YOU’RE SO VAIN: Despite a cover photo that made a bad first impression, Faster Pussycat’s debut album became one of my favorite records alongside other Hollywood sleaze-metal classics such as Motley Crue’s “Too Fast For Love” and Guns N’ Roses’ “Appetite for Destruction.” Today, my original “Faster Pussycat” album cover hangs framed and autographed in my home office.

By Metal Dave

IT’S SO WHEEZY: Taime Downe’s cat-scratch snarl was at the forefront of the Pussycat sound.

I remember seeing an ad for Faster Pussycat’s 1987 debut album and thinking, “There aren’t enough kegs in St. Louis to make me like this band.” Guitarist Brent Muscat was so pretty and pouty I just wanted to punch him. And because I’d never heard of breast-obsessed filmmaker Russ Meyer, I thought the band name was way too wussy and weak.

As far as late-’80s sleaze bands were concerned, I was sold on the switchblade machismo of scuzz-glam L.A. hooligans like Motley Crue, Guns N’ Roses and WASP. But Faster Pussycat? Sorry. These low-dollar floozies looked like a bunch of scarf-tangled she-hags. No thanks!

At some point thereafter, I was riding shotgun in my girlfriend’s car when she whipped out a brand-new “Faster Pussycat” cassette and proclaimed it as cool as Guns N’ Roses. “You’ve got to be kidding!” I protested. No way in Satan’s red-hot hell is this pack of puckered Pussies gonna kick my ass! Ain’t gonna happen!

Despite my objections, she jammed the cassette into the car stereo and drowned my complaining under a wave of volume. Her told-ya-so smile added insult to injury as opening track, “Don’t Change That Song,” tore through the speakers like a runaway chainsaw. Whooaa!!

LIPSTICK JUNKIES AND RUNAWAYS: Eric Stacy, Greg Steele, Taime Downe, Mark Michals and Brent Muscat. Michals was later busted for Fed-Exing heroin to himself while the band was on tour.

This was some of the dirtiest, raunchiest, most debauched sounding music I’d ever heard.

Boozy and crackling with punk-slop distortion, Faster Pussycat had all the ragtime grooves of Aerosmith and the Faces mixed with the snarl of an alleyway knife fight. In other words, I LOVED it!

AL E. CAT?: Faster Pussycat’s debauched mascot.

And that voice! Grating, sneering and dripping with disease, singer Taime Downe slurred like he’d been swilling whiskey from an ashtray without stopping to spit out the butts. When he pushed his wheeze to a yelp, it sounded like the tongue-flapping scream you hear when a cartoon character gets an anvil dropped on his foot. Blood-curdling. Electrocuted. Perfect!

I already felt dirty just for listening, but the depravity continued with “Cathouse,” “Bathroom Wall,” “Ship Comes In” and “City Has No Heart.” I liked the lurid lyrics of “Smash Alley” so much it became the nickname of my future apartment (and for good reason). Even the goofy “Babylon” was garage-y and fun enough in the days before rap-rock could drive you to suicide.

CAT SHIRT: My prized T-shirt, courtesy of Dangerous Toys singer Jason McMaster

As for the album-cover image that initially turned me off? I came to appreciate it for its wholly intended perverted decadence – kinda like the bastard stepchildren of the New York Dolls, but with an overdose of LA’s sinfully soiled glamor. In fact, I was so smitten with Faster Pussycat that I spent years searching far and wide (unsuccessfully) for a T-shirt bearing that very image as a tribute to my love of the album. Two decades later, my friend Jason McMaster gifted me with a well-worn, original tour shirt he copped from the Pussycats when his band, Dangerous Toys, toured as their opening act. Score!

Subsequent Faster Pussycat albums weren’t nearly as good as the debut. The follow-up, “Wake Me When It’s Over,” was half-good, but scrubbed fairly clean of the decadent haze that left the debut so beautifully scarred and imperfect. Every album afterward was, well, goth-awful (although I do like their dead-on cover of Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” and admit to liking the written-for-radio-attempt-at-a-hit song “Nonstop to Nowhere” when the beer is cold and the sun’s just right).

Song-for-song, “Faster Pussycat” isn’t as bulletproof as Guns N’ Roses’ “Appetite for Destruction” or Motley Crue’s “Too Fast for Love,” but it definitely slithers through the gutter alongside the very best and still stands as one of my favorite albums. So much for judging a band by its cover!

 

  1. PatIdle says:

    Nothing beats their debut album. Although I have a soft spot for all three. But the first one is like a throw back to the slop of the dolls , and that loosey goosey style is the type of rock I love. It’s a sleaze rock masterpiece. Shit the hit song is called Bathroom wall.

  2. Always had a soft spot for this band. I had the pleasure of opening for them, Enuff z’Nuff and Pretty Boy Floyd in the mid 2000s and they they were all nice guys. Brent wasn’t on that tour but Taime was really cool.

    The tales of the pre and post show antics are only left for in-person chatter and not for print.

    • admin says:

      Can’t wait to continue this conversation, Sean. I’ve met all the guys at various times too and have always admired Taime for being a lifer.

  3. The Girl Friend says:

    Nice article- It has inspired me to take the CD out of the home carousel and use it as a replacement for caffeine in the morning!!

    “My morning talkin’ misery is back on my head
    It’s another blurry morning and I’m feelin’ pretty sore, wish I was dead”

  4. Lance Austin says:

    Get your, get your, get your feet up to your ears Slam it home and take me to Rome
    And watch me disappear…..

    Oh Taime… you crafty word smith you…

    Always thought his lyrics were awesome and his phrasing was cool as fuck..

    • admin says:

      Agreed, Lance. Thanks for reading and posting. Always liked: “Dazed and kinda hazy/I was bailing out my boat with both hands ….” And of course: “Drivin’ real fast in my limousine/I got two girls in the back it’s the American Dream/So much money/And so little time/Seems like yesterday I didn’t have a dime (not a dime)

  5. Rico says:

    Despite my voracious appetite for all-things-sleazy in 1987, this album didn’t do it for me. The look and the attitude piqued my attention, but I’d already heard GnR and without Slash’s chainsaw blues guitar, this paled in comparison.

    Wake Me When It’s Over, however, more than made up for the disappointment. That album is superb.

    And the Wake Me tour stop in Albuquerque. Whew…the stories I could tell, but, you already know…

  6. Jake Duffner says:

    I heard Wake Me first when MTV started playing Poison Ivy then the ballad afterward in heavy rotation. I liked those enough to get the whole album and loved it so much I looked for previous CDs and found this one. I think I liked nearly every song right away except Smash Alley. I do think it is a better overall CD but I find myself wanting to hear songs from Wake more often especially Tattoo, Little Dove, Pulling Weeds, Poison Ivy, and Gonna Walk. The 3rd CD was bad. Nonstop was good and I like Big Dictionary. Girls laugh when I sing it because they know I’m fibbing. And Maid in Wonderland was good but everything was crap.

  7. Terrible dee says:

    Truly one of the great undiscovered gems in the anuls of Rock. These guys suffered so much prejudice b cause of the scene the came from,nobody really notic d they produced an all time classic record, and yes, I truley put this record in the same league as appetite some girls and both dolls records, that is not praise I give lightly.

  8. Terrible dee says:

    However, th subsequent follow ups sucked, the band was never listenable again after this