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On the first day of junior high, homeroom teachers should hand out copies of the Violent Femmes’ first album to every student along with their class schedules. It’s required listening for the perpetual angst and drama they’ll experience in the next three years. And those of us with well-worn copies can pick up Viva Wisconsin, a live disc from an all-acoustic tour of their home state last year. The trio’s songs sound as fresh and passionate as they did back in the day. And the Femmes go back to the basics: acoustic bass and guitar with a single snare drum—the same instruments they used when performing on Milwaukee street corners.
What’s here? You know the score: “Gone Daddy Gone,” “Good Feeling,” “American Music,” “Gimme the Car,” “Add It Up,” “Special,” “Country Death Song,” “Blister in the Sun” (of course), and the juvenile delinquent’s anthem “Kiss Off”—all of their best songs, raw and intimate.