Unsane have the dubious honour of being responsible for the most unpleasant record sleeve in my collection. They would, I think, only be knocked off this grubby pedestal if one of the following scenarios came about:
- I owned other Unsane records – they’re notoriously gory and graphic
- I owned that Big Black record that came wrapped in a black outer cover, which when removed revealed a very close up, very upsetting effect-of-gunshot-to-head photograph
- I was more of a death/speed metal fan – those sleeves go out of their way to be parent-botheringly graphic.
Anyway, severed heads aside, this is a fearsome and excellent record, and I’m not sure why scenario number one above isn’t the case, as I really should own more Unsane records. I became aware of Unsane first through a track on a compilation tape made for me by an old postal/fanzine/music scene chum called Brian. He was one of the many people I used to exchange compilations with, and the one that yielded an interest in Unsane also included a fantastic track by Deity Guns, whose album Trans Line Appointment I’m still to get a copy of. Deity Guns were produced by Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo, which is why their track was of particular interest to me. Unsane were (on this album, at least) produced by Wharton Tiers, which is interesting if for no other reason than Wharton Tiers seems to have produced roughly ten million indie rock records throughout the eighties and nineties. Producers never really get their dues, do they? Maybe that’s the way they want it. Wharton Tiers has even produced some Sonic Youth records, so perhaps Lee Ranaldo picked up some hints and tips to then use in his work on that Deity Guns album. And so the production baton was passed on.
The unpleasant photograph on this album’s cover actually gets a credit on the back of the sleeve, which is odd. I would have presumed that such a photo would have been unceremoniously ripped from some kind of ‘police-sourced medical injuries and accidents’ reference book, as with so many of the sleeve images used in albums like those mentioned in scenario three above. So, well, Jens Jurgenson, good work on your photograph of a dead person (?!). I wonder what you did before and after taking this photograph? Were you a police photographer? Did you just happen across this dead person whilst out on a walk? Is it in fact not real, and did you set this scene up for the album cover?
The band Boss Hog had a bass player called Jens Jurgensen. Different spelling, but maybe it’s the same person? Indie rock is a close-knit community, after all.