Monday, November 8, 2010


To imagine how all-women bands were viewed in the eighties, you really do have to take into consideration the high visibility of the Go-Go's and the Bangles. Both we're cutesy bordering on coy, and safe enough to take home to Mom. Though both bands had their earlier trashy days, they had no problem letting record companies spit shine them into polished bland girl band crap. (It's really hard to believe that both bands were actually interesting in their earliest incarnations.) In 1985, along comes a bona fide all-women band that turned it up to 11. Similar only in locale (L.A.) and gender, L7 rocked hard. Simply put, they were a band whose in-your-face-ness rendered their sex a non-issue. And this was before the Riot Grrrl movement was in full swing.

Bless their stained hearts, L7 were all but unmarketable. Though they did try. In 1999, in what be one of the best nose-thumbing of a gender trap, they hired a plane to pull a banner over a Lilith Fair show reading "Bored? Tired? Try L7." The next day, over a Warped tour show, they were up to it again, this time taunting the predominantly male line-up with a plane pulled banner reading "Warped needs more, L7." Lest their attitude seem choreographed, there's always the moment at the 1992 Reading Music Festival, when guitarist Donita Sparks, tired of being the target of the mud throwing audience, took out her used tampon on stage, and threw it at them, saying "Eat my used tampon, fuckers!" Sound disgusting? Complain to the Go-Go's.

Program notes:
"Shit List" contains staccato shrieking that is, at first, repelling, as it should be. "Hanging On the Telephone" is a cover of a Nerves' song. The Nerves were a power pop band, who notably put on the earliest L.A. independent punk shows, featuring debuts of the Zeros, the Germs and the Weirdos, and one of the last Dils shows as a four piece. "Pretend We're Dead" is one L7 seemed to have banked on, at their peak. "Question My Sanity" is of note because the solo repeats the same six notes over and over. If you've been taking aural notes, that's three times more notes than the Buzzcocks' Pete Shelly used in his solo on "Boredom."

L7 - Shit List mp3 at Captain's Dead
L7 - Hanging On the Telephone mp3 at Star Maker Machine
L7 - Pretend We're Dead mp3 at Viva la Mainstream
L7 - Question My Sanity mp3 at A Barrel of Nails
L7 - Pretend We're Dead (The Word TV show '92) video at YouTube

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