of A Gun and Dying For It) as well as its only full-length album, Dum-Dum. In addition, Sub Pop has culled some demos, B-sides and live performances in Bristol and in London.
The Vaselines are made up of Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee. They play very low-fi/DIY pop situated somewhere between the noise pop of The Jesus and Mary Chain, the British indie of The Stone Rosesand the twee pop of Beat Happening.
Kelly and McKee sing sexual songs of a not-so-serious nature (see “Monsterpussy” and “Rory Rides Me Raw”). Their tunes are playful, catchy and modest. Their biggest “hit,” “Son Of A Gun,” starts off with a growling electric guitar before Kelly and McKee trade off lines like, “Gun gun son of a gun / You are the only one / And no one else can take my place / The sun shines in the bedroom when you play / And the raining always starts when you go away.” The song then unexpectedly turns into a sweet Scottish lilt, with the growling guitar getting replaced by a time-keeping drum line and a passionate piano key. The song is minimal, lush and very satisfying, especially when the guitar returns for the coda.
This collection has many great moments, like the trashy hilarity of lyrics like “I’m a teenage Jesus superstar without a mighty cross to bear / And when mom complains about my hair / I say hey mom I just don’t care,” from the song “Teenage Superstars.”
Whether you own the dirty, scuffed, original DIY releases or are just hearing about The Vaselines for the first time, Enter The Vaselines is a wonderful document of a band that kept things both playful and raw. Look out for an upcoming North American tour in the near future.