Hole finally have a new album set for release. Only it's not going to be available in the U.S. And it's not really new.
But, according to longtime friend of the band Christof Ellinghaus, it represents a piece of the Hole story which has never been told.
My Body, The Hand Grenade (Sept. 29) is a 14-track Europe-only collection of b-sides, rare tracks and live material that chronicles the band's career from their first single in March of 1990, to b-sides from 1994's breakthrough album, Live Through This.
"So, what exactly is the purpose of an album that is neither a greatest hits package, nor a greatest misses collection, nor even a compilation of Totally Bonkers Volume 21 techno tracks?" asked Ellinghaus in the liner notes to the collection. Ellinghaus is the founder of Berlin's City Slang Records, the label that has released much of Hole's pre-breakthrough music in Europe, and the label that's releasing this collection.
"Well, in Hole's case it's fairly obvious. My Body, The Hand Grenade stands as a document, an anthology of sorts, of a band that rocketed from a tiny L.A. basement studio into alternative rock superstardom. In doing so, they went through such wild times and changes that the shift from the legendary first, fiercely intense singles to the late, beautifully sculptured acoustic performances for MTV’s Unplugged was almost too fast to follow," Ellinghaus explains a paragraph later.
"I wrote this press release and the band liked it so much they wanted to use it as the liner notes," said Ellinghaus, a fan and friend of the band since their earliest days. "I've been releasing Hole's songs since their first single, 'Teenage Whore,' to before their last album and I thought this collection would be a good way to document how far they've come in their seven-year career."
In the liner notes, Ellinghaus wonders whether there should have been an extra album between the band's rough full-length debut, 1991's Pretty on the Inside and the star-making Live Through This and he thinks Hand Grenade is it. "(Hole guitarist) Eric (Erlandson) and I pored over all the options and there was such a big leap between the albums, with the only thing being the 'Beautiful Son,' single between, which was a sign of things to come, that we thought this would fill that gap a bit."
The album kicks off with the never-before-released first-ever Hole recording, "Turpentine," recorded in a basement in March of 1990. It also contains two hard-to-find singles, "Retard Girl," the band's first single for the Sympathy for the Record Industry label and the Sub Pop single "Dicknail," along with their b-sides, "Phonebill Song" and "Burn Black."
Then comes the "Beautiful Son" single and its b-side, "20 Years In The Dakota," both remixed and remastered for the collection, an early demo of "Miss World," a previously unreleased live version of "Asking For It" from the August, 1995 Reading Festival and the previously unreleased MTV Unplugged versions of "Softer, Softest," a cover of The Crystals' "He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)" and a cover of Donovan's "Season of the Witch." Also included are a previously unreleased live version of "Drown Soda" from Brixton Academy in May, 1995 and a Live Through This outtake, "Old Age."
The album's artwork was compiled by singer/ frontwoman Courtney Love and features photos of the band throughout their career, interspersed with car crash images. The album is dedicated to Love's late husband, Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain and Hole's deceased bass player, Kristen Pfaff.
"The band are all friends with Christof from way back," said Brian Celler of Hole's management company, Q Prime. "The band loves Christof because he was the first one to really support them in Europe and even though they've moved on to greater things, they were happy to work with him on this album."
Ellinghaus said he's happy for the band's success and equally glad to be able to have another chance to collaborate with them. "I run a small label," Ellinghaus said. "They're a big band now, and that's great. I'm happy to do this kind of thing with them."