Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Cows - Daddy Has A Tail!

The Cows
Daddy Has A Tail!

Released 1989 on Amphetamine Reptile
Reviewed by Dog 3000, 26/02/2004ce

1. Shaking
2. Camouflage Monkey
3. Part My Konk
4. Bum In The Alley
5. Chow
6. By The Throat
7. Miss Her Beer
8. Chasin' Darla
9. Sticky & Sweet

Shannon Selberg - vocals, bugle
Thor Eisentrager - guitar
Kevin Rutmanis - bass
Tony Oliveri - drums

The Cows sound a bit like some lost 60's garage rock combo, but with the 80's underground's attention to oceanic lo-fi guitar textures, and also with lots of degenerate cowboy hijinks. Circa 1990-1995 The Cows were arguably the American Midwest's premiere noise-punk band, based out of Minneapolis but perpetually on the road. Shannon Selberg was spotted in many a dive bar screeching til his face turned purple, sometimes playing a bugle which looked like it had been run over by a truck, and frequently staring down audiences while wearing nothing but a bra and panties drawn on his body in magic marker. (I also saw him swallow a lit cigarette once. Total freakshow!) Meanwhile Kevin Rutmanis plays thick skronky chords on slide-bass, the drumming is equal parts caveman stomp and cowboy boogie, and the axe of Thor churns and the amplifier burns.

Imagine if you will the sound of: Husker Du if they were out-of-work drifter carnies from Montana, Killdozer going country & western, or maybe Butthole Surfers after giving up weed & acid for Old Milwaukee & speedballs. Lyrically their songs are pretty interesting too, combining bizarre pop-culture references ("I feel like Tron!") with snapshots of life in the gutter, including a healthy does of scat & perversion (a later album was entitled "Sexy Pee Story.")

"Daddy Has A Tail!" was their 2nd album and first on a "real record label." They pretty much employ the same signature wall of sound on everything they've ever done, but have an above average sense of hooks and dynamics so that the tunes aren't as samey as you might expect. For a "punk" band, they also aren't afraid to do some slower material, which Selberg pulls off with a real flair for the dramatic.

Some track highlights:

"Shaking" is a rewrite of the old warhorse "Shaking All Over" that is typical of the Cows mentality: "yo girl I love it when you make my asshole bleed / that's when I get the shakes inside of me . . . " It's totally sick & totally loud & totally great!

"Part My Konk" is a bluesy sea chanty with Rutmanis sawing away on slide bass while the guitar just conjures up boiling noise from the basement (sounds kinda like the Les Rallizes Denudes CD I just got my hands on!)

"Bum In the Alley" alternates manic blasts of all-out noise with shithead whiteboy blues. Selberg describes the titular character but basically sounds like a crazy bum in the alley himself, giving it a kind of finger-pointing-in-the-mirror irony. He plays some wild cowbell too.

"Chow" is the mightiest wall of soup on the record, powered by deep rising and falling bass slides that make it seem like the floor is moving beneath you, while the guitar textures nearly reach the depth and beauty of prime Sonic Youth.

"Miss Her Beer" is an oddly catchy tune with an interesting hook where the whole band stops and Selberg coos "ooo-hoo!" Toward the end it just turns into a shitpile of noise complete with subliminal metal guitar weedly-deedle buried in the muck.

"Sticky & Sweet" is almost like a piss-take of a power ballad, with some inspired bad-metaphor love lyrics: "I am a waffle and you are the syrup / I am covered with square dents, you are sticky & sweet" And my favorite verse (quoting directly from a classic episode of Star Trek): "She said, this ship is mine and you are my slave / my name is Khan and I have ten times your strength!" On the mellower bits the guitar really sounds like Thurston Moore on this one, squalling dripping psych trance noises.

Two other Cows albums which I would recommend equally highly are "Peacetika" (1991) and "Cunning Stunts" (1992).

I got my version of "Daddy Has A Tail!" as part of a two-fer CD along with their 4th LP "Peacetika".

AmRep also put out a CD called "Old Gold 1989-1991" which includes most of "Daddy", "Peacetika" & their 3rd album "Effete & Impudent Snobs".

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