The Way Of The Vaselines: A Complete History (Sub Pop ‘92) Rating: A-
Having caught the ear of Kurt Cobain (Nirvana covered “Son Of A Gun,” “Molly’s Lips” and “Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam”), this long broken up band became name checked enough within the hip indie community that Sub Pop decided to re-release their entire output on this one tidy cd. It’s easy to see why Cobain became seduced by the unpretentious charms of Eugene Kelly (who later formed Eugenius) and Frances McKee. Though some of the faster songs here start to sound alike after awhile (one could make a case that this compilation is overly generous), I rather enjoy the band’s groovy garage rockers and raw guitars. Even better are pop savvy songs such as “Son Of A Gun,” “Rory Rides Me Raw,” “Molly’s Lips,” “Slushy,” and the brilliant “Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam” (which always makes me think of Cobain), all of which are near perfect examples of great indie rock. Kelly’s deadpan voice is aided by McKee’s dreamy backing vocals on some delightful harmonies, and she also sings lead on several songs (whatever happened to McKee, who seems to have disappeared after The Vaselines? I would certainly welcome hearing her voice again). The lyrics range from the the mindless Stooges-like messages of “I’m a real dum dum” to tongue in cheek takes on religion and sex (Kelly would later humorously note that they broke up due to “sexual differences”), but all the while it’s apparent that The Vaselines made music for the pure fun of it without ever taking themselves too seriously. Granted, some of these songs are overly simplistic and repetitive, but you’ll be doing yourself a favor if you too investigate why Kurt Cobain loved this band and felt the need to trumpet their virtues. Note: As an added bonus, the unpretentious and often-amusing comments about each song add further value to this fine overall package.