Violent Femmes (album)

Violent Femmes is the debut album by Violent Femmes. Mostly recorded in July 1982, the album was released by Slash Records on vinyl and on cassette in April 1983,[4][5][6] and on CD in 1987,[7] with two extra tracks, "Ugly" and "Gimme the Car".

Violent Femmes
Violent Femmes.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedApril 13, 1983
RecordedJuly 1982
StudioCastle Recording Studios, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
ProducerMark Van Hecke
Violent Femmes chronology
Violent Femmes
Hallowed Ground

In 2002, Rhino Records remastered the album, filled out the disc's length with demos and added another disc of live tracks and a radio interview for a 20th anniversary special edition, with liner notes by Michael Azerrad.

Violent Femmes is the band's most successful album to date. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified the album gold four years after its release and platinum four years after that, despite it never having appeared on the Billboard 200 albums chart. After achieving platinum certification on February 1, 1991, the album finally charted on the Billboard 200 for the first time on August 3, 1991, and peaked at number 171. Since Nielsen Music began electronically tracking sales in 1991, the album has sold 1.8 million copies. Blending RIAA certifications and Nielsen Music sales data, the record's American sales were estimated at three million as of 2016.[8]


Most of the songs on Violent Femmes and its follow-up were written when songwriter Gordon Gano was an 18-year-old high-school student in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[9]

The album was recorded at Castle Recording Studios in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin in July 1982.


The cover model is Billie Jo Campbell, a three-year-old girl who was walking down a Los Angeles street when she and her mother were approached and offered $100 for the photograph that became the album cover. The photograph depicts Campbell peering into the window of a house in Laurel Canyon. Campbell recollects: "I remember looking into that building, and they kept telling me there were animals in there, and I was pissed off ... I didn't know why they were making me look in this building. I had no idea there were photographers there. I was ... pissed off that I couldn't see the animals and I was all cranky by the end of it."[10]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [11]
Blender     [12]
Q     [14]
Rolling Stone     [15]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [16]
The Sacramento Bee    [17]
Spin Alternative Record Guide10/10[18]
Uncut     [19]
The Village VoiceB+[20]

In a contemporary review for Rolling Stone, J. D. Considine wrote that Violent Femmes was precocious yet dynamic, with a good balance between Gano's direct lyrics and the full sound of the music.[15] Robert Christgau of the Village Voice compared Gano to Jonathan Richman of the Modern Lovers.[20] Gano himself grew tired of comparisons to Richman, as by his own account he was actually trying to sound like Steve Wynn of the Dream Syndicate.[21]

In a retrospective write-up for AllMusic, Steve Huey called Violent Femmes "one of the most distinctive records of the early alternative movement and an enduring cult classic," noting that "the music also owes something to the Modern Lovers' minimalism, but powered by Brian Ritchie's busy acoustic bass riffing and the urgency and wild abandon of punk rock, the Femmes forged a sound all their own," while crediting Gano for keeping "the music engaging and compelling without overindulging in his seemingly willful naiveté."[11]

Violent Femmes has been included in lists of the best albums of the 1980s by publications such as Pitchfork, who in a 2002 list ranked it 36th,[22] and Slant Magazine, who in a 2012 list ranked it 21st.[23] In 2014, PopMatters listed Violent Femmes as an essential alternative rock album of the 1980s.[24] It also placed at number 974 in the 2000 edition of the book All Time Top 1000 Albums,[25] and was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[26]

Track listingEdit

All tracks are written by Gordon Gano, except where noted.

Side one
1."Blister in the Sun"2:25
2."Kiss Off"2:56
3."Please Do Not Go"4:15
4."Add It Up"4:44
Side two
6."Prove My Love" 2:39
7."Promise" 2:49
8."To the Kill" 4:01
9."Gone Daddy Gone"Gano, Willie Dixon3:06
10."Good Feeling" 3:52
US CD bonus tracks
12."Gimme the Car"5:04

(Recorded at Music Works Studios, London, August 31–September 1, 1983)[27]

20th Anniversary Edition bonus tracks
11."Girl Trouble" (demo)3:07
12."Breakin' Up" (demo)5:17
13."Waiting for the Bus" (demo)2:08
14."Blister in the Sun" (demo)2:35
15."Kiss Off" (demo)2:49
16."Please Do Not Go" (demo)4:18
17."Add It Up" (demo)4:35
18."Confessions" (demo)5:20
19."Prove My Love" (demo)2:50
20."Ugly" (UK single)2:22
21."Gimme the Car" (UK single)5:07
20th Anniversary Edition bonus live disc
1."Special" (live)4:27
2."Country Death Song" (live)5:25
3."To the Kill" (live)4:19
4."Never Tell" (live)7:17
5."Break Song" (live)0:41
6."Her Television" (live)2:28
7."How Do You Say Goodbye" (live)2:43
8."Theme and Variations" (live)0:54
9."Prove My Love" (live)3:19
10."Gone Daddy Gone" (live) (Gano, Willie Dixon)3:32
11."Promise" (live)3:09
12."In Style" (live)3:43
13."Add It Up" (live)6:15
14."Michael Feldman Interview from WHA-FM"4:09
15."Kiss Off" (live on WHA-FM)3:31


Violent Femmes
Additional personnel


Chart (1983/86) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[28] 34
United States (Billboard 200)[29] 171
Chart (1991) Peak
Australia (ARIA Charts)[30] 31


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[31] 2× Platinum 140,000^
United States (RIAA)[32] Platinum 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ Molanphy, Chris (October 2002). "Gordon Gano: Hitting the Ground". CMJ New Music Monthly. No. 106. p. 56. Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  2. ^ Jackson, Josh (July 13, 2016). "The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums". Paste. Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  3. ^ Huey, Steve. "Add It Up – Violent Femmes". AllMusic. Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  4. ^ Editorial Staff, Cash Box (April 2, 1983). "Abundance Of Major Titles Set For Second Quarter" (PDF). Cash Box. New York: The Cash Box Publishing Co.
  5. ^ Editorial Staff, Cash Box (April 23, 1983). "Violent Femmes - Slash 23845-1" (PDF). Cash Box. New York: The Cash Box Publishing Co.
  6. ^ White, Adam (1990). The Billboard book of gold & platinum records. Internet Archive. Billboard Books.
  7. ^ "The Compact Disc Connection Database : WAR23845 * $11.79 VIOLENT FEMMES VIOLENT FEMMES WARNER BROTHERS 07/87 :44". Retrieved October 20, 2013.
  8. ^ Caulfield, Keith (March 18, 2016). "Billboard 200 Chart Moves: Loretta Lynn Earns Her Highest Charting Album Ever With 'Full Circle'". Billboard. Archived from the original on March 18, 2016. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
  9. ^ Monger, James Christopher. "Hallowed Ground – Violent Femmes". AllMusic. Retrieved October 20, 2013.
  10. ^ Harris, Chris (August 14, 2007). "Iconic Album-Cover Kids: Where Are The Nirvana Baby, Korn's Little Girl And Others Now?". MTV News. Retrieved June 29, 2021.
  11. ^ a b Huey, Steve. "Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes". AllMusic. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  12. ^ Kemp, Rob. "Violent Femmes: Violent Femmes (Deluxe Edition)". Blender. Archived from the original on November 3, 2004. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  13. ^ Hyden, Steven (May 21, 2017). "Violent Femmes: Violent Femmes". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 21, 2017.
  14. ^ "Violent Femmes: Violent Femmes". Q. No. 194. September 2002. p. 130.
  15. ^ a b Considine, J. D. (June 23, 1983). "Violent Femmes: Violent Femmes". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on February 11, 2007. Retrieved September 9, 2012.
  16. ^ Coleman, Mark; Sisario, Ben (2004). "Violent Femmes". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 852. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  17. ^ Macias, Chris (June 30, 2002). "Meet the 'Press,' shadow fans". The Sacramento Bee.
  18. ^ Wyman, Bill (1995). "Violent Femmes". In Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (eds.). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. pp. 427–428. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  19. ^ "Violent Femmes: Violent Femmes". Uncut. No. 64. September 2002. pp. 122–123.
  20. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (May 31, 1983). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  21. ^ Lloyd, Robert (May 20–26, 1983). "Violent Femmes: Big Noise From Wisconsin". LA Weekly. Archived from the original on October 21, 2013. Retrieved September 9, 2012.
  22. ^ "The Top 100 Albums of the 1980s". Pitchfork. November 21, 2002. p. 7. Retrieved November 30, 2021.
  23. ^ "The 100 Best Albums of the 1980s". Slant Magazine. March 5, 2012. Retrieved October 20, 2013.
  24. ^ "Hope Despite the Times: 12 Essential Alternative Rock Albums from the 1980s". PopMatters. August 27, 2014. p. 1. Archived from the original on November 30, 2018. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  25. ^ Larkin, Colin (2000). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). Virgin Books. ISBN 0-7535-0493-6.
  26. ^ Jacobson, Seth (2006). "Violent Femmes: Violent Femmes". In Dimery, Robert (ed.). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Universe Publishing. p. 503. ISBN 978-0-7893-1371-3.
  27. ^ Violent Femmes – Ugly / Gimme The Car (1983, Vinyl), retrieved 2021-06-29
  28. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 330. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  29. ^ Whitburn, Joel; Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Albums, 1955–1996; p. 819. ISBN 0-89820-117-9
  30. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (pdf ed.). Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  31. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (pdf ed.). Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  32. ^ "American album certifications – Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes". Recording Industry Association of America.

External linksEdit