Leatherface - Razor Blades and Aspirin:1990-1993 [boxed set] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Razor Blades and Aspirin:1990-1993 [boxed set] (2015)

Fire Records

I nearly bit off more than I could chew with Leatherface's Razor Blades and Aspirin:1990-1993. My understanding was that it was disc of B-sides, live tracks, rarities etc... You know, a normal collection of odds and ends that bands put out from time to time. What I actually got is a 3 CD/LP boxed set. It contains three entire albums plus their corresponding EP tracks for a total of about 50 songs. I've been a casual Leatherface fan for years, but had only ever heard their BYO Records (and later No Idea) stuff. This set fixes that hole in their discography in a big way.

For more than 25 years, guitarist/vocalist Frankie Stubbs has led Leatherface with his distinctive growl. If you've never had the pleasure of hearing them, you should take the time to check them out. They are one of those bands that has been far more influential than commercially successful. Their sound would be best described as Lemmy from Motorhead singing for Hot Water Music, or something like that. The lyrics are intelligent and delivered with a great deal of passion. The melodies are strong enough that even Stubbs' gravely howl can't keep them buried. The guitars are sharp and cutting and often referred to as post-punk. They sound like regular old punk rock to me. Maybe a bit reminiscent of Husker Du. While the music is not blazingly fast, it's generally too aggressive for the dreaded mid-tempo label.

Razor Blades and Aspirin:1990-1993 contains the complete LP's Fill Your Boots (1990), Mush (1991) and Minx (1993). There are also songs from their three EP's from that era Smokey Joe (1990), Compact and Bijou (1992) and Do the Right Thing (1993). The collection is rounded out by a handful of singles and 7 inch tracks. This boxed set could save (non obsessive) record collectors a lot of time and money. They also don't skimp on the liner notes, which is too often a tragic flaw in re-issues. In addition to archival photos, there are multiple Frankie Stubbs interviews conducted by Jack Rabid from The Big Takeover.

There are a lot of Leatherface songs here and it takes a long time to digest them all. A few of my favorites are "Not a Day Goes By", "Peasant in Paradise", "I Want the Moon", "Not Superstitious", "Dead Industrial Atmosphere" and "Springtime". I also enjoyed their manic take on The Police's "Message in a Bottle" and their revved up version of "You are My Sunshine". The English quartet's sound has not really changed much over the years. Even early on, the band seemed confident in their musical direction.

Leatherface is probably not going to appeal to everyone. Stubbs' voice is very harsh and a bit of an acquired taste. I would suggest that the uninitiated start with The Stormy Petrol, Horsebox or their BYO split with Hot Water Music. If you like what you hear, Razor Blades and Aspirin:1990-1993 will provide countless hours of sublime musical entertainment. Fire Records has done a very nice job of presenting this criminally overlooked material. Highly recommended.