Luscious Jackson | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Luscious Jackson

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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.

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