Obviously, I love J.G. Thirlwell (even if I keep misspelling his name as Thirwell or Jim Thirlwell) as well as his FOETUS project.
However, one my favorite pieces of his is a remix of another band’s song that he doesn’t even remember remixing: FRONT 242’s “Religion [Pussy Whipped]”, from their 1993 album 06:21:03:11 Up Evil. (Yes, that’s the actual title of the album.) It’s also available via FRONT 242’s “Religion” single, along with two other Thirlwell remixes.
It’s wall-to-wall percussion and hard-hitting noise. He knew the assignment even if he was fucking shitfaced while doing so, and it’s inadvertently brilliant, and I routinely solo-rock out to it.
It’s a perfectly punctuated stereo realization of the original “Religion” and it echoes in my brain so many years after I first heard it.
“YOU LET ME DIE! YOU LET ME DIE! YOU LET ME DIE! YOU LET ME DIE! YOU LET ME DIE! YOU LET ME DIE! YOU LET ME DIE! YOU LET ME DIE! YOU LET ME DIE! YOU LET ME DIE! YOU LET ME DIE! Swallow your priiide. Swallow your priiiiddeeeeee. LET ME BURN YOU, LET ME BURN YOU, LET ME BURN IT DOWN! BURN IT DOWN!”
As previously mentioned, Thirlwell is a consummate composer, and “(Not Adam)” — from his 2005 album LOVE, as well as the (NOT ADAM) EP — finds him firing on all cylinders: the rolling percussion, the screaming strings, and especially the harpischord; it’s an amalgam of aural hedonism.
I will note: the following video is a bit disturbing in phantasmagoric ways and not exactly safe for work; it’s basically a twisted fever dream. Kind of surprised it was even made, frankly. I do enjoy it but I am a pretty messed up individual.
“As serious as cancer, as subtle as a heart attack.”
There was a brief period of time where, after roughly twenty years of hard work, it looked like Thirlwell would be ‘The Next Big Thing’ in a post NINE INCH NAILS world. Sony threw a bunch of money at him.
What did he do with that cash?
Why, during the heyday of the swing revival he, he recorded his full-band swing song “Slung”.
“That doesn’t sound unusual!” you may be asking yourself.
And the first three minutes are not. But “Slung” is almost 12 minutes long, and the bulk of it lacks vocals, so make of that what you will. Thirlwell loves to push boundaries and he loves to compose. He knew he’d never get another chance at this so he went for broke, and — at least for me — it paid off.
“Why am I so paralyzed by the majesty of thighs?!”
While I loved FOETUS’s prior works, “Slung” made me a lifelong member. It’s so crazed but also expertly handled, while also being filthy in the only way that Thirlwell can be. It’s an absolutely singular piece that I can’t help but return to every few months.
It’s an epic work, well-worth every dollar they wrung from Thirlwell — because if you know how studios work, you have to pay that shit back. It’s a fucking deal with the devil.
I’ll note: the album photo? That’s real. I don’t know how he pulled off that very expensive bit, but props to him and Sony. It’s not easy to show projected pseudo-wartime tits in Times Square, much less get a wide-release displaying all of it, plus under the title of FOETUS and your album being named “GASH” but I think we’re in a better world for it.
This is an endless array of brilliant spoken words posited against an unrelenting series of industrial noises, escalating into an amazingly hooky guitar riff that matches perfectly with Thirlwell’s gruff voice, pausing only temporarily for a strange synth interlude.
“Fee. Fi. Fo. Fum. It takes two to tangle; it takes one to cum.”
“A pound of protection beats an ounce of lead.”
As with prior FOETUS songs, I prefer the MALE live version because of its more languid and refined pacing (until it escalates), but the studio version is still brilliant:
I love how cavalierly nostalgic and languid this song is until it isn’t. It luxuriates in reminiscence and makes me feel like Audrey Horne swaying in the Double R diner, until it escalates to a frenzied conclusion that is amazingly cathartic.
I prefer the live rendition presented via MALE but the original Wiseblood recording is damn fine as well:
(Worth noting this is the 12″ edition, not the original, nor the MALE version!)
Don’t take this title at face value; it’s more complex than it reads. It’s all about alcoholism and hiding your bullshit, a facet that Jim Thirlwell has struggled with for years and, obviously, hasn’t been shy about.
A friend of mine interviewed him way back in the 90s and stated: “I’ve never seen someone drink so much Jagermeister.” Given the time period, that’s saying something.
Obviously, Thirlwell is still alive, so he’s doing — if not well, then surviving — but it’s an evocative song.