The Vaselines
The Vaselines
Label: Sub Pop Records
Genre: Pop / Rock
Online: Artist Website


Conventional wisdom dictates that the Vaselines might have been relegated to footnote status were it not for Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, who regularly cited the little-known Scottish quartet's influence in interviews with the music press. Cobain's gospel-spreading no doubt accelerated their rise to cult sainthood, but truth be told, the Vaselines would have gotten there sooner or later on their own accord -- lewd but naïve and abrasive yet tender, the band's shambling, primitivist squall remains a perfect distillation of pop at its most guileless and euphoric. The group was formed in Edinburgh in 1987 by singers/guitarists Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee, who were later joined by Kelly's brother Charles on drums and James Seenan on bass. Soon signing to Pastels frontman Stephan Pastel's newly formed 53rd and 3rd label, the Vaselines' first-ever studio session yielded their debut single, 1987's fantastic "Son of a Gun." The follow-up, "Dying for It," appeared a year later, with the inclusion of viola player Sophie Pragnell plainly acknowledging the band's debt to the Velvet Underground. The demise of 53rd and 3rd proved fatal to the Vaselines as well, however, and the group dissolved the same week their lone studio LP, 1989's Dum Dum, was released via Rough Trade, although the following year the original lineup briefly reunited to open for Nirvana in Edinburgh. Nirvana would go on to cover the Vaselines' "Molly's Lips" and "Son of a Gun" (both later compiled on their Incesticide collection) as well as performing "Jesus Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam" on their now-legendary MTV Unplugged appearance. Renewed interest in the band resulted in the 1992 Sub Pop release of The Way of the Vaselines, an assemblage of all 19 of their official recordings. Eugene Kelly later went on to front Captain America (subsequently and rather unfortunately renamed Eugenius), while McKee spent the better part of the decade out of sight before finally resurfacing in Suckle. [AMG Jason Ankeny]