Wednesday, November 09, 2011

90's Hit Parade #16

Hole - Asking For It

It used to seem like there was always a great, ubiquitous, hard rock album out there at any given time. Led Zeppelin IV, Toys in the Attic, Van Halen I, Back in Black, Appetite for album everyone knew back and forth, that sounded great cranked up in a Camaro or blasting out of the Tilt-A-Whirl, an album you could bang your head and air guitar and sing along to. For me, in the early 90's, even more than Nevermind, that album was Hole's Live Through This.

"Asking For It" is my favorite track on Live Through This, and probably the perfect example of what makes Hole a great band. It's a righteous riot grrrl anti-rape anthem grafted onto an eerily beautiful power ballad. And yes, I know Hole weren't officially a part of the whole riot grrrl movement, but that statement requires looking at riot grrrl differently than we look at any other movement in rock. Courtney Love was the great translator of riot grrrl. She translated Kathleen Hannah's rage to mainstream listeners in the same way that Elvis translated rhythm n blues. The chorus of "Asking For It" could easily be from a Bikini Kill song, and Courtney has no problem equaling the rage factor of Kathleen Hannah.

Courtney has always had a Stevie Nicks/"Witchy Woman" vibe to her. It's easy to picture 12-year-old Courtney Love, obsessed with rereading V.C. Andrews' Flowers in the Attic, drawing pictures of horses and listening to Heart's "Crazy on You." So while the screaming refrain echoes riot grrrl rage, the verses have this total full-moon-shining-through-the-Autumnal-branches-as-lace-dress-flutters-in-the-wind feeling. In fact, even the chorus sounds like that. I can't think of another band that pulls this combination off.


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