I came to Luscious Jackson for the same reason most folk did back in 1993 when they released their mini LP In Search Of Manny. The clue’s there at the beginning of the credits:
Formed by Jill Cunniff and Gaby Glaser* out of the stone-cold soup of primordial effortless cool that New York could be in the early 90’s, their first gig was supporting Cypress Hill and the Beastie Boys for which they added keyboard player Vivian Trimble and drummer Kate Schellenbach; yup the same Kate Schellenbach who was the Beastie Boys’ first drummer. Jill and Gabby both grew up knowing the Beastie Boys and Luscious Jackson were the first band signed up to Grand Royal Records. So it was the Beastie link that snared me, anorak collector type that I am, but Luscious Jackson quickly became one of my favourite bands in their own right.
Watch this sucker:
It’s all there for me. I get really into records that blur boundaries, mixing sounds up like a motherfunking mixological masterclass and In Search Of Manny does that beautifully. ‘Daughters Of Kaos’ will always be my fave track here hip-hop informed**, yet organically played, folk rock*^. Slap some great melodies and a sardonic vocal on the top, a smattering of dialogue and a beat that I’ve spent a lot of my time dancing to and you really do have something special. It’s fun, cool, soft, knowing and feminine – all that great stuff that makes me tingle.
I don’t act too cool
Cause I’m not that weak
Accept respect for the havoc I wreak
In Search Of Manny is made up of Luscious Jackson’s original demo on side 1 and four newer tracks on side 2, not that I can tell the difference, it’s all excellent. My particular faves are ‘Satellite’, with its slightly odd country sensibility, great vocal melodies and shifting time signatures and the funky-as-hell instrumental ‘Bam-Bam’, with its purred bits and B-52s-do-Superfly vibe. Mind you there’s the downbeat jazzy tone of ‘Life Of Leisure’, which really hits the spot sampling Elephant’s Memory. Oh and ‘Let Yourself Get Down’ with its’ languid, chaotic chick-hop beats – you gotta love a lyric like this:
I got pretty little feet they’re so petite
I got shiny little legs so nice and neat
My belly button I Q-tip it clean
They call me wicked witch because my mouth’s so mean
Again, Luscious Jackson play it sly, knowing and funny, sexy on their own terms. I saw them four times and they were, as well as being a great live band, all those qualities personified; strong, feminine and cool without being remotely preachy teachy. Their first ‘proper’ LP was their pinnacle in my humble opinion^ but In Search Of Manny was a great, scattershot calling card.
The cover dude rocking the pose? he was a boyfriend of Gabby’s mum in the 70’s called Manny, nobody knew where he was any more , so …
Really good, interesting interview with Kate Schellenbach (who just seems lovely):
*whose very name still provokes a Pavlovian ‘Hubba-Hubba’ response in me, even at my advanced age (sighs), she may still be my feminine ideal.
**with a sampled siren (I think) which I always think is just one of the most exciting sounds you can ever use on a record.
*^like the daughters of The Roches might conceivably sound like. Anyone remember them? big favourites of my mother, I really liked ’em too.
^only half-true, it is my opinion (therefore the correct one) but I’m really not remotely humble about it. True story.
Bonus PS: From Grand Royal Magazine issue: 1