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Butthole Surfers 

Weird Revolution (Hollywood/Surfdog)

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The virulence of the Butthole Surfers really started in 1987, with the release of Locust Abortion Technician and the band's subsequent tour. As magnificently shocking as the album was, nothing could match the sight of Gibby Haynes's enormous frame hulking around the stage as he growled into his mic, occasionally setting fire to King Coffey's cymbals with lighter fluid. All the while, a naked woman covered in ash danced on a platform behind Coffey, and a driver's education movie played on a screen behind the whole extravaganza. Now that's multimedia. After a two-decade career that's been one long attempt at subjecting music to primal shock therapy, the Surfers return from a five-year hiatus following the almost inconceivable success of "Pepper," the song that turned 1996's Electriclarryland into a commercial breakthrough.

Weird Revolution is an odd pastiche of styles, as abrasive and energetic as the Surfers' early indie work and as beat-happy and constructed as its major-label albums. It offers plenty of the band's demented atmosphere, from the "Major Tom"-like "The Last Astronaut" to the Falco tribute "Jet Fighter," and Haynes's full-scale psychotic breakdown, "Shit Like That." The title track, based on the speeches of Malcolm X, is the national anthem for a country that lets its freak flag fly, a call to arms for anyone who's an outsider. The Butthole Surfers have never compromised at any level -- not in the live presentation of their early work nor in their involvement with major-label corporate machinery. While Weird Revolution doesn't break any new ground for the band, it shows that the Surfers still inhabit a twisted, cool universe of their own design that, thankfully, intersects with ours.

More by Brian Baker

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