Friday, January 9, 2009

Leatherface - Little White God

Leatherface - 'Little White God'

(Click to view larger)


Leatherface - Little White God 7" (RUG16/Domino, 1994)

A1 - 'Little White God'

B2 - 'I Gotta Right'

B3 - 'Meaning'

& from Leatherface - Win Some, Lose Some 7" (DUMP018/Rugger Bugger Discs, 1994)

04 - 'Discipline' (live)

05 - 'Colorado Joe/Leningrad Vlad' (live)


Buy Little White God 7" from Domino Records

Discography information from the Shipyards


I found this via an mp3 blog a week or so ago, but I just listened to it yesterday. The five tracks appear to be from two different 7" releases, albeit consecutive ones. In any case, 'Little White God' is one of the indescribably superb Leatherface's best songs (the opening track from The Last album, previous post here), while a couple of prime-era Leatherface b-sides and a pair of early live tracks make for a nice collection.

I've read 'Little White God' described as 'reggae-influenced', which makes a certain amount of sense from the song's bouncy nature; plus, ever since the Clash or the Ruts, British punk has often absorbed strong elements of its companion genre. It's somewhat akin, in a hardcore setting, to the dub reggae influence on Fugazi's Repeater, which was released around the same time as Leatherface reached their early-90s prime.

Aside from that, 'Little White God' is an outstanding post-hardcore song about drugs and personal choices/addictions. Leatherface lyrics always have a certain ambiguity about them, in the combination of apparent positives and negatives, or ironic and (apparently) sincere statements. I'm never sure exactly what they're saying, but I understand just enough for them to make an impact.

Further impact comes from the excellent cover artwork, a masterpiece in the technological-industrial blazing punk post-hardcore meme. Though I'm not quite sure why someone would be welding a razor blade - if that what's it is - it sure looks fantastic. Added to that, as I just realised today, is the strength of the block-lettered 'Leatherface' name - in red or black on the other albums - with its dropped shadows and almost-typical font (look at the R) which is just the right side of subtle and artistic.

Of the B-sides, 'I Gotta Right' is an enthusiastic fast-loud rock'n'roll hardcore type of song, with prominent, riffing guitar work; while 'Meaning' is the slower, more melodic type of post-hardcore typical of the Minx album - where Leatherface lost some of the cathartic immediacy of their masterpiece, Mush, but mostly made up for it with less obvious, almost balladic pathos. The two live tracks - flip-side to the 7" release of 'Win Some, Lose Some' and 'Ba Ba Ba Ba Boo' - take several steps further back, right to Leatherface's first album, 1989's Cherry Knowle which was much more straightforwardly hardcore-like than anything else the band did after.

Sonically and lyrically, the authority-critical 'Discipline' and the obviously cold-war-era 'Colorado Joe/Leningrad Vlad' ("USSR, USA, they're so gay" - I think using the word in an ironic twist on the 'happy' meaning rather than simplified homophobia) are the link between 80s hardcore punk and its progression, in the Leatherface sound, into 90s post-hardcore - quite outside of Dischord Records and the post-Revolution Summer group of bands, although there is a Leatherface/Jawbox live split.

As it happened, Leatherface moved - largely via Mush - from being purely known in the UK scene to relatively wide recognition in the US, and joining the Avail/Hot Water Music/J Church group of alternately gruff and poppy post-hardcore bands - and eventually leading to the sublime Leatherface/Hot Water Music BYO split series album (posted here) that marked the return of Leatherface after the Last breakup.


Anonymous said...

Greatest band ever!!!

cretin said...

"Little White God" has to be my favourite Leatherface song, it just has some fantastic hooks to it (that opening riff never fails to suck me in).

also love the descriptor "alternately gruff and poppy post-hardcore bands", since it's a good, direct summation of the bands you mentioned. it seems there's this portion of bands from the 90's that no longer really fit under the label of post-hardcore as it's now known (which can be quite disparate when compared to the classic idea of punk as far as song structures go), while still coming off as too rough around the edges to be called pop-punk (especially as it's now known). so for any overly obsessive genreologist, there really isn't any accurate contemporary shorthand for the early HWM's of the world (proto-orgcore?). and, um, that sucks.

god, this seems menial even for me.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Leatherface were ever a hardcore band of any description, much less a post-hardcore band. Just a good ol', straight-up punk rock band.

Brushback said...

I don't own much by Leatherface, but I've always loved this song.

gabbagabbahey said...

brushback - yes, and I didn't know before now that the 7" is still (supposedly) available, so I should really add it to my collection.

cretin - probably that opening riff is the most 'reggae' part, actually.

has 'genreology' ever been a word? I just though you had mispelt genealogy at first.

'orgcore' has got to be an even stupider description than 'skramz'.

and ever since somebody has used an alternate genre name to describe a band from the punk scene, someone else also always said "they're just a really good punk band, end of". people probably say that about Fugazi... I guess we genreologists - genrists I think is better - take it as a given?

cretin said...

exposition: i consider 'better judgment' a form of censorship, and i am sooooo anti-censorship.

and if genreology isn't a word, then i'm making it one, dammit. besides, i can't think of a more cromulent descriptor for those who study the history and evolution of musical genres (losers?)

Anonymous said...

True enough. I just can't see how Leatherface could ever been described as a hardcore band (other than in terms of the tempo of their earlier material). Post-hardcore is even more puzzling to me. I simply see them as a melodic punk band, a truly unique one at that. I'm not against the use of other labels, I just think they tend to obfuscate rather than clarify Leatherface's sound. Maybe I'm just being a bit precious...

cretin said...

well, the term post-hardcore would have originally referred to the concept of a more measured and less aggressive approach to hardcore, like that which was introduced during the much balleyhooed (yes!!!) 'Revolution Summer'. the term has evolved quite a bit to reach its modern connotation, just as punk has evolved from its three-chord beginnings, so depending on which usage you're referring to, considering Leatherface a post-hardcore band could be considered accurate. obviously 'punk' works fine as well, but it's just not obsessive compulsive enough for my liking. either way, i'm quite sure you're not the one being precious in this particular instance.

Eric Vinyl said...

"'Reggae-influenced'"? The Clash? um, How 'bout the Police?? I can't be the only one who strongly hears that influence, especially on the opening riff (and who loves their "Message in a Bottle" cover). Ah, well, the Police was reggata de blanc, anyway, but still...

xdon ricklesx said...

Just a quick couple of notes -- credit where credit is due & all.

"I Gotta Right" is an Iggy Pop song. "Meaning" is a song by China Drum, a group from Leatherface's neck of the woods who had some pretty good songs under their belt, this being one of them. As an avowed & devoted Leatherface fan, I will attest that their cover is just not as good as the original. (IMHMFO.)

Finally, my 7" says that the drums on side two were by Ian Syborne; not sure what Lainey was doing that weekend...

Nice work getting this out there -- like your blog.