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Thursday, October 7, 2010

In Honor of Tonight's Corin Tucker Band CD Release Party, A Retrospective

Posted by Alison Hallett on Thu, Oct 7, 2010 at 9:15 AM

Since my favorite member of my favorite band just released a not-Sleater-Kinney-good-but-still-good solo album, now seems like a good time for a brief dip into obsessive fandom, yes?

In a nostalgia-bolstering coincidence, I just finished reading Sara Marcus' Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution. It's a good, comprehensive read, and Corin Tucker plays a prominent role, at least in the chapters documenting the early days of the moment. One of the three bands Marcus identifies as riot grrrl's most influential (along with Bratmobile and Bikini Kill) was Tucker's Heavens to Betsy, a two-person outfit featuring Tucker on guitar and vocals and Tracy Sawyer on drums:

(That video is kinda crappy, but there's not much out there—if you actually want to hear what they sound like, this was 13-year-old Alison's favorite song, which is embarrassing but whatever, so is everything about being 13. These days the song "Waitress Hell" is the one that sticks with me the most.)

Tucker also played in a very short-lived band called Heartless Martin, which released just one cassette in the summer of 1993; I remember trying in vain a few years later to track it down, but had never actually heard it until right this minute: Blogger Jenny Woolworth has it available as a digital download on her site, which is actually a great resource for old riot grrrl stuff. Craaazy. (The band also featured Becca Albee, who was in Excuse 17 with Carrie Brownstein, and of course this was their best song.)

In 1994 Tucker and Brownstein formed Sleater-Kinney, releasing a self-titled album in 1995. By the time I started seeing them (1998 maybe?), "Be Yr Mama" was really the only song off that album they'd ever dust off and play live (Janet Weiss is drumming in this video, instead of album drummer Lora Macfarlane):

In 1997, Tucker (along with Sarah Dougher and sts) formed the S-K side project Cadallaca, which was sort of a goofy concept band (I am not sure what the concept was exactly, but it involved a fair amount of play-acting), with the exception of this, their most heartfelt song:

And meanwhile, Sleater-Kinney was turning into this:

You guys remember how at their last Portland show, the promised "special guest" turned out to be Eddie Vedder, and the crowd had a confused "wait, do we actually care?" sort of moment? That was a funny moment. I still really like this cover of "The Golden State," w/Corin and Eddie Vedder; I don't think it tops the original, but it showcases Tucker's voice nicely:

And then S-K broke up and it was a bummer; and then Corin announced she'd be releasing a solo album, and it's really pretty good, and the show is at the Aladdin tonight, and I am excited.

I spent hours and hours in in middle school and high school piecing together this type of information, picking up details from zines and AOL's riot grrrl message boards and the few fan sites that were out there in 1995. It is crazy how easy it was to find all that stuff just now. Kids these days have it good.

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