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Violent Femmes

Why Do Birds Sing?

    The textbook American cult band of the ‘80s, Violent Femmes captured the essence of teen angst with remarkable precision; raw and jittery, the trio’s music found little commercial success but nonetheless emerged as the soundtrack for the lives of troubled adolescents the world over. Their self-titled 1983 debut was a blueprint for legions of sardonic alternative rockers that would follow, and they continued their blend of searing, darkly humorous lyrics and sharp-edged folk-rock on other standout albums like 1991’s Why Do Birds Sing.

    Violent Femmes formed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the early ‘80s, made up of singer/guitarist Gordon Gano, bassist Brian Ritchie, and percussionist Victor DeLorenzo. After being discovered by the Pretenders’ James Honeyman-Scott while they were busking on the street, the band signed to Slash and issued their self-titled debut, a melodic folk-punk collection which struck an obvious chord with young listeners who felt a strong connection to bitter, frustrated songs like “Blister in the Sun,” “Kiss Off” and “Add It Up.” Though never a chart hit, the album remained a rite of passage for succeeding generations of teen outsiders, and after close to a decade after release, it finally achieved platinum status.

    40 years on, Violent Femmes’ legacy remains strong, while their influence can be heard across multiple genres—from the anti-folk movement of the early 2000s to the chart-topping hits of Barenaked Ladies, and the indie-pop of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. In 2014, Popmatters declared that the folk-punk pioneers “may have very quietly been one of the most important rock bands of the 1980s, if not the past quarter-century…[They] celebrated the simplicity of pop music from the fringes, attacking convention with a mix of humour and violence.” Pitchfork argued that “The Femmes don’t signify an era so much as a time of life,” adding that “for young people growing up in the internet age” their music “is part of a shared language.”

    Why Do Birds Sing? is the fifth studio album from the textbook American cult band, Violent Femmes. It was their last studio album with original drummer, Victor DeLorenzo. Featuring the fan favourite “American Music,” which reached No. 2 in the Billboard Modern Rock Chart, as well as a cover of Culture Club’s “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me.”


    Side A
    American Music
    Out The Window
    Look Like That
    Do You Really Want To Hurt Me
    Hey Nonny Nonny
    Used To Be
    Side B
    Girl Trouble
    He Likes Me
    Life Is A Scream
    Flamingo Baby
    Lack Of Knowledge
    More Money Tonight
    I'm Free

    Disc 1
    1. American Music
    2. Out The Window
    3. Look Like That
    4. Do You Really Want To Hurt Me
    5. Hey Nonny Nonny
    6. Used To Be
    7. Girl Trouble
    8. He Likes Me
    9. Life Is A Scream
    10. Flamingo Baby
    11. Lack Of Knowledge
    12. More Money Tonight
    13. I'm Free
    14. Me And You*
    15. Color Me Once (Early Version)*
    16. 4 Seasons (Early Version)*
    17. Breaking Up (Early Version)*
    18. American Music (Alternate Mix)*
    19. Dance, M.F., Dance!

    Disc 2
    1. Look Like That (Live At The Boathouse, Norfolk, VA / 1991)
    2. Out The Window (Live At The Boathouse, Norfolk, VA / 1991)
    3. Fat (Live At The Boathouse, Norfolk, VA / 1991)
    4. Blister In The Sun (Live At The Boathouse, Norfolk, VA / 1991)
    5. Prove My Love (Live At The Boathouse, Norfolk, VA / 1991)
    6. Country Death Song (Live At The Boathouse, Norfolk, VA / 1991)
    7. Old Mother Reagan (Live At The Boathouse, Norfolk, VA / 1991)
    8. Confessions (Live At The Boathouse, Norfolk, VA / 1991)
    9. Girl Trouble (Live At The Boathouse, Norfolk, VA / 1991)
    10. Add It Up (Live At The Boathouse, Norfolk, VA / 1991)
    11. Good Feeling (Live At The Boathouse, Norfolk, VA / 1991)
    12. More Money Tonight (Live At The Boathouse, Norfolk, VA / 1991)


    Radio Free Europe

      R.E.M.’s first and breakthrough single “Radio Free Europe” was initially released by a small Atlanta-based record label, Hib-Tone Records. Produced by Mitch Easter, the original recording of the single had different mixes by Easter and by label-owner Johnny Hibbert. Although the band preferred Easter’s mix, Hibbert chose his version for the 1981 limited pressing 45RPM single, which is now a coveted collector’s item, packaged in a black and white sleeve featuring original photography by Michael Stipe.

      “Radio Free Europe” was later re-recorded for the band’s first album release on major record label I.R.S. Records and went on to land the band their chart debut, peaking at number 78 in the Billboard Pop Chart. That album, Murmur, went on to reach number 36 in the album charts, and set the band steadfastly on the path to college radio domination and critical acclaim. The band’s 1988 compilation album, Eponymous, included what was called the Original Hib-Tone single, but what was in fact Easter’s original mix, not Hibbert’s.

      This limited edition 7” pressing represents the first-ever re-release of the original Hib-Tone recording of “Radio Free Europe,” and comes housed in a replica sleeve.


      Side A
      Radio Free Europe

      Side B
      Sitting Still

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