I was in my early teens in 1994 when Luscious Jackson’s first full-length LP Natural Ingredients came out, and there could not have been a more suitable soundtrack to help usher rebellion into my life. I was already into the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique because my first boyfriend would play it on the jukebox at the local university’s pool hall. I was also quite familiar with the more aggressive Check Your Head, because when my skater older brother got into an argument with my parents, he would grunt in frustration, slam his door, and blast “What’cha Want” as loud as his stereo would allow. Plus, he is a bass player, so I think that heavy bassline in the song really riled him up. Gnarly.
When my brother told me about Luscious Jackson, the first band The Boys signed to their record company Grand Royal, he described them as a “band that is the female version of the Beasties”. I was excited to hear the group, especially since I knew the album Natural Ingredients was featured in the September 1994 issue of Sassy magazine, reviewed by Andrea Linett (who is now the editor of Lucky Magazine). Andrea wrote:
“One problem I have with reviewing records is how long it takes to get used to them. But I shoved this baby into my Walkman (!) and was bopping down the street like a crazy person in no time. Every single song has a funky beat, slow cool raps, and amazing lyrics. I love how the Jacksons understand us girls, and aren’t too cool to write about the L-word…..”
“The Jacksons” were comprised of Kate Schellenbach (drums), Jill Cunniff (vocals, bass), Gabby Glaser (vocals, guitar), and Vivian Trimble (vocals, keyboard). The band chose the name Luscious Jackson after Lucious Brown “Luke” Jackson, who was a basketball player for the Philadelphia 76ers in the 60’s. All of the ladies were from NYC, and Schellenbach was the drummer in the Beastie Boys when they were just a hardcore punk group. Before the rapping, I presume! Schellenbach met Cunniff when Cunniff interviewed the Beasties for her fanzine, The Decline of Art. The rest of the ladies met over time while hanging out in the New York post-punk scene of the early ’80s.
The “Jacksons Luscious” released an EP in 1992 called In Search of Manny, and their first live show was as the opener for The Beastie Boys and Cypress Hill. Shortly thereafter, the group quickly rushed off to open up for the Breeders in Europe and the US. The Breeders’ leader Kim Deal coached them through their first tour and acted as their mentor throughout the trip. The members of Luscious Jackson wrote most of their own music themselves, and their writing styles encompassed genres such as rock, ambient music, hip-hop, soul, and disco. Although they also released Fever in Fever Out in 1996 and Electric Honey in 1999 (without member Vivian, she left the group by this point – “amicably”), Their best album as a whole in my opinion is Natural Ingredients. I tried my first clove cigarette, had a boyfriend who was a junior (he put me in a “Deep Shag”, where I got sucked in by him) wore bell bottoms everyday, and had blonde streaks in the front of my hair. I also READ magazines and LISTENED to CDs. Sigh. What exciting times those were! When people had to call you on landlines!
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FUN FACTS about Luscious Jackson
1. The song “Here” is featured in the motion picture Clueless. Luscious Jackson had to learn Rollerderby in one day and compete with seasoned rollerderby chicks on an inclined roller rink for a music video. (http://www.lusciousjackson.us/latest.html)
2. Luscious Jackson was featured in a GAP commercial
3. Vivian left the group in 1998, and Luscious Jackson became a trio for their last studio album
4. There was a Luscious Jackson Greatest Hits CD released in 2007.
5. The group re-united in 2006 to supposedly work on a children’s album tentatively titled “I’m All Goo”, but there is no mention of this mystery album in recent news posts on their homepage.
6. Luscious Jackson has appeared on SNL, Adventures of Pete and Pete, and House of Style with Cindy Crawford (wow, that was a while ago!)
7. “Naked Eye” from the Fever In Fever Out album was their highest-charting single.
8. While on tour with LJ in 1995, Vivian Trimble and Jill Cunniff recorded with Gene and Dean Ween under the name Kostars, with the album called Klassics with a K. Josephine Wiggs, the bassist of The Breeders, was the executive producer on this album
9. When Vivian left the group in 1998, she did an album with The Breeders’ Josephine Wiggs called Dusty Trails.
10. LJ songs have also appeared on shows like Felicity, Titan A.E., and Buffy the Vampire Slayer
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