Lowest of the Low – Shakespeare My Butt

Pheromone Recordings

There are few albums as much a product of time and place as Lowest of the Low’s Shakespeare My Butt . As the indie rock revolution was kicking off in the early ’90s this Toronto four-piece sold a record-breaking number of albums from the stage. Frontman Ron Hawkins delivered the goods in a lyrical literary and romantic way while the rest of the band used acoustic guitars and blended the folk and punk esthetic. At times the songs flew with such adrenaline they threatened to fall apart at the seams. At others they slowed down to the point where listeners ran the risk of saccharine overload. What made this formula work however was that Lowest of the Low never apologized for the result. Shakespeare My Butt was unbelievably earnest and it required investment from the audience. If you could give yourself over to the grandiose storytelling idealistic prose and hyper-personalism then you would be unquestionably rewarded. It may have been too light too kitschy or too obvious for some but others (like me) bought it hook line and sinker.

That was 1991. Almost 20 years later the band has remastered the album and reformed in honor of the anniversary. This begs the question does anyone who doesn’t already own this album care? Unlikely. Although the album has aged well revisiting it is like opening a time capsule. This music is so out of step with current pop it’s hard to imagine it resonating with a new audience. Certainly fans would be interested but in truth the lackluster repack on the album does a disservice. The liner features a smattering of vintage photos and two short essays on the band. The bonus DVD features 43 minutes of blurry photos and stage-side Handycam footage cobbled together in video pastiche. The quality is so poor that it’s actually frustrating to watch. The audio track features live versions and alternate takes of the songs but it’s not cataloged in any tangible manner so you have to wade through the DVD to find them. An alternate audio track features an interview with the band that offers insight into their breakup but little else.

If the reissue isn’t for a new generation or old-time fans; it’s merely for the band themselves. Shakespeare My Butt is a fantastic record but in an age of deluxe reissues this version doesn’t stand up.