Silverfish – ‘Total Fucking Asshole’

Silverfish were a charismatic London noise punk band active from 1988 to 1993 and led by the vicious growl of Scottish vocalist Lesley Rankine. Total Fucking Asshole – or T.F.A. as it’s sometimes more politely referred to – was the lead track on both their second EP and first mini-album, Cockeye. If you like bludgeoning drums, furious vocals and descending, chainsaw riffs over a singalong chorus, you’ll love T.F.A. In future, you’ll probably find yourself humming it under your breath when someone pisses you off, like I’ve been doing for about 25 years.

At time of writing, the YouTube upload for T.F.A. has 78 views. Don’t let that put you off, it’s excellent; certainly it’s better than Gangnam Style at the other end of the YT views spectrum.

At a time when the British indie scene was obsessed with ‘baggy’ indie-dance and shoegaze bands, Silverfish managed to grab some attention for their uncompromising noise by showcasing their warped sense of humour alongside Rankine’s aggressive feminism in music press interviews and by playing endless thrillingly chaotic live shows. Their first ‘proper’ album Fat Axl was produced by Steve Albini and released in 1991. It was well-received by critics and fans but was too resolutely uncommercial to ride the wave of interest in heavy guitar music that the Nirvana-led grunge revolution was starting to create. Their next, and last, album Organ Fan (1992) did slightly better commercially despite a sludgy mix that diluted the band’s attack. Lead single Big Bad Baby Pig Squeal is the clear standout track and its famous refrain of ‘Hips, Tits, Lips, Power’ made for a slogan t-shirt that was extraordinarily popular with badass indie girls.

Since Silverfish split up in 1993 Lesley Rankine has stayed busy, as a solo artist, as half of the trip hop duo Ruby and collaborating with the likes of Therapy?, Pigface, The Rocking Birds and Tom Jones. Turns out that she actually has quite a sweet singing voice but she’ll always be the funny, growling, caustic vocalist of Silverfish to me and Total Fucking Asshole was her finest hour.

 

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Nick Perry

Nick writes fact, fiction and opinion in various places including
his music blog noisecrumbs.com. His musical tastes cover indie, grunge, golden-era hip hop, punk, funk, psychedelia and a big portion of distortion. You can and should follow him on Twitter @NoiseCrumbs.

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