Like most people I heard of Bloodhound Gang because of “The Bad Touch” and Hooray for Boobies, which my buddy owned on cassette. I was 14 so it was perfect. We had sleepovers where we’d listen to this and They’re All Gonna Laugh at You!! while playing Magic cards. Though to be honest I don’t remember much about either because my friend just wanted to play “At a Medium Pace” over and over and over again. I remember thinking “Mope” was really awesome and when Napster came out I struggled mightily to find it (again – didn’t know the name of the song).
But the one I really got to know was One Fierce Beer Coaster, not because I particularly wanted to, but it just found me in a way. I had some friends whose house I went by a lot; they’d play Diablo II and World of Warcraft while I played poker, trying to carve out some food and tuition money. Obviously my computer housed only the finest of MP3s, but the other one? There was three CDs in a random mix; one by the pop-punk semi-supergroup Transplants, one by Lucky Boys Confusion, and One Fierce Beer Coaster. I’ve probably listened to all these songs at least a hundred times over the course of that year. I liked a few songs by the Transplants, couldn’t stand Lucky Boys, but wound up digging the Bloodhound Gang. “Hold Your Head Up High (And Blow Your Brains Out)” was stuck in my head forever and eventually I knew I had to steal the CD. Not exactly a critical favorite of ’96 – you can just picture Pitchfork giving it a 3.6 and saying “not as funny or clever as it thinks it is”, then cracking some “ironic” joke more offensive than anything on the actual album. I mean you could probably sum up the BHG worldview as “Everything and everybody sucks and is gay, especially me”. A lot of these lyrics are pretty offensive but I think that sort of humor works when you’re also constantly pointing it at yourself. I like Jackass, I like Tosh.0, and I like Andrew Dice Clay – all these things are indefensible to some degree but I’m not a very sophisticated person. I’m not even gonna claim this album is very funny, cuz it’s really not, but I enjoy the shallowness sometimes.
That shallowness extends to the music too, which is generally catchy if unoriginal. Use Your Fingers, their first album, was nearly entirely samples, with a lot of vocal hooks stolen from the hits of the early 80’s, and they’re not exactly discreet about it either. There’s some of that on this album (“Fire Water Burn” is nearly a cover, “It’s Tricky” is a cover, and “Your Only Friends Are Make Believe” is essentially a rewrite of “Hungry Like the Wolf”) though for the most part they fancy themselves as some sort of alt-rock band with turntables, like they’re Sugar Ray or something. One thing that never came through on those computer speakers was just how badly this is produced – the guitar and drums are really muffled and out of focus (especially for this kind of music) while the record scratches get amped up and are put all over the place. In fact the constant scratching might actually be the most obnoxious thing about this album, which is unfortunate because they try so hard with the lyrics. Not that I really need to explain that, not with song titles with “I Wish I Was Queer so I Could Get Chicks” or “Kiss Me Where it Smells Funny”.
The thing about this disc is that none of the singles are all that good, or at least they haven’t held up all that well. Jimmy Pop’s “I’m just a lame ol’ honky” routine on “Fire Water Burn” made the band famous, but the whole “white dudes can’t rap” thing was played out even then (and nowadays is seen as a little racist). “I Wish I Was Queer” is even more insensitive, though what the fuck am I talking about, this is Bloodhound Gang isn’t it? The only time they really go over the line is on “Yellow Fever”, which was cut from most CDs, and rightfully so. “Hold Your Head Up High (And Blow Your Brains Out” is over-the-top cruel and I like it for that, plus it’s a pretty great tune. For some reason it wasn’t a single, though “Why Is Everybody Always Picking On Me?” and “Kiss Me Where it Smells Funny” both were. All these songs are in the first half, and believe it or not the rear end is better. You’ve got “Boom” with the one and only Vanilla Ice, and it’s pretty dope actually. There’s the paranoid electro beats of “Asleep at the Wheel” that makes for one of their catchiest songs (reminds a bit of Kraftwerk, actually). And “Going Nowhere Slow”, probably their best rock song, containing an impressively long, rapid-fire list of the cities the band has toured (how many takes do you think THAT took?). Also – “Shut Up” (fun!), “Your Friends Are Only Make Believe” (strangely moving!), and “Reflections of Remoh” (really dumb!)
All told, I think this is probably their best album, though I guess that’s sort of like picking out your favorite episode of Viva! La Bam. They aren’t boring, but do I really want to admit I listen to these guys?