WHAT Butthole Surfers - 22 Going On 23
WHEN Leicester - October 1989
I’m so, so scared…
He saved up the Butthole Surfers' “Locust Abortion Technician” until he thought I was ready. The band name, the title, the album sleeve - all or any of these should have been clues. He turned out the lights, set the record playing and things immediately got wonky. Most albums start with a good strong single. Locust starts with “Sweatloaf”. I mean, what even is a ’sweatloaf’?
"What does regret mean?"
"Well, son, a funny thing about regret is that better to regret something you have done, than to regret something you haven't done. And by the way, if you see your mom this weekend, be sure to tell her SATAN, SATAN, SATAN!!!"
After that, it’s one absurd, disturbed moral failing after another (who calls a song “Kuntz”?). And they save their master stroke until the final track.
“22 Going on 23" is a sludge slow nightmare which mixes a woman's sexual abuse confession on a radio talk show into an all-consuming soundscape. The final guitar solo is terrifying, ecstatic and nightmarish. I still can’t decide if it’s exploitative or cathartic. It is f***ing massive.
At the end of the album I'm sweating / shivering from the force of this initiation. It's the musical equivalent of a bad trip. Fetid, warped and hallucinogenic, “Locust Abortion Technician” is still a shock to the system. Approach with caution.
(If you are intrigued by “Locust Abortion Technician”, I would recommend reading David Stubbs’ great in-depth article for The Quietus celebrating its 25th anniversary. It goes through the album track-by-track and puts it and the band in context)