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Born Stupid

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Original price £22.00
Current price £15.00

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New pressing on yellow vinyl.

Paul Leary issued his debut solo album The History Of Dogs in 1991. And now, thirty years later he’s releasing the follow up Born Stupid. Leary is best known as guitarist/vocalist for the infamous psychedelic noise rock band Butthole Surfers. The Butthole Surfers’ aggressively surrealist recordings and live shows have become mythology in the world of underground music. The headline of a 2016 profile in Vice magazine summed this legacy up neatly, stating the “Butthole Surfers Were the Epitome of Every Hell-Raising Rock 'n' Roll Legend You Ever Heard.” Beyond the group’s extreme persona, Leary was creating seriously brilliant music with the Butthole Surfers. The significance of that work can be measured in the far-reaching scope of the band’s influence. It’s widely known that Nirvana's Kurt Cobain was an ardent admirer. Much of the subversive creative spirit that fueled the Butthole Surfers’ best work can be found inside the grooves of Leary’s charmingly twisted new album.

Musically, Born Stupid largely steps away from the atomic punk energy and fuzzed-out metal riffing that defined the Butthole Surfers’ sound. Instead, Leary has crafted an equally compelling soundscape filled with carnival sideshow calliopes, spaghetti western guitar motifs, and off-kilter German beer hall waltzes. But where the Butthole Surfers’ work was often squarely focused on the manipulation of sounds and textures, Born Stupid is heavily rooted in the craft of song, and the record’s finely structured musical landscapes work to support the stories being sung. The connection between Born Stupid and vintage Butthole Surfers’ music is not just stylistic. Longtime fans of Leary’s work will be pleased by the presence of a couple radically reworked interpretations of Butthole Surfers-era material, including a giddily demented singalong version of the "The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey’s Grave.”

According to Leary, there was no grand vision behind the conception of Born Stupid. “I wasn’t planning on album, but over the years songs kept popping into my head. So I figured I might as well record them.” Leary has seized a ripe cultural moment to send this music out to the world, as Born Stupid speaks effectively to the damaged state of contemporary U.S. culture. There’s no better example than the album’s title track, a perfect anthem for the modern American age. “With so much strife and peril in this world I’d like to help make things better. But, instead, I had to be born stupid,” Leary croons in a warped country drawl, evoking the voice of Lee Hazlewood as sung through a cancer kazoo. Throughout the album Leary is joined by drummer Josh Freese, known for his work with a range of artists, including The Vandals, Guns N’ Roses, and Devo. It’s important to note that Born Stupid will be the first release on the newly relaunched incarnation of Shimmy-Disc, the influential independent record label founded by producer/musician and underground music impresario Kramer in 1987. Kramer revived Shimmy-Disc for his 2020 tenure as Joyful Noise Recordings’ Artist in Residence. Leary and Kramer have enjoyed a long collaborative relationship. Leary’s Born Stupid is a fitting project for Shimmy-Disc’s reboot, the album shares the label’s dark sense of humor, and irreverent approach to experimental music. So perhaps it’s not surprising that Kramer (who also mastered the LP) is effusive in his praise for the project. “Paul Leary’s first solo LP in thirty years is the first release on my 21st century Shimmy-Disc label, which had to begin with a big bang,” Kramer explained. “But I think that what we have here is far more than just a bang. It’s more like a shot heard 'round the world, I reckon. Deafening in its genius. .

Released: March 2021
Label: Shimmy Disc / Joyful Noise Recordings



1. Born Stupid 
2. Do You Like To Eat A Cow 
3. Sugar is the Gateway Drug 
4. What Are You Gonna Do 
5. The Shah Revisited 
6. Mohawk Town 
7. Throw Away Freely 
8. Gold Cap 
9. Gary Floyd Revisited 
10. The Adventures of Pee Pee the Sailor

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