Babes in Toyland: The Further Adventures of Babes in Toyland (2001)

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So the sticker on this cd case calls it an “official anthology – a collection of singles, b-sides, live performances from lollapalooza & unreleased tracks.” And while I’m not keen on the idea of reviewing “best of” albums, I would actually venture to say that this is not really a “best of” but in fact an exemplar of the band. Thus, the review.

So, Babes in Toyland have a sound that’s a little tough to nail down. They’re not punk, which makes them not riot grrrl, even though they are some girls who could conceivably start a riot. And even though they came up in that alternative era of the early 1990s, they’re a little too loud and scary to be proper alternative. I’d say their closest genre would have to be metal, but I imagine a lot of metal fans might take issue with that classification, as would – really – the babes themselves. But they’re definitely hard, and hard-core in terms of the speed, loudness, and growliness of their music. (Except of course for the handful of candy-sweet girly songs like covers of “We are family” and the disco tune “More, more, more.”)

As for the album, you can save yourself some time by skipping to track 3 because the Timothy Leary intro is boring as is the the song “Right Now!” that follows it. But track 3 is one of their singles which may have even gotten some airplay in some places at some point, “He’s My Thing.” It’s a quick little tune with catchy lyrics and kind of a dancy beat. Next is “Handsome and Gretel” which is probably my favorite song of theirs ever. I can’t tell if it’s Kat or Lori who is singing (they alternate), but the growly metal voice is perfect and competes with the best of the boys who do it and it’s really fun to sing along to. The next few songs are single-type album or live versions of their songs and all fine to listen to, except the aforementioned “We are family” cover, which is a little too close to the original to be enjoyable. Then there’s a previously unreleased version of “Sweet 69” which is probably their biggest hit, and with good reason cuz it’s a fantastic song, and this version kicks the original album’s version’s ass. Again, Kat or Lori does a great job of vacillating between little girl sing-song and spitfire monster growls. “Eye Rise” follows it up and it’s a really dark, kinda scary slow tune that sounds almost like an incantation. Which contrasts nicely, but creepily with the follow up, “More, more, more.” I love love LOVE this cover. Kat’s/Lori’s voice is so weird and off-key for singing it, but it’s just so Charlie’s Angels sounding and super dancy and not at all like the babes. It definitely made the workout mix on my iPod. And then the last song is “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft” and it’s another weird one that I really like. It’s not loud or angry or metal at all, but it’s not gimmicky like the covers. But I think it’s fun. The lyrics are silly and super-space oriented – “We’ve been exploring your earth and we’d like to make a contact with you, we are your friends.” A great close for the album.

I think the Further Adventures is a great album for working out and fine too for just random housework. I listen to it in the car, but it’s not the best traveling music. It’s also not necessary to listen to from start to finish – it’s a pretty good album for chopping up and inserting into other mixes. The songs stand on their own pretty well.

1 Comment

  1. Carrie O. said,

    March 11, 2009 @ 9:07 pm

    Love this! The “skip to track 3” thing is hands down, no bullshit. So good! Can’t wait to see your next album … I pulled out some Bikini Kill today for the first time in a while. Be curious to read your thoughts on any of their albums!

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