Recorded in 1986, The Pusherman EP is the final studio record released by the original Live Skull quartet of Mark C, Tom Paine, Marnie Greenholz and James Lo. Along with Sonic Youth and Swans, Live Skull was the face of New York's post-No Wave "noise scene" during the 1980s, and the songs on The Pusherman EP are in many ways the culmination of that movement and the essence of what Live Skull was all about.
Relentlessly fierce but with an unnerving ability to insinuate themselves in your brain, the songs on The Pusherman EP further refine Live Skull's pioneering strategy of threading unlikely hooks through mystifying interference patterns that subvert traditional rock in previously unheard ways. The EP would deserve its classic status if only for its free-associating version of Pusherman (a very curious hit on college radio back in '86), a thoroughly abstracted but weirdly faithful cover that re-imagines Curtis Mayfield's original through the cracked and filthy lens of Live Skull's crumbling East Village.
Less than a year after this record's release, Live Skull would find itself in transition, eventually becoming a quintet with drummer Rich Hutchins and Thalia Zedek on vocals – but The Pusherman EP stands in the minds of many fans and critics as not just the original line-up's final testament, but possibly its finest. In his much-quoted review for The New York Times, Robert Palmer declared, "With each new record, New York's Live Skull delivers a more concentrated brand of emotional intensity, a more ferociously disciplined sonic assault. Live Skull's music – a high-wire act played for keeps, without a net – is as challenging, as spiritually corrosive, and ultimately as transcendent as Albert Ayler's mid-60's free jazz or the implacable drone-dance of the early Velvet Underground. It's one of the essential sounds of our time."
Out of print for nearly thirty years, Live Skull's Pusherman EP has now been reissued on limited edition vinyl and (for the first time ever) on CD, complete with a lavish booklet including extensive liner notes by founding members Tom Paine and Mark C, and six extremely rare bonus tracks. This is the fourth release in Desire Records' Live Skull project, an ambitious eight-title series of reissues of the entire Live Skull catalogue, personally overseen by Mark C and Tom Paine.