Courtney Love has never been less than notorious. Her intelligence, ambition and appetite for confrontation have made her a target in a music industry still dominated by men. As Kurt Cobain's wife she was derided as an opportunistic groupie; as his widow she is pitied, and scorned, as the madwoman in rock's attic. Yet Hole's second album, Live Through This, awoke a feminist consciousness in a generation of young listeners.
Live Through This arrived in 1994, at a tumultuous point in the history of American music. Three years earlier Nirvana's Nevermind had broken open the punk underground, and the first issue of a zine called Riot Grrrl had been published. Hole were of this context and yet outside of it: too famous for the strict punk ethics of riotgrrrl, too explicitly feminist to be the world's biggest rock band.
Live Through This is an album about girlhood and motherhood; desire and disgust; self-destruction and survival. There have been few rock albums before or since so intimately concerned with female experience. It is an album that changed lives – so why is Courtney Love's achievement as a songwriter and musician still not taken seriously, two decades on?