Before Courtney married, or even met Kurt, she formed her critically acclaimed band Hole
Courtney Love went from Faith No More to Pagan Babies before roles in Sid And Nancy and Straight To Hell propelled her forward to form her seminal band - Hole, in 1989. After bouncing around for years trying to find the best fit, Love took it upon herself to form her own group by placing an ad in a local paper that simply stated, "I want to start a band".
After two years, and a step change in the band's attitude as to how seriously they were taking their musical career, Hole had written and recorded their debut record, Pretty On The Inside. The 11 track album, produced by Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, was a riotous introduction to an emerging and, like them or loath them, ultimately influential band.
Pretty On The Inside was, and is, an unflinching wall of sound. It's relentless noise has no respite; it is an aural onslaught that keeps on coming. Love herself has since said that she thinks the album is "unlistenable" however critics of the time generally gave it very favourable reviews with Spin making it one of their top 20 albums of the year.
Hole in 1991 were closer to Slipknot than Sonic Youth and were clearly just finding their own sound. Love too was finding her own voice. Pretty On The Inside has none of the melodies or harmonies that would define some of Hole's later work on Live Through This or Celebrity Skin. On Hole's debut full length record Love was angry, enraged, impassioned and unforgiving. From the opening track of Teenage Whore through to the close out song Clouds, Love and her band keep up a level of feral, unfettered energy that can't be ignored and isn't easily forgotten.
Hole's raw and shredded soundtracks compliment Love's unbridled barrage perfectly, capturing the essence of a live recording but with just enough production to give the songs clarity and structure. The opening track to the album was also an unlikely hit in the UK when it was released as the lead single from the record a week after the album had dropped. Teenage Whore went to number one on the Indie charts back in 1991 and gave Love and Hole their first taste of chart success. The album itself also reached number 59 on the UK album charts and a creditable number 73 on the Billboard 200 album chart.
Much of Pretty On The Inside follows Teenage Whore in a similar vein. The scuzzy post-punk frenzy of Babydoll, the more considered Black Sabbath - metal of Garbadge Man and the building cacophony of Sassy make for an incendiary start to Pretty On The Inside. The screams of Good Sister - Bad Sister could scare you half to death, they're delivered with such intensity and venom, whilst the unhinged mania of the title track leave you virtually exhausted from just listening.
Hole's debut album, Pretty On The Inside was just the vehicle that Courtney Love needed at that time in her life. It captures a rawness and intensity that clearly needed a release. The sound of the entire album would most definitely help shape the sound of future groups, including those of the Riot Grrrl era without a doubt. Hole would later develop their own music into a slightly less abrasive style but their unapologetic debut serves as a great platform for what was to follow.