Live Through This was released on this day (April 12) in 1994.
The unforgettable second studio album of Courtney Love's epic riot grrrl band Hole was released 25 years ago today through DGC Records. Live Through This was their best-selling album by far, with more than two million sold worldwide, and it's one of the most important female rock albums of all time.
Hole - Live Through This
The record came three years after their Pretty on the Inside debut and was a very deliberate transition from noisy punk to more melodic rock. Produced by production duo Sean Slade and Paul Q. Kolderie, who previously worked on Radiohead's Pablo Honey, some of the album's themes included body image and beauty standards, motherhood, love, depression and abuse.
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Patty Schemel is known to many as the drummer in Hole from 1992 to 1996. Born in Seattle, she formed Kill Sybil at the age of fifteen with her brother. Five years later, she joined the all-girl punk group Doll Squad. In 1990, she was the first choice of drummer for Nirvana, after Chad Channing left the band. After Dave Grohl's audition, however, she became the second choice but after that, Kurt and Patty became close friends.
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If you log on to the internet, you don't have to look far to find countless current news reports of Courtney Love making something of a spectacle of herself. I desperately wanted this album to blow my mind - to salvage something from the tabloid wreckage that Courtney has become. It makes me sad to say that instead of the riot that Celebrity Skin and Live Through This delivered, Nobody's Daughter pales in comparison: at worst middle of the road radio rock fodder, and at best nothing more than a storm in a teacup.
Given that this 'reformation' of Hole features none of the original members (or even anybody who has featured on previous Hole records), I automatically find the authenticity of Nobody's Daughter hard to believe. To me, this just seems like a Courtney Love solo album, and the use of the Hole brand comes across as a thinly-veiled, yet deviously calculated way of maintaining or re-establishing an enviable bank balance. How very punk rock.
The problem with Nobody's Daughter is that the music is, for the most part, mindlessly bland. The album's first single - Skinny Little Bitch - seems like it is just trying too hard to deliver a fistful of grunge. It seems fake and put on. It feels like Courtney's bite has truly gone, and only shines through on tracks like Samantha and Loser Dust - and even then it's only a faint glimmer of what once was.
Besides these three tracks, the rest of the album is made up of mid-paced and self-pitying plod-throughs like For Once In Your Life and the album's title track, which opens the album with a whisper rather than a roar. That's not to say that all of these songs are bad - Pacific Coast Highway is like a bang up to date version of Celebrity Skin's Malibu, and Someone Else's Bed has a fantastic chorus.
Courtney's performance on Nobody's Daughter is at times questionable, which isn't so good when she has made herself the centre of attention and can't deliver. Her lyrics are still top quality ("watch her wrap her legs around this world, Can't take the gutter from the girl" is a terrific example from Samantha), but sometimes her voice is not strong enough to deliver them at their full potential. Her delivery of the chorus of pacific Coast Highway certainly detracts from an otherwise great song, which is a huge shame. At the worst of times, the vocals serve as nothing more than a distraction from the radio friendly rock on offer here.
In fairness, Nobody's Daughter is probably the best we could have expected from Courtney Love in 2010 - it's a shambolic reflection of her public persona, and only really serves to remind you how great the first few Hole albums really were. If I were Courtney, I personally would have put together a Hole reunion show with Eric Erlandson, Melissa Auf Der Maur and Samantha Maloney and gone on a nostalgia tour, trading off former glories and making an easy buck in the process. As it is, Nobody's Daughter is a disappointing footnote on an otherwise fantastic legacy.