Wednesday, July 28, 2010
My memories are extremely fractured but I clearly recall the spring of 1993 or so when I was living in downtown Lexington attending the University of Kentucky. I was in an extremely small and rather trashy efficiency apartment in a pretty bad section of town near campus. To escape the noise of my neighbors, a collective group that included rednecks, drug-dealers, addicts and assorted shady figures, I would leave my apartment every chance I got to usually go and haunt any number of the local record and book shops that were nearby. It was an extreme period of my life, as well as my most social, and I think I was fairly well known around the area as the guy with long purple hair who never had a dime in his pocket but who could always be seen returning home with a stack of records under his arm. My taste was as extreme as my mood in that period with platters by everyone from PiL to Lydia Lunch to Killing Joke occupying most of my record player's time.
I had recently fallen under the spell of the ferocious and quite brilliant lyrical pull of Kathleen Hanna and her mesmerizing band Bikini Kill, so much of my time was spent looking for fanzines and 45s from the Riot Girrrl movement. Actually most of the other groups from that loud and in your face scene left me cold but I was really captivated by Bikini Kill, especially the raw emotion and force Hanna always delivered with her words and voice. For a Summer or so I was completely enamored and would often quote Hanna's unflinching lyrics to my friends in one of the many creative writing classes I took, most of them under the tutelage of the brilliant and much missed James Baker Hall.
My favorite recording from Bikini Kill remains their lone Peel Session EP, preserved on a semi-legitimate 4-song 45 that I picked up at Lexington's once mighty Cut Corner, a store (since closed down) that was located down from campus on Limestone. I found the 45, which featured "Star Bellied Boy" and "Demirep" on Side A with "New Radio" and "Not Right Now" on the flip in Cut Corner's basement, a vinyl lover's paradise. It cost just a buck or two, I played it constantly throughout the summer as I waited with a mixture of excitement and dread for the fall classes to start.
The Peel Sessions EP isn't Hanna's finest moment, she has rightly said Bikini Kill's stunning sides produced by Joan Jett remains the best thing she has ever done, but it remains bloody brilliant and captures the band at their most confrontational and wonderful. "Star Bellied Boy" is particularly jaw-dropping and is played with the kind of splintering energy that hadn't been heard since the late seventies No Wave movement. I miss Bikini Kill, and the sheer nerve of them, I miss my long purple hair and even that shitty little apartment (but not often). I especially miss Cut Corner, one of the last of the real indie record stores in the area. Thankfully another indie shop resides in the spot now, CD Central, but that basement where I found so many of favorite vinyl sides is long, long gone...