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 remains officially unreleased (with the exception of the song "Spank Thru").
Nature of the Album
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 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.
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 this tape.
Extant Copies of the Album
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 ("Sound of Dentage", "Bambi Slaughter" and "Laminated Effect") were briefly hosted on a MySpace page. 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.
Misordered Track Listing, Compiled from Bootleg Sources
- "Sound of Dentage" – 3:29
- (Reefer Madness excerpts) – 1:15
- "Bambi Slaughter" – 3:33
- "Laminated Effect" – 2:17
- Unknown Title ("Control") – 2:36
- Unknown Title ("Class of '86") – 3:55
- Unknown Title ("Blather's Log") – 2:05
- Unknown Title ("Anorexorcist") – 8:54
- Unknown Title ("Accusations") – 4:48
- "Spank Thru" – 3:49
- Unknown Title ("Insurance") – 1:28
- Unknown Title ("Buffy's Pregnant") – 4:15
- "Vaseline" – 2:21
- "Downer" – 3:04
- "Instramental" (Instrumental version of Track 7) – 1:39
- "Turnaround" (Short clip of the Devo song) – 1:15
- (Guitar riffs of songs on the album)
Fecal Matter Personnel
- 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)