Friday, June 10, 2005

Woke up in the grass with the assless chaps

Essential: Lifter Puller (Spotify - scroll down for embedded player)

So while many folks are becoming familiar with the power and the glory of The Hold Steady, I think it's fitting that we go back to take another look at lead singer Craig Finn's prior band - the great Lifter Puller.

From 1994 to 2000, Finn and his Minneapolis mates chronicled the after-hours carnage of slobbery hookups, in-crowd affectations, and bad times with good drugs through their sputtering amps. Lifter Puller were like if Mark E. Smith was the lead singer of Archers of Loaf and they sung songs that read like script for Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream. The streets of Minneapolis is the backdrop and every recording sounds manic and nearly live, with Finn spitting his stream-of-consciousness monologues as if he were a philosophical archetype from Richard Linklater's better movies (Slacker, Waking Life, etc.) Lyrics that tangle out a tango, themes of grimy street noir like drugs, cheap sex, drugs, hedonism and more drugs. It's pulp punk and epic poetry grounded in the grime with "assless chaps" and their chant of "pitch a tent for pestilence."

Finn keeps a running narrative throughout his songs, with a cast of recurring characters. There's Katrina (AKA 'K' or 'Special K',) Juanita, the eye-patch guy, Jenny and more. It's lyrical homicide... faves:
She came on like she wanted a kiss / Now she's kissin' like she already came
-"Roaming the Foam"

The eyelids and the makeup kit / the mustache and the poker chips / four dicks and the apocolypse

Her name was sandy but they all called her san antonio / she can't remember where she slept last night but she won't forget the alamo
-"Secret Santa Cruz"
All their glorious catalogue can be found now on two CD's. The compilation Soft Rock and their last full-length release, Fiestas Fiascos. (Update 10 years later: Several more reissues exist to choose from, including a deluxe reissue of the aforementioned Fiestas Fiascos, along with Half Dead and Dynamite, Slip Backwards, The Entertainment and Arts (EP) and their eponymous debut, Lifter Puller.)

They also miraculously appeared on an episode of The Jenny Jones Show, one entitled "Stripper Wars" (1999) -- with the theme of good versus bad strippers. It's some rare live footage of the band... enjoy!

You can also get many of the songs from the Rhapsody playlist I compiled online at Cloak & Dagger Media with notes from Craig Finn himself (update 10 years later: dead link, now removed).

Note - this playlist started out as a Craig Finn collection (Lifter Puller + The Hold Steady,) but I found it impossible to whittle down the Lifter Puller selections down enough. As the list stands now, you can fit in on an 80-minute CD. I'll continue cutting tracks until there's enough room that we can include The Hold Steady's necessary tracks (update 10 years later: don't remember if I ever got to that).

Essential: In theory, Essentials are the best by an artist/group with the sum total of the tracks fitting neatly on an 80-minute CD.


drake leLane said...

Essential Lifter Puller

* "Space Humping $19.99" - Lifter Puller
* "Secret Santa Cruz" - Lifter Puller
* "Nice, Nice" - Lifter Puller
* "Nassau Coliseum" - Lifter Puller
* "Candy's Room" - Lifter Puller
* "Math Is Money" - Lifter Puller
* "Manpark" - Lifter Puller
* "Sherman City" - Lifter Puller
* "Katrina And The K-Hole" - Lifter Puller
* "Star Wars Hips" - Lifter Puller
* "4Dix" - Lifter Puller
* "The Pirate And The Penpal" - Lifter Puller
* "I Like The Lights" - Lifter Puller
* "Rock For Lite Brite" - Lifter Puller
* "11th Ave Freezeout" - Lifter Puller
* "To Live And Die In LBI" - Lifter Puller
* "Lonely In A Limousine" - Lifter Puller
* "La Quereria" - Lifter Puller
* "Lifter Puller vs. The End Of The Evening" - Lifter Puller
* "Let's Get Incredible" - Lifter Puller
* "Roaming The Foam" - Lifter Puller
* "Mission Viejo" - Lifter Puller
* "The Flex And The Buff Result" - Lifter Puller

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