Where does this story begin? For most, any awareness of Courtney Love or Hole probably began with Kurt Cobain. Kurt and Courtney, the John and Yoko of the '90s, living in the pop culture spotlight - married with child. "Oh, she's just riding on his fame," was often heard. Love had founded Hole, along with guitarist Eric Erlandson, in '89, well before she met Kurt. As the two became intertwined, the general consensus solidified. Cobain was a genius and she was not. Also, Hole was a wreck with members departing, either leaving the band or going a step further-one band member died from a drug overdose. They kept going adding Melissa Auf Der Maur on bass.
Then there was "Live Through This" which came out on the heels for Cobain's suicide. Love began to emerge from Kurt's shadow largely because Cobain's shadow was no more. She was a being considered on her own merits. "Doll Parts" from that CD was one of the most haunting, touching yet defiant songs ever created.
Hole's "Celebrity Skin," an ode to life in that wonderful place known as California, opened with the title track, a dark reference to the underbelly of the Hollywood dream. "You want a piece of me?" The "I don't come cheap" reply is perfect. The CD was more accessible than anything Hole had ever attempted, especially acoustic oriented "Heaven Tonight," an uptempo, melodic and almost soothing track, with an optimistic lilt not expected from Hole.
In '99, Hole went on tour with Marilyn Manson. What might have looked like a promising match up turned out a disaster. After several confrontations between Love and Manson, not to mention the battles between their audiences, Hole left the tour but kept going. After all, Courtney was a survivor. That was just as true over a decade later.
Love announced in '09 that she was going to resurrect Hole for the first time in eleven years. Some eight months later Hole, consisting of Love, guitarist and songwriting collaborator Micko Larkin, bassist Shawn Dailey and drummer Stu Fischer, played London's Shepherd's Bush Empire (theater). Shows in Milan and Amsterdam followed in support of the long-in-the-works album "Nobody's Daughter."
Lead single "Skinny Little Bitch" was an Active Rock hit even though Love and Erlandson were still locked in a debate regarding the use of the Hole name. "Courtney and her management continue to roll along with their plans to, in my opinion, ruin the Hole legacy, just for some cheap thrills," said Eralndson.
Just a day before Hole launched their first tour in 12 years, VH1's Behind The Music revolving around Love, was aired (nice way to remind fans of Ms. Love's career/life).
1991 Pretty On The Inside
1994 Live Through This
1998 Celebrity Skin
2010 Nobody's Daughter
There's something to be said for timing. After a good debut with "Pretty On The Inside" Hole hit their peak with "Live Through This," which was released a week before Courtney's husband Kurt died. The loss gave the album a shaper meaning. Still, the record stands up, even when not linked to Cobain's death. "Doll Parts" is one of the most gut-wrenching songs, with Love blasting through the pain with undeniable force. It's a charged mix of envy and ambition. "Plump," "Asking For It" and "Miss World" Rock with feminist themes. "Celebrity Skin" is not quite as impassioned but it is still excellent. "Malibu," as the name indicates, has a SoCal theme, and is among the outstanding tracks.
Whether "Nobody's Daughter" is a Hole album or Love with sidemen, it's a pretty impressive effort. Given the time and turmoil involved that's amazing. The album opens with the Grunge-lite title track then rolls into the more forceful "Skinny Little Bitch." "Pacific Coast Highway" and "Loser Dust" heap on the angst and energy. There are a couple "therapeutic" ballads ("Letter To God" and "How Dirty Girls Get Clean") before Hole wraps up the set with "Never Go Hungry," a totally unexpected Lindsey Buckingham/Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac) type ballad.
"My Body The Hand Grenade" features live tracks and demos. "Ask For It" is a live EP and "MTV Unplugged" is what it is. But "Live Through This" and to a slightly lesser degree "Celebrity Skin" define Hole.