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Hallowed Ground


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Audio CD, October 17, 2000
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Editorial Reviews


1. Country Death Song
2. I Hear The Rain
3. Never Tell
4. Jesus Walking On The Water
5. I Know It's True But I'm Sorry To Say
6. Hallowed Ground
7. Sweet Misery Blues
8. Black Girls
9. It's Gonna Rain

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 17, 2000)
  • Original Release Date: 1985
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rhino
  • ASIN: B00004YLBA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,904 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 43 people found the following review helpful By owlberg on October 31, 2000
Format: Audio CD
To properly understand the magnitude of this album, it is important to place it in context of its time: the year was 1983. Violent Femmes' first album was a college-radio hit, and expectations were high for their second album. Yet here was a collection of songs that sounded like an adenoidal Lou Reed channelling Johnny Cash on bad speed, singing with maniacal glee about Jesus and country deaths and menacing rains, two whole years before Nick Cave's FIRSTBORN IS DEAD, before John Doe and Exene would form The Knitters, etc. The only other "pre-alternative" bands even remotely capable of invoking this spectre of country-folk/gospel despair were the Minutemen and Violent Femmes' labelmates Los Lobos, yet never with this much wide-eyed tormented zeal. Not only does this album swing low like a sweet chariot, it sways like a rusty pendulum (see "I Know It's True But I'm Sorry To Say", exhumed from the same frozen wastelands of the soul that contained the Velvet Underground's "Sunday Morning"). Gano sings like a man possessed by some lost psychotic spirit, and the band rolls behind him like an avalanche, uprooting everything laid down before (including the Femmes' once-promising career as college-rock smartasses). An utter masterpiece.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Zen Station on January 2, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I am always hearing critics say that the self-titled album from these guys is "the only album by [VF] that's worth owning". I get the feeling that either this recording fell on deaf ears, they didn't really listen to this, or something along the lines of trying to sound cool. But really this is the best possible way to follow up the timeless debut, and the music here is equally as well-aged. Originally, Brian Ritchie did not want to be involved with Gordon Gano's Christian songs, so the first album had none, and this one has it. Seen as a parody at first, but that's completely understandable. After all, how do you know it's sincere when put into the rest of the context of "Black Girls"? (Speaks in a real un-PC manner). However, I feel that it is one of the greatest tracks on "Hallowed Ground", a change in pace from others here and even the debut, with more of a jazz influence than before.

That's another great thing about this album: The guys step outside of their folk-punk shell on this album. We get a well-done country song about a murder via drowning ("Country Death Song"), some more of Ritchie's xylophone playing ("I Hear the Rain"), as well as other really great moments. The album is far matured from the debut. While that one made me feel great about my youth, "Hallowed Ground" reminds me of just life in general and the things that go on in it. Oh, it's title track is yet another masterpiece in this somewhat short album (9 tracks total, but you get all quality).

Who knew a country-jazz-Appalachian Folk-etc. type album could have balance and not seem like a gimmick! And even if you don't like it the first time, I think it will grow on you if you give it time. You do not have to be religious to appreciate the imagery in here.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jack Dempsey on April 11, 2001
Format: Audio CD
This is probably my favorite VF cd ever. Next to it would be their first (self-titled) and then "Blind Leading the Naked."

Pure and simple...this is a great release. I recently noticed that this has been re-released on the Rhino label (of all labels)! I still have the original Slash label pressing, as well as the WB release of the cd, and play them quite frequently. I remember how cool these guys were back in the day, and how cool these songs still are (at least, up until album "3").

Do take notice however that "Country Death Song" mirrors, extremely closely, Bob Dylan's "Ballad of Hollis Brown." Yes, 20 years prior to VF, Bob sang about a weary, destitute farmer who spends the last dollar to his name on a box of shotgun shells to off his family, then himself, with. But, kudos VF for putting a different spin on it.

This album is particularly worth the investment for "I know it's true..." alone. That song, along with "Please...do not go away" on their self-titled album (and, of course, the sweet and tender ditties on the "Blind" cd) got me through the trials and tribulations of adolescence--along with the angst of the "Living in Darkness" album by Agent Orange and "Richard Hung Himself" by D.I., and possibly every Descendents' lp up to "Milo Goes to college."

Ah, the beauty of adolescence in the '80s. I remember it well.

Well, I hope you forgive this review being somewhat off-topic. It brought back alot that I didn't forsee becoming part of this.

In short, the best, if not second best, release by VF. Very worth getting, along with the other two best (Self-titled, and "Blind").
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 5, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Though not as consistently brilliant as their debut album, VF's Hallowed Ground nevertheless contains their 3 best songs. A few groups have tried to marry the desperation of Appalachian murder ballads and the fury of punk but there has never, in my opinion, been more successful attempts before or since Gordon Gano's Country Death Song and I Hear The Rain. Both musically and lyrically, the songs capture the essence of old-time mountain music and punk rock, creating a hybrid that left me stunned to the core the first time I heard them. Almost 20 years later, these songs have lost none of their power on me.
The 3rd masterpiece on this album is Never Tell, a song about unspecific childhood bullying and/or blackmail sung, written and performed in a manner so extreme as to raise the storyline to the level of myth. I don't think Gano wrote this song so much as the song spewed out of him whole.
I think it is a shame that most VF fans whose lives were changed by that groundbreaking first album have not listened to other musical genres to fully appreciate Hallowed Ground, with its mix of old-time, gospel, jazz and funk. I have friends who still don't believe me when I say that Jesus Walking On The Water is not a parody. I think all you punk rock fans ought to check out some Roscoe Holcomb albums before you listen to this one.
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