Penelope Houston
Eighteen Stories Down
(WEA Germany)

Top: Eighteen Stories Down cover

Middle and bottom:
Penelope Houston

Penelope prefers to refer to this retrospective of her 25 years of songwriting and recording as a "best of" (rather than a "greatest hits" lp), but call it what you may, it’s a pretty impressive indication of the state of one’s career when such an album is released. The album consists of eighteen tracks picked by Penelope of the best songs from five studio albums, B-sides, previously unreleased material, including four brand new tracks! Having written over 80 songs and covered a dozen more, it was a hard choice...

Punk, Folkie, Popstar,…Penelope Houston has been called a lot of things. In the New York Trouser Press Record Guide, Ira Robbins proclaimed her, at 19, as "...the archetypal indomitable rock n’roll woman ‚ her strength and aggression are what elevates these tracks from energetic but typical punk to remarkable personal statements... the Avengers (her first band) were a major national asset." In The Unknown Legends Of Rock And Roll, she's marked as "the soul-sister to Nick Drake and Sandy Denny." The All Music Guide states that she "helped pioneer the melodic-yet-hard-hitting alternative rock... mined by such performers as Liz Phair and Aimee Mann."

Born in Los Angeles and raised in Seattle, Penelope Houston has spent her life surrounded by music. In 1977, opting for a career of a different nature, Houston headed south to attend San Francisco's Art Institute. In a short time, the 19-year-old student found herself at a point where art, culture and music collided - as the lead singer and songwriter for The Avengers, a foursome that critic Greil Marcus described as "San Francisco's best punk band - in their moments, they were, you knew, better than any other band playing that night anywhere in the world."

In the two short years of their existence, The Avengers appeared with the Sex Pistols at Winterland - that group's legendary last show, recorded with Pistols guitarist Steve Jones and headlined dates with the Go-Go's, X and the Dead Kennedys. When it was over, Penelope explored other worlds, moving first to Los Angeles to work in film and video, then on to England where she contributed to Howard Devoto's post-Magazine projects. Eventually, she returned to San Francisco and, listening to artists like Tom Waits and the Violent Femmes, was drawn to the possibilities inherent in the acoustic approach. She formed a band, toured the U.S. and Europe and with albums like 1993's critically acclaimed The Whole World, soon found herself front and center in the burgeoning world of neo-folk.

Since then she has blended her influences of punk, folk, rock, blues and americana, in both acoustic and electric forms. After years on both majors and independents, not unlike Aimee Mann and Jane Siberry, Penelope is starting her own label. "Eighteen Stories Down", her 12th album, is certain to capture the ears and hearts of her fans worldwide.

Track Listing:

1. corpus christi
2. voices
3. on borrowed time
4. qualities of mercy
5. water wheel by Pat Johnson
6. ride
7. glad im a girl
8. sweetheart
9. white out
10. blackeyed peas
11. the ballad of happy friday and tiger woods
12. scum
13. tongue
14. worm
15. flight 609
16. hole
17. soul redeemer
18. buffalo ballet by john cale