David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 298: Glass Eye (I Don't Need Drugs To Be Fucked Up)

November 8, 2023

It's got a guitar riff straight from AC/DC, a cheesy keyboard straight from Strawberry Alarm Clock, lead vocals that could be Lemmy's of Motörhead, backing vocals straight from the J. Geils Band (especially the Love Stinks and Freeze-Frame era), and a title that would make any cowardly record executive drop them from their label. Which is what happened, not long after the release of Huge, on which was the anthemic "I Don't Need Drugs To Be Fucked Up." As a result, Huge, along with the EP Marlo, sits in my box of records downstairs, no remastering, releasing, repackaging available in the CD or post-CD era.  What a disappointment, a piece of underground musical history lost to the world (I found one YouTube link to at least be able to provide below).

The band was from Austin, Texas, maybe the alternative rock music capital of the world in the mid-1980s. They were led on guitar and keyboards by two women, providing the texture of the music accompanying the rhythm section provided by the two males. K. McCarty, the guitarist, and Brian Beattie, the bassist, traded lead vocals, playing small college towns in an attempt to build a following. It worked in Morgantown, West Virginia, at least once, at least for me. They were weird, often called avant-garde, sometimes covering Cab Calloway, sometimes providing their own theme song (see Day 294) with "Glass Eye" (from Marlo), and sometimes offering tantalizing bizarre song titles like "Vegetable Wheel." Honestly, "I Don't Need Drugs To Be Fucked Up" barely scratches the surface for why Glass Eye was probably destined to be forgotten.

It didn't help that it was plopped down amidst a rather unappealing album design, its aesthetic invoking the trends set up by Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols.

Coming in the midst of the Nancy Reagan "Just Say No" to drugs campaign, "I Don't Need Drugs To Be Fucked Up" sounded a knell that the problem may not be the drugs, but perhaps a culture, its opening lines, as growled by Beattie, sharing a disturbed mind confused and mute in a society of "vibrating people [who] buzz by too fast" and "slow moving people [his] eyes blow past."

Beattie could be challenging Mrs. Reagan with the line "I am a guy who don't need to be high," tricking her to shake his hand/high five him for rejecting drugs. However, that line kicks the song into the chorus with "I don't need drugs to be fucked up," accompanied by screaming background vocalists. I'm not sure what Nancy would have made of the chorus' other line: "if you want an excuse, you're out of luck." With a discordant keyboard riff that then punctuates that chorus, Mrs. Reagan would certainly have been out of her comfort zone.

The keyboard is the sound that I can't forget. Not the hard rock opening riff. Not the messy background vocals. Just that 5-note sequence that sounds like it comes from a circus sideshow. I am tempted to find out what kind of cheap keyboard produced that sound, but it's probably not fair to the maker.

Glass Eye, at least in this initial foursome, didn't survive the label's dropping of them. The two ladies departed, new members were brought in, but if anything, the band became even more obscure. It wasn't a lack of trying. For "I Don't Need Drugs To Be Fucked Up," Glass Eye enlisted Jon Dee Graham to play lead guitar, the ripping guitar that fills the last 2 1/2 minutes of the song, and who had previously been playing with John Doe and Exene Cervanka from X. Later, when The Dead Milkmen cover "I Don't Need Drugs To Be Fucked Up" in concert, it becomes clearer that Glass Eye was revered among the American punks. I suppose the aesthetic of Huge was spot on after all.

By the time of the release of Huge, I had moved from Morgantown to Bloomington. I have no idea if Glass Eye toured through Morgantown again. The album title seems painfully ironic in retrospect. All of these nuances for "I Don't Need Drugs To Be Fucked Up" failed to make the band huge, let alone made Huge huge, leaving us few fans with huge holes in our re-release collections. I suppose we are out of luck.

Glass Eye. "I Don't Need Drugs To Be Fucked Up." Huge. Wrestler Records, 1986. Link here.

Day 297: Foreigner "The Damage Is Done"

Day 299: Mick Farren & The Deviants "Let's Loot The Supermarket Again Like We Did Last Summer"

See complete list here.