There are a handful of things I’d change if I were to redo this strip.
- I’d rephrase what “intrigued” me in the caption atop the first panel; my sarcastic quotation marks on “texture” are easily mistaken for a misspelling of an actual Skinny Puppy song, “Testure”.
- I would reevaluate my appreciation for them, because these days I find myself turning to their music regularly, like a balm.
Also, the last panel is a fabrication, because I didn’t have the space to tell the relevant anecdote. Around 1997, I was visiting Junkman’s Daughter in Atlanta’s Little 5 Points, and I heard music I liked over the in-store play. (That’s supposed to be their giant shoe-stairs in the background.) Finally I tracked down a clerk and asked him what I’d been hearing. He rolled his eyes and muttered “Where is that self-righteous prick…” before lumbering off in the direction of said prick, who turned out to be a girl. She identified the music for me, and I went next door, where Criminal Records was located at the time, and bought it. It was the double CD Brap: Back and Forth Series 3 & 4.
For me, this was a rediscovery of Skinny Puppy, after a bumpy ride through the early ’90s. The only complaint I have is that the two CDs feature ancient multimedia on the first track, which is an obstacle for some players. The first disc is solid, start to finish. The second is more raw, but also great in its own ways. It’s just a bit screamier whereas the first is more melodic; at least, as melodic as Skinny Puppy tended to get.
I got my hands on a compact disc of Rabies in 1990, and I couldn’t believe the clarity of the recording. Up until that point, the closest thing I’d heard to Skinny Puppy was the soundtracks to Nightmare on Elm Street 4 and Heathers (both on the venerable Varese Sarabande label). The beats, the effects, the sampling; everything is a clear as the shaft of a hypodermic.
I know it’s got samples of Charles Manson singing the Beatles, but that’s a wicked song. I mean like wicked awesome. Look, either you dig this stuff or you don’t. There’s no grey area with Skinny Puppy.
Another classic SP album I love is 1992’s Last Rights. The cover is amazing and unmistakable, just about every song is fantastic, and it features one of my favoritest SP tracks:
Believe it or not, some of the more sinister samples from that track originate from the John Candy comedy Uncle Buck. Who doesn’t love these guys?!
When Halloween rolls around, if you want to have a “spookie Halloweenie partie”, be sure to put on the last track from Last Rights, “Download”. Or, listen to it on headphones, if you’d like to be disturbed. Remember, in 1992, “download” was not common parlance. In the mid-’90s, after Skinny Puppy had disbanded, most of the group reformed under that name. Their album The Eyes of Stanley Pain features the white-hot “Seven Plagues”:
Back to Skinny Puppy. Their final album proper was 1996’s The Process, on American Recordings. This one is bittersweet, since it was the last one with Dwayne Goettel, an original member who became yet another heroin casualty. The band and the label did not see eye to eye. The result is a record that starts and finishes its own unique sound.
As much as I love the title track, I don’t want to bring the room down. I’d rather keep things up-tempo, so here’s my favorite cut; “Blue Serge”, which I guarantee would blow the roof off an alien dance club.
There’s something about that “oh yeahhhh, huh huh” sample that elevates and drives the whole song. The textures of the beats are pure Skinny Puppy, all square and toothy waves. I like to put this on a loop; it’s sometimes tough to pull out of.
I can’t comment on the post-Process albums because shamefully, I haven’t heard them yet. Skinny Puppy is that rare type of band where I have to buy the “package”; I want to have something to look at while I’m listening. If a group puts effort into their album art, I feel like a shitheel if I settle for burnt copies on CD. And oh boy, has Skinny Puppy put effort into their album art. From day one. I might not listen to Too Dark Park as frequently, but it sure looks pretty on a shelf.