My dear friend Ed’s not having a good time these days, so I’m writing this to cheer him up, hopefully. More than that, with the latest controversy over the use of Kurt Cobain’s image in the computer game ‘Guitar Hero 5’, it seems timely to reinvestigate the FF career of his ex-wife.
Before they even released their first LP, Pretty On The Inside, Hole had laid down a Peel Session, which contained an early version, notable for its more withdrawn and less sardonic attitude, of Doll Parts (FF 1994 #45). This was written after Courtney Love had met Cobain and felt he wasn’t interested in her, but after his apparent suicide, it took on more sombre overtones, and led to some quite unrestrained live performances. The lead track from Live Through This, it met success in the charts and prompted this appearance on Top Of The Pops, described by JP as a ‘will-she-won’t-she’ moment.
From the same session, a song which revealed absolutely no affection for its subject, Violet (FF 1995 #28), dissed Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins in no uncertain terms: ostensibly, Courtney had had a relationship with him in the early 90s. The suggestion it could be about another part of her past is something I’d rather not investigate: suffice to say that this is a prime cut, the repeated ‘take everything’ line stabbing home with conviction the desolation felt by a person at the end of their tether. The strange fact that this made the chart four years after it was recorded can be explained by the fact that the whole session wasn’t made generally available until the release of Ask For It in September 1995 on Caroline Records.
That is something which cannot be said for the band’s second session, recorded in a gap on Hole’s European tour and which I have never seen available anywhere: my thanks to Martin of the Peel Mailing List for providing this. Olympia (FF 1993 #25) replaced Rock Star on Live Through This at the last minute, since the other song was either ‘artistically insensitive to Nirvana’ or ‘artistically inappropriate to Hole’s style at that time’ (take your pick). It has a great build, and tends to overshadow the other tracks, but the session overall still shows a band at the plenitude of its powers, and capped a year that saw them gain unrepeatable success.
To round out this brief assessment of an energetic and pivotal band, Beautiful Son (FF 1993 #47) really kicks the shit. Hole’s only single of 1993, it was a paean to Kurt’s love of wearing dresses. Yes, you did read that right. It turned up on the compilation My Body The Hand Grenade, and the three-track single as a whole is Leslie Hardy’s only recording as bassist for the band. And here we have them ripping up the Channel 4 studios in my favourite waste of time, ‘The Word’.
Will Hole reform? Would we even want them to? It’s telling that Courtney said in an interview with Kurt Loder, ‘I cannot exist as a solo artist. It’s a joke.’ Maybe some things are best remembered, not reinvented.
Hole, Peel Session 1991-11-19
Doll Parts/Violet/Drown Soda/Forming-Hot Chocolate Boy
Hole, Peel Session 1993-03-25
Olympia/She Walks On Me/The Void/Pee Girl
Hole, Doll Parts
Hole, Beautiful Son