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Violent Femmes Celebrate 20 Years

April 25, 2002 12:00 AM ET

Twenty years after the Violent Femmes released their self-titled debut album, Rhino Records will re-release the LP in a double-disc format, with demo versions and a live record added. The demo versions of Violent Femmes songs such as "Blister in the Sun" are strikingly similar to the album cuts and reveal a band that did its homework before recording.

"We planned things out as much as we could because our resources were extremely tight and limited," says frontman Gordon Gano. "So we felt like we had to go in and execute what we had planned rather than experimenting with things in the studio."

As the Wisconsin trio sifted through its back pages, Gano was caught off-guard by some songs on the live disc, like "In Style" and "How Do You Say Goodbye." "There were a couple songs I hadn't thought about in a long, long time because we never recorded them," he says. "I laughed out loud. I was a little bit surprised at how much energy and spontaneity there is to the tracks."

That spontaneity is due in part to the Violent Femmes unique way of preparing for shows. "We've never had a set list," says Gano. "When we walk on stage we usually decide the first song we're going to play and that allows for a lot of flexibility and responding with the audience and doing different kinds of things, because we're not locked into what the next song is going to be and the one after that. We're the only group I'm aware of that does this. That's something that has always surprised me. Why are all these other rock bands doing something so un-rock & roll as having set lists?"

The expanded edition of Violent Femmes hits stores June 18th. The track listing is as follows:

Disc 1:

Blister in the Sun
Kiss Off
Please Do Not Go
Add It Up
Confessions
Prove My Love
Promise
To The Kill
Gone Daddy Gone
Good Feeling
Demos and More
Girl Trouble (demo)*
Breakin' Up (demo)*
Waiting for the Bus (demo)
Blister in the Sun (demo)*
Kiss Off (demo)*
Please Do Not Go (demo)*
Add It Up (demo)*
Confessions (demo)*
Prove My Love (demo)*
Ugly (U.K. Single)
Gimme the Car (U.K. Single)

Disc 2:

Special (live)
Country Death Song (live)*
To the Kill (live)*
Never Tell (live)*
Break Song (live)*
Her Television (live)*
How Do You Say Goodbye (live)*
Theme and Variations (live)*
Prove My Love (live)*
Gone Daddy Gone (live)*
Promise (live)*
In Style (live)*
Add It Up (live)*
Michael Feldman Interview*
Kiss Off (live)*

*previously unreleased

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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