Illiteracy Will Prevail (found Fecal Matter demo tape; 1985)
Fecal Matter was a short-lived punk rock band from Aberdeen, Washington formed in 1985 by Kurt Cobain, the future frontman of the grunge band Nirvana, and Dale Crover of The Melvins.
The group's sole recording was issued as the Illiteracy Will Prevail demo tape, which, despite never receiving an official release (with the exception of the song "Spank Thru"), leaked online in August 2015.
Nature of the Album[edit | edit source]
Illiteracy will Prevail is a lo-fi demo recorded at home on a 4-track tape recorder. It is a very early example of the abrasive American punk-inspired grunge genre of which Kurt Cobain's Nirvana would go on to be the most acclaimed and successful band (their album Nevermind going on to sell over 30 million copies).
Kurt Cobain sings and plays the guitar on the album, and it is believed that he wrote all of the lyrics. Dale Crover plays both bass and drums. Buzz Osborne and Mike Dillard joined the group in early 1986 in an attempt to create a successful live line-up. They rehearsed only a few times before Fecal Matter disbanded.
Cobain showed the tape to acquaintance Krist Novoselic and, particularly liking the song "Spank Thru", Novoselic agreed to form a new band with Cobain; Nirvana.
"Spank Thru"[edit | edit source]
A reworked version of track four from the album, "Spank Thru", became an occasional part of Nirvana's live setlist, and a live Nirvana version was officially released on 1996's From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah. It wasn't until the 2005 compilation Sliver: The Best of the Box that the original Fecal Matter version was released. The track sounds very much like a rough-cut version of Nirvana live, especially in their early Bleach era.
Spank Thru was intended to be track 4 on Illiteracy Will Prevail as evidenced by Cobain's handwritten track-listing on the cassette artwork.
As well as "Spank Thru", the Nirvana songs "Downer" and "Anorexorcist" also saw their first recordings on the tape.
Availability[edit | edit source]
The only well-documented copy of the album is retained by Cobain's widow Courtney Love, who allowed the release of Spank Thru for the Sliver album.
In March 2006, an incomplete, poor-quality version of Illiteracy Will Prevail was leaked. A week later, three full songs from the demo were briefly hosted on a MySpace site ("Sound of Dentage", "Bambi Slaughter" and "Laminated Effect"). The clips were confirmed authentic by collector Mike Ziegler and others who had heard the demo, in contrast to various forgeries that had arisen. Additional songs were leaked in November 2007, but the full album remained elusive.
However, in early August of 2015, an unknown source leaked the full demo tape to the internet. This attracted the attention of numerous music publications, who commented on the importance of the demo in understanding the mind and life of Cobain. Rumors circulate that Dave Grohl was the one responsible for the leak, but this has never been proven. The original YouTube upload of the leak was taken down due to a copyright claim but has been frequently mirrored by other fans, marking an end to the search.
Track Listing[edit | edit source]
- Sound of Dentage (4:50)
- Bambi Slaughter (3:34)
- Laminated Effect (2:18)
- Blathers Log (2:37)
- Class of ’86 (3:56)
- Boatakk (2:06)
- Love My Family (9:07)
- Accusations (4:37)
- Spank Thru (3:50)
- Insurance (1:29)
- Buffy’s Pregnant (4:17)
- Vaseline (2:27)
- Downer (3:01)
- Instrumental version of Boatakk (1:39)
- Riffs & “Turnaround” by Devo (8:33)
Fecal Matter Personnel[edit | edit source]
- Kurt Cobain – vocals, guitars (1985–1986)
- Dale Crover – bass guitar, drums (1985–1986)
- Greg Hokanson – drums (1985)
- Buzz Osborne – bass guitar (1986)
- Mike Dillard – drums (1986)