Friday, February 23, 2018

Review: Vinyl Edition of Veruca Salt's 'Eight Arms to Hold You'

Producer Brad Wood shot Veruca Salt’s American Thighs through an evocative layer of mid-fi indie gauze, and the result was arguably the strongest debut album since Wood’s production of Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville the year before. However, gnarly monsters like “All Hail Me”, “Victrola”, and the definitive hit “Seether” suggested that Veruca Salt might be happier to Rock without the indie part (so did the disc’s AC/DC-referencing title).

Nina Gordon, Louise Post, Steve Lack, and Jim Shapiro made good on that threat with Eight Arms to Hold You, a ROCK album as full throttle as any by the Young Brothers. With A-bomb-force production from Bob Rock—who’d worked with such hairspray enthusiasts as Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe, David Lee Roth, and Aerosmith—tracks such as “Straight”, “Volcano Girls”, the absolutely killer “Don’t Make Me Prove It”, and “Shutterbug” hit harder than anything on American Thighs. Even poppier numbers such as “With David Bowie” and ballads such as the rapturous “Benjamin” hit harder than the mass of Veruca Salt’s first album. Consequently, Veruca Salt’s recordings lost a good deal of their atmospheric allure, but they gained a lot of power, though in the cases of some of the heavier numbers, that power could get a bit much.

With a refreshingly quiet mastering job, UMe’s new vinyl edition of Eight Arms to Hold You tones down the overwhelming noise a bit, smoothing out Bob Rock’s excesses pleasingly. The vinyl arrives in two formats: 120-gram black and 180-gram gold (which is the one I received for review). Both editions include the bonus track “Good Disaster”, a “B-side” on the original “Volcano Girls” single. Whenever I’d listen to my Eight Arms CD, I’d always picture “Benjamin” as the last track on Side A and “Shutterbug” as the first one on side B (yes, yes—I had a real hard time acclimating to the CD age), but the presence of “Good Disaster” bumps “Shutterbug” to the end of side A for whatever that’s worth. The bonus track serves as a gentle epilogue to the epic “Earthcrosser” in a similar manner to the way “Sleeping Where I Want” followed “25” on American Thighs. The CD booklet is converted to a large insert with band photos on one side and lyrics on the other, though the purple and gold scheme of the booklet lyrics are converted to straight B&W for this vinyl release.

Apparently, this is not the first time Eight Arms to Hold You was available on vinyl, though I’m sure its nineties incarnation was quite a rarity. While issuing the digital recordings of the nineties on vinyl is technically excessive and unnecessary, I still love having those great old CDs are being converted to this more textural format, and I’m glad that Eights Arms to Hold You has been given the opportunity to take part in this fun trend.

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