Sound is Art #2: Hole — ‘Live Through This’

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Background:

The model is 17-year old Leilani Bishop, photographed by Ellen von Unwerth. Frontmwoman Courtney Love said she wanted the cover to shout out “I won! I have hemorrhoid cream under my eyes and adhesive tape on my ass, and I had to scratch and claw and fuck my way up, but I won Miss Congeniality!'”

Does the cover represent the music within?

Seems pretty bang on. The beauty smudged with mascara represents the grunge and the pop. This is, after all, a pop record at heart. There’s the pretence and glamour of a beauty pageant set next to the idea that self-control and individuality are the ultimate gains from victory– once the stage has emptied and the flashing cameras have gone silent–, despite whatever sacrifices were made in order to achieve one’s goal.

Anything else?

Kurt Cobain appeared during one of the recording sessions, taking time out during his own band’s ‘In Utero’ tour, adding backing vocals on several tracks despite previously not heaving heard them. The BBC’s review of the record, that appeared several years after release, stated: “Thankfully, with every year that passes, it becomes easier to put the record’s emotional baggage to one side and appraise it on the strength of its songs.”

We say:

‘Live Through This’ was Hole’s middle record, and clearly their best. This was when the noise and the pop came together perfectly to showcase the group’s finest, most natural set of songs; big choruses, a genuine feeling of positive restlessness, hurt, bitterness, and a confidence and desire to Love’s vocals. It’s undoubtedly a feminist record, one loaded with top tunes to match the bite and the feeling of inequity. A new drummer and bassist added since the release of the, in many ways, more hardcore debut a couple of years prior to this one obviously had a huge impact on the record’s sound. Just like that other wonderful rock-pop album of the same year, ‘Definitely Maybe’, this is the sound of a group both demanding attention and confident of success. Rough around the edges, razor-sharp, and full of big, bad tunes aplenty. The perfect blend. Caught in a moment.

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