Partly through association with the Beastie Boys–they’re on the Beasties’ label Grand Royal, they’ve toured with them, and drummer Kate Schellenbach originally played with the Beasties–Luscious Jackson continually get mislabled as “white female rappers.” In reality, as their terrific full-length debut Natural Ingredients quickly shows, they’re a funky pop band with savvy to spare. Employing hip hop’s technology–sampled riffs and break beats–while ignoring its vocabulary, attack, and general minimalism, the quartet sculpts liquid, seductive, hooky tunes from a percolating swirl of underplayed funk, insinuating melodies, languid guitar/keyboard sprawls, and relaxed but street-smart vocals–dig the subtle but insistent melismatic strain that floats through “Surprise.” The “rapping” of Gabby Glaser and Jill Cunniff sounds closer to “Rapture”-era Blondie than anything MC Lyte or Queen Latifah’s been puttin’ down. And with a combination of restrained sexuality, sweetness, and nicely thin harmonies, Luscious Jackson deliver a personal, pragmatic, and firm feminism that would be off-putting only to an asshole. (The bubbling hot “Energy Sucker,” for example, asserts independence to some soul-sucking jerk: “I’m a goddess / Not your mother.”) The colored-light flash of the album gets stripped down to white-hot monochrome live; at Lollapalooza this year their scratchy guitar and slightly clunky rhythm-heavy performance recalled early-80s New York funk minimalists like ESG and Liquid Liquid. On top of that they all were personable and enjoyed themselves. What a concept. Monday, 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 489-3160.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Danny Clinch.