As of this month, fans of Industrial Godfathers Skinny Puppy (without whom there would be no Marilyn Manson or Nine Inch Nails), will no longer have to shell out $200+ for the incredibly scarce vinyl edition of the band’s last (and arguably best) “classic-era” LP, Last Rights. This past August, the band polled their most rabid fans on Litany.net, asking which Puppy LP they’d most like to see reissued on vinyl. Last Rights won out as the fan favorite with nearly half of the vote, leading the band to strike a deal with their former label Nettwerk to reissue the album. The resultant release (out now) is lovingly repackaged with I, Braineater’s (AKA Jim Cummins) original artwork on a gatefold sleeve, while the audio itself has been mastered specifically for vinyl and spread across two LPs cut at 45rpm for maximum mental deranging. The package also includes a bonus CD of the entire album.
Last Rights still darkly stands out in the band's discography. It is both the band's most inaccessible and experimental album yet also its most devastingly beautiful. The band’s personal lives and health were in particularly bad states at the time of recording, with the members battling various drug problems. Puppy Vocalist Ogre, legendarily, was very much in the half-light of existence during the album’s recording. Held by the grip of a severe heroin addition, Ogre mostly forgoes his usual political lyrical bent and indeed sounds the part of a man exorcising a great many personal demons.
“pain that never dies / crawls up the back / and waits /
...crawls wicked wire / cut throat explodes /
singing of the vein / no desire / great fate…” - Ogre’s lyrics from “Love In Vein”
Last Rights also marked a Puppy first, with an attempt at a ballad; “Killing Game” with a mostly untreated vocal from Ogre, remains the most accessible and haunting track on the album amongst cEvin Key and Dwayne Goettel’s monstrous and dense instrumental tracks like “Riverz End” and “Download.” “Knowhere?” is a dance floor track for cement shoes with chugga-chugga riffs and an unrelenting slide into a cacophonous hell. On “Scrapyard,” a brief hope pierces through the depressive atmosphere via stuttering acoustic guitar strums and a one-off soaring chorus before being pulverized by the heavy crush of Puppy-dementia once again. The album has many “sliver of hope” moments like this with colorful recurring split-second strings on “Lust Chance” and the acoustic breaks and infectious synth-hooks on the album’s club-hit “Inquisition.” Last Rights also achieves a feat in that unlike its latter-day successors, it never sounds contrived. Ultimately, this record is a masterfully drawn map of personal purgatory with tightrope dances between life and death and the beautiful and the horrific.
Uber-fans of Puppy will notice an unfortunate drawback to an otherwise flawless reissue: still no inclusion of the mythical and ‘missing’ tenth track, “Left Handshake.” The song was omitted from the album’s original January 1992 release at the last minute due to the band’s inability to obtain clearance for several Dr. Timothy Leary samples taken from Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out, the Doctor’s infamous LP of Trip –enhancing audio. The band simply commented on the matter by not allocating a track 10 on the LP and the liner notation “Song 10 Is Missing?.” The track has since been released on European pressings of the band’s Brap compilation and as a limited edition single at the 2000 Dresden Skinny Puppy reunion show. It’s likely Nettwerk (as well as the band) was not willing to cough up the extra dough necessary to clear the samples for the reissue.
No word yet on further reissues, but one can hope for, at the very least, a similar issue of Rights' predecessor Too Dark Park, which has also become increasingly rare on vinyl. Hint, Hint, Nettwerk.
The Last Rights deluxe vinyl reissue is available at Amoeba Hollywood now!