In 1981, Gordon Gano, Brian Ritchie, and Victor DeLorenzo verily crept up on the scene of the American underground with a unique fusion of jittery folk-rock, youthful angst, and a fiery punk attitude. After the guitarist for the Pretenders heard the trio busking outside Milwaukee’s Oriental Theatre before a concert, the band got their big break when they were invited on stage that evening.

Violent Femmes went on to become legends live with their raucous stage energy, Gano’s sonic explosions of Calvinistic teenage sexual repression, and frank reflections of a common human experience. Considering Gano was a literal teenager when he wrote most of the early songs, the authenticity of these feelings hit a jaded Generation X hard and fast: these were not the false, wistful musings of aging rock stars, they were fresh, raw and URGENT.
Photo: Rocky Schenck
Violent Femmes signed to legendary punk label Slash Records, and released their self-titled debut in 1983. Although Violent Femmes failed to chart upon its release, the album was a steady seller, eventually becoming the group’s most successful and critically lauded title. Nearly a decade later, it hit the Billboard 200 (landing at No.171 in 1991) and was certified Platinum by the RIAA.
The band followed with 1984’s more experimental Hallowed Ground, which ended up being vastly different: Gano’s evangelical Christian upbringing served as the lyrical backdrop, peppered with No-wave style saxophone, and dark country/American roots influences.
1986’s The Blind Leading the Naked made another sharp turn, this time towards mainstream pop and avant-garde. Produced by the Talking Heads’ Jerry Harrison, the album featured a variety of high-profile guests, including guitarist Leo Kottke, the Stooges’ Steve Mackay, and acclaimed experimental artist, Fred Frith. Featuring the breakneck protest song Old Mother Reagan and the lively I Held Her in My Arms, The Blind Leading the Naked brought Violent Femmes wider commercial success.
The trio reunited in 1989, returning to their stripped-down roots with Lies and Nightmares. Meanwhile, 1991’s Why Do Birds Sing? marked the Femmes’ final album with DeLorenzo, who bitterly split with the group over its direction. Co-produced with Michael Beinhorn (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Hole, Soundgarden), the LP included one of the group’s most commercially successful singles, American Music, which hit No.2 on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart.
Add It Up (1981–1993) draws from these first five albums—documenting the trailblazing band’s stylistic development as they rose to become one of alt-rock’s most commercially successful acts. Offering fans more than just a compilation of hits, Add It Up also spotlights Violent Femmes’ energetic live performances, captured at the height of their career. Nearly half of the collection is devoted to rare demos, B-sides, and imports that were previously unavailable in the US, at the time of Add It Up’s initial release.
As Violent Femmes celebrate their 40th year together, Craft Recordings is pleased to honor their catalogue of cult classics with the long out-of-print vinyl reissue of Add It Up (1981–1993). In stores May 21st and now available for pre-order, the popular collection will also make its return to digital and streaming platforms, while fans can listen to Add It Up (Live) now.
The 23-track compilation of features Violent Femmes’ biggest hits, including Blister in the Sun, American Music, and Gone Daddy Gone, plus live recordings of Add It Up, and Kiss Off, alongside a trove of demos, B-sides, interstitial voice recordings, and rarities. Housed in a gatefold jacket, the 2-LP set was pressed at Memphis Records Pressing, with lacquers cut by George Horn at Fantasy Studios.
In addition to the standard black 2-LP, a special “Blister Red Marble” edition will be available exclusively via the Violent Femmes and Craft Recordings web stores (limited to 500 worldwide). Meanwhile, Indie Retailers will offer an exclusive “Aqua” pressing, and Urban Outfitters will offer a “Violet” variant.
Click here to pre-order/pre-save Add It Up (1981–1993) now.
Add It Up (1981-1993) vinyl tracklist:
Side A:
1. Intro
2. Waiting for the Bus
3. Blister in the Sun
4. Gone Daddy Gone
5. Gordon’s Message
6. Gimme the Car
Side B:
1. Country Death Song
2. Black Girls
3. Jesus Walking on Water
4. 36-24-36
5. I Held Her in My Arms
Side C:
1. I Hate the TV
2. America Is
3. Old Mother Reagan
4. Degradation
5. Dance, M.F., Dance!
6. Lies (Live)
7. American Music
8. Out the Window
Side D:
1. Kiss Off (Live)
2. Add It Up (Live)
3. Vancouver (Live)
4. Johnny (Live)
Add It Up (1981-1993) digital tracklist:
  1. Intro*
  2. Waiting for the Bus*
  3. Blister in the Sun
  4. Gone Daddy Gone
  5. Gordon’s Message
  6. Gimme the Car
  7. Country Death Song
  8. Black Girls
  9. Jesus Walking on Water
  10. 36-24-36*
  11. I Held Her in My Arms
  12. I Hate the TV*
  13. America Is*
  14. Old Mother Reagan
  15. Degradation
  16. Dance, M.F., Dance!*
  17. Lies (Live)*
  18. American Music
  19. Out the Window*
  20. Kiss Off (Live)*
  21. Add It Up (Live)*
  22. Vancouver (Live)*
  23. Johnny (Live)*
* Indicates tracks unavailable digitally until this release.

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