The unholy trinity of Live Skull/Swans/Sonic Youth dominated New York’s so-called Noise Scene throughout most of the 1980s, but Live Skull was the component in that musical equation that was, first and foremost, always about the songs. Years before the noisy-catchy anthems of Daydream Nation, Live Skull was pioneering their own radical fusion of concisely constructed songwriting feeding off the seductive power of chaos, transforming dissonance into something alluring while pushing the boundaries of what defined a song. Many of the band’s most potent and perverse musical explorations began to take shape on their second record (and first full-length album), Bringing Home the Bait, recorded in 1984 and originally released in 1985 on the Homestead label.
Bringing Home the Bait extends the approaches found on Live Skull’s first EP, but the feel here is even more complex and confrontational. Using the most traditional of rock instrumentation – two conventionally tuned guitars, bass and drums – Mark C, Tom Paine, Marnie Greenholz and James Lo gleefully throw themselves here into the business of subverting traditional rock forms, and the result is an intensely eccentric, nearly unclassifiable record that has been called, among other things, “The best Noise Rock Post Punk New Wave No Wave Experimental Indie Emo Goth Album Ever.”
Make no mistake: BHTB can be a tough listen, but it’s also an immensely rewarding one. The UK paper Sounds gave the record a five-star review, stating “Live Skull grab accepted practice by the throat and twist it to their own perverted ends,” while Pulsebeat gushed, “Devastating, intoxicating noise, practically unparalleled among this year’s record releases.” Spin magazine appreciated the record’s “highly distinctive dark, slow and dedicated sound,” while the New York Times’ Robert Palmer, writing for New Look magazine, famously declared: “The most startlingly original array of guitar sounds and approaches since Jimi Hendrix. They make guitars do things you’ve never imagined.”
Finally reissued after nearly three decades in limbo, Bringing Home the Bait is now available on limited edition vinyl and (for the first time ever) on CD, complete with a lavish booklet including extensive liner notes by founding members Tom Paine and Mark C, and seven extremely rare bonus tracks. This is the second release in Desire Records’ Live Skull Project, an ambitious, eight-title series of reissues of the entire Live Skull catalogue, personally overseen by Mark C and Tom Paine.