Top 10 Butthole Surfers Songs

Butthole Surfers Songs

Photo: Bernt Rostad from Oslo, Norway, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

The Butthole Surfers songs list takes a look at one of America’s noisiest band who were first formed in Texas in 1981. They have had a lot of line-up changes over the years but the core membership of vocalist Gibby Hynes, guitarist Paul Leary and drummer King Coffey has been in existence since 1983. The band first emerged from the American hardcore punk scene but immediately stood out from the pack. This was not just because of their very taboo-breaking name but because they quickly built up a reputation with their live shows which were often known to be chaotic affairs. In addition to this there was their dark sense of humour and the music itself which was a mix of hardcore punk and psychedelic music which was very experimental and generally made a lot of noise!

During one of their early shows they were witnessed by Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra who instantly became a fan and offered them a support slot. In 1983 their self-titled debut was released on Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles label. A year later their first full length record Psychic…Powerless…Another Man’s Sac was released. The band’s existence would go on to be very chaotic with several band members leaving due to not being able to cope with the band’s rather controversial antics which apparently at one time included stalking members of R.E.M.

The band released their second album in 1986 titled Rembrandt Pussyhorse. This was followed a year later by Locust Abortion Technician which was a very experimental album and is widely believed to be a precursor to the grunge genre. Over the next couple of years the band would make their sound slightly more accessible with the next album Hairway to Steven being the first to make this move. This was followed by piouhgd which was not very well received and the band later expressed disappointment with it.

The following decade would see the Butthole Surfers enjoy their biggest period of commercial success. The next album released in 1993 titled Independent Worm Saloon which was produced by Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones. The next album after this was Electriclarryland in 1996 which saw them have their most successful single “Pepper.”

The next album after this was Weird Revolution in 2001. This so far is their final album. Despite this, they still continue to exist and have remained active in various ways by continuing to play live and releasing compilations.

The Butthole Surfers throughout most of their career have very much operated as an underground operation and it would probably be widely agreed that most of their music has never had much appeal for mainstream success. However, their career has been a largely brilliant one so here at Classic Rock we will dissect their career and see what their ten best songs are.

# 10 – The Wooden Song

We ironically start off our top ten Butthole Surfers songs list with a mellow tune taken from 1993’s Independent Worm Saloon. The song is largely acoustic and among the more accessible material in the Surfer’s back catalogue. As stated in this article’s introduction the album was produced by none other than former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones.

# 9 – Human Cannonball

Up next we have what is likely the most accessible sounding track from the otherwise very inaccessible album Locust Abortion Technician released in 1987. The album’s riff has been used by other bands in their songs with some examples being “Bro Hymn” by Pennywise and “1945” by Jamie Grace.

# 8 – I Saw and X Ray of a Girl Passing Gas

Up next we have a song taken from the Butthole Surfer’s fourth album Hairway to Steven released in 1988. The song is apparently about going to see a doctor whilst under the influence of drugs. The album is also obviously another Led Zeppelin connection for the band with the title being an obvious play on the classic song “Stairway To Heaven.”

# 7 – Jingle of a Dog’s Collar

This song from 1996’s Electriclarryland starts of melodic before quickly becoming more sinister sounding. Gibby Hyne’s voice sounds rather mellow here and the track like many of the band’s songs is believed to be about heroin addiction. Like Hairway to Steven, the album’s title is another classic rock parody, this time of Jimi Hendrix’s Electric LadyLand.

# 6 – Ricky

Not to be confused with similarly named “Rocky” from the same album, this cut from Hairway to Steven is among the first Butthole Surfers tracks to make heavy use of acoustic guitar. This album was something of a turning point in the band’s career as it bridged the gap between their underground roots and the more accessible material that they would produce throughout the 1990’s.

# 5 – The Coloured FBI Guy

Kicking off the second half of this lust we have a melodic track from the Windowmaker ep which is among the more straightforward songs that the band have written in terms of general song structure. It is a very heartfelt song which also does not contain the surreal humour element that is prevalent in much of the band’s material.

# 4 – The Shame of Life

Here we have a song from 2001’s Weird Revolution which so far is the Butthole Surfer’s last album. It was released as a CD single in Australia and got to number twenty-four on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart. The chorus was written by Kid Rock who is credited with it. A very bizarre and rather disturbing video was made for the song which saw the band attending a house party where a series of bizarre events happen. It was also used in the trailer to the 2002 film “Phone Booth.”

# 3 – Pepper

At number three is a song which appeared on Electriclarryland and got to number one on the Billboard Modern Rock Charts as well as twenty-nine on the Billboard Hot Airplay chart. All in all the song is the band’s most commercially successful release. The song is very psychedelic sounding and it had its own music video made which was a portrayal of a sixties-style news report where the band are seen to under siege from the police for kidnapping. In 2010 Hesta Prynn and Shawn Crahan of Slipknot released a cover version of it.

# 2 – Who Was In My Room Last Night?

Just off the top spot we have this song from Independent Worm Saloon. A remixed version called the Tate and Tox remix was released on the CD Magazine Volume Eight. It had a very trippy video of a guy in a bar who when he orders a track starts having a bizarre series of hallucinations. The video got attention from Beavis and Butthead who lampooned in their segment when they watched music videos. It was also a featured song in the video game “Guitar Hero 2” and a censored version of it was used in an advert for Nintendo’s Play It Loud campaign.

# 1 – Whatever (I Had A Dream Last Night)

At the top of this list we have a song that was written for the soundtrack to the movie “Romeo + Juliet” starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Despite being a teen romance film, the soundtrack actually had quite an experimental soundtrack and there was some rather surreal imagery in parts of the movie. This song is no exception, as it is the Butthole Surfers at their most trippy and surreal. Among the song’s very incoherent lyrical topics are Betty Davis, John Wayne and Jesus Christ who is heading to Mexico on a drug run. A work of pure insane genius.

Top 10 Butthole Surfers Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021

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